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Europe (1815-1848)

Battling Ideologies (1815-1830)

Metternich and his Congresses (1815-1822)

Battling Ideologies (1815-1830), page 2

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Summary

The years between 1815-1830 saw the rise of a number of related and competing ideologies, each holding a powerful influence in their own time. That influence often extended well into the future, continuing to the present day. This section will outline those ideologies.

Classical Liberalism

Beginning in Spain and France during the 1820s, liberalism soon spread to England. Consisting of businessmen and professionals, the liberals wanted modern, efficient self-government, although they were not always for universal male suffrage. They wanted freedom of the press and freedom of the assembly. They wanted constitutions, and Laissez Faire economic policies, such as free trade and low tariffs. They were generally against unions.

Radicalism and Republicanism

Radicalism appeared in the 1820s in England as the "Philosophical Radicals". This principled and unconventional group, consisting partially of workers and partially of industrialists, had its greatest leader in the colorful Jeremy Bentham. The Radicals were anti-church and anti-monarchy, and generally opposed the old ways. They were a force unto themselves until 1832, after which they merged with the British Liberals. The European counterpart to Radicalism was usually referred to as Republicanism, which grew out of the French Revolutionary tradition. Republicanism sought complete political equality in the form of universal suffrage. Republicanism opposed monarchy and the Catholic Church.

Socialism

Counter to liberalism was Socialism, which sought economic equality for all, and was very much against the Laissez Faire ideal of liberalism. Socialism looked at the free-market economies of Western Europe in the midst of the Industrial Revolution and saw exploited workers leading miserable existences while manufacturers profited enormously. Socialists felt that with the rich profiting so much, the poor should get some of the benefits, since worker's labor supported the entire system. Socialists, therefore, wanted to nationalize parts of the economy, such as industrial and financial sectors, giving these areas of the economy over to government control. Thus, the benefits could be distributed more equally to the various members of society. For example, Robert Owen, a manufacturer in Manchester, grew upset at his worker's living conditions and began paying higher wages then other manufacturers did, and he treated his workers well, counseling them against drinking and other vices. In fact, Owen did fairly well in business despite giving his workers a higher than ordinary wage. Owen wanted to continue reform, and eventually he became frustrated with the slow pace of change in Britain. In 1825, he founded New Harmony, Indiana, an experimental socialist community in the United States. Other leading socialist thinkers included the Frenchmen Saint-Simon and Charles Fourier. Fourier wanted to organize society into groups called "phalansteries", in which everyone would be able to do whatever work they wanted and all be paid the same wages. Some phalansteries actually were set up in the United States.

Nationalism

Nationalism was the most powerful of all the "isms" in this period. France and Great Britain's strong nation-states had inspired jealousy throughout the rest of Europe; other nations, disorganized as they were, wanted to unify. German intellectuals living in (and hating) the loosely organized Bund provided much of the vocabulary for nationalism, stating that each nation had a particular Volksgeist, or national spirit. Soon, just about every European language group wanted to have their own nation. Quickly outlawed by reactionary forces, nationalist groups formed secret societies such as the Italian Carbonari and German Buschenschaft. These societies distributed propaganda leaflets and plotted rebellions. Often, nationalism combined with other ideological issues, from liberalism to socialism.

In 1831, Joseph Mazzini founded "Young Italy" as a nationalist group, which soon tried to organize a coup in the Italian state of Sardinia. Soon exiled, Mazzini remained a leading writer on nationalist issues. Nationalism, though pushed underground by the Carlsbad Decrees, was still very much alive in Germany in the 1820s and 1830s.

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