DOI: 10.22281/2413-9912-2023-07-01-131-136

Meer E.S.


The article analyzes the discourses on the connection between the Enlightenment, the French Revolution and totalitarian democracy by the Israeli historian J. Talmon, the English revisionist A. Cobban and his student, the British researcher J. McDonald. The author notes the fact that A. Cobban consulted J. Talmon while writing his famous work “The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy”, which remains behind the scenes of historiographical literature. The study highlights the main lines of debate among British historians regarding the search for the origins of totalitarianism in the thought of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Attention is drawn to the fact that A. Cobban did not agree with the statement of J. Talmon about the totalitarian nature of the Enlightenment and refuted it, criticizing the writing of the history from the end, the «genealogy of ideas», the abstractness of the illumination of thoughts, the construction of a repressive model of philosophers on the basis of individual examples, the misuse psychoanalysis, one-dimensionality of assessment. It is shown that A. Cobban himself tends to use linear schemes of thought when he agrees to draw totalitarian parallels between the French Revolution and the political regimes of the 20th century, although he sometimes hesitates on this issue. It is shown that his dissertation student J. McDonald, due to the use of an essentially discursive approach, more comprehensively rejects the totalitarian assessments of J. Talmon in relation to the Enlightenment, as well as the early stage of the revolution, based on a wide range of counterarguments that continue the thought of her teacher and at the same time correct it. The author finds out that all three historians differ in their interpretation of Sieyes’ ideas.

Keywords: Talmon, Cobban, McDonald, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Totalitarian Democracy, Rousseau, genealogy of ideas, discourse, psychohistory.

Krasnoyarsk State Pedagogical University named after V.P. Astafieva (Russia),

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