Democracy and representative government central inspirations for European feminists in the 19th and early 20th centuries? Were there other issues that inspired the feminists?
Burning in the heart of each person is the desire to be free and to be recognized as a valuable part of society while at the same time receiving recognition as an individual. This desire is not trained into us by our society, because regardless of the social organization, or culture, all men and women feel this burning desire equally. The desire to be free, independent and recognized as valuable is a part of what separated men and women from animals. We are important, and our contribution to the social order is an important process by which we make carve out our own identify, and self-worth.
However, this desire for identity and recognition should not be confused with, nor forcibly molded into a desire for sameness between peoples, cultures, or genders. Those values held as important by the Chinese culture do not translate directly into the west, or vice versa. For example, in America, we hold freedom and individual expression to be of the highest value. In France, the desire is for unity under a common leadership, while the far east reinforces the power of the state, and of the extended family as an important aspect of human identify. However, regardless of culture, gender, or continent, peoples universally yearn to be free to pursue that which is important to them, and to be able to determine those priorities for themselves.
As a result to the universal yearning, when a group of people who are under oppressive control hear about a system in which all people are allowed the freedom to pursue their own identities, latent and repressed desires tend to surface. Like a hungry beggar who hears of a free banquet, when those who were oppressed under layers of traditions in the European continent, which allowed women to be little more than house wives, heard about the freedom built into the American culture, the desires to cast off the outward cultural rules and pursue their own definition of female identity surfaces, and slowly began to exert influence on the cultural marketplace.
Simone de Beauvior wrote: “Woman has always been man’s dependant, of not his slave; the two sexes have never shared the world in equality. And even today woman is heavily handicapped, though her situation is beginning to change… Even when her rights are legally recognized in the abstract, long-standing custom prevents their full expression in the mores” (Sources of the Western Tradition, 2003) In the same way as the American constitution was a response to, and a reaction against the oppression created by melding church and state authority in the European continent, the rise of feminism, and the desire of feminists to through off the construct of a male dominated society was also brought influenced by the idealistic American constitution, and the centuries of male dominated society in the European cultures. If all men were created equal, then all mankind, both male and female, should be able to exercise those rights. If all men were created with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit, then the citizens f the nation, regardless of their gender, should be able to determine those priorities for themselves, and pursue them with the full support of the law.
Unfortunately, the when social customs, long determined and dominated by men, became basis for legal precedent, women had been placed in social positions which did not honor their place in history, nor allow them to pursue their desired, dreams for freedoms. As a result, the American commitment to freedom, and success of the same became the motivation for feminists to pursuer breaking the social traditions.
Make the case either for or against appeasement of Hitler by the French and British in the second half of the 1930s.
Peace in our time… peace at what cost? Whenever decisions are made the influences which lie behind the motivations for the decisions must be examined. In the same way, the short-term and long-term repercussions of those decisions must be weighed against one another in order to identify if the motives are genuine and the results of the decisions will carry the parties involved in the direction which they mutually agree are desirable. In the early 1930’s Germany was a devastated nation. Economically, and socially, Germany had been humiliated in the defeat of WWI. In addition, the entire European continent was reeling from the results of the first world War. Only Americans were able to return home to their homes, fields, farms, and careers. The countryside in Europe had been devastated, and a people, the proud German people, had been humiliated.
As a result, when the issue of appeasing Hitler came into the political forefront, the different parties involved in the discussion came to the bargaining table with much different motives. Germany had a score to settle. The humiliation of the nation has devastated the ability of the county to have a sense of national pride. Hitler’s actions, if focused on the German homeland, which were his initial goals, would be a positive force for the nation to use to rebuild its national infrastructure, and pride.
France and England, however, considered a much different perspective. The War had been costly for these nations. Even though identified as the ‘winner’ in the conflict, the nations hardly could be considered winners when they had lost so much in human capitol, and the countryside lay in ruins. As a result, these nations also had a collective emotional motivation to appease Hitler. They wanted to avoid a second conflict, for which they were neither financially, nor politically prepared. As a result, if the German paperhanger wanted to become a big fish in a little pond, even though he was in violation of the Treaty of Versailles, England and France decided they would ‘overlook’ the problem as long as it stayed within the boundaries of the ‘fatherland.” They could look at the situation as an attempt to rebuild good will with a nation that had been completely destroyed, and heavily penalized by the world community as a result of WWI.
Chamberlain echoed these hopes that appeasement would be the course for building a solid foundation for future success in his letter “In Defense of Appeasement” he said:.”.. I believe after my talks with Herr Hitler that, if only time were allowed, it ought to be possible for the arrangements for transferring the territory that the Czech Government has agreed to give to Germany to be settles by agreement under condition which would assure fair treatment to the population concerned…” (Sources of the Western Tradition, 2003) Chamberlain continued, and expressed his desire that the entire British empire not be troubled with the issues of such a small region. His response to those who has correctly identified Hitler as a man of expansionist desires by saying that he would oppose such an effort. But his attitude was to wait, and try to work out a peaceful solution before committing a nation to war. “Armed conflict between nations is a nightmare to me; but if I were convinced that any nation had made up its mind to dominate the world by fear of its force, I should feel that it must be resisted.”
For the sakes of 6 million Jews, gypsies, handicapped and aged and otherwise disables peoples, how the world wishes that Chamberlain and those who agreed to appease evil would have shed their fatigue of war, and correctly identified Hitler’s expansionist ideals before conceding land, and turning the a blind eye to his military mindset. While men of equal desires and character can debate and agree, men cannot appease evil, and Hitler was the embodiment of evil in his generation.
The causes and influences behind WWI
Manufacture and stockpile of armaments
One of the reasons for the start of WWI was simply the availability of the weapons needed to wage the conflict. While this material fact has little to do with the socio-political factors behind the conflict, the industrial revolution has enables the continent to manufacture huge amounts of military supplies in a relatively short period of time. This elevated production of armaments impacted on the course of the war in this way: it was hard to trust the country next door, with whom already exists ethnic tension, when their arsenal was increasing every day.
In 1905 Britain began construction of an expanded naval fleet, beginning with a battleship named Dreadnought. In response to this perceived threat the Germany began constructions of their own fleet. Between the years of 1900 and 1911 the Germans and British competed to see who had the biggest naval fleet. The race led Germany and Britain to mutually blockade the other. Eventually Germans used the U-boat in order to gain an edge over the British fleet. Their naval race intensified the tension and animosity on both sides.
During this time, most of the European leaders were content to occupy themselves with the concerns of their own armaments. In 1899, The Hague Court was held and in 1907 the Hague International Peace Conference followed with the intent of defusing the building warmongering through disarmament. The countries who attended the conference worried that if they disarmed, someone would see it as an opportunity to gain the advantage, and initiate warfare. Germany was in a place to imitate the conflict, and did so in 1914 by declaring war on Russia. Their action was at least partially motivated by a fear that Russia would have time to rearm itself after years of internal civil war.
Growing nationalism has long been a part of European geo-political events, and had been building long before World War I. Europe has long been a mixture of smaller ethnic divisions who wish to be self determinant, allied with ‘brothers’ and at the same time independent. These multi-ethnic divisions are continued source of conflict in Bosnia, and Russia today. Coexisting with the multi-ethnic factions have been economically or militarily superior ‘superpowers’ who wish to dominate and control the majority of land in the continent. Europeans, who strove towards independence and unity with their brothers, were the Great Powers who wished to extend their hand over the greater part of Europe have clashed on the continent since the time of the Roman Praetorian guard.
As the conflict of interests, and military buildup between the Great European Powers continued, nationalism manifested itself in one the smaller division of the people groups on the continent. The disputes in the Balkans had resulted in two wars prior to the start of WWI. The Balkan Wars of 1912-13 were fought over the disposition of the Balkan territories. Serbia had won glory in the Balkan Wars. As WWI loomed closer, the Serbian nationalists turned their attentions to liberating the South Slavs of Austria-Hungary. The Serbians wanted both independence from the Turkish Empire and they wanted their own nation, Yugoslavia. However, an obvious problem for the German empire was that they also wished to incorporate parts of Austria-Hungary in a united German state. The creation of Yugoslavia would mean limits to their expansionist efforts. If they allowed the Southern Slavs to brake out of the Empire, other groups such as the Czechs, Poles, Hungarians and Slovaks could follow. Serbia’s military intelligence worked to from underground alliances with other Serb groups. The society they created pledged to pursue and encourage Serbs in areas like Bosnia to work for the unification with Serbia. They helped to smuggle men, guns and propaganda to people who were sympathetic to the Serb’s who lived outside the Serbian borders. Believing that the Serbs’ cause would be served by the death of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian emperor Francis Joseph I, the Serb underground plotted the death of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which ignite the fuse which the entire continent had played a part in constructing.
By the time the war started, millions of people were inflamed by patriotism. While the arms race has been purported to the major cause of the war, if such a great nationalistic sentiment had not existed, the people would not have rushed to the guns being supplied to them. War does not take place without the manpower, the machinery, and the emotional motivations. Each and every people group was delighted by the chance to prove their nation’s superiority and power and greeted the war with open arms. Ethnicity and hurt pride created alliances between nations in a David Vs. Goliath environment. The nationalist sentiment created the combustible atmosphere, and proved to also be the spark which ignited it. According to McKay (2004): “Between 1850 and 1914, strong nation states developed, which won the enthusiastic support for all the social classes, sauces a shift in the balance of international political power, and pulled the masses away from the socialist doctrine of class war.”
Napoleon III had played a part be building a socialist dictator-esche (predecessor to fascist) government which appealed to the needs and desires of the rich and poor, the conservative and radical. Bismarck waged a series of small wars in order to unify the German stated into a united Germany Prussia. In the southern end of the continent, Count Cavour manages to unify most of Italy in 1860 into a single political state. (McKay, 2004) Through local and regional nationalist and socialist governments the formerly independent propel groups found greater political power, as well as a means to defend their own territories.
The rising feelings of nationalism manifested themselves in many ways. The major powers in the European continent all maneuvered for position over territories and resources which they felt were important. Ongoing disputes between France and Germany to control the provinces of Alsace-Lorraine region created some anti-German sentiment. The loss of land area to Germany in the Franco-Prussian war sowed seeds of animosity between the neighboring nations. Many Germans, including politicians, intellectuals and Kaiser Wilhelm II, believed their German culture and nation was superior to their neighbors. Some of them dreamed of uniting all the Germans in one Pan-German state that would also include large parts of Austria-Hungary. Beginning with the war in 1870, and continuing through WWII, the German nationalists expressed their wishes to have a colonial empire the like of that of England and France. As tried to expand her influence in Europe, Britain and France grew closer in order to protect their common interests. As the American Indian’s say: “the enemy of my enemy if my friend.” Out of self-protectionist desires, England and France buried with disagreements and positioned themselves against German expansionism.
Sources of the Western Tradition: From the Renaissance to the Present, 5th edition, Volume 2 – written by Marvin Perry, Joseph R. Peden & Theodore H. Von Laue – 2003
History of World Societies: Since 1500, 6th Edition, Volume 2 – Written by John P. McKay, Bennett D. Hill, John Buckler, Patricia Buckley Ebrey – 2004
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