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The French Revolution was an important uprising that led to the ideological, political, and social upheaval in the political history of France and Europe. The upheaval facilitated the achievement of nationalism enlightenment principles, which lead to the abolition of absolute monarchy associated with feudal privileges for the aristocratic groups and catholic clergy. Despite the turmoil that followed due to the aristocratic groups’ attempt to protect their rights, republicanism, there was the attainment of citizenship and rights for all. As a result, a lasting and mixed impact occurred to the world as a whole for those seeking abstract rational principles and radical social change. The revolutionaries who adopt the same outlook have been able to rise against destructive culture, social institutions, and cultural artifacts. Therefore, modernization has been realized through the search for administrative and judicial reforms that emphasis on citizens’ freedom.
To some extent, it is reasonable to refer to Napoleon 1 as the integrator of the European societies. Under his reign, he directly and indirectly influenced the development of the modern European society with a modern state system. This is reflected in the secularization, constitutionalism, and codification of laws, and nationalism that sought to end aristocracy, influence of specific religions and monarchy laws. As a result, the elimination of feudal privileges and the exploitation of the weak in the society were realized. For the states that remained within the empire, modernization, economy, and law and state were possible through the adoption of diplomacy system. Notably, the manifestation of nationalism in the Italian and German lands, Spain and Russia demonstrated Napoleon’s system of governance. In this regard, Napoleon 1 is depicted as an integrator of the European societies through the struggle for nationalism. Moreover, the major reforms initiated under his reign were beneficial and allowed the realization of modernity, which other states adopted.
The political forces that lead to the related and competing ideologies facilitated unrest in Europe after 1815 despite the seeming restoration of the old, pre-revolutionary order. Multiple ideologies advocated for classical liberalism, radicalism and republicanism, socialism, nationalism and conservatism. These ideologies mainly referred to as ‘isms,’ were the main causes of contention. The ‘isms’ were the product of the Enlightenment thinking because of the French Revolution that went in different directions. Since the ideas gained formal and coherent structure, many movements attempted to deal with the prevalent issues at that era. Despite the benefits and demerits associated with each ideology, the main contention concerned the most appropriate policy that could serve the people’s interests. Over time, each ideology gained momentum among its supporters. However, by the end of 1848, most European countries adopted nationalism due to the need for ethnic group governments.
The 1848 revolution was a series of uprising that led to the collapse of traditional authorities. Nonetheless, due to its poor organization and insignificant support, the reactionary forces were overwhelmed within a year. The revolutionary wave began in France and rapidly spread across most of the European countries despite the lack of coordination and cooperation from the participants in different countries. The main issues that sought address included the dissatisfaction on political leadership, need for democracy, grievances of the working classes, extension of nationalism and struggle for equality. In the German Confederation, intellectuals in search of national unity, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press led the uprisings. Due to the poor coordination of the upheavals, the revolutionary components split forcing many liberals into exile due to their defeat by the conservative aristocracy.
The activities of nationalists like Napoleon III and Giuseppe Garibaldi significantly influenced Italy’s unification. Before the rise of the Italians, Austrians, especially in the North of Italy, controlled most parts of the Italian kingdom. Through Count Cavour, Emperor Napoleon III was convinced to intervene. Later, Count Cavour handed over his post to Giuseppe Garibaldi. Because of the 1859 Franco-Austrian War, the Austrians surrendered to the French in the Battle of Solferino. Thus, Austria ceded to Pietmont-Sardina. After the war, Italian coups toppled the monarchies in northern Italy. These included Parma, Modena, and Tuscany. The monarchies later formed the Kingdom of Italy. Although under the Pope’s control, the Italian army entered Rome and terminated his authority in exchange for the Vatican. Finally, Italy united and became an independent state.
In 1871, because of some ethnic groups’ expulsion, Germany was partitioned rather than unified. Through the Franco-Prussian War, the Germans eliminated the Austrians’ control in some states that constituted the German Confederation. In this regard, most of the German-speaking states initially developed through the provision of education and other social facilities. At the same time, the countries’ concentration on some specific elements was viewed as a partition from the German empire’s overall aim. Considering the subsequent events, it is appropriate to perceive Germany as having been partitioned rather than unified.
In the course of the 19th century, most parts of the world had undergone Europeanization as witnessed in countries like North America that had adopted the European ideologies of Enlightenment. This resulted in social and political change. At the same time, most of the countries around the world sought to realize democracy that enhanced economic growth, nationalism, and freedom. Nevertheless, the 19th century activities led to the colonialism and imperialism that affected most parts of the world.
European nationalism mutated by the late 19th century rapidly causing the carving of ethnic groups that had an interest in their cultures. As a result, most cultures demonstrated the interest to differentiate from the empires that existed and form their own states. Notably, this led to the suppression of the ethnic groups viewed as aliens to some parts of the empires. Additionally, the influence of the monarchy leadership associated with aristocracy objected the tussle for nationalism as this was a way to limit their control. The success of the upheavals facilitated the realization of nationalism, citizenship, and freedom. The realization of democracy led to international rivalries in search of influence over borders. Evidently, the nations with immense army solidarity conquered most states leading to further rivalries.
In 1914, the description of Europe was that of a powder keg waiting to explode. After the Napoleon’s defeat, Europe remained peaceful for several years. The metaphor of a powder keg implied that Europe was safe and secure unless emerging forces lit the fuse. During the summer of 1914, a minor event triggered an outburst in the entire continent. Because of the assassination of the Austria-Hungary emperor-to-be, Archduke Ferdinand, by a Serb nationalist, the ‘Great Wars’ emerged. Thus, the occurrence of the World wars was a validation test to Europe’s state of a powder keg.
The effects of the First World War were adverse to European and the entire world. Its effects were witnessed in the political, social, and economic arenas. Additionally, there was the massive destruction of human life and property. Monarchies gave way to democratic governments that recognized people’s rights. Since the war used a significant amount of finances, most parts of the world experienced economic depression. Consequently, enormous taxes and the restriction on commodities prices were witnessed. Notably, most parts of the world experienced starvation. Worldwide, countries struggled with the impeded economic progress.
It is unhistorical to view the rise of Hitler or origins of the Second War as the result of the treaty of Versailles.This treaty was a peace treaty between Germany and other nations. It sought to reverse the effects that Germany had instigated upon other smaller nations. The treaty demanded Germany to admit the blame for starting the war, lose its colonies and army, and pay reparations. In this regard, Hitler and the Nazis gained support due to their resolve to reverse the treaty. Hitler’s policies that allowed the Germans to re-own their land and the building of Germany’s armed services were detrimental to the treaty. Thus, Hitler’s vague promise of appeasements cannot be viewed as an outcome of the treaty of Versailles or origins of Second World War. The rise of Hitler is attestable to a personal form of leadership exhibiting dictatorship.
It is unhistorical to view the Second Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 as a logic result of the events of 1914-17 in Russia. This upheaval’s objective was to overthrow Tsar Nicholas II and Lenin. The growing sense of political and social awareness of the lower orders due to the Enlightenment ideologies from the West considerably contributed to this event. Therefore, the mounting resentment of the peasants’ cruel treatment and the city workers’ poor working conditions was the main cause of the total dissatisfaction. Additionally, food shortages and military failures were key contributors to the uprising. Because of the depression witnessed in the First World War, Bolsheviks plunged the country into a civil war resulting in the communist state.
Josef Stalin’s internal adoption of increasingly repressive and xenophobic policies aimed at distinguishing the USSR from the Eastern Europe. He focused on creating independence from the East-West context in his quest to quell armed insurgencies in the area seized by the USSR. Through this tussle, the liberalization of the society and economy was over by the imposition of government control, mobilization, and terrorization of the society in Russia. To some extent, Stalin emphasized on the societal economic progress through industrialization and collectivization. The main intention of such an initiative was to eliminate rivalry within the party and maneuver politically. In this regard, agriculture and the industries experienced forced centralization and restriction on cultural activities. Additionally, Purges, Stalin’s operatives, exterminated thousands of people considered dangerous to the Soviet State. Generally, Stalin internal dynamism led to a considerable loss of human lives.
The European societies proved themselves susceptible to authoritarianism and dictatorship due to the urge to minimize the growing tensions and challenges in the inter-war period. During this period, most individuals were enlightened, and the West ideologies became prevalent among individuals. As a result, states had to employ authoritarian and dictatorship to enhance the unity and conformity of the states’ interest. By using threats and punishments, states controlled civil unrest and wars. Notably, the authoritarian and dictatorship form of leadership that guaranteed focus on industrialization could reverse the economic depression that had hit most of the states.
The Italian fascist regime’s pretensions to be totalitarian adopted the cultural turn that took seriously dimensions of style, ritual, spectacle, myths and rhetoric. As a result, it led to change in the political environment surrounding the end of the Cold War. The cultural turn instituted modernity among the Italians and sought to address the social factors influencing the state’s progress. The whole fascist phenomenon was crucial in the social transformation that ensured peaceful coexistence. However, despite the critical roles that this phenomenon played, some of its weakness include nihilism, opportunism, class reaction and failed adjustment to modernity. In this regard, the political religion that had an undoubted liberal democratic tradition facilitated the attainment of the nationalization of masses.
Several objectives of the Nazi dictatorship sought to contravene the peace treaty of Versailles. These aims included the unification of all the Germans in the Greater Germany, demand for equality for the German people from other nations, need for land and territories, recognition of members of the race as citizens and the abolition of the mercenary troops and formation of a national army. The absolute procedure of the leadership principle ensured entire diligence to the party. Additionally, all the party’s members undertook eternal allegiance to their leader. Thus, the Great Germany expanded its territories while suppressing the non-race individuals like the Jews who were many and industrious. With Hitler as its leader, the Nazi party brought significant industrialization and growth in Germany.
The dire aftermath of the Second World War caused unprecedented hardships in the world as a whole. During the war, the use of both the chemical and physical weapons led to immense loss of humanity, destruction of cities and financial exhaustion. As a result, it caused major shocks in the political arena in various countries and led to the emergence of new superpowers. The effects of the world war changed the concept of sovereignty, nature of conflict among nations and national interests.
The Cold War in Europe resulted from the aftermath of the Second World War that defined the United States and Russia as the greatest military powers in the world. The two countries had different forms of government and economy. The United States adopted a democratic capitalist economy while Russia adopted communist dictatorship. Due to the different ideologies, there were tensions between the two nations. The aftermath of the war gave Russia control of the Eastern Europe while the US and its allies controlled the West.
The European Economic Community (EEC) is an international organization that aimed at attaining economic integration amongst its founding members. These are Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, France, Germany, and Luxembourg. The member states anticipated creating a general common market and an atomic energy community. Its transformation led to changes in the trade and manufacturing in the member states. With time, other members joined. The consolidation of their currencies formed euro pound. The formation of the community enhanced economic growth and development.
The imposition of communism in Eastern Europe led to political and economic retardation. The system of economy practiced prevented private property ownership and free trade on competitive markets. It created a culture of laziness and lack of morale. Through the adoption of dictatorship communism, most citizens felt constrained in their undertakings. At the same time, governments exploited their citizens through the authoritarian form of leadership. Notably, the severe economic and political downturns caused the upheavals.
At the end of 1989, the massive demonstrations in Moscow, the Russia’s capital, caused the abolition of the communism economy. The inability to meet the basic needs of the population, visible corruption of the unchallenged power and disaffections of intellectuals after the fall of Khrushchev facilitated this failure. The impatience and protest of the working class and peasants demonstrated the need to tackle these issues.
The common factors present in both the Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union’s break-up include the dispute in the Czechoslovak invasion and Yugoslavia’s favor of political and economic rapprochement. The Czechoslovak invasion caused friction and uneven relation between the two countries after the Second World War. Notably, the collapse of the communism led to the Yugoslavia’s military and political stability. At the same time, Yugoslavia’s trade interests shifted to the West after the collapse.
The European Union faces multiple challenges both internally and externally from the member states in the 21st century. Internally, there exist economic, domestic and energy security issues. These factors are eminent since the provisions of services to the member states needs are evaluated on the political, social, and economic policies. Through the adoption of the appropriate technology, they can adequately curb any vulnerability. Externally, there exists political instability, ethnic conflicts, and civil wars that interfere with the normal operations of the Union.
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