Modernism

Modernism was a movement that occurred in the late nineteenth century and continued into the twentieth century. It contrasted with the movement of neoclassicism from the eighteenth century. The latter strongly emphasized order, reason, the following of convention and optimism about human nature. Modernism did the opposite.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) wrote several works in which he expressed very modernistic ideas: chaos, disorder, the passions, irrationality and aggressiveness.

Another theme found in modernism, particularly in Friedrich Nietzsche’s works, was a dismissal of the Christian code of morality. Nietzsche believed that people should make their own morality code to follow.

The modernistic disorder can also be found in science. Isaac Newton in the eighteenth century had said that the universe followed orderly laws. In 1913, Niels Bohr found that the electrons did not abide by Newton’s laws of motion. Therefore, he and many other scientists of that era concluded that the universe was not orderly. Continue reading

The ‘Kulturkampf’

The Kulturkampf was the effort by the Prussian prime minister, Otto von Bismarck (a Protestant), to expel the Catholic Church from Germany in his endeavor to unite the Germans into an empire in the late nineteenth century.

Bismarck was opposed in his efforts by the Center Party, a group formed to support the Catholics in 1870. They had originally been supporting Bismarck’s endeavors, but withdrew their support once he decided to expel the Catholic Church.

In his efforts to expel the Catholics Bismarck expelled the Jesuits, Dominicans and Franciscans, took the priests off of the payroll and eliminated Catholic Church supervision over German education. Finally, in 1873, he passed the May Laws, which passed the training of the clergy over from the Church to the government.

However, the real reason for Bismarck’s enmity of the Catholics was his dislike of the Pope, Pius IX. So, when Pius IX died Bismarck ended his endeavors to expel the Catholics and made peace with them, thus ending the Kulturkampf.

 

The Unification of Italy

During the nineteenth century, what we today know as Italy was a medley of states, governed by separate peoples. There was Naples, the largest, Tuscany, the Papal States, and Piedmont among others. Austria occupied Venetia, Venice and Lombardy. The attempt to unify Italy in the early eighteenth century by Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi had failed and resulted in the exile of both of these nationalist personages. The latter was to become the greatest general Italy had ever seen and a highly respected figure.

A key figure in the successful unification of Italy was Count Camillo di Cavour, the prime minister of Piedmont (1850’s). He loved the classical liberal philosophy and leaned towards civil liberty. Cavour wanted an Italian unification, but under Piedmont rule.

In his efforts to unify northern Italy, Cavour was supported by Napoleon III, the French emperor (see Revolutions of 1848). Napoleon agreed to help in battle only if Austria would strike the first blow. He wanted this so that he could come help Piedmont under the pretense of ‘defending a friend.’ When Cavour failed to provoke Austria, Napoleon almost backed out. However, just a little later, Austria decided to attack and was defeated.

Giuseppe Garibaldi, seeing that the North was unified, came out of exile and led 1,000 troops into the southern states. He successfully united them and retreated back into exile, a highly respected man.

However, the South did not want to join the North. Finally though, in 1866 Venetia (the only state Austria had retained) joined the North and in 1871 the Papal States, except for the Vatican City, also joined leaving Italy fully unified.

Italy was now the unified country we know today, but only politically; culturally, the states were still separated.

Karl Marx and Marxism

Karl Marx (1818-1883) was born into a wealthy German family, the third of nine children. His father was a classical liberal, a philosophy from which Karl would eventually stray. Marx was a philosopher, economist, sociologist, journalist and the founder of Marxism.

Karl studied privately under his father until he was twelve years old, at which time he attended the local high school. When he was seventeen years old he went to the University of Bonn. Marx wanted to study philosophy and literature. However his father, a lawyer, desired that his son follow in his footsteps. Soon after, Marx transferred to the Berlin University because of bad grades. He then studied law, and philosophy on the side. In 1841 he got his P.H.D.

In 1843, Karl married Jenny von Westphalen, whom he had been engaged to for seven years. They had their first child, a daughter, in 1844. Together they would have seven children, only three of whom would survive to adulthood.Karl Marx

After graduating from college, Marx began to embrace communist ideas. He met Friedrich Engels, a fellow communist, in 1844. They became life-long friends and were the founders of Marxism. In 1848, the two wrote their most important work, The Communist Manifesto.

Karl Marx died in 1883, soon after his wife’s death.

As previously mentioned, Marxism was founded by Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marx believed that Communism would inevitably come forth, without any help. According to Marx, this would occur when the lower class overthrew the upper class capitalists.

Marx also believed that the state was the result of the exploitation of one class of another (the upper class of the working class). Therefore, when the lower class revolted the state would wither away.

Why did Marx think that Communism was superior to Capitalism? Marx said that the division of labor would be abolished, therefore human opportunity, apparently previously stifled, would now flourish. In other words, there would be more autonomy.

He also said that there would be more productivity because society would be planned.

However, in reality, after observing Marxism put to use throughout history, autonomy did not increase, and neither did productivity. Marx’s communist system brought forth dictatorships and unhappiness to the countries wherein it was employed.

The Revolutions of 1848

I am going to discuss four different revolutions, or attempts at revolution, during the year 1848.

The French revolution of 1848 began under the reign of King Louis-Philippe. It began because the government had banned public political meetings of more than twenty people. The people got around this law by having banquets at which they would talk about politics. When the government found out and attempted to prevent such a banquet, revolts broke out. With the revolution upon him Louis-Philippe left the throne and fled France.

The Second Republic of France was then established as the government. Socialists and liberals* worked side by side in this new republic. However, the liberals wanted to get rid of the socialists and therefore gave them useless jobs to keep them busy. Continue reading

Romanticism

Romanticism was a cultural movement in the 19th century, which changed art, music and literature. It came after neo-classicism, which had sought to organize and rationalize the over extravagant baroque era.

There are several themes in romanticism. There was an intense interest in the distant past, particularly the Middle Ages. Also, nationalism and a more patriotic outlook on life, along with a break with artistic convention, brought forth more individual expression.

Ludwig Van Beethoven
Ludwig Van Beethoven

There are many beautiful works of music from the Romantic era. Innovation played a strong part in making the music so unique. For example, composing five movements for a symphony rather than four, and composing choral symphonies. Individualism was also central. Ludwig van Beethoven brought forth program music. Verdi, Beethoven, Liszt, Chopin and Schumann were a few romantic composers. Continue reading

The History of Compulsory State Education

Compulsory state education began in the West during the 16th century Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther wrote a letter to the German government in 1524 stating the following, “…If the government can compel such citizens as are fit for military service to bear spear and rifle…how much more has it a right to compel the people to send their children to school….” Subsequently, the first compulsory education system in the West was set up in 1559.

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