A. General social trends in the early 1800s:
1. Accelerated population expansion.
Belgium: 1816 = 4,166,000 1855 = 4,530,000
France: 1801 = 27,349,000 1851 = 35,783,000
"Germany": 1816 = 22,377,000 1852 = 33,413,000
England: 1801=8,892,000 1851 = 17,928,000
Causes: as noted in earlier lecture, improvements in diet, sanitation, medical knowledge and care, that decrease death rate, but also shifts in marriage and birth patterns.
Note: marriage and birth patterns among the "Middle Class" increasingly differed from those of urban and rural working people.
2. Accelerated Urbanization.
Amsterdam: 1801= 201,000 1851 = 224,000
Berlin: 1801 = 172,000 1851 = 419,000
London: 1801 = 1,117,000 1851 = 2,685,00
Moscow: 1801 = 250,000 1851 = 365,000
"Familiar" problems of urban growth: overcrowding and concentration of poor, poor quality housing, lack of running water and sanitation, lack of ventilation and light, all of which contribute to the spread of disease and to social tensions
3. Changes in rural society in 1800-1850:
growing importance of commercial farming and growing role of merchants and other "capitalists" in agricultural trade, which put added pressure on peasants and small-scale farmers.
growing internationalization of grain trade (made more profitable by railroads and steamships) leds to trend of falling grain prices, which put pressure on peasants and small-scale farmers
problems of rural overcrowding and rural poverty (which fed into urban growth)
efforts of national/state governments to "transform" rural populations through education and increased contact with the state
Note: linkage between changes in patterns of land ownership/use and large national economic trends:
link between changes in land ownership and use patterns and industrial revolution in England
link between wide-spread peasant land ownership in post-Revolutionary France and the "slower" pace of industrial growth there
link between the manner which serfdom was ended in Prussia (land went to the aristocrats) and Junker aristocrats' transformation into "capitalist" landlords
link between the continued existence of serfdom in Russia (until 1860s) and Russia's relative economic backwardness
B. New social classes:
1. The Middle Class
note subdivisions within the middle class (bankers, industrialists, professionals, merchants, managers, etc.)
movement within the "middle classes" more common than "rising" from working classes into the middle class
middle class ideal of "self-made men" in a society where status should rest on talent and ability
middle class belief in basic ideals of "laissez-faire liberalism"—economic individualism, limited state functions, natural law, freedom of contract, free competition and free trade
middle class emphasis on "virtues" of thrift, industriousness, efficiency, modesty, sobriety, self-control, respectability, "manliness" (and patriarchy)
middle class disdain for the aristocracy as corrupt, morally inferior, wasteful, "soft," effeminate, undeserving of their status and political power
middle class disdain and fear of the working class as morally and intellectually weak, animalistic, sexually profligate, drunken, lazy (belief that poverty was the result of moral/character failings, failure to "pull yourself by your own bootstraps"), envious and contemptuous of others' success and property, and potentially dangerous
middle class belief that the poor could be "reformed" with guidance on how to improve themselves—on how to behave more like the middle class. Some middle class people believed that this guidance should come from government agencies (e.g., schools), some believed it was a matter of individual conscience
strong middle class sense (self-consciousness) of the middle class as a class, with its own class interests
2. Working Classes or Working Class?
urban working people faced by common problems (e.g., poor working conditions, very bad urban living conditions, threat of de-skilling and of falling wages, lack of job protection and inability to form legal trade unions, lack of institutionalized political power)
urban working people divided by "traditional" distinctions based upon skill, type of work, wage-levels, gender in first half of 19th century. Skilled artisans and highly skilled "industrial workers" (e.g., mechanics) saw themselves as different from (and superior to) semi-skilled and unskilled workers; workers in certain trades and industries considered themselves different from and superior to workers in other trades (e.g., glass blowers considered themselves superior to carpenters, etc.); men considered their labor to be more valuable and superior to that of women.
these craft, skill, etc., divisions worked against the development of a common sense of "working class" self-identity in the early 1800s. Workers often saw society as divided into "laboring and non-laboring classes," or "productive and non-productive classes," or "toilers and non-toilers," etc.—but they typically did not define themselves as members of a "working class" with a common set of class interests in opposition to those of the "ownership" class (the middle class).
a clearer sense of working class identity, in opposition to the middle class, developed much more quickly in an after the Revolutions of 1848.
C. New political and cultural movements
1) Liberalism before 1848. Belief in:
that all men were born equal in rights (but not in talent, wealth, etc)
an end to the privileges and powers of the aristocracy
the function of the law was to protect natural rights and liberty
the best way to preserve rights and liberty was to ensure the rule of law by creating a constitutional form of government in which sovereignty lay with the people, who chose their own representative to serve in government (which would then reflect the values of efficiency, thrift, etc.).
Liberals differed among themselves over who should have the right to vote and to serve in government:
The experience of the French Revolution—especially the Jacobin period—had reinforced liberal fears of the "mob." Many believed in limiting political rights to those who owned property.
Others, often called "democrats" or "radical republicans" argued that all men should have voting rights, regardless of property ownership.
In the early 1800s, very few men believed that women should have equal rights (John Stuart Mill was unusual in championing women's rights).
Liberals generally believed in laissez-faire principles—that the functions of government should be limited to what was necessary to protect rights and preserve order, and that the government should not interfere in the workings of the economy. (Stress on ideas of
Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo.
Note: Laissez-faire principles often helped to justify and rationalize the social inequality that typified the industrial revolution. (e.g., insistence that poverty was the result of character flaws and weaknesses; in the open market place, those who worked hard and exercised self-control would rise out of poverty.)
But there were debates among liberals over when and how government might legitimately intervene in social and economic matters:
liberals often approved of government intervention in favor of business
some liberals argued that the government needed to take a more active role in aiding the lower classes, through public education and other programs that would help provide "upward mobility"
after the 1848 revolutiona, liberals became much more willing to promote state intervention in social matters—such as improving urban living conditions—in hope that this would lessen the chance of revolution.
2) Conservativism before 1848. Conservativism in the early 1800s came in two basic varieties:
those who championed the old regime hierarchy of monarch, church, and aristocracy and considered the French Revolution and liberalism to be challenges to God's intended hierarchical order (a view typical among conservative on the European continent)
those who did not necessarily reject all change in the social order, but who stressed the importance of gradualism and considered the underlying principles and methods of the French Revolutionaries and of Liberalism to be tragically misguided (a view more common among British conservatives).
The best representatives of the first (continental) variety of conserativism are men like Joseph de Maistre in France and Tsar Nicholas I in Russia.
The best example of the second (British) variety was Edmund Burke, whose ideas were laid out in his influential criticism of the French Revolution. Burke argued that
societies, their cultures, and their forms of government, had evolved "organically" over centuries of time
in England, the traditions had evolved over the centuries preserved liberties while at the same time protecting order
the French Revolutionaries, and liberals in general, were wrong to think that you could simply "invent" new laws and new systems of government, or that you could "improve" mankind by inventing new laws and government policies
destroying established traditions leads to anarchy—without familiar order, society would degenerate into disorder and liberty would be destroyed. (This is what Burke said happened in France after 1789.)
3) Socialism before 1848. Like the liberals, socialists believed that men and society could be improved, and that the application of new rational principles of government and society could create a world in which people enjoyed liberty and equality.
Unlike the liberals, Socialists
rejected the idea that private property is the basis of liberty, and argued that is is the cause of inequality and injustice
concluded that legal equality was not enough--there must be social equality
concluded that political rights alone could not ensure social equality
Most socialist thinkers pointed to the industrial revolution for proof of their arguments about inequality. They argued that:
the industrial revolution was creating great wealth for middle class owners of property, but that the working people who did all of the real work (and thus created the value) were growing poorer and more miserable
all that people had to do to see the proof of this was look around them at conditions in factories and in cities
capitalism was ultimately irrational, because it did not result in the most effective and most equitable distribution of goods, resources, liberty, or happiness
But not all socialist thinkers agreed on how best to solve the problems of inequality:
"Utopian socialists" believed that it was possible to build "cooperative communities," where everyone would be joint owners of productive property.
"Anarchist socialists" argued that private property was "theft" and that government had only one function—to protect the thieves (the private property owners); to restore liberty and equality, mankind eliminate both private property and government. Communities would then create their own "cooperatives," which would exchange goods and services among themselves.
"Democratic socialists" believed that capitalism resulted in the exploitation of working people, and argued that if workers had the right to vote they would be in the majority and could use the government to gradually replace the capitalist economy based upon private property with a socialist economy based upon "publicly-owned" property
"Revolutionary socialists" argued that capitalism must be overthrown through a violent workers' rebellion, which would establish a socialist system run by the workers.
The most influential socialist critic of capitalism was the German revolutionary socialist Karl Marx. Marx and his working partner, Fredrich Engels, would emerge as the dominant socialist thinkers of the second half of the 1800s. On the eve of the 1848 revolutions, Marx's main ideas had already taken shape. According to Marx:
societies and social epochs are defined by the way in which labor and property were organized and controlled (e.g., slave society in the ancient world, feuldalism in the middle ages, capitalism in the modern era).
each social system creates social classes based upon who controls productive property, and conflict between these social classes creates historical change.
in capitalist society, property and power is controlled by the Middle Class (the capitalists or Bourgeoisie).
The result of capitalism had been greater productivity than ever before in history and the birth of democratic rule.
But capitalism had lived out its historical usefulness
capitalism had "socialized" the process of making goods by creating factories and modern industry, but it privatized the profits earned through workers labor and out it in the pockets of the capitalists, who would do all they could to protect their own power and property.
Capitalism by its very nature required the exploitation and de-humanization of the working class majority.
Human progress therefore required that the working class organize, overthrow the capitalists and their state, and establish a socialist form of government with public control over all productive property.
this would create "real" democracy—social democracy based upon the ideal of social rights and social equality.
under socialism and the "dictatorship of the working class," social classes and class conflict would eventually disappear
as a result, government (which Marx considered a weapon of class rule) would also wither away. (Marx called this "final" stage of human history, in which class distinctions and the state wither away, "communism.")
NOTE: Marx had relatively little influence before 1848, and would have far more influence in the decades after 1848.
4) Romanticism before 1848. Romanticism was an intellectual and artistic movement that had an influence on liberalism, conservativism, and socialism. It als can be seen as a reaction against some of the ideas of the Enlightenment and against the Industrial Revolution:
Romanticism criticized the Enlightenment "excessive" emphasis on reason and logic
Romantics stressed the importance of nature, emotions, intuition, and imagination
Many Romantics argued that the Industrial Revolution was defiling nature in the name of economic progress, and by doing so was ripping human beings away from that which gave life beauty and meaning.
NOTE: The Romantic movement was often contemptuous of middle class culture and morality, yet the work of Romantic poets (like Shelly, Wordsworth, Keats, Blake, Byron, Pushkin, and Goethe), composers (like Beethoven), and painters (like Gericault and Delacroix), shaped the aesthetic of the Middle Classes in the 1800s.
Romanticism's emphasis on emotions also had a great influence on politics, but it belonged to no one political ideology:
The Romantic emphasis on individualism reinforced the ideas of liberalism.
The Romantic fascination with "natural man" who had been "torn from his natural state" by industrial capitalism resonated with common themes of socialism.
The sense that nations were united by emotional bounds, by the feeling of "common blood," infused much Nationalist thought in Central Europe in the early 1800s. In the second half of the 1800s in particular, Romantic nationalism would become a basis of popular conservativism.
5) Nationalism before 1848. Modern Nationalism was a product of the French Revolution and in the early 1800s was tied closely to Liberalism. As noted in an earlier lecture,
the leaders of the French Revolution claimed to represent the entire French Nation
the revolutionary governments made creating a sense of national unity one of their main goals
the French revolutionaries stressed that all Frenchmen were united as one nation, and that as citizens they not only enjoyed rights, but also had a duty to serve and protect the nation.
Liberals in general championed the cause of nationalism and national unity, which they connected with constitutional rule and a nation state that would create unified systems of law (etc) to develop nation-wide markets.
Conservatives initially feared nationalism, which they worried would undermine traditional social hierarchies and authority. But in the Napoleonic period conservative thinkers began to see the possibility that nationalism could be used to promote authority. As already noted, nationalism would become central to conservative ideology after the revolutions of 1848.
Some socialists, like Karl Marx, argued against nationalism. (Marx argued that class unity was more important than nationalism). But many early socialists, like Proudhon, were staunchly nationalistic.
NOTE: Nationalism depended upon the spread of a sense of national identity, which in fact was not something that spread quickly throughout all elements of all European societies in the early 1800s. When it did develop, the spread of a sense of national identity was generally the slow product of several changes often linked to state institutions. Among the important forces and experiences contributing to the spread of a sense of national identity were:
participation in the army
the spread of public education (which was linked to the spread of basic literacy, the eventual dominance of a common national language, and the creation of common national historical myths)
celebration of national state-sponsored holidays and festivals
and the experience of voting for public offices.
Most of these institutions did not really have influence over the everyday lives of common people until after the Revolutions of 1848.