Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Traditionalism vs. Modernity Part I: The Struggle for the Modern State

Today we are going to look at the troubles that plagued Europe and the West in general during the middle of the 19th Century.

The nations that emerged victorious against Napoleon believed that the Congress of Vienna in 1815 would not only stabilize Europe and prevent another age of warfare, that it would also turn back the clock on some of the fundamental changes that had taken root since the French Revolution.

The Bourbon Kings who emerged after 1815 in France exemplified this reactionary impulse, but as we shall see, it was not only the old nobles who sought a return to the old ways. We'll view this through the rise of France's Second Republic and Second Empire.

At the same time, people across England and Europe saw the post-Napoleonic period as a time for solidifying some of the basic rights gained under the age of "enlightenment." Basic reforms such as freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and universal male suffrage became rallying cries of the people. We will look at this through the failed bid for German nationhood.

The struggle between Modernity and Traditionalism spread to America and Japan as well, and we'll briefly explore these two conflicts in the context of this philosophical rift. 

Lastly, even more radical thinkers emerged out of this turmoil, and we'll spend some time  looking at them.

Some terms that will appear in today's lecture:

Charterist Movement (England)
Charles X of France
Louis Napoleon, a.k.a. Napoleon III
Carl Schurz
Richard Wagner
Meiji Restoration
Karl Marx

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