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Industrial Revolution Changes

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William Feola Topic 4 Essay 2/23/2016

In the middle of the nineteenth century, European societies were going through tremendous changes due to politicization of the ordinary, helped by the French Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution. During these changes and challenges, intellectuals and political activists proposed different approaches to making society function better. Different bodies of thoughts were proposed and political organizations that supported different ideologies were created. These groups and organizations stemmed from liberalism, feminism, romanticism and Social Darwinism. These groups, the liberalists, feminists, romanticists and the Social Darwinists, had to try to cope with the rapid modernization of the west precipitated by the Industrial Revolution. In this essay we are going to talk about how each group was able to cope with the rapid modernization and how they were able to face the changes and challenges. First of all, we saw liberalism try to cope with the rapid modernization of the west precipitated by the Industrial Revolution. These liberals thought that human life and society could progress without having violent revolutions or relying on tradition. Non-violent approaches to changing society is called liberalism. The liberals during the time of the Industrial Revolution believed that individuals had the power to reason and that they are rational. In other words, it means they are capable of bettering themselves without destroying the society or resorting to other measures. The government should give individuals as much space and freedom in their pursuit of property and happiness and not interfere in the process. The liberals advocated limits on arbitrary authority of monarch, aristocracy, the church, extension of suffrage and equal protection under the law. When it came to economics, the liberals believed in the ability to have individuals pursue wealth peacefully. They didn’t think it was right for government officials to stand in front of the market and declare how much merchants should charge for certain things or how much shoppers should pay, they were absolutely against that. They thought the government should step aside and let the price be governed by the natural law of supply and demand. They believed that individuals would decide whether a certain good was worth having or if it was not worth having and that they would decide the price. Obviously they had to be well informed about the market and that way they would decide whether they would buy or not. This meant that the government had almost no role to play there except to protect the market from threats. The liberal economists thought that economic activities should be unregulated and that labor should be contracted freely. They thought that property should be unencumbered by feudal restrictions and that the goods should circulate freely, obviously bringing an end to the government granted monopolies and traditional practices of regulating markets. Not all liberals thought alike however. Some believed that government intervention would be okay in certain aspects of human life and that property should be owned by larger number of people who feel they have stake in society. Liberals, like one scholar of Bentham wrote, advocated social reforms like universal male franchise, regulation of factory conditions, prison reform, establishment of public education, etc. Liberals didn’t want to abolish private property, they actually thought society progressed when its members had the right to hold private property. They just wanted the government to empower its citizens and give each individual freedom and civil liberty because each individual would use it to improve themselves. This was the first non-Marxist ideology and this is how liberals coped with the rapid modernization of the west precipitated by the Industrial Revolution. Next, we saw feminism try to cope with the rapid modernization of the west precipitated by the Industrial Revolution. Feminism was another important component of nineteenth century liberalism. These feminists and their movement struggled for suffrage and the right to vote. The suffragists believed that the heart of the social problem was the male domination of society, which had made society more violent, aggressive, exploitative and sexist. These reforms were realized to a certain extent. We saw the Reform Bill passed and we saw the following liberal measures, secret balloting, trade unions, universal elementary education, and slum clearance projects recognized. These were products to improve worker’s lives by challenging the bourgeoisie domination of society. In 1900, the Labor Party was created to represent the workers. So we saw the feminist movement become a key component during the Industrial Revolution and they coped with the rapid modernization of the west by fighting for suffrage, rights to vote and they saw some reform. Also, we saw Social Darwinism try to cope with the rapid modernization of the west precipitated by the Industrial Revolution. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Charles Darwin published the very famous “Origin of the Species.” His main purpose and argument was to say that in the physical world, species evolve through the process called natural selection. In other words, ones that cannot adapt themselves to the changing environment will die and the ones who can will survive. The unfit dies, the fit survive and the species becomes better fit. Some liberals used this theory and said that human society is no different and that we should let the unfit fail and die. This idea as a whole is called Social Darwinism, which basically means that if you do not fit you should be allowed to perish. If you turn the argument around, you could say that the more fitting ones should rule over the less fitting people. The less fitting people will try to become more like the better ones and in the end society will become more fitting and really progress forward. If the government intervened and helped the less fitting, it would slow down society. According to Social Darwinism, the unskilled ones should be left alone so that they could learn to be more productive or just die. People who have survived and flourished in the industrialization are the selected ones. Thomas Malthus took it a step further, saying that if there were too many humans on here that there would be foot shortages and that we should have a strong and constant operating check on population from the difficulty of subsistence. This difficulty should be felt by a large portion of mankind. If you were the poor, unskilled workers, you would have suffer and learn how to not multiply uncontrollably. Lastly, how did Romanticism try to cope with the rapid modernization of the west precipitation by the Industrial Revolution? Well, Romanticism was used to buildup nationalist identities. Romanticism was the artistic trend that emphasized individual personality and character in art works instead of universality and rationality in human beings. They turned art, music, paintings, literature and even architecture into symbols of national culture, characteristic and personality. The Romanticists tried to cope with the Industrial Revolution by using art and other things to escape from reality. Realism was the polar opposite of Romanticism, which portrayed what was really going on while Romanticism portrayed an escape from the modern realities of the growth of the population, urban expansion and industrialism. So they coped with the industrial revolution by using various things to escape from reality. In conclusion, liberalism, feminism, romanticism and Social Darwinism all had different ways to try and cope with the rapid modernization of the west precipitated by the Industrial Revolution. These European societies and groups were going through tremendous changes due to politicization of the ordinary, helped by the French Revolution and of course the Industrial Revolution. Liberals tried to cope with it by trying to gain more freedoms for individuals, feminists coped with it by trying to gain more rights towards women’s suffrage and voting, romanticism coped with it by using their arts and other forms of expression to escape reality and Social Darwinism coped with it by trying to improve society by getting rid of the weak members of society. Obviously some of these reforms and ideas didn’t happen but these groups thought that these were good ways to cope with the rapid modernization brought on by the Industrial Revolution.…...

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