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Europe has virtually undergone through a series of transformations in all spheres of the civil society. From the pre-historic times to the present, the continent has experienced many revolutions in its religion, politics, economy, technology, physical development, social life, and governments. At any given time, “the static conservative traditions fight to maintain their status quo by staging up serious resistance to any possible changes that would affect social, political and economic components of the wider society”. On the other hand, the innovations constantly advocate for transformational changes that would uplift societies to higher levels of human and physical developments. The constant struggle between the protagonist forces of the tradition and innovation is the only drive behind the entire revolutionary changes that give the European society its modern structures in the fields of technology, democratic governance, and social welfare.
These social transformations and technological advancements in Europe have been driven by various reformist personalities. Examples of such personalities include Constantinople, Louis XVI, Napoleon Bonaparte, Karl Marx, King Wilhelm, among others. It is most remarkable to note that these traditions are deeply embedded on the established sets of values, existing norms and religious beliefs that regard any deviation from the traditional cultures as outrageous. On the other hand, the proponents of the innovations firmly held the belief that finding new methods and better ways of doing things would provide lasting solutions to various problems facing the continent. The innovative have committed much of their efforts not only criticizing the existing systems for their imminent lapse but they also explored possible remedy to the challenges facing the existing systems of the times.
There are a number of documentary evidences to show that overwhelming forces of the innovative constantly struggled against the traditional conservatives who are comprised of the religious leaders, the anarchy, members of the royal families. On the other hand, the innovation agenda were largely driven by the reformist and political leaders who are determined to change their societies for the better notwithstanding prevailing oppositions and fear of executions from the conservative authorities. This paper attempts therefore to highlight how innovation led to the transformation of the Europe amidst opposition from the all quarters of the powerful traditions as manifested in the French, Industrial and Agrarian Revolutions.
1.0 Components of the European Traditions
According to Professor Gary Nash, the head of History and Human Sciences Department at the Hamburg University, the clergy were the most powerful beings in the early periods of the Roman Empire. During this time, the State Church of the Roman Empire led by Augustus assumed total authority over the empire. Dating back to the pre-Hellenic civilizations in the Ancient Greece, religion formed the mantle of the society and religious leaders were seen as the final authorities and in some way the direct representative of the supreme authorities (Clarke, p. 137). The church doctrines and practices were unquestionable and anyone violating this rule would attract instantaneous execution from the religious government authorities. This was the trend until the collapse of the Roman Empire when the church finally lost the grip of its powers- a phenomenon that paved way for other subsequent revolutionary changes across the European continent.
Religious beliefs controlled every aspect of life. Nature could only be viewed in the light of the religious doctrines and any quest for truth was punishable. Consequently, masses of the Roman populations were oppressed by the doctrines of the Roman Church that fully empowered the clergy and the churches. Church leaders such as Pope Leo III, Constantinople, Justinian I, and Rvenna of the Byzantine and feudal Christendom always defended and protected their religious belief by suppressing new orientations of thinking and upcoming philosophies of reasoning. The church and serving clergy thus garnered a lot of wealth and political power more than ever before. Therefore they were always opposed to any move that would check their powers and privileges within the church for the purposes of maintaining status quo.
Secondly, the European monarchies, anarchies and dynasties proved to be the leading conservatives who were strongly opposed to the sweeping waves of innovation in the history of Europe. The political elites of the ruling class viewed various innovations of their times, particular the ones that called on democratic elections of civil leaders, as a threat to their political rules. King Phillip II of Macedon, Augustus of the ancient Rome, Emperor Diocletian and Justinian I were the prominent landlords who accrued enormous economic benefits from the then European feudal systems. These leaders together with the royal families, clergy, and other influential ruling elites were the only land owners in Europe while the majority masses could only access and use land on a lease arrangement. The feudal system enriched the few individuals of the ruling class and upper castes hence their fear of losing such rare privileges upon the introduction of various reforms driven by the waves of innovations.
It is very important to note that these conservative traditions of the classical Europe came to an abrupt end with the coming of the Enlightenment age. Most significantly, much of the European reforms and revolutions were never actualized during the classical Greek and Byzantine periods due to the prevailing religious doctrines and political dominion of the ruling class. Common practices of the traditional conservatives do not promote the general well-being of the common citizens but simply perpetuate the dominion of the privileged ruling and high classes.
2.0 Innovations in Europe
Even though traditional conservatives took a center stage in Europe for a longer period of time especially during the reign of the great Roman Empire, various reforms and innovative movements have led to the significant revolutions across the continents. As observed by Abrahamsky Sasha in his historical journal, The European Revolution and Technology Today, much of the technological advancements, political and economic reforms the world enjoys today originated from classical European innovations. For this reason, the olden works of various political and social reformists such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Napoleon Bonaparte, Henry VIII, Louis XVI and Martin Lurther spearheaded the prototype reforms we enjoy in the modern societies today.
The fundamental role innovation played in the transformation of European societies is overwhelmingly enormous. It is most notable that innovation brought a number of political, economic, and social issues that beleaguered the European society into a sharp focus and further ushered in the age of enlightenment not only in Europe but in other parts of the world. Democratic revolutions, technological advancements, agrarian revolution, social reforms, eruption of democratic governments, civil education and revolutionarized health care are the direct products of the innovation in Europe. Needless to say, innovation provided a technical framework for the modernization and advancement of technological, social, economic and political systems.
Innovation is applauded for its inherent potential to liberate people from the cardinal rules and constraints of the traditions such as despotism, oppression and exploitations. The traditionalists are characterized by stiff sustained resistance to new ideas because their main business is to maintain the desired status quo considering that they the usual beneficiaries of the faulty political or religious systems. During the pree-enlightenment periods, all the lands were strictly owned by the clergy, ruling elites, members of monarchy and the royals within the continent of Europe. The masses poor had no right to possess land hence they could only get an access to cultivatable land though the lease or on a share tenancy agreement. On the other hand, the poor masses were neither expected to question nor raise any issue with the religious doctrines and traditional political rules.
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Innovation goes against all the odds to question why such injustice and incidence of inequalities were being practiced in the European societies. With the support from the reformist religious leaders such as Jacques and Martin Lurther, the obsolete religious values and doctrines were changed in a bid to eliminate undesirable restrictions that were imposed on the majority masses. Finally, innovation managed to free people from the detrimental religious and popular political oppressions. Consequently, larger chunks of land got released back to the public so that the poor can also access land like their wealthy counterparts. This dramatically led to the abolition of gentry and feudal systems of economy which are the landmark achievements of the French Revolution.
The French Revolution is most remembered for its democratic revolutions in the European civil societies. Many societies acknowledged the importance of engaging the majority masses in the constitutional processes of electing their own civil leaders. Currently, many civil societies across the world embrace democratic forms of government having borrowed the idea from the French Revolution.
Innovation remains the only pre-requisite to the European technological advancements. After the feudalism and gentry system were long abolished, more lands were made available for public utilization. The dire need for an increased food production across the European continent called for improved methods of agriculture that would adequately meet the demands of the ever rising European populations. This marked the onset of the agrarian revolution.
The historic agrarian revolution, driven by the undying forces of innovation, fostered modernization as it stands in the agricultural sector all over the world. The most salient feature of the agrarian revolution is the mechanization of agricultural production. Various farm machinery, tools and implements were on the onset of their invention at this particular period of time. Discoveries made by revolutionary scientists like Jethro Tull, James Small, Andrew Meikle, John Fowler, and Joseph Foljambe led to the complete mechanization of the agricultural production since harrowers, tractors, seed drillers, threshers and other improved portable agricultural hand tools were made courtesy of innovation within the European society
The buck of the innovation did not stop with the inventions of the agrarian revolution but it went a long way in improving the human lives as well. Even though railway was invented with the sole purposes of facilitating transportation of agricultural productions within the agricultural plantations, its proven efficiencies led to the widespread applications in other sectors of the human society across the world. Today, advancement in the railway transport has qualified it as an ideal means of human transport. Additionally, the railway technologies later prompted the classical agrarian technicians to come up with other easy ways of generation electric power.
The constant struggle between the protagonist forces of tradition and innovation is the only drive behind the entire revolutionary changes that give the European society its modern form in the field of technology, democratic governance, and social welfare. Production and availability of electricity, improved transport network, and other facilities within the agricultural estates led to the better standards of living among the European populations.
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