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Euro-Politics In The Mid 19th Century Vs. American Politics At The Beginning Of The 21st Century

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posted on Sep, 12 2005 @ 02:31 PM
We need some kind of history repeats forum here on PTS, although it will probably be filled within a day or two with Germany 1935 Vs. US 2006.

In 1848, Europe was on the edge of a revolution. This is well after the French Revolution and the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte. The French had opened up a can of worms the Monarchists wanted to seal back up. At this time in France, two major revolutions had just taken place, one to oust the French monarchy, and then another led by Napoleon after he escaped from Elbe. The French revolution on top of France’s short-lived conquest of all of Europe spread this ideal that government belonged to the people, rather than rights being gifts from royalty. All over Europe, this then liberal idea of nationalism and universal male suffrage became major talking points. As was typical at the time, France led this revolution.

After the Fall of Napoleon the second time, there was a wish in France to reestablish a monarchy-style of government. This was held mostly by their European counterparts and England, but could have been held, too, by the individual peasants in France, as well. No one knew for sure since they were not permitted to participate in government. France had come a long way from a hereditarily deterministic monarchy, having elections for government bodies, but those eligible for the vote were the elite of the elite. To give you an idea, France at this time consisted of 30 million people; 70,000 of those people were permitted to vote in elections.

This was an interesting time in French history. The rest of Europe saw France as a kind of rabid dog. They understood France trying to take over the continent; after all, all nations vied for power. However, the French people were not led by a legitimate king at this time, and what was worse was Napoleon’s audacity in creating nations (something you just don’t do) and assigning kings to these nations from his own family (again, something you NEVER do). The terms of the peace, however, were fairly gracious. The European powers didn’t want to destroy France; they wanted to destroy the movement that had begun in France. As a result, France was scaled back, obviously, from what it had controlled under Napoleon, and placed under a monarch.

Now for the interesting parallels. At this time, some very liberal movements began in both France and the Germanic federation. In the Germanic federation, the loudest cry was for a national government, whereas France was talking about national suffrage. Meanwhile, there was a strong battle taking place behind liberal lines, liberals making up the largest portion of the voting class. The more moderate liberals wanted to maintain some of the elements of monarchy while giving ultimate power to the people. The movement was for a constitutional monarchy. At the same time, the more radical, outspoken group wanted a republic, much along the lines of what the US was. Both sides, however, overwhelmingly agreed on full male suffrage for the peasants. They were absolutely sure that, if the people could voice their opinion, liberalism would flourish and, more than likely, the radical left, those looking for a republic, would have their backing. They eventually won their battle and got universal suffrage.

Of the 30 million people living in France, 9 million voted in the election. The vote was a staggering loss for the liberals, only gaining tens of thousands of votes supporting them. The clear winner was Louis Napoleon, or Napoleon the Third, as he would come to be known. This infuriated the liberals and shocked the conservatives. This great movement in France, it turned out, was being lead and consisted almost exclusively with the upper middle class and those self-dubbed intellectuals teaching in universities.

So now France stepped back into a more dictatorial, though definitely not a tyrannical government, since the people loved Napoleon III. There was a major counter-revolution taking place in France now. While it was impossible to get the genie back into the bottle, they definitely cleared away a lot of the smoke. A similar election took place in the Germanic federation. Conservative ideals overwhelmingly won against liberalism when the individuals were asked what they wanted.

True to form, the radical liberals realized the people did not want what they were proposing, and the stopped being such a loud voice in trying to get their ideals realized…Just kidding. They took the fight to a different level. They now realized the people would support the more traditional forms of government, so they would have to get rid of this vote, this universal suffrage, they had worked so hard at establishing. It was becoming quickly apparent that it was a majority of those 70,000 original voters who held these ideals.

This was just a very, very shallow overview of what took place in Europe in 1848. The details are vastly more complex, and have a far closer parallel to American politics. Rather than spend a massive amount of time documenting all of them, though, I figured I’d wait and see if anyone’s interested in witnessing history repeating its self in such a consistent and documentable manner.

So did you see the parallels?

[edit on 9-12-2005 by junglejake]

posted on Sep, 13 2005 @ 02:32 PM

Originally posted by junglejake
We need some kind of history repeats forum here on PTS, although it will probably be filled within a day or two with Germany 1935 Vs. US 2006.

There've been a lot of peopel that wanted something like this, but one problem is that it'd be flooded with Stormfarters and idiot Revisionist-Holocaust Deniers. Still, might be educational to have them in a zoo for observation, so to speak.

Interesting analysis and comparision. I think another potential parrallel here is between the war on terror and the napoleonic wars and republican wars, the french went around europe smashing down dictators tyrants and kings, and replaced them with republics. It sort of worked. Indeed, in this general period lots of old absolutist monarchs were replaced with temporary republics, and then mere tyrants, (rather than divine right kings), like the papal states giving way to garibaldi's republic, and then being run by King Victor Emmanneul.

I definitly don't buy the 'liberalism is bad' message here tho (as in historical liberals, like the american founders or john locke, rather than kucinich). Without the liberal radicals, we'd still have these divine right absolute monarchs, a papal empire, plus no Age of Enlightenment or Age of Reason, so nothing even remotely modern. Also, its kind of hard to argue that the radical liberals weren't right, the results of the 'conservative' backlash were kings in italy, france, and even a kaiser in germany. The people literally didn't know what was good for them. Of course, you can't have a good government by dictating things to the people, even when its 'in their best interests', but still, the liberals were right.

posted on Sep, 15 2005 @ 03:23 PM
I agree that both sides are absolutely necessary to balance one another out, and liberalism has done great things for furthering civilization. Radicals usually begin a movement, then the moderates step in and make it into something feasible. As you said, those nations that got what the radical liberals wanted at the time, a republic quickly moved to dictatorships; the masses weren't ready for the idea of a representative republic.

I wasn't trying to point out that liberals are bad, just arrogant. Then and now, I see these people who are so convinced they're right that everyone must agree with them. When they discover not everyone does, it must be because they're ignorant, foolish, or blind. So it was more a commentary on arrogance then and now in an ideological grouping, not a slam of all things liberal.

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