The Enlightenment Influencing Societies Circa 1900

780 words - 4 pages

Around 1900, the Enlightenment was the major factor in influencing societies worldwide. Enlightenment thinkers generally led the revolutions. These revolutions led to the political systems that were currently in place in 1900. Women were claiming that they should have equal rights, just as the men had a right to vote, etc. Although at this point many women did not have equal rights, the fact that they were able to speak out was because the Enlightenment influenced them.

A great example of the feminist movement was Kartini. Kartini was a Javanese Islamic woman in the Netherlands. Her contact with the Europeans left her with new ideas about women’s role in society. Kartini believed in, “freedom, equality, fraternity,” . Kartini also asked, “Are fine women of no use to civilization?” This, quote with its Enlightenment values, it is evident that Kartini was influenced by the Enlightenment. She had the same sentiments as French Revolutionaries as Marquis De Condorcet had of submitting to reason. Although her dream of opening a school for Javanese girls, who previously did not have this option available did not happen during her lifetime, after she passed away schools were established in her memorial thereby importing some Enlightenment values to Java. Other forms of the Enlightenment aside from feminism manifested itself in China.

In China peasant grievances, and charismatic leaders proclaiming a different ideology from the present one China caused the Taiping Uprising. The rebels wanted social reform, an abolition of privately owned land, an industrial nation with railroads and widespread public education. This philosophy of the Enlightenment that change can be for the better and status quo need not remain, directed the Taiping Uprising. Although the Taiping Rebellion was subjugated, the impact became evident in 1898 when Kang Youwei wrote to the Chinese Emperor suggesting reform. “A survey of all the states which undertook reforms became stronger while those states which clung to the past perished…If Your Majesty, with your discerning brilliance, observes the trends in other countries, you will see that if we change, we can preserve ourselves; but if we cannot change, we will perish.” The Enlightenment guides Kang Youwei with the Enlightenment principle that reform can be better and in his letter to the emperor, he points to other countries that have reformed governments are strong then they were before.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote “The proletariat will use its...

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