The end of First World War marked a new beginning of the international system and Europe itself was restructured. Most of the European nations were left both economically and socially damaged. Europe had experienced devastating effects as a result of the First World War, The War had left millions deceased and injured. As a result, economic depression was commonly experienced during the period and some of the European nations encountered problems especially in paying their debts. Germany was among the nations which were affected the most such that the restitution forced on it by the treaty of Versailles had increased at a high rate. The League of Nations was established to serve a purpose of implementing new strategies regarding international relations as well as eliminating the pattern of traditional power politics. Peace and stability were among the key factors that the League aimed at implementing while enhancing openness and cooperative forum among nations.
During the inter-war periods, Europe experienced a political divide regarding matters involving problem-solving and leadership opinions. The governments of Britain, France, and Eastern Europe encountered uncertainties due to the lack of moderation. As a result, communism became popular in the Soviet Union while on the other hand; countries such as Germany, Italy and Spain were controlled by fascists. As mentioned earlier, after the inter-war period, economic depression and political instability became one of the major radical problems that the world was facing. This led many to regard capitalist economy associated with democracy as among the factors that led to the economic depression and as a result, political ideology was presented as a solution for these problems. Thus, the rise of authoritarian governments became popular around the world which was the exact opposite of the kind of vision that Wilson had.
Political Responses to the Dislocation of the Inter-war Period
The nature of European affairs during the inter-war period was greatly determined by the outcome of the diplomatic results which occurred in the First World War. Eastern Europe became dismantled due to the decision that was made at the Paris Peace Conference and as a result, boundaries were drawn for new states which came to be independent. The newly independent states experienced economic instability due to the destructive outcome that was brought by the war. This outcome led to the rise of radical political groups which in turn introduced political ideologies in a wider spectrum. The ideologies of both fascism and communism became popular among the states and also attracted more followers in the course of that period.
During the inter-war period, fascism was one of the main factors that contributed to the democratic stability. It was established before and during the First World War through intellectual and organizational means and acted as an aftermath response to the war. The main focus for its establishment was to bring a political landscape which was organized in terms of the functionality process and order as well as efficiency. Fascism acted as a right-wing for political ideology and opposed the spread of communism. The fascist response was based on an authoritarian government structure for purposes of stabilizing the priorities of the citizens. Fascism propagated the idea of nationalism and declined rationalism as well as the concept of materialism.
Italian fascism, German fascism, Romanian fascism and French fascism were among the common forms of fascism. The fascist regime was regarded as a totalitarian political regime which acted on the basis of organizing and controlling the society in terms of the power that was established by certain principles. These principles included the use of force and complete submission to the state authority by the society in general. Fascism also promoted anti-liberalism and anti-democracy which was based on the declining the rights and freedom of the citizens. In turn, this subdued the political pluralism thus making only one party be considered as the state, which in this case, was the fascist party. For instance, leaders such as Adolf Hitler in Germany and Benito Mussolini in Italy were the only people to possess the power brought as a result of implementing the regime.
After 1945, the communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe formed communist parties which had support and capabilities at different levels. The reason why communism became popular among these regions was that of the apparent failure of liberalism which occurred during the inter-war period. Social, industrial and political unrest were among the circumstances that were commonly experienced in the aftermath of the First World War which led to unemployment and inflation. Various factors such as collectivization and industrialization were among the implementations that were made regarding the communist regimes that were aligned to the Soviet Union.
The communists also emphasized on the need to establish collective security and popular fronts in association with other parties. This establishment was done for purposes of acting as a counter for fascism, Nazism, and the ruling right-wing authoritarian regimes. However, the concept was later undermined by appeasement. The use of popular fronts served an important purpose in recovering the communist regime through the role they played in resisting the Germans. This redemption was also regarded useful in terms of gaining popular support and reclaiming power without people being aware that they were casting votes for such a regime. However, the strategy of this adoption was not successful as it failed to prevent Hitler gaining power in Germany.
Mazower, Mark. Dark Continent: Europe's twentieth century. Vintage, 2009.
Hobsbawm, Eric J. The age of extremes: a history of the world, 1914-1991. Pantheon, 1994.
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