In his study, Arnold Toynbee scrutinized the rise and the fall of civilizations in the course of human history. According to his arguments, they rose through reacting to the challenges underpinning the leadership of the minorities that comprised of the elite groups. Understandably, civilizations declined because the leaders had stopped their creative response, and it further collapses due to the problems brought through militarism, nationalism, and the tyranny of the despotic minority. More fundamentally, during the mid-19th century when Romanticism was exploring its ideas and talents, the political minds of the same culture were involved in ensuring that they settle every party or group in their way. They focused on their promise to offer liberty to all Europe; thus, the vote for all men, a written constitution, and a free press. Successfully, they were implemented in England and France through a system of the Metternich. Again, they promised the maintenance of the territories that led to the closing of the Napoleonic Wars. The paper seeks to scrutinize the expectations of humane and the rationality of life, as well as democracy, given the history of the long 19th century in Europe. Also, the paper aims to analyze the progress of science and technology on mankind during the same period.
During the 19th century, liberalism turned to be the preeminent reform movement in Europe. Liberalism varied due to several factors, including the pace of industrialization, the aristocracy, and the conditions of national amalgamation. Liberalism is perceived to have transformed the life of the majority during the same period. For instance, in the Roman Catholic countries, including Italy, France, and Spain, the liberal movement acquired anticlerical overtones. It favored the legislation that restricted the political power of the Catholic clergy and the civil authority. In Great Britain, the Whigs had progressed into the Liberty Party, whose focus was on the model for liberal political parties across Europe. Liberalism triggered the campaign that eradicated the slave trade in Britain in 1807 and the slavery of 1833. Notably, the tremendous reforms obtained by the Liberal Party government marked the peak of British liberalism.
In France, the Napoleonic government and the revolutionary movement pursued liberal objectives that achieved the elimination of the feudal privileges and the modernization of the institutions inherited from the ancient government. Besides, the French liberals were charged with securing the constitutional liberties and increasing the government’s common participation through the newly established monarchy. Still, their goals were nor fully realized until the creation of the Third Republic that happened in 1871. On democracy in Europe, liberalism promoted nationalistic aspirations to the formation of the independent and unified constitutional states that had their specific parliament with a defined rule of law.
In Europe, liberalism became the transformation force throughout the 19th century. In light of this, modernization and industrialization, where classical liberalism offered ideological justifications that brought significant changes in Europe. More precisely, the feudal system collapsed, monarchs got challenged and cramped, and the functionless nobility also lost its freedom. Additionally, capitalism was replaced by the static economies of the middle ages, and the middle class was set free to apply its effort through increasing its means of production and wealth. Similarly, as the liberals were limiting the powers of the monarchy, they changed the ideal of constitutional government, which became more responsive to the people by electing representatives.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the industrial revolution in Europe produced a deepening disenchantment with the prime economic basis of classical liberation; thus, the idea of the market economy. The bigger problem was that the profit system provided a vast wealth to the small number of industrialists and the financiers as they ignored the majority that caused adverse consequences to the population. First, the majority did not benefit from the wealth coming from the factories and were concurred by poverty. Second, the expansion of production provided goods and services that the majority could not afford, and the market became glutted, making the system stop during the great depression. Finally, people who owned the production means acquired economic superiority that allowed them to influence and control the government as they manipulate the electorate to impede social reforms.
Ultimately, modern liberals suggested that the government should eliminate the obstacles which were blocking individual freedom. In light of this, the modern liberals followed the reformers and thinkers, including the British political philosopher T. Green. According to the philosopher, the excessive powers of the regime constituted the greatest hindrance to freedom for the people, especially at the beginning of the 19th century, but such powers were mitigated in the middle of the century. Therefore, it was the right time to overcome poverty, discrimination, ignorance, and disease through government support. New liberal programs focused on the government using its powers to save its people, and society established public hospitals and schools, helping the needy and promoting workers through improving their health and well-being in the workplace.
Revolution led to the formation of new states and regimes, where women demanded their rights and made the law harsher. It was due to such issues that gender relations transformed the lives of both males and females across Europe in the 19th century. Generally, the demand for human right and liberties were the main focus for the European revolutionaries, which led to the formation of the feminist movement, including the movement in German linked to Louise Otto as well as in the Australian Empire. The female who experienced exclusion from politics participated in the armed combat, which offered the opportunity to establish their own political space, associations, clubs, and their press that enabled their participation in several reforms, including making their voices heard and receiving a quality education and equal employment opportunities.
They experienced severe repression because the objective was to silence women by expelling them from participating in politics or denying them the right to manage newspapers. Due to their activism, awareness campaigns, and petitions, they succeeded, especially in the aftermath of the historical women’s demonstration in 1917 that led to the revolutionary disorders and the collapse of the Romanov family. Finally, the provisional government offered women equal political rights and were able to participate in political associations.
The First World War led to the fall of the continental empires, which triggered the emergence of the republican regime. Women participated in the democratic and state restructuring, as the Weimar Republic of 1918 provides women with civic and political equality, which then marked the achievement of some feminist demands, however, equality was not fully realized.
In conclusion, it is worth noting that several expectations were warranted to the people; for example, democracy and freedom were offered to the people, especially to the women as a consequence of the women’s revolution that focused on rights and freedom. The European revolutionaries concentrated on human rights and liberties that led to the formation of the feminist movement in the 19th century. They accomplished their goals, and women were granted equal opportunity, as they could participate in the political reforms. Revolution led to the formation of a new system that assisted people and attempted to eradicate poverty, as public schools and hospitals were established with the motive to help the majority.
Blanning, Timothy Charles William. The French Revolutionary Wars, 1787-1802. London: Arnold, 1996.
Millward, Robert. "The early stages of European industrialization: Economic organization under serfdom." Explorations in Economic History 21, no. 4 (1984): 406-428.
Moses, Claire Goldberg. French feminism in the 19th century. Vol. 5. Suny Press, 1984.
Thomson, David, and David Thomson. Europe Since Napoleon. London: Longmans, 1962.
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