Voltaire was an ardent advocate of the freedom of speech. He criticized aristocracy, clergy, and the government. He stood for tolerance, reason, and limited government or an enlightened monarch. In a word, he pushed for social reformation in all its forms, leading to a more educated, tolerant, and cultured society.
Voltaire was in exile during almost his entire adulthood. He lived in England and Switzerland, although his works were published all around Europe in his lifetime. The philosopher could not directly influence any government, even less so the government of the country that excluded him. But his pen and wit were his weapons. Voltaire included the following ideas in all of his works. They gradually changed the ways people thought.
- Voltaire was against the Church’s authority because it held a large amount of land. The clergy and nobility enjoyed themselves while hard-working people remained impoverished. That is why he satirized aristocracy and religious workers.
- Voltaire believed that the government could protect people and their fundamental rights, notably the freedom of faith and speech. Besides, he was a foe to the idea that only some social groups should have access to the government. Equal rights and opportunities were the two things he invariably supported.
- Voltaire’s idea of progress inspired many nations. But it is impossible under tyranny.
- Voltaire thought that human rights are natural to each person. Nobody should be discriminated against by their faith, skin color, sex, or social status.
- Like other writers of the Enlightenment, Voltaire inspired the French Revolution. Thus, his works became an ideological basis for the uprising and caused the first victory of democracy in Europe.