Was the Meeting of the Estates General a step towards or backwards for democracy?
Only a modernist would describe it in such linear terms. It was neither forward nor backward. It was a shift. It displaced or removed certain power relations, but only to put up new ones. It, like the US Constitution of 1789, spoke from a position of various “freedoms” based on a public-private dichotomy, but this dichotomy only existed through the State and it only benefited those whom the State represented. Thus, it was only democratic for the bourgeoisie and, to a lesser extent, the remaining aristocracy. As a “step toward” global capital and its codification in the State, it was a huge step backward for the non-European world that would be colonized over the next two centuries.