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Chapter 23 The Building Of European Supremacy Summary

3492 words - 14 pages

So the theme of the year to date (and hopefully one that will carry over into all of your examinations of history) has been ‘history is a story,’ one with many separate sub-plots but one that does rationally unfold. It only makes sense then that trade unionism and socialist political parties should emerge in the latter half of the 19th century. In the grand progression of events and ideologies, these developments show as much as anything else the characteristic predictability that often follows many of life’s large changes.Consider when any major innovation changes the general nature in which large groups of people live their lives. When man first invented agriculture, no doubt there were many who rebelled against the growing trend of creating communities and continued to wander the earth in search of game to hunt and conquer. When the unbridled religiosity of the late medieval crusading period came to a cessation, many people then led quests to root out all of the heretics of their own lands rather than simply focusing on those in far-away reaches (Inquisition as most widespread example). Arguably, no greater change ever struck the European continent than that which thundered across nation after nation in the early to mid 19th century; industrialization changed how people worked, the manner in which they viewed the purpose of life, where they lived, their social relationships within the family and in the community at large… in essence, it tossed life on its head with the many new developments so quickly introduced. Just as the displaced hunter eventually learned to work with the agriculture and so too did the domestic crusader learn to live amongst divergent groups within his nation, so too did the people of the industrial world have to come to grips with the many changes which they had so quickly been introduced.Naturally, this change was not entirely quick in coming. The first extensions of democracy brought voting only to the upper reaches of society. In Britain in the earliest parts of the 1800s, that meant only the noble and/or ultra-wealthy men could vote in Parliamentary elections. As the nation developed further industrial wealth though, and as new groups began looking for a say in government so they could protect their newfound wealth, electoral laws began to change. By 1832, the upper middle class could vote and the infamous “rotten boroughs” were done away with (Great Reform Bill of 1832). The fact that only the wealthy could vote dictated how the various political parties responded to the voters. Since none of the proletariat could vote, neither the Conservatives (who favored the traditionally aristocratic families) nor the Liberals (upper Bourgeoisie businessmen with lots of money earned through enterprise) aimed any of their policies towards the lower classes. In good Marxist form, it could be said that the political system was set up first to protect the ‘haves,’ or those with some form of...

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