Important economic and political changes in Europe began in the second half of the nineteenth century with the industrial revolution in England, and later the French Revolution. Until about 1815, these revolutions were completely separate events in world history. They involved different countries. They were different processes proceeding at different rates. After the peace agreement in 1815, economic and political changes have taken the trend to merge, strengthen each other, and as a result, they have led to the so-called dual revolution.
The dual revolution created the huge intellectual challenges. The changes that have occurred have stimulated the emergence of new ideas and powerful ideologies. The most important of these were renewed conservatism and three ideologies of changes – liberalism, nationalism and socialism. These theories were primary opponents to the conservatism, which main proponent was Klemens von Metternich (1773–1859). All of them have played a crucial role in the political and social struggles, and the great era of popular unrest. In the end, they swept through Europe in the revolutions of 1848. These revolutions failed, however, and gave way to a more sober – and more successful – a state building in 1860.
The common characteristic of almost all of these basic ideas were their radicalism. The new ideas rejected conservatism, with its emphasis on tradition, hereditary monarchy, and a strong landowning aristocracy in one form or another.
Liberalism is the philosophy, the basic ideas of which are freedom and equality. Liberals demanded representational government and equality before the law. They also argued for individual liberties such as freedom of speech, freedom from arbitrary arrest, freedom of press, freedom of assembly. Liberals believed that every nation has the right to establish their own independent state. This made the liberalism appealing to those who have been deprived of equal rights.
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The Scottish philosopher Adam Smith with his doctrine of laissez faire is the chief proponent of the liberalism. He suggested economic principles, which called for unfettered private enterprise and no state intervention in the economy. This philosophy has been known as the doctrine of non-intervention.
Adam Smith founded the idea of a free economy in 1776, as opposed to the theory of mercantilism. Smith argued that free competition entrepreneurs will give all citizens an equal and fair opportunity to do what they do best. He said that competitive market will bring the most revenue to the community as a whole. In the early nineteenth century in Britain, the principles of economic liberalism were perceived by business groups with enthusiasm. Thus, the doctrine of liberalism became associated with the business interests.
Liberal political views have become more closely linked with the narrow class interests during the early nineteenth century than before. The liberals of that time were in favor of responsible government, but they tended to want to restrict the right to vote with property qualifications. In practice, this meant that only wealthy man would have the right to vote.
Liberalism was particularly appealing to the middle class. It was increasingly identified with it after 1815. However, some intellectuals and the enemies of conservatism believed that liberalism did not go far enough. They called for universal suffrage. This meant the requirement of equal voting rights for all men, and the demand for democracy. These Democrats and Republicans were more radical than liberals. They were more willing to resort to violent revolution to achieve goals than their competitors.
Nationalism is the theory according to which every nation has its own peculiarities and specific genetic entity. These characteristics are determined primarily by people with a common language and history. This idea usually leads to a desire for political independence of the nation.
Nationalism was the second radical ideology in the years after 1815. The idea was to have a significant influence on the modern world. The main proponent of this ideology of that time was the German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte. He called all Germans to such a unity, in which no member of the society would consider the fate of another one as the fate of the stranger. Fichte and other early advocates of the “national idea” argued that the members of each ethnic group have their own genetic characteristics, cultural unity, which is manifested especially in the common language, history and territory.
European nationalists sought to make the territory of each nation coincide with clearly defined borders of an independent national state. This political goal made nationalism explosive in Central and Eastern Europe after 1815.
Nationalist vision prevailed in the long term. This happened partly because the development of complex industrial and urban societies required better communication between individuals and groups. The development of a standardized national language, which was distributed through mass education created at least superficial cultural unity. Nation-states have also emerged because those who believed in the new ideology would create so-called imagined communities. It was the community which was seeking to connect residents around an abstract concept of comprehensive national identity. Thus, the nationalist leaders and citizens gathered together with the emotional symbols and rituals, such as ethnic festivals and parades that celebrate the imaginary spiritual unity of the nation.
After 1815 the majority of nationalists also believed in either radical democratic republicanism or liberalism. General belief in the creativity and generosity of people was perhaps the most important reason for the connection between these two concepts. Liberals and democrats considered people as the most important source of all good governments. The early nationalists generally believed that every nation and citizen had the right for free existence and the right for development of his nature and spirit. At the same time, the early nationalists also emphasized the differences between the nations. They have developed a strong sense of “us” and “them” at what “them” are often seen as the enemy. In this way, while the main beliefs of European nationalism were liberal and democratic, the ideas of national superiority and national mission lurked beneath the surface. This was the idea which eventually led to a conflict and an aggression against supposedly inferior peoples of Africa and Asia and to the great world wars of the twentieth century.
Socialism is a new radical doctrine, founded after 1815 in France. This ideology was appealing to a working class and to the poor. Early French thinkers Socialists were concerned that the political revolution in France, the growing popularity of the principle of non-interference, and the emergence of modern industry in England began to transform the society. They were concerned because they have seen how these trends have fueled the selfish individualism and fragmentation in the community. They believed that there was a need for further reorganization of the company for cooperation and a new sense of community.
Early French socialists advocated for economic planning. They believed that the government should organize the economy rationally. Socialists argued that the government should regulate private property, or that private property should be abolished and replaced by a state-owned or owned by the community. They believed that the government should help the poor.
One of the most influential early socialism proponents was Henri de Saint- Simon. This socialist thinker optimistically declared a huge opportunity for industrial development. In his view, the key to progress consisted in the proper social organization which required aristocracy, the royal court, lawyers and clergy to give up, once and for all, in favor of leading scientists, engineers and industrialists. They will carefully plan economy, guide it forward, and improve conditions for the poor.
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Charles Fourier is another authoritative French philosopher, creator of the utopian socialist theory of self-sufficient communities. He is one of the first supporters of the general emancipation of women. Fourier called for the abolition of marriage and endorsed free unions based only on love and sexual freedom. For many people, these ideas were shocking and made a socialist program even more dangerous and revolutionary.
Karl Marx is known as one of main socialists’ proponents. He created a solid foundation for modern socialism. At the same time, his ideas were different from those of the early socialists.
According to Marx, the ideas of middle class or state helping the poor are naive. He said that the interests of the industrial working class and the middle class were inevitably opposed to each other. He considered the history of all previously existing society as the history of class struggles. From his point of view, one class is always exploited by others. With the advent of industrial society, the gap between the middle class and the working class has become more apparent.
Marx was heavily influenced by classical economists of England, who taught that labor is the source of all value. He said that the profits were actually stolen from employees’ salaries.
Thus, Marx joined the powerful insights and knowledge to create one of the secular religions of the intellectual ferment of the early nineteenth century.
All three ideologies were appealing to different ethnic groups and economic classes. They tried to reorganize the society and influenced its future evolution.