Emerging Liberalism And Socialism In Europe

4108 words - 17 pages

The social disorder in Europe created through the outcomes of the French and Industrial Revolution in the early 19th century had major impacts on the course of European history and civilization for the following 150 years up in the middle of the 20th century. The French and Industrial Revolution not only changed the political and economic face of Europe dramatically, but also created “conflicts between the old traditional classes and the new emerging classes, namely the industrial and commercial middle-class and an increasing industrial working class” (lecture 04/03). This search for a new economic and political order resulted in the evolution of three different political philosophies or ...view middle of the document...

Even though conservatives do not reject change, they are against revolutionary or rapid change and advocate an organic change.
A representative of Conservatism in Perspectives from the Past is Edmund Burkes’ text Reflections on the Revolution in France, in which he clearly opposes the French Revolution and its ideas. With his recommendation to recall “the true principles of our own domestic laws” (Burke, 379), he clearly acts for the ideas of conservatism and opposes liberal ideas. He condemns throughout the text the current development in France and supports the old system of a constitutional monarchy as “a hereditary crown” (Burke, 379).
The second important political philosophy emerging in the 18th century was liberalism, which held up the “values of individual freedom, free trade, and a right to a say for the middle class” (lecture 04/05). Liberal ideas found great support in the emerging and increasing commercial and industrial middle-class, as a reaction to the conservative backlash all over Western Europe. Even though Liberals demanded more political power and voting rights, they restricted these rights solely to the middle class “men of property” (lecture, 04/05) and excluded the working class and women. Liberal ideas stood in contrast to the goals of the reactionary conservatives, which can be seen in Thomas Paines’ (1737-1809) text, Rights of Man, which is a direct response to Burkes’ Reflections on the Revolution in France. Paine contradicts with Burkes’ conservative ideas of a hereditary government and that monarchy is “just a thing or even fraud” (Paine, 382). His liberal thoughts go so far that he sees democracy or as he refers to “the principle of government which is that of the equal Rights of Man” (Paine, 383) is making a rapid progress around the world. Even though liberalism did not necessarily equal democracy in the early 19th century, it surely did for Paine.
Another advocate of liberal ideas is Benjamin Constant de Rebecque (1767-1830) who differentiates in The Principles of Politics between the sovereignty of the people and the “personal independence and life” (Constant, 451). He clearly advocates a parliamentary monarchy, but with restrictions concerning the rights and liberties of the individual, which are liberal thoughts.
The Third emerging political philosophy was dominated by the poor urban working class, which strived for “extended political power and a fair distribution of the wealth” (lecture 04/05) and evolved from communalism to the more radical ideologies of socialism and communism. Socialism strives for an economic system in which the means of production and wealth are owned collectively by the people and not by a few as in a capitalist economy. Socialism advocates the fair distribution of wealth. Even though this goal is not clearly stated in Francis Places’ (1771-1854) The People’s Charter and National Petition, it is still seen an example of early...

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