The Role of the Individual and Society in the Late 19th Century, Nationalism
A young boy of both German and Italian heritage opens a book on his ancestry. The
earliest recordable links he can trace from his Italian and German roots are two tribes.
The tribes are very similar in all aspects that he can discern. The German people have
the same interests, occupations, religions, and traditions. Identical traits are seen in the Italian tribe. The boy questions, however, if these people can really be his ancestors. After all, he is German and Italian and the tribesmen all identify themselves with present day cities and provinces. Is he Sicilian and Bavarian instead of Italian and German? As the boy reads on he finds out that in the late nineteenth century, his ancestors suddenly identified themselves as German and Italian, what he expected they would be from the start. So, what happened? Divided between the conservative elite and the common liberal, Italy and Germany became unified nations through the institution of a strong military, economy, government, and the influence of a rich ancestry. Each member of society was affected by the move towards nationalism in different ways; the monarchy, liberals, and working classes in Italy and Germany
embodied the results of nationalism throughout Europe.
The conservative contingency of both Italy and Germany believed that the only way they could build a strong country that would withstand the tests of time was through the building of a strong economy. By building up a large amount of money from the group of territories in the nation through taxes and other sources of government finance, Italy and Germany could build respect among other nations and join the elite of Europe. The money would then trickle down the class system and benefit all of the people of the nation. The King and the monarchy, however, stood to benefit most from the increase of wealth brought on by nationalism. Since the monarchy controlled the government, they could do as they saw fit with the money that the nation accumulated. The King had the most control over the economy since he was an absolute monarch and had no checks on his power. In the case of Germany and Italy, the monarchy wanted to use the monetary gain in order to support a strong military. The purpose of the military, they said, was to protect the new nations from being overtaken by strong countries adjacent them. It was not in their intention to start any wars since they were just getting off the ground as countries, but they needed to feel secure in order to make any headway. As King
Victor Emmanuel of Italy put it, ìGood finances will be the means of re-enforcing our military organization. Our most ardent desire is for peace The monarchies hoped that by controlling the economy and the military, they could obtain the greatest prosperity for their nations and for themselves.
The ordinary person benefited in a different way than the monarchy when it...