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Europe on the Edge and then Walking into the Abyss. Politics, Culture, the New Imperialism and the Coming of War: 1870-1914. Introduction. Before 1914, Europeans still believed in the values and ideals of reason, science, and progress

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europe on the edge and then walking into the abyss

Europe on the Edge and then Walking into the Abyss

Politics, Culture, the New Imperialism and the Coming of War: 1870-1914

  • Before 1914, Europeans still believed in the values and ideals of reason, science, and progress
  • However, by the end of the 19th century a dramatic transformation in the realm of ideas and culture challenged many of these assumptions creating a new view of the physical universe, an appeal to the irrational, alternative views of human nature and radically innovative forms of literary and artistic expression
  • These new ideas, though opening up a new modern consciousness, would also create a sense of confusion and anxiety
emergence of a new physics traditional scientific view
Emergence of a New Physics:Traditional Scientific View
  • Science was one of the chief pillars on which the optimistic and rationalistic view of the world was supported
  • Additionally, the West still held to the Newtonian mechanical conception of the universe
  • Moreover, matter was thought to be composed of indivisible solid material bodies called atoms
emergence of a new physics
Emergence of a New Physics
  • Marie Curie and Radium
    • The first crack in this view was made by Marie Curie & her husband Pierre who discovered that the element radium gave off rays of radiation that came from within the atom itself
    • Atoms were now no longer small, hard material bodies, but small world containing subatomic particles that behaved in a random and inexplicable fashion
  • Max Planck and Quanta
    • Building upon the work of the Curies, Max Planck rejected the idea that a heated body radiates energy in a steady stream, but instead rather discontinuously, in irregular packets he called “quanta”
    • Concept of quantum theory vs. Newtonian physics
emergence of a new physics albert einstein and relativity
Emergence of a New Physics:Albert Einstein and Relativity
  • It was to be Albert Einstein and his theory of relativity that would challenge and replace the Newtonian worldview
  • According to this new theory, space and time are not absolute but relative to the observer, and both are interwoven into what Einstein called a four-dimensional space-time continuum
  • Einstein’s theory rested upon his formula of E=mc2
  • Rejection and than acceptance of Einstein’s theories
friedrich nietzsche and superman
Friedrich Nietzsche and Superman
  • In the decades before 1914, there were also contradictions in the intellectual sphere
  • Due to the influence of science, confidence in human reason and progress still remained dominant; however, there was a small group of intellectuals who attacked the idea of optimistic progress, dethroned reason, and glorified the irrational
  • The greatest and most influential of these figures was Friedrich Nietzsche
  • What was to blame for this enfeeblement of Western civilization? Christianity
    • “slave morality”
    • “God is dead”
  • Rise of the “superman”
sigmund freud and psychoanalysis
Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis
  • The optimism about the rational nature of the human mind was further undermined by a Viennese doctor by the name of Sigmund Freud
  • Unconscious
    • The Interpretation of Dreams, (1900)
    • Freud strongly believed that human behavior was determined by the unconscious, by earlier experiences and inner forces that people were largely oblivious to
  • Repression
    • These forces were oblivious because of repression; harmful events were blotted from conscious awareness but remained within the unconscious where it still influence behavior
    • The id, ego, and superego
  • Rejection of Freud’s ideas
social darwinism and racism
Social Darwinism and Racism
  • In the second half of the 19th century, many scientific theories were wrongly applied to achieve other ends
  • The one that would have the most far-reaching consequences was the application of Darwin’s theory of evolution to society, and was known as Social Darwinism
social darwinism and racism1
Social Darwinism and Racism
  • Herbert Spencer’s Social Statistics
    • The most popular exponent of Social Darwinism was the British philosopher Herbert Spencer
    • Progress came from “the struggle for survival”
    • This could apply to both people and states
  • As applied to Society & Race
    • Darwin’s ideas were also applied to human society in radical ways by extreme nationalist and racists
    • The extreme nationalists argued that nations were also engaged in a “struggle for existence” and only the strongest & fittest survived
    • German volkish ideology and Houston Stewart Chamberlain
    • Jews seen in biological terms
attack on christianity and church responses
Attack on Christianity and Church Responses
  • Weakening of Religion
    • The growth of scientific thinking as well as modernization presented new challenges to the Christian churches
    • Industrialization & urbanization weakened the hold the churches had on the masses
    • In addition, many of the political movements of the late 19th century were hostile to established religion - anticlericalism
    • Science became a major threat to religion as the century progressed - Darwin’s theory of evolution
  • Pius IX and Leo XIII
    • Pope Pius IX and the Syllabus of Errors (1864)
    • However, under his successor, Leo XIII, the Catholic Church tried to compromise with modernity with mixed results
culture of modernity
Culture of Modernity
  • The revolution in physics and psychology was paralleled by a revolution in literature and the arts
  • In the period before 1914 writers and artists rebelled against the traditional literary and artistic styles that had dominated Europe since the Renaissance creating what is now known as Modernism
  • Literature
    • Emile Zola’s Naturalism
    • Yeats, Rilke, and Symbolism
  • Art
    • Pissarro, Monet, Morisot, and Impressionism
    • Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Post-Impressionism
    • Picasso & Cubism and Kandinsky & Abstraction
politics new directions and new uncertainties
Politics: New Directions and New Uncertainties
  • Just as uncertainties marked the intellectual and cultural life of Europe, so was it true of Europe’s political life
  • The steady progress in liberal principles and political democracy after 1871 was soon slowed and to an extent halted after 1894
  • The new mass politics opened the door to changes many liberals found unacceptable
    • Right-wing politics
    • Demands of Women
    • Lastly, tensions continued to grow as the authoritarian governments of central Europe refused to meet the demands of the reformers
women s rights movement
Women’s Rights Movement
  • Custody and Property
    • In the 1830’s, women began to join reform movements to improve their position
    • Their initial goal was to change the family & marriage laws that made it difficult for women to secure divorce and property laws that gave husbands complete control over their wife’s property
    • These early efforts were not exactly successful
  • Suffrage
    • By the 1840’s & 50’s, the woman’s movement entered the political arena with the call for equal political rights, especially the right to vote
    • The British women’s movement was the most vocal and active in Europe, though it was split between moderate the radical forces
    • Although few followed these methods, demands for women’s rights were heard throughout Europe, but it was only after 1914 when they were finally given the right to vote
liberalism transformed in britain
Liberalism Transformed in Britain
  • In dealing with the problems created by the new mass politics, liberal governments were forced to follow policies that undermined the basic tenets of liberalism and this is no more apparent than in Britain
  • Workers, Labour and the Liberal Party
  • The Liberals, led by David Lloyd George, recognized that they had to enact a program of social welfare or lose the support of the workers
  • Liberalism, based upon the idea that the government that governs least governs best, was forever transformed
growing tensions in wilhelmine germany
Growing Tensions in Wilhelmine Germany
  • Germany, only recently united, experienced growing pains as it experienced “telescopic modernization”
  • The problem is that Germany is still very authoritarian and conservative, at least in the circles of power
  • But the growth in industrialization and modernization creates a whole series of contrasts & contradictions
    • Social Democracy is growing as well as the demand for more political participation and democracy
    • The ruling political and industrial elite oppose this, and try to divert the public’s attention with an activist foreign policy
  • However, the tensions between traditionalism and modernization remain, a ticking time-bomb ready to explode
imperial russia
Imperial Russia
  • Industrialization and Socialism
    • In Russia, there was also great tension between the forces of traditionalism and modernization as industrialization reshaped the face of Russia
    • Just as in Western Europe, socialist thought and parties appeared in Russia, but were soon suppressed and they resorted to revolutionary activities
  • The Revolution of 1905
    • These tensions came to a head with Russia’s defeat by Japan in 1905, resulting in the 1905 Revolution
    • The government of Nicolas II capitulates and grants parliamentary government with the Duma
    • However, the experiment with democracy is short-lived
the new imperialism
The New Imperialism
  • In the 1880’s, the nation-states of Europe embarked upon an intense scramble for overseas territory
  • This revival of imperialism, or what is called “new imperialism,” led Europeans to carve up most of Africa and Asia, further increasing the tensions between the powers in Europe
  • Why did this happen and what can explain it?
causes of the new imperialism
Causes of the New Imperialism
  • Competition among European Nations
  • Social Darwinism and Racism
  • Humanitarianism and Missions
  • Economic Gain
creation of empires africa
Creation of Empires:Africa
  • The British and Africa
    • The Cape Colony & the Boer Republic
    • Cecil Rhodes
    • “From the Cape to Cairo”
    • The Boer War (1899-1902)
  • Scramble to Carve the Continent
    • By the 1880’s, the rest of Europe intervened in Africa
    • France would control most of North Africa, including Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco
    • Britain, Egypt and the Suez Canal
    • By 1914, all of Africa except for Liberia and Ethiopia had been conquered by Europeans
creation of empires asia
Creation of Empires: Asia
  • Although Asia had been open to Western influence since the 16th century, very little of its territory had fallen under direct European control
  • This was to change in the middle of the 19th century
    • James Cook and Australia
    • China and the "Open Door"
    • Matthew Perry and Japan
responses to imperialism
Responses to Imperialism
  • We have seen several examples of European imperialism and how they imposed their beliefs and culture upon these conquered people, but how did they respond?
  • We will look at three examples of how indigenous peoples responded to foreign rule
    • Boxers and a Chinese Republic
    • Meiji Modernization of Japan
    • British Control of India
international rivalry and the coming of war
International Rivalry and the Coming of War
  • Before 1914, Europe experience a period of peace lasting nearly 50 years
  • Although there had been some wars, but none really involving the Great Powers or leading to a general war
  • The reason for this was Bismarck’s retraining influence
the bismarckian system of alliances
The Bismarckian System of Alliances
  • Bismarck knew that the creation of a united Germany upset the balance of power
  • Bismarck, France and the Three Emperor’s League (1873)
  • The disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and who would benefit from it, Austria or Russia
    • The Congress of Berlin (1878)
    • After the Congress, the European powers sought alliances to safeguards themselves
  • Bismarck’s alliance system worked to keep the status quo intact, however, he was dismissed by William II in 1890
new directions and new crises
New Directions and New Crises
  • Germany’s search for a “place in the sun”
    • With the dismissal of Bismarck, William II took an active interest in foreign policy seeking Germany’s “place in the sun”
    • However, in pursuing this new activist foreign policy, Germany undid most of Bismarck’s system
  • Triple Entente
    • Franco-Russian Alliance (1894)
    • Now the Germans faced enemies on both borders, so they sought out additional allies, specifically the British
    • Anglo-German Naval Race
    • Signing of the Entente Cordiale (1904) and the Triple Entente
  • Europe was now divided into two opposing power blocs, the Triple Alliance versus the Triple Entente - it was only a matter of time before some spark set off war between the two
crisis in the balkans
Crisis in the Balkans
  • The first step in the road to war in 1914 began in the Balkans with the Balkan Crisis of 1908-09
  • The next step were the two Balkan Wars in 1912 & 1913
  • Results of the Balkan Wars and the “cold war” between Austria-Hungary and Serbia/Russia
  • As 1914 came, Europe sitting upon a keg of gunpowder ready for a spark to set it off
  • It would take a little “accident” to set it off with the European “age of progress” about to come to a inglorious and bloody end