Discuss all of the following questions using examples from the text and providing your own original analysis:How are socialism and communism alike? How are they different?What accounted for the rising popularity of both Socialist and Communist ideals?How did strike actions affect European societies during this period?What did the average European think of socialism and communism?What role did socialism and communism play in the First World War?What effect did socialism and communism have on European society during this period? Your initial post should be at least 250 words in length. Support your claims with examples from required material(s) and/or other scholarly resources, and properly cite any references. Attached are the two chapters for this assignment1
Europe, 1900 to 1914
View of the ‘Palais de l’Industrie’ in Paris, 1855, by Max
Berthelin. An early symbol of European technological
innovation and advancement, Le Palais de l’Industrie
(the Palace of Industry) was designed by French
architects Jean-Marie-Victor Viel and Alexandre
Barrault. The building was erected for the Paris World
Fair in 1855, where it housed industrial and art exhibits
from over 30 countries.
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Section 1.1  Economy and Social Life
estifying before a government inquiry into a series of violent rural protests in Hungary around 1900, the peasant Albert Szilagyi stated, “The rightful demands of the
laborers increased because the people of the land study more, know more, see more.
How can you blame us? We have learnt how to read and write. We would now like to
wear better clothes, eat like human beings and send our children to schools” (Janos, 1982,
p. 162). Szilagyi’s explanation for growing peasant unrest says a great deal about developments in late 19th-century Europe. In particular, it suggests a heightened speed of change
and a disorienting blend of old and new that touched all aspects of European life: economic, social, political, intellectual, and cultural.
Some readers may note that such a description could apply to much of the contemporary
third (developing or undeveloped) world; and, although the situations are not identical,
there are enough similarities that visualizing current third-world conditions will provide
a fairly good introduction to the realities of most European peoples in 1900. Indeed, comments like those of Szilagyi can be found easily in many accounts of current third-world
conditions. Thus, a September 6, 2010, New York Times account quotes a dry cleaner in
Thailand declaring, “The rich have lived comfortably for many years. Now the poor people are learning the truth, and that makes the rich unhappy. When people become clever,
that means it will be more difficult to control them” (Mydans, 2010).
As the 19th century gave way to the 20th, Europe was in many ways on top of the world.
Its industries were second to none, and European countries ruled over larger-than-ever
empires. Yet the radical and increasingly rapid changes occurring in every aspect of life
challenged many of the certainties that Europeans once counted on, and they found
themselves juggling power and anxiety in a world in which the future was increasingly
unclear. Even so, no one would have anticipated the colossal disaster that lay only a few
years ahead.
1.1  Economy and Social Life
he economic and social changes that reshaped Europe began at the end of the 18th
century and continued through the 19th. In these years, Europe experienced industrialization, unprecedented population increase, massive migratory movements,
and new levels of urbanization. These changes did not affect the entire continent at the
same time or to the same degree. By 1914 some countries such as Belgium and Germany
were heavily industrialized and urbanized while others, especially in Eastern Europe,
were only beginning to feel the impact of these phenomena.
Degrees of Development
Europe in 1900 contained enormous variations, both within countries and between them.
For example, the countries of Northwestern Europe (the United Kingdom, France, the
Low Countries, Switzerland, and Scandinavia) were generally considerably more modernized than those in the south and east (Portugal, Spain, Italy, the Balkans, and Russia).
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Section 1.1  Economy and Social Life
Meanwhile, the countries of Central Europe (Germany and the western territories of
Austria-Hungary) fell somewhere in between. This was especially true with regard to
degrees of democratization. Although no European country met 21st-century standards
of democracy—as discussed in more detail later in this chapter—far more than anywhere
else, the countries of Northwestern Europe generally had free elections, were republics or
constitutional monarchies with limited royal power, and had reasonable freedom of the
press, speech, and assembly.
Even within many countries, as Szilagyi’s comment suggests, there were considerable differences in degrees of modernization, again often along a gradient running from northwest to southeast. Class differences, with enormous disparities between the daily lifestyles
of the wealthy and poor, existed everywhere. In Belgium, average life expectancy for the
poor was about 18, while it was about 54 for the wealthy. In Denmark infant mortality
(death) rates among the children of the working class were triple those among children of
government officials, and mortality rates among those between the ages of 15 and 36 who
were on poor relief were 10 times higher than those for the population at large (Goldstein,
1983). Economically, large landholders dominated—typically with hundreds or thousands
of impoverished laborers in their thrall—in Russia, eastern Germany, Romania, Hungary,
and the southern parts of Spain, Portugal, and Italy; while urban-industrial interests and
small landholders were relatively dominant in Northwestern Europe, Bulgaria, parts of
Central Europe, and northern Iberia and Italy.
Other important dividing lines within many countries involved ethnic/linguistic and
religious differences. The spread of nationalism, the sharpening of social tensions, and
the political mobilization of a growing part of the population provoked and intensified
these differences. Especially in the four great European empires—Germany, AustriaHungary, Russia, and the Ottoman (the predecessor of modern-day Turkey)—ethnic/
linguistic differences were a source of growing strain as minorities in these regions
demanded autonomy or even independence from the dominant groups. Thus, while
German speakers dominated Germany and Austria-Hungary, demographically large
ethnic minorities, including Poles in both empires and Serbs in Austria-Hungary,
resented their inferior position and agitated for greater control. Indeed, the growing
dissatisfaction of Serbs in Austria-Hungary and the wish of many of them to split off
and unite with their brethren in independent Serbia proved to be a key cause of World
War I. Spain also witnessed the growth of strong regionalist movements in Catalonia
and in the Basque provinces.
Religious differences between Catholics and other Christians were also a divisive issue
in a number of countries, especially Germany, Ireland, Russia, and Austria-Hungary.
Anticlerical sentiment grew in some solidly Catholic countries, such as Spain, Italy, and
France, where the Catholic Church had traditionally aligned itself with highly conservative political elements. There was also discrimination against Jews, most widespread in
Eastern Europe but becoming more prominent in the West as well.
Germany’s Rise as an Industrial Power
The “second industrial revolution,” which had begun in the 1870s, continued into the 20th
century. This was characterized by the importance of scientific research for the creation of
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Section 1.1  Economy and Social Life
new products; by a vastly increased scale of production; and by changes to the organization of production, although the most important of these, the assembly line, was developed in the United States. The second industrial revolution was also characterized by the
surpassing of Great Britain as an industrial power by Germany and the United States.
Great Britain was the first industrial nation, and for most of the 19th century it was the
leading industrial power in the world. In contrast, Germany, which came to exist as a
single country only in 1871, lagged far behind.
After unification, Germany experienced a rapid and powerful growth spurt that allowed
it to surpass Great Britain. In 1880, Germany produced half as much coal as Great Britain
did; by 1913, it produced twice as much. German exports grew by 400 percent between
1880 and 1913, and doubled between 1903 and 1913 alone (Blackbourn, 2003). In 1914,
Hamburg was the third most important port in the world, after New York and Antwerp,
in terms of the value of trade handled.
German companies were leaders in this phase of industrialization, and many of them
remain important in their fields today: Bayer and Hoechst in pharmaceuticals, Zeiss in
optical devices, and Siemens in engineering. German industry also earned a reputation
for quality, something else it retains today. The turbines installed in the electrical generating facility at Niagara Falls between 1903 and 1912 came from Germany.
Germany was also crucial in the development of a revolutionary mode of transportation:
the automobile. The first gasoline-powered car was built in 1886 by German engineers
Gottfried Daimler and Karl Benz, though the French took the lead in manufacturing them.
Peugeot began operations in 1895 and Renault in 1899. The Italian car firm FIAT started
operations that same year. Ford and Oldsmobile, the first major American producers,
began only in 1903. France produced more cars than any other country until 1906 when
the United States surpassed it. Until World War I, France continued to export more cars
than any other country.
Improved Transportation and Other Advances in Technology
The substantial economic changes evident in turn-of-the-century Europe reflected enormous progress in research, technology, and inventions, many of which had significant
immediate impact. Others laid the groundwork for further applications and elaboration
during the 20th century. Until about the middle of the 19th century, the speed of transportation and communications had not changed since man had learned to ride horses,
but the inventions of the railroad and the telegraph transformed this situation. To give
one famous illustration of what such a change could mean, the bloody January 8, 1815,
Battle of New Orleans, viewed by Americans as a great victory during the War of 1812,
was actually fought after the war had officially ended. The Treaty of Ghent was signed on
December 24, 1814, but due to the time it took for sailing ships to cross the Atlantic, the
news reached the United States only on February 8, 1815, a full month after the battle had
been fought. A century later, the telegraph allowed Americans to learn of the outbreak of
war in August 1914 within minutes.
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Section 1.1  Economy and Social Life
Improved transport allowed grain to be shipped around the world, which largely ended
the threat of famine, until then a periodically normal part of European life. But the arrival
of cheap grain from the United States and Canada also had a major impact on the European economy, setting off a collapse of food prices, which triggered the Great Depression
of 1873–1896. Later in the century, the development of electricity and the modern chemical industry, including above all the introduction of lighting, telephones, the first movies,
electric street cars, and even the first subways (in London and Budapest) further transformed everyday life.
Finally, technological development allowed for mass killing and murder on a scale not
previously seen and made the 20th century the bloodiest in history.
Population Growth
Europe experienced unprecedented population growth in the 19th century, reflecting
above all improved methods of agriculture and transport to produce and deliver food.
The population of Europe more than doubled between 1800 and 1900, from about 188
million to about 400 million (Hamerow, 1989), which is to say that more Europeans were
added to the population during these hundred years than during all of prior European
history. Among the majority of Europeans who were poor, this population increase often
resulted in competition among small landowners for the same fixed acreages, and ever
increasing numbers of landless laborers.
One common response among the rural poor to land shortages was to move to the cities, and over the course of the 19th and early 20th centuries, Europe became much more
urbanized. Even though the level of urbanization varied significantly by country, almost
everywhere, urban populations were much more prevalent in 1910 than they had been in
1850. Only Portugal and the Balkans were exceptions.
Within the overall growth of Europe’s urban population, the very largest cities took on an
increasing prominence. In 1850, Europe had only 10 cities with populations of more than
250,000; there were 48 in 1910. By 1914, there were 25 European cities with populations of
half a million or more and 5 with more than one million. London, with 7 million people,
was the largest European city by far. It was followed by Paris (3 million) and Berlin and
Vienna, each with more than 2 million (Lees & Lees, 2007).
These population increases overwhelmed the housing stock in many urban areas. Studies
at the turn of the century found that half or more of all working-class families in Budapest,
Helsinki, Athens, Berlin, and Dresden lived in one-room dwellings. In Budapest, nearly
10 percent of the population lived 10 or more to a room in 1910, while in Berlin, 600,000
were housed more than 5 to a room in 1912 (see Figure 1.1) (Goldstein, 1983).
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Section 1.1  Economy and Social Life
Figure 1.1: Growth of selected cities, 1850–1910
Population Growth
As the graph shows, the rate of population growth picked up for most cities after 1880. It also shows that
urbanization affected all parts of the continent.
Mass transit, including subways, was
one of the public services provided by
municipal governments. Budapest was
one of the first European cities to have a
subway. This image shows the line below
Andrassy Avenue.
The dwellings of the urban poor were overcrowded and lacked sanitary facilities, such as
toilets or running water, which led to high rates
of infectious disease. These living conditions literally took years off the lives of the people who
had to endure them. In Berlin in 1885, the mortality rate for those living in one-room apartments
was 30 times that of persons living in four-room
dwellings, 22 times that of those in three-room
apartments, and seven times that of inhabitants of two-room apartments (Goldstein, 1983).
Mortality rates in the poorest areas of Paris and
Vienna in the late 19th century were four times
higher than those in the wealthiest parts of those
cities. Deaths far outnumbered births in most cities; without ongoing immigration, their populations would have shrunk, not grown.
On the other hand, as cities grew in size, their technological capabilities and municipal governments
also evolved. Electric power freed industry from
the need to locate near coal mines and allowed it
to move to already-established major cities. As a result, places like Berlin, Vienna, and St.
Petersburg became major centers of industry for the first time.
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Section 1.1  Economy and Social Life
Cities were pressed to respond to
the demands of surging populations and major new industries.
Driven by new social science research into urban problems and
political action by middle class liberals who believed that conditions
could and should be improved,
municipal governments began to
take a much greater interest in the
welfare of their citizens and provided more and better social services than were provided earlier.
The rapid urbanization of the late 19th century left many of
They instituted building codes to the urban working class living in crowded, unsanitary slums.
improve the quality of housing
and provided residents with water
and sewage systems, gas and electricity, public baths, and public transit. The first electric
subway opened in London in 1890. Budapest had one in 1896, Paris in 1900. As local governments, especially in Germany, owned many of these services, the phenomenon became
known as municipal socialism.
City governments also provided services to improve the health and human capital of
residents. These included public hospitals and sanatoria as well as day care and centers
to advise mothers on how to care for their babies. Many cities opened labor exchanges to
help people find work. Some of these new services provided employment opportunities
for the increasing number of women entering the workforce.
A second response to population growth among the poor was to seek subsistence in another
country. Poles and Italians went to Germany and France, Spaniards went to France—
including the French colony of Algeria—and Portuguese went to Spain. All sought higher
wages and more reliable employment, so even though Spaniards sought this in other countries, opportunities in Spain looked good to people from Portugal, where they were even
worse. Cities became more multicultural, none more so than Vienna, which drew people
from across ethnically diverse Austria-Hungary, also known as the Habsburg Empire. By
1901, there were also one million foreigners in France, about 2.6 percent of the population.
In Germany in 1910, foreigners represented 2 percent. Indeed, between 1900 and 1914,
only the United States surpassed Germany as an importer of labor.
Migration was not limited to Europe. Steamships made it much cheaper and quicker to cross
the Atlantic, and the expanding European rail network made the major ports, such as Liverpool, Bremerhaven, and Rotterdam, more accessible to people across the continent. Shipping
companies soon realized that moving migrants could be a lucrative business, and the competition among them drove prices down and improved facilities. In the Americas, countries
aggressively recruited farmers from Europe to populate the vast prairies they had recently
taken from the native peoples. By the early 20th century, there were networks of recruiters
and subagents that reached into the countryside of many European regions.
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Section 1.1  Economy and Social Life
The development of steamships made the passage
across the Atlantic quicker and cheaper than ever
before. Countries such as the United States, Canada, and
Argentina sought immigrants from Europe, and many
millions went. Many emigrated from Europe to what the
Canadian government called “the last, best west.”
Between 1880 and 1914, some 35 million Europeans crossed the Atlantic, immigrating primarily to the United States, Argentina, Canada, and
Brazil. About 2.7 million of these were Jews escaping religious persecution in the Russian Empire,
but almost all the rest were economic migrants.
The largest number of emigrants came from the
United Kingdom, followed by Italy, Spain, Germany, Ireland, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. In
some cases, emigration depleted entire villages;
thus, in 1902, when the Italian prime minister visited the neglected southern part of his country, the
mayor of Moliterno greeted him on behalf of the
town’s 8,000 citizens: “3,000 of whom are in America and 5,000 who are preparing to follow them”
(Seton-Watson, 1967, p. 310). For most sending countries, the number of emigrants peaked
after 1901, as the graph demonstrates (Figure 1.2).
Figure 1.2: Transatlantic migration from European countries, 1871–1910
Population Migrating
1871–1880 1881–1890 1891–1900 1901–1910
Mass transatlantic migration began in the 1870s and continued until World War I, although different
countries were most affected at different times. One country had a distinctive pattern. Which one was it,
and what might have been the reason?
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Section 1.1  Economy and Social Life
Class Structure
Europe’s poor also lived within a larger class structure that sorted all of the continent’s
people into defined groups. The meaning of the word class has been subject to much
debate, but there can be no denying that the role of class—the type of job one held, the
amount of money one earned, and the way in which one identified oneself—is key to
understanding European politics after 1900.
The Wealthy Elite
A small, wealthy elite, consisting of the traditional landed nobility, and the rising new
class of wealthy bourgeois, who made their money in business, such as bankers, industrialists and newspaper owners, largely controlled politics in Europe. These two classes
increasingly intermarried, lived luxurious lifestyles complete with servants, and had considerable assets, including land, stocks, and savings. They constituted perhaps 5 percent
of the European population but thoroughly dominated domestic politics, often with the
aid of the military, the church, or the monarchy.
Around 1900, less than 1 percent of the population owned more than 25 percent of the land
in Russia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Southern and Central Spain, while less than
4 percent of the population owned 25 percent or more of the land in Denmark, England,
Germany, and France. The top 1 percent of income earners collected about 20 percent of all
income before World War I in France, Germany, and Britain (Goldstein, 1983; James, 2003).
The traditional nobility, which consisted of well under 5 percent of the total European
population, was also vastly overrepresented in formal positions of power, especially in
the United Kingdom, Germany, the Habsburg Empire, Sweden, and Russia. Thus, around
1910, the nobility in Prussia (the largest state in Germany) monopolized the upper legislative house, held 25 percent of lower legislative seats and occupied 55 percent of all upper
army ranks, 11 out of 12 provincial administrative headships, and 9 of 11 cabinet posts.
In the Russian capital of St. Petersburg, it was common to see signs posted in the more
fashionable public gardens banning “dogs, common people and enlisted men” (Tannenbaum, 1977, p. 49).
The Middle Class
Below the ruling classes was a middle class of about 15 percent of the total population,
consisting of self-sufficient landowners, skilled craftsmen, lawyers, ordinary clergy, journalists, middle-level bureaucrats, and others who, at least in normal conditions, enjoyed
a reasonably secure lifestyle. However, this group lacked significant assets, employed
at most one or two servants, and generally was without the prestige and power of the
higher-ranking classes. This middle class was considered respectable and was sometimes
consulted on matters pertinent to their specialties, but they were at risk of falling into the
lower classes during periods of economic setback.
The Poor
The poor, meanwhile, constituted about 80 percent of the total European population. These
included landless peasants who could barely scrape together a living; unskilled workers,
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Section 1.1  Economy and Social Life
including domestic servants, the
most common single source of
employment for women; and the
“lumpenproletariat” of the unemployed, who were often homeless
drifters. In 1898, a top advisor to
Tsar Nicholas II summed up conditions among the very poor by
stating, “Your majesty has 130 million subjects. Of them barely more
than half live, the rest vegetate”
(Kochan, 1963, p. 45).
Poverty took a toll on the health of
the lower classes. In 1917, a medi- Seaside vacations became available to members of the
cal survey of males in the United middle class as well as the social elites.
Kingdom revealed that only onethird were in satisfactory health,
while over two-thirds suffered marked or partial disabilities. In Central Europe, rates
of cholera and other diseases such as typhus and diphtheria were 30 to 60 times higher
among the poor than among the prosperous classes. The poor were even distinguished by
their short stature, as the “average European worker was at least three inches shorter than
the average bourgeois” (Tannenbaum, 1977, p. 158).
Although the conditions of the European poor in 1900 were often miserable, especially
by modern standards, the picture was not entirely bleak. Partly due to massive emigration and partly due to the effects of the Great
Depression of 1873–1896, which attacked agriculture by pushing down food prices, demand
for labor increased. At least in Northwestern
Europe, real wages increased about 30 percent,
producing substantial increases in living standards and purchasing capacity. In France, for
example, savings bank deposits increased tenfold between 1870 and 1914, and meat consumption jumped over 25 percent. Life expectancy
across Europe during this period increased from
about 40 to 45, adult literacy rates jumped from
about 50 percent to 75 percent, and infant mortality rates declined from about 200 to 150 per
thousand (Goldstein, 1983).
Changes in the Workforce
It was unusual for artists to represent
peasants as identifiable individuals as the
Russian painter Kramskoii does in this
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As companies grew to an unprecedented size
(for example, Krupp, the German steel manufacturer, had 64,000 employees by 1907), the nature
of their new products and the scale of their
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Section 1.1  Economy and Social Life
enterprises created a need for white-collar workers like managers, technical workers,
accountants, bookkeepers, and secretaries. For example, the engineering firm Siemens
had once employed 10.6 blue-collar workers for every white-collar worker. By 1912, the
ratio was only 3.5:1.
White-collar employment also grew
rapidly in the expanding service
sector, which included banks and
insurance companies, shipping
companies, telephone services, and
department stores. While the number of blue-collar workers grew by
38 percent between 1882 and 1907,
the number of white-collar workers
jumped 275 percent. These developments helped to increase both the
size and political influence of the
European middle classes after 1900.
New office jobs provided new
opportunities for women. Occupa- Telephone operator was one of the new white-collar jobs
tions such as secretaries, telephone that became available to women. This photograph is from
operators, and sales clerks became the Central Telephone Agency in Berlin.
heavily—in some cases almost
exclusively—female. The women who took these jobs were predominantly young and
unmarried. Some came from the middle class, but most had working-class backgrounds
(Tilly & Scott, 1978). Paid employment was a new development for young middle-class
women, but not for those from the working class. These women had always worked to
contribute to the family economy, although previously their jobs had been in agriculture
or manufacturing.
Expanding services in both business and government often found they could not attract
enough men and turned to women instead. The French post office, for example, “desperate to find people to sell stamps, weigh letters and sort mail (especially in Paris),” started
hiring large numbers of women in the 1890s (Tannenbaum, 1977, p. 158). The new whitecollar jobs were specialized and required relatively little skill. The invention of the typewriter in 1882 did create a new skill, but typing became an exclusively female occupation,
a development justified by the argument that their nimble fingers made women much
more suitable than men. These occupations grew in importance in the 20th century, as did
others such as school teaching and nursing. White-collar work paid better than the other
jobs available to women, but women still earned considerably less than men by anywhere
from a third to a half.
The growth of cities also led to new versions of consumerism. As more people concentrated in smaller areas, new venues were created to sell them goods. The most striking
was the department store. The first, the Bon Marché, opened in Paris in 1869 (Miller, 1981).
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Section 1.2  The Means of Social and Political Control
By the first years of the 20th century, the department store had become a defining feature
of the modern European city. This was captured by the Berlin writer Leo Colze in 1908:
The transformation of Berlin into a major metropolis, a world class city, is
closely tied to the arrival of these shopping palaces. Any impartial, politically neutral observer will have to admit that it was the department stores
that got the commercial world rolling here. When one shopping palace
after another lines the thoroughfares of the imperial capital today, when
light-infused display windows not only tempt [us] with the most amazing
manufactured goods from around the civilized world, but also appeal to
our aesthetic senses, when even today’s little man is in a position to come
into the possession of luxury items at trinket prices—then it is the sole
doing of the modern department store. (Colze, 1908, para. 2).
At the same time, the department store could be a lightning rod for the discontent of those,
such as small shopkeepers, who found the modern world threatening. This resentment
proved particularly strong in Germany where Jews owned many of the largest department stores.
Another type of consumerism that emerged in these years was commercialized leisure.
Music halls and cabarets had existed before 1900, but they became more prominent afterward. Cinema took its first step in 1895 and became a major leisure activity after 1900.
Spectator sports, including soccer, also emerged, with the first professional players organizing in England in 1885. By the first years of the 20th century, the game had become
sufficiently popular abroad for national federations to be established in a number of countries in Europe and Latin America. FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) was established in 1904.
1.2  The Means of Social and Political Control
he late 19th century was marked by increasing struggles for democratization (what
we today call “human rights”) across the European continent, with often-embryonic
and illegal or semi-legal trade unions, socialist parties, and women’s organizations
typically leading such fights. Although unions and strikes were made legal (in theory) in
many European countries after 1870, the regimes in power resisted the demands of the
people with various forms of social and political control.
By 1900, virtually all European regimes provided compulsory, free elementary education for their subjects; however, such education provided only the most basic skills and
focused on teaching students loyalty to the state. Moreover, no European country provided free secondary education, with the result that the poor found it virtually impossible
to obtain the skills either to improve their status in life or to challenge the state authorities. While the provision of elementary school education to some extent reflected altruistic
impulses of middle-class liberals, to a greater extent it reflected the feelings of elites that
strong nations required at least minimally educated and literate citizens. State-controlled
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Section 1.2  The Means of Social and Political Control
education could develop patriotism, refute subversive ideas among the lower classes, and
tame signs of savagery among the most deprived elements of the population. One English school inspector asserted that “if it were not for her 500 elementary schools, London
would be overrun by a horde of young savages” (Tannenbaum, 1977, p. 29).
Nonetheless, some conservative elites remained doubtful, fearing that education would
only create expectations among the lower classes that could threaten the established order.
Russian Finance Minister Sergei Witte, himself responsible for Russia’s rapid modernization, voiced his ambivalence this way: “Education foments social revolution, but popular
ignorance loses wars” (McClelland, 1979, p. 116–117). As late as 1915, less than 3 percent of
children between the ages of 14 and 18 were enrolled in secondary schools of any kind, even
in the most advanced European
countries, and less than 1 percent
of the university-age population in
any country was enrolled in higher
education. This data reflects the
fact that ordinary people simply
could not afford to pay to educate
their children above the elementary
school level, as all other schools
charged substantial tuitions.
After 1880, France had the most comprehensive system
of public schools in Europe. The schoolteacher was also a
promoter of French nationalism. In this painting by Albert
Bettannier called The Black Spot, students are taught about
the loss of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany in the FrancoPrussian war, a “black spot” on the map, which must
be regained. This desire for revenge helped fuel French
enthusiasm for war in 1914.
An 1887 decree by Russian Minister of Education Ivan Delianov
clearly explained how the lack of a
free education inhibited lower class
mobility. Delianov instructed secondary schools to refuse to admit
“children of coachmen, menials,
cooks, washerwomen, small shopkeepers and the like,” since it was
“completely unwarranted for the
children of such people to leave
their position in life” (Alston, 1969,
p. 129).
Suffrage Restrictions
The most blatant means of maintaining upper-class control was by restricting voting rights,
or suffrage. No European country allowed women to vote in national elections before 1907,
and thus none could be considered a democracy by modern standards. Even if the standard
used was universal adult male suffrage with free, fair, and equal voting, only a handful of
northwestern European countries such as France, Norway, and Switzerland would have
qualified in terms of elections for lower national legislative chambers. In all other European
countries, either the poor were excluded from voting, their votes carried less weight than
those of the rich, or sophisticated systems of electoral fraud rendered their votes meaningless.
Until about 1870, the most common form of suffrage restriction was to require a certain
level of wealth to qualify for voting rights. While universal adult male suffrage would
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Section 1.2  The Means of Social and Political Control
have enfranchised about 25 percent of the population across Europe, in 1900 fewer than
20 percent of the population could vote in Finland, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. In Belgium and Austria, virtually all
adult males could vote, but in Belgium the wealthy and educated could cast up to three
votes while ordinary Belgians could vote only once; and in Austria, a complicated voting
scheme also gave extra weight to votes cast by the wealthy and powerful. In Spain, all
adult males could vote after 1890, but the system was so corrupt that sometimes newspapers reported the election results before elections were even held!
Voting was discouraged among the poor by numerous other complicated techniques. In
some countries, such as Denmark and Austria, the ballot was not secret, which meant
ordinary workers often had to vote under the watchful eyes of their employers or local
governmental officials. In many countries, age eligibility for voting, at a time when the
poor had a life expectancy of 40 or less, was set between 25 and 40, thus favoring the
longer-living well-to-do. Finally, those elected to lower legislative chambers typically
received no salaries, which meant that only independently wealthy persons could realistically run for office.
Although a few countries, including Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria, had unicameral (single
chamber) legislatures, two-house legislatures were the norm, and usually both houses had
equal powers. Therefore, suffrage discrimination for upper legislative houses was important in maintaining elite rule. Restrictions on both voting and service in upper chambers
far exceeded those for lower chambers and virtually assured elite domination. In 1900, the
upper chambers in Austria, Hungary, Italy, the United Kingdom, Finland, Portugal, and
Spain were entirely appointed by the monarchs or reserved for the nobility or those holding seats by virtue of holding high positions in the civil service or the Church. As a result
they represented no more than 1 percent or 2 percent of the population.
In most other countries, government bodies elected
the upper chambers in a manner that guaranteed
upper-class domination. In Sweden, for example,
after 1866 the upper house was elected by local
governments, which were themselves selected via
a bizarre system that combined a wide voting public with a system of plural voting based on wealth.
In some rural areas, one person could cast 90 percent or more of the total vote.
Suffrage for local elections followed a similar pattern, with some countries restricting the electorate to a small percentage of the wealthiest citizens
and others (including Sweden, Romania, Belgium, and a number of German states) using plural or class-weighted voting systems. In St. Petersburg and Moscow, fewer than 20,000 citizens out
of a total population of about 1.5 million in each
city could vote in local elections. Under the classweighted system used in Prussia, 500 wealthy
voters in Cologne counted for as many as 5,600
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Aside from Finland and Norway, women in
Europe did not gain the right to vote until
after World War I.
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Section 1.2  The Means of Social and Political Control
voters in the “second class” and 41,000 voters in the “third class”; collectively, only 12
percent of the population could vote at all.
These limits on local democracy, as well as those for national legislative houses, had profound ramifications, as, in general, local and national governing authorities neglected
the problems of the poor, and many policies, including the tax and conscription systems,
severely discriminated against them.
Restrictions on Freedom of Expression
Technically, almost all European countries had abolished censorship of the press by the
mid-19th century, but it still existed in practice due to vague laws that allowed for prosecution of individuals who published material that was deemed seditious, or threatening
to government authority. Because the cost of having entire editions of books and newspapers seized was extremely high—far higher than restricting material before publication—
newspapers and other publishers usually chose to self-censor their content.
Such post-publication controls remained severe up to and after 1900 in Central and Southeastern Europe, including in Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Russia, where yearly press
prosecutions often numbered into the hundreds or even thousands. In the German city of
Dusseldorf alone, socialist editors were prosecuted 144 times and sentenced to a total of
six years in jail for various press violations in 1894; while in Russia, a total of 4,386 administrative penalties were imposed on periodicals between 1905 and 1910. Harsh penalties
reflected a sense among government officials and journalists alike that the press was a
major weapon in a kind of “war for the public mind” around the turn of the century. Thus,
the socialist Hamburger Echo declared, “In waging our war, we do not throw bombs.
Instead we throw our newspapers amongst the masses of the working people. Printing
ink is our explosive” (Echo, 1910, p. 1)
Restrictions on Visual Media
Authorities often were even more concerned about opposition ideas expressed in oral
and/or visual media such as caricatures, theater, and the cinema. The impact of such
media was considered even more powerful than the printed word. Theater and cinema
were especially feared, because they were viewed by a large, mostly illiterate audience
that might take immediate action against the regimes.
As a minister of the Russian imperial court explained in 1868, the theater was deemed
to be potentially the “most powerful means to cultivate in the people ideas hostile to
the existing order,” especially since the “press influences only the educated class, which
is capable of discerning the truth and is not easily carried away,” while the stage could
“distort the comprehension of the simple folk and install in them the germs of disorder”
(Goldstein, 2009, p. 8–9). This fear led many countries to censor theater until well after
1900, for example, in France (1905), the United Kingdom (1968), Austria (1926), Denmark
(1953), and the Netherlands (1977). In Russia and Germany, such controls continued until
World War I and then were reimposed by the Bolsheviks and the Nazis when they came
to power in 1917 and 1933, respectively.
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Section 1.2  The Means of Social and Political Control
Similarly, prior censorship of the cinema was introduced almost everywhere in Europe
shortly after the medium debuted in the late 19th century. Thus, by World War I, prior censorship of film existed in Sweden, Spain, Italy, Norway, Britain, Denmark, and Germany,
among other countries.
Restrictions on Freedom of Assembly
As late as 1900, virtually all European countries retained severe regulations or laws limiting
freedom of assembly and association, especially with regard to trade unions and strikes.
Spain, Hungary, Russia, and, to a lesser extent, Austria and Germany were especially
severe in their administration of such restrictions. Most Northwestern European countries,
in contrast, were reasonably tolerant. Often the attitude of the regimes was far more important in how much freedom of assembly and association was allowed than were the formal
regulations. Thus, Hungary technically legalized unions and strikes in 1872 and 1884, but
during the suppression of widespread agricultural strikes in 1897–1898, an estimated 51
workers were killed, 114 were wounded, and jail terms totaling almost 200 years were
handed down. In 1898, the Hungarian legislature completely outlawed agrarian unions
and strikes. In Russia, troops were called out almost 1,000 times to suppress protests and
strikes between 1891 and 1904,
while the 1905 Russian Revolution
was touched off when troops fired
on a peaceful crowd demanding
suffrage rights and other civil liberties, killing over 100 citizens.
This dramatic rendition of the use of force against
demonstrators in Barcelona conveys a vivid sense of the
impact of government repression.
While strikers and unions faced
minute regulation and often brutal repression, especially in Central and Southeastern Europe, all
forms of voluntary association and
assembly were subjected to at least
some degree of control everywhere
on the continent. Those in effect in
Austria and Germany reflected the
general tenor of such regulations:
An official agency must receive a copy of the agenda of a meeting and statutes
and all publications of an association; it must be supplied with the names . . .
of the members . . . and of the persons attending the assembly. . . . It must be
notified in advance of each assembly. . . . The law forebade all assemblies in
the open air without previous official consent and it asserted the right for at
least one policeman or other official to be present; . . . empowered to close
the meeting if speakers strayed from the agenda or the meeting considered
matters outside its jurisdiction as stated in the statutes or in the event of any
infraction of law and order. (Anderson, 1967, p. 49)
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Section 1.3  Domestic Political Developments
1.3  Domestic Political Developments
he period between 1900 and the outbreak of World War I in 1914 saw rising tensions in Europe as internal strife or the rise of working class unions and political
parties seriously threatened many countries. As populations became increasingly
literate, urban, industrialized, and mobilized, and as real wages stagnated or declined in
the early years of the 20th century, opposition groups took advantage of increased regime
liberalization to demand additional rights and freedoms or demonstrated (often illegally)
to advance these agendas. Successful revolutions brought down governments in Serbia
(1903), Greece (1909), and Portugal (1910); and serious nationwide revolutionary outbursts shook the regimes in Russia (1905–06) and Romania (1907).
More limited, but still threatening outbursts of civil disorder convulsed Spain (1901–1905,
1909) and Italy (1914), while mass strikes and demonstrations for suffrage reform and
social justice rocked Russia (1902–1903 and 1912–1914), Sweden (1902), Belgium (1902,
1912–1913), the Netherlands (1903), Austria (1905), Germany (1905–1906, 1908, 1910),
France (1906–1908), Bulgaria (1900, 1906–1907) and Great Britain (1910–1914). On the eve
of World War I, social tensions seriously threatened the stability of several of these regimes.
In many instances governments responded with reforms. There were significant extensions
of the right to vote, for example, in Austria (1906), Russian-controlled Finland (1906), Sweden (1907–1909), and Italy (1912); and many countries, including Belgium, Greece, Italy,
Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, enacted important social reform legislation.
On the other hand, regimes elsewhere were often just as ready to respond to protest
demands with increased repression. Thus, in Romania a massive peasant revolt in 1907
was put down by the killing of perhaps 10,000 peasants and the expulsion from the country of another 1,000. In Hungary, Bloody Thursday (May 23, 1912) saw the government
fire on demonstrators demanding suffrage reform, killing six and wounding over 200.
There was widespread rioting in Hamburg, Germany, on January 17, 1906, after saberwielding police tried to prevent 30,000 marchers from protesting a proposed revision of
the suffrage law. Two people were killed and many more injured; subsequently, the police
arrested everyone they could find wearing bandages or being treated in local hospitals for
saber wounds on the grounds that they must have been committing a crime.
In addition to overtly class-based protests, several countries, including Spain, France, and
Italy, witnessed continuing major battles over the political role and power of the Catholic Church. Further, Spain, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire
were wracked by bitter fights by national minorities seeking increased autonomy, independence, or, in the case of the Austro-Hungarian Serbs, unification with ethnic brethren
who lived in existing independent states.
Indeed, nationalism was one of the most powerful and influential concepts of the late 19th
and early 20th centuries, and it continues to be so today. Essentially, nationalism taught
that people were defined by their membership in a nation and that that nation deserved
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Section 1.3  Domestic Political Developments
their loyalty. The basis of nationality was typically, but not always, a common ethnicity
and language, such as German or French. Sometimes nationalist sentiments corresponded
with statehood as defined on the map; thus, in general, French nationalism corresponded
with the boundaries of France. But this was not always so. Between the Franco-Prussian
War of 1870 and World War I, for example, when Germany gained control of the formerly
French provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, many of their inhabitants became German citizens while remaining French nationalists. Sometimes nationalism corresponded to map
definitions of statehood that did not correspond to linguistic-ethnic boundaries. Thus,
while the Habsburg Empire was dominated by Germans, some of the national minorities were so-called “Habsburger True” and regarded themselves as loyal subjects of the
Empire even though they did not speak German.
When nationalist sentiment corresponded with the boundaries of nation-states, it could
be a powerful sentiment that could be whipped up for patriotic and political purposes.
It was particularly important during foreign policy crises, wars, and imperialistic adventures. But when it did not correspond to state boundaries, nationalism could sometimes
weaken a state. Many non-Germans in the Habsburg Empire, for example, had nationalistic loyalties that crossed established national borders, a factor that greatly divided and
eventually brought down the Empire. Thus, many Serbs living in the Habsburg Empire
were loyal to the Serbian state—one of them assassinated the heir to the Habsburg throne
in 1914, which was a catalyst for World War I. Sometimes nationalism did not even correspond to any existing political entity. Beginning in the late 19th century, many European
Jews believed in Zionism, the concept that there should be a future Jewish state created in
what was then the British Middle Eastern colony of Palestine.
The Russian Revolution, 1905
By far the largest and most significant revolutionary outbreak of the 1900–1914 period
was the 1905 Russian Revolution. It began when troops outside of Tsar Nicholas II’s winter palace in St. Petersburg fired on a peaceful march of 200,000 protesters demanding
constitutional government and basic civil liberties. More than one hundred protesters
were killed and another 300 were wounded. The so-called “Bloody Sunday” massacre
touched off a wave of strikes across Russia. In October, they crested with a general strike,
a coordinated work stoppage by all workers in a country, during which the entire railroad
system was shut down. Faced with the imminent collapse of his regime, Nicholas issued
a manifesto promising civil liberties, a written constitution, and an elected legislature,
albeit with a voting scheme that grossly discriminated against the poor.
However, the tsar soon broke his promise by illegally changing electoral laws in 1907,
making them even more biased against the poor. This provoked a mini-guerilla war in
which terrorists assassinated almost 5,000 tsarist officials, and the regime in turn killed
about 15,000 people and jailed tens of thousands more. Russia remained almost continually on the brink of revolution for several years, as reflected by the outbreak of another
strike in 1912–1914.
The 1905 Russian Revolution had profound effects throughout Europe, including stimulating suffrage protests in Germany and Austria-Hungary. It even helped provide the
model for a new constitution in Persia (Iran) and sparked a revolt in the Ottoman Empire
in 1908.
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Section 1.4  The Labor Movement
Revolt in Spain, 1909
Another significant uprising in pre-World War I Europe was the July 1909 revolt in Barcelona, Spain. The event resulted from a number of long-term grievances and trends including atrocious housing conditions among Barcelona’s workers, a strong undercurrent of
anticlericalism deriving from workers’ belief that the Church was an ally of the elites, and
the growth of Catalan nationalism. Catalonia was the industrial heartland of Spain, and
during the 19th century, some Catalan intellectuals began to express dissatisfaction with
what they saw as a backward country and a corrupt political system. Looking back to the
glories of the medieval Catalan empire and promoting the renewal of the Catalan language, they lay the bases for a nationalist movement. These concerns only increased after
the loss of the remnants of Spain’s empire following the Spanish-American War in 1898,
and soon a political movement demanding regional autonomy emerged.
The spark for the revolt was the calling up of Catalan reservists to support the military’s blundering colonialist adventures in Morocco. During the so-called “Tragic Week,” about 30,000
protesters seized control of Barcelona and burned and sacked about 80 Catholic churches,
monasteries, and welfare institutions. After taking no significant action for three days, Spanish troops and police crushed the uprising, killing over 100 civilians and wounding another
300. Martial law was imposed upon Catalonia for four months. About 2,000 people were
arrested and five were executed, including the well-known anarchist theoretician and educator Francisco Ferrer, who had not even been in the city. The decision to execute Ferrer, who
had an international reputation as an educational reformer, sparked massive protests across
Europe. This was one of the first international campaigns in support of a political prisoner.
The first years of the 20th century saw the continuation of a wave of terrorism that had
started in the 1880s. The initial targets were political leaders and other authority figures,
several of whom were assassinated. The list of victims included French President Sadi
Carnot (1894), Spanish Prime Ministers Antonio Cánovas (1897) and José Canalejas (1912),
King Umberto I of Italy (1900), and King George of Greece (1913). There were also unsuccessful attempts to kill King Leopold II of Belgium (1902) and King Alfonso XIII of Spain
on the day of his wedding (1906).
These attacks were part of an anarchist tactic known as propaganda by the deed. The theory was
that attacking well-chosen targets could stimulate the spirit of revolt among the lower classes
and trigger a revolution. This never came close to happening, but terrorism did receive tremendous amounts of publicity and provoked severe repression. In cultural terms, the most
important product of propaganda by the deed was Joseph Conrad’s novel, The Secret Agent
(1907), which was based on the bombing of London’s Greenwich Observatory in 1894.
1.4  The Labor Movement
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s the commercial workforce grew across Europe, strong national federations of
unions were organized in many countries. The German General Commission of
Free Trade Unions (FTU) was set up in 1891. In France, the Confederation Generale
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Section 1.4  The Labor Movement
du Travail (CGT) was established in 1895, and seven years later it merged with a separate
organization, the bourses du travail. These had begun as labor exchanges funded by the
government but had evolved into more inclusive institutions housing theaters, libraries,
meeting rooms, and schools. The last of the major national federations to be established
was the General Confederation of Italian Labor (CGIL) in 1906.
In addition to their maturing organizational structure, unions also grew exponentially in
size, particularly in Germany, France, and Austria. By 1914, the German FTU had 2.6 million members, and the French CGT had 1 million, four times the figure for 1890. In Austria
415,000 people out of a total population of just 6 million (6.9 percent) belonged to the Trade
Union Commission.
The degree of unionization varied greatly from country to country: from 20 percent of
workers in Denmark to 15 percent in Belgium to 10 percent in France, Italy, and Norway.
In Spain, Portugal, and most of Eastern Europe, the numbers were smaller. Overall, about
10 percent of European workers belonged to unions by 1914.
Early unions were locally based organizations of highly skilled craftsmen who worked in
relatively small establishments. The outstanding example was the printers, who were the
first to unionize in a number of countries. Craft unions did not welcome the semiskilled
and unskilled workers of the large factories. The latter had to wait for the creation of a new
type of organization, which emerged in the 1890s: the industrial union, open to everyone
within a single industry whatever their level of skill. Indeed, factory workers in industrial
unions drove the growth in union membership in the early years of the 20th century.
These industrial unions and national union federations were often, though not always, affiliated with Socialist political parties. Both Germany and Austria had strong Catholic unions,
and weaker Catholic unions existed in other countries. There were also so-called “yellow
unions” in Germany, which were organized by large companies, as well as a large union of
white-collar workers with an openly nationalist, anti-Semitic and anti-Socialist program.
Other unions remained apart from Socialist parties, but they did so because they believed
that the Socialists’ involvement in electoral politics would inevitably lead them to accept
partial reforms and thus undercut their claims to be revolutionaries. These unions adhered
to an ideology known as syndicalism.
Syndicalists believed that their goal of revolution could be achieved only through direct
action by unions. Thus, they rejected any engagement with parliamentary politics, which
they saw as a distraction. Direct action included sabotage (deliberately doing bad work)
and boycotts. It also came to include a belief in the general strike as the vehicle by which
revolution would be made. Once capitalism had been overthrown, the new society would
be built around the unions and no state would be needed.
Syndicalists were strongest in France, where the CGT refused to affiliate with the Socialist
SFIO. They were also strong in the Spanish region of Catalonia, where the National Confederation of Labor (CNT) was founded in 1910 as a syndicalist organization.
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Section 1.4  The Labor Movement
The Use of Strikes
The final manifestation of the growth of unionism in these years was the number and
scale of strikes. Figure 1.3 shows the situation in France. The situation in Germany was
similar. The number of strikes jumped from 226 in 1890, when the anti-Socialist laws were
ended, to 852 in 1900, 2,323 in 1905, and 3,194 in 1910. The scale of strikes, measured in the
number of strikers, also grew.
The largest single cause of the strikes was a dispute about wages, but working conditions
and the length of the working day were also important issues. The unprecedented frequency of labor disputes was due in large part to the newly unionized industrial workers.
In country after country, skilled workers became less prominent as strikers, and metalworkers, construction workers, transport workers—and especially dockworkers—became
more so. The new national union organizations made it possible to organize strikes across
an entire industry, as happened in the Ruhr mines in 1905, and even across an entire country, as in France in 1906. Massive strikes in central Italy in June 1914 verged on revolutionary outbreaks, as did a similar explosion in St. Petersburg the following month to protest
against the killing and wounding of over 50 workers at a strike in Baku. Perfectly legal
railroad strikes in Italy (1902), Hungary (1904), Bulgaria (1907), France (1910), and Spain
(1912) were all crushed when those governments conscripted strikers and placed them
under military discipline and the threat of court martial.
Figure 1.3: Strikes in France, 1885–1915, 5-year average
Number of Strikers
1885–1889 1890–1894 1895–1899 1900–1904 1905–1909 1910–1914
Strikes became increasingly common in the early 20th century.
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Section 1.5  Political Parties of the Working Class
1.5  Political Parties of the Working Class
he most important political organizations demanding radical change were the
Socialist and Social Democratic parties. Of these, the Social Democratic Party of
Germany (SPD) was the pioneer. The SPD was created in 1875, but Chancellor von
Bismarck’s Anti-Socialist Laws, which remained in place until 1890, initially banned it.
Following its legalization, the party enjoyed quick and growing electoral success, and
by 1912 it had become the largest party in the Reichstag (parliament) with 177 seats and
35 percent of the vote.
The SPD was more than a political party. It also had a large number of affiliated organizations that touched multiple aspects of everyday life, including women’s and youth
movements, libraries, sporting clubs, choirs, clubs for hobbyists such as stamp collectors
and rabbit breeders, and burial societies. Just before the war, Socialist choirs had 200,000
members, and Socialist cycling clubs had 130,000. Joining these organizations was a political statement (Eley, 2002).
In Their Own Words: Adelheid Popp, German Factory Worker
Many girls had the misfortune of being especially favored by one of the superiors. Then suddenly, he’d change his attitude. She couldn’t do anything right any more; no longer was she
promoted; instead of a wage increase, she received reprimands. She was threatened with dismissal, and so the poor girl was harassed until she couldn’t stand it any longer and left of her
own accord.
Then there were rumors about some of the ones to whom this happened. People would whisper, she’s been seen on certain streets showily dressed or leaning out windows to entice men.
She was always condemned and I was outraged. No one considered whether it would have
turned out differently if at the outset the girl had abandoned resistance and yielded to her
At the time, I knew nothing of . . . prostitution; I hadn’t even heard the word. Later on, when I
could better judge cause and effect, I began to think differently of these girls. . . . (Popp, 1909,
p. 133).
Adelheid Popp (1869–1939) was the fifteenth child of a working-class family in Vienna. Her father was
an alcoholic whose early death forced Adelheid and her siblings to work in order to help their mother
support the family. Later in life, Popp joined the Social Democratic Party and founded a newspaper
for working women. After World War I, she was elected to the city council of Vienna and to the parliament of the new Austrian republic.
In 1909, Popp published her autobiography under the title The Autobiography of a Working Woman.
The book described her experiences as a seamstress, a maid, and a worker in a number of different factories. This excerpt describes her time in a factory making emery boards. The factory, which
employed mostly women, paid unusually well and jobs there were much sought after. Popp was particularly concerned to reveal the special problems facing working-class women, such as the sexual
harassment she describes here.
Popp’s book was published in English in 1912. The translation was by Labour Party leader and
future British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald.
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Section 1.5  Political Parties of the Working Class
Karl Marx
The SPD was created by the merger of two different socialist groups, one that subscribed
to the ideas of Ferdinand Lassalle (1825–1864), the other that followed those of Karl Marx
(1818–1883). By 1890, the latter had become dominant, and the party described itself as
fully Marxist.
The basis of Marx’s ideas was his claim to have discovered the laws of history. In this, he
followed the great German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831), but
where Hegel was an idealist, Marx was a materialist. Hegel saw history as the realization
of certain ideas; Marx saw it as the playing out of developments in the economy. Each
economic system had its own relations of production. These relations generated conflicts
between the leading social groups, conflicts that inevitably led to revolution and the creation of a new system. Specifically, under feudalism, the aristocracy was dominant but
the industrial bourgeoisie challenged it. Eventually, during the French Revolution, the
bourgeoisie overthrew the aristocracy and created industrial capitalism.
Under capitalism, the most important classes were the bourgeoisie and the working class,
which Marx called the proletariat. As capitalism developed, the proletariat would become
continually poorer. When capitalism reached its most mature stage, the workers would
make their own revolution, which would initiate a new and final stage of human development, socialism. In order to do so, however, the workers had to be organized into a political party whose goal was to overthrow capitalism.
Karl Kautsky and Eduard Bernstein
Marx’s thought was very dense, but it was popularized by other people. The first was
Marx’s longtime friend and collaborator, Friedrich Engels (1820–1895), but the person
most responsible for spreading Marx’s ideas in the years leading up to World War I was
Karl Kautsky (1854–1938). In fact, he was often called the “Pope of Socialism.” By 1914, his
book The Class Struggle had been translated into sixteen languages. Kautksy was a leading figure in the SPD, and his prominence as the popularizer of Marxism gave the party
considerable prestige.
Kautsky produced a mechanistic version of Marxism. In his view, only when certain conditions existed—the proper level of economic development and the existence of a proletariat that was unified, disciplined, and ready to make the revolution—could the revolution occur. These conditions would result from the laws of historical development that
Karl Marx claimed to have discovered, and Socialists had to wait until they were in place.
Revolution was “inevitable,” Kautsky argued, but individuals could do nothing to speed
it along.
Both of these positions, the inevitability of revolution and the necessity of waiting for the
necessary conditions, became the target of dissenting views within European socialism.
In 1899, Kautsky’s one-time friend and colleague Eduard Bernstein (1850–1932) published
Evolutionary Socialism, a book in which he set out a position that came to be called revisionism. Watching the dynamic growth of the German economy after 1896 and the consequent
rise of living standards, Bernstein observed that capitalism was not developing as Marx
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Section 1.5  Political Parties of the Working Class
said it would, specifically that the working class was not becoming ever more exploited
and miserable. Capitalism, Bernstein argued, was not doomed to collapse, and instead of
thinking about revolution, socialists should consider making alliances with progressive
elements of the middle class. Bernstein’s views provoked great controversy within the
SPD; they were formally debated and rejected at the 1903 party congress.
Vladimir Lenin
Kautsky’s second belief, that revolutionaries needed to wait on the laws of history, came
under even greater attack. One critic was the Russian socialist, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov
Lenin (1870–1924). Neither Bernstein’s optimism nor Kautsky’s patient waiting on the
correct economic conditions made sense to a revolutionary like Lenin, who was from a
country that was economically backward and politically autocratic. In his pamphlet What
Is to be Done? (1902), Lenin argued that on their own, workers could not transcend what
he called “trade union consciousness,” a concern for piecemeal gains. Revolution required
an organization:
consist[ing] first and foremost of people
whose profession is that of a revolutionary. . . Such an organisation must of necessity be not too extensive and as secret as
possible. . . . The active and widespread
participation of the masses will not suffer;
on the contrary, it will benefit by the fact
that a “dozen” experienced revolutionaries, no less professionally trained than the
police, will centralise all the secret side
of the work—prepare leaflets, work out
approximate plans and appoint bodies of
leaders for each urban district, for each
factory district and to each educational
institution, etc.
The lesson Lenin drew from the Revolution of
1905 was that, in a country such as Russia, it was
not necessary to wait for the economy to become
highly developed in order to make a socialist revolution. Instead, a committed party of professional
revolutionaries could lead the working class and
the peasantry to revolution. In 1917, this is exactly
what Lenin would do.
Russian socialist Vladimir Lenin felt
strongly that revolution required
the creation of a disciplined party of
professional revolutionaries.
Socialism and the Right to Universal Male Suffrage
By 1900, Marxist-oriented Socialist or Social Democratic parties existed in almost every
country of Europe, but they met with varying degrees of success, as Figure 1.4 shows. In
seven countries—Finland, Sweden, Germany, the Czech lands, Denmark, Norway, and
Austria—they had won at least 25 percent of the votes by 1914.
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Section 1.5  Political Parties of the Working Class
These parties benefitted from the extension of the right to vote; many countries had universal (or nearly universal) adult male suffrage by 1914 (see Figure 1.5). In 1906, Finland
became the first country in Europe to grant the vote to women.
The extension of the right to vote was something for which Socialists, had fought. It was
rarely won easily and often came at a severe cost in lives and injuries, as noted previously.
Nor was universal male suffrage any guarantee a Socialist Party would do well. For example, the Spanish PSOE, founded in 1879, did not elect its first member of parliament until
1910 even though all men had the vote as early as 1890. There were a number of reasons
for the PSOE’s lack of success. Spain was less industrialized than Germany, France, or even
Italy, and a very sophisticated system of rigged elections, known as caciquismo, undermined
the potential of universal male suffrage. Spanish Socialists also had a significant competitor in syndicalism. There was a similar situation in France: Despite universal male suffrage
and a long tradition of working-class radicalism, the SFIO struggled because the national
union federation was adamantly antipolitical.
Sw d (S
Cz Ger n (S
an AP)
nm DS
No k (S
Sw gium SI)
Ne zerl
an OB)
nd SPS
% of the total vote
Figure 1.4: Socialist parties’ peak pre-WWI election results (in percent of total vote)
Socialist parties did increasingly well in elections in this period, but their degree of success varied from
country to country.
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Section 1.5  Political Parties of the Working Class
Figure 1.5: Universal male suffrage
Year in which Universal Male
Suffrage was granted
There was quite a variance in when European nations granted universal male suffrage, with France
granting it as early as 1848, and Italy, not until 1912.
The International
Socialist and Social Democratic parties recognized their affinities with each other and
since 1889 had belonged to the Second International, an organization that had no real
authority but held frequent congresses to bring together socialists from across Europe and
other parts of the world. The resolutions passed by this body, including the declaration of
May 1 as International Workers’ Day (1889) and March 8 as International Women’s Day
(1910), had great symbolic importance.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the prevention of war became an increasing concern
for the International. The 1907 Congress passed a resolution on militarism that denounced
war as the result of competition between capitalist nations and called on the working class
and its political representatives “to exert every effort to prevent the outbreak of war by the
means they consider most effective.” Five years later, with war looking even more likely,
the International convened an Extraordinary Congress in Basle. This Congress issued a
manifesto that made the following conclusion:
The proletariat is conscious of being at this moment the bearer of the entire
future of humankind. The proletariat will exert all its energy to prevent the
annihilation of the flower of all peoples, threatened by all the horrors of
mass murder, starvation, and pestilence.
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Section 1.6  Anti-Semitism
The Congress therefore appeals to you, proletarians and Socialists of all
countries, to make your voices heard in this decisive hour! Proclaim your
will in every form and in all places; raise your protest in the parliaments
with all your force; unite in great mass demonstrations; use every means
that the organization and the strength of the proletariat place at your disposal! See to it that the governments are constantly kept aware of the vigilance and passionate will for peace on the part of the proletariat! To the
capitalist world of exploitation and mass murder, oppose in this way the
proletarian world of peace and fraternity of peoples!
When war actually came in the summer of 1914, these appeals proved futile, and the belief
in the international solidarity of the working class that lay behind them was revealed as
an illusion. Only in Italy and Serbia did the Socialist Party oppose the war; everywhere
else, Socialists rallied to the support of their national governments.
1.6  Anti-Semitism
nother product of the changes taking place in Europe was the resurgence of antiSemitism. Starting with the French Revolution, the 19th century saw the emancipation of Jews—that is, the lifting of restrictions on where they could live and
the occupations they could undertake as well as of other limitations on their citizenship
rights, across Europe and their increasing integration into mainstream society. Italy even
had a Jewish prime minister, Sidney Sonnino, in 1906.
The historic prejudices never disappeared, however. Toward the end of the 19th century,
anti-Semitism became much stronger and, in some cases, explicitly linked to political
movements. Migration brought large numbers of Jews from the countryside to major cities such as Berlin, Paris, and Vienna and made them much more visible. (The increase in
numbers was magnified by the dress and sidelocks that made many of these Jews easily
visible and clearly “different.”) Jews also appeared to be disproportionately successful
in areas such as the professions, the artistic and cultural worlds, banking, and modern
businesses like department stores. The kinds of resentments these developments caused
among people who felt victimized by Jewish success or who feared that Jews posed a
danger to their national culture were captured in one of the first and most notorious antiSemitic publications of the period, Edouard Drumont’s La France Juive (1886): “Almost all
the grand houses around the Champs Elysées . . . are in Jewish hands; sometimes through
an open window, one heard in the solitude echoes of some concert: some Jew who is treating his neuroses” (Blom, 2008, p. 155).
Russia was home to the largest Jewish population in Europe. After the assassination of the
emperor Alexander II in 1881, for which some people blamed the Jews, the government
passed a number of laws limiting the rights of Jews, and even encouraged violent attacks
(pogroms) against them. Official anti-Semitism became even stronger in 1903, when the
use of pogroms became official government policy. That same year, a Russian newspaper
published the first edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The document, concocted by
the Russian secret police, claimed to contain the plans of a Jewish conspiracy to take over
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Section 1.6  Anti-Semitism
the world and was subsequently used in Russia and elsewhere to support anti-Semitic
policies. This persecution led to the mass emigration of Jews from Russia. By 1914 more
than 2.5 million left, of whom some 2 million went to the United States.
The ancient, fictional claim that Jews killed Christian children to use their blood in religious rituals also resurfaced. From the 16th century until the 1880s, these “blood libel”
cases took place only in the Russian empire and Poland. A case in Tiszaeszlár, Hungary
in 1882 was widely covered in the press and triggered a number of other charges in such
diverse places as the German Rhineland, West Prussia and Bohemia. One contemporary
catalogued 128 charges of ritual murder between 1881 and 1900. Six cases were actually
prosecuted, one as late as 1913.
Vienna was the first place anti-Semitism was used as the platform for a major political
party. The Jewish population of the Habsburg capital had exploded from a few thousand
in 1860 to 175,000, about 10 percent of the population, in 1910. Jews did well in Vienna
and attained a prominence beyond their numbers in many fields of Viennese economic
and cultural life.
This success had its price. Karl Lueger (1844–1910), a former radical who had moved to
the right and become the leader of the Christian Social Party, used anti-Semitism to attract
votes. By 1897, he was mayor of the city, a position he retained until his death in 1910.
Lueger’s administration did not actually target Jews, but his rhetoric had a lasting impact.
The young Adolph Hitler lived in Vienna while Lueger was mayor; he later claimed that
it was Lueger’s example that taught him how to build a political movement.
The Dreyfus Affair
Even France, the first European country to allow Jews to become equal citizens, was
affected by anti-Semitism. In 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus (1859–1935), an officer on the
General Staff of the French army and a Jew, was accused of passing military secrets to Germany. A military court convicted him and sentenced him to life imprisonment on Devil’s
Island. Dreyfus always maintained his innocence, and his family did everything possible
to discover who the traitor really was. Later, evidence emerged that Dreyfus had been
framed and the army had covered up the truth. Dreyfus was tried a second time in 1899
and found guilty again, even though it was clear that the evidence against him was forged
and that another officer had sold secrets to the Germans. The government pardoned him
almost immediately, and in 1906 he was fully absolved and returned to the army.
These events produced a huge and bitter public controversy, a kind of verbal civil war
that divided France into Dreyfusards, those who believed Dreyfus was innocent, and antiDreyfusards, those who believed he was guilty. Dreyfusards were mostly on the political
left. One of them, Emile Zola, France’s greatest novelist, wrote J’Accuse (1898), an open letter to the president in which he charged the army with a deliberate miscarriage of justice.
The anti-Dreyfusards were political conservatives, and among them members of the clergy
were some of the most vociferous. Their activities made the role of the Catholic Church in
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Section 1.7  Social Movements
France a political issue. In 1905, the government passed the Law of 9 December Separating the Churches and the State, which ended the practice of the state paying the salaries
of the clergy and prohibited the display of religious symbols in state buildings, including
public schools. This law established what the French call laicité, or a secular public sphere,
a concept that remains in place today.
In Their Own Words: Theodor Herzl, the Founder of Zionism
I consider the Jewish question neither a social nor a religious one, even though it sometimes takes these and other
forms. It is a national question . . .
We have sincerely tried everywhere to merge with the
national communities in which we live, seeking only to
preserve the faith of our fathers. It is not permitted us. In
vain are we loyal patriots . . .; in vain do we make the same
sacrifices of life and property as our fellow citizens; in vain
do we strive to enhance the fame of our native lands in the
arts and sciences, or her wealth by trade and commerce. In
our native lands where we have lived for centuries we are
still decried as aliens . . .
Theodor Herzl was the driving force
behind the first Zionist Congress and
the acting president of the Zionist
Organization until his death.
Palestine is our ever-memorable historic home. . . . We
should there form a rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism.
The rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, and the Dreyfus Affair in
particular, put Jews in a defensive position. Their response, the
promotion of a Jewish nationalism known as Zionism, would
have great consequences for the future. Zionism was the creation of Theodore Herzl (1860–1904), a
highly assimilated Jew from Vienna, and the Paris correspondent for the prestigious newspaper Neue
Freie Presse. In 1896, Herzl published a pamphlet, Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), in which he proposed the creation of a Jewish national state in Palestine as the answer to anti-Semitism. Herzl dedicated the rest of his life to turning his idea into reality. He was the driving force behind the first Zionist
Congress, which took place in Basel in 1897. From that congress emerged the Zionist Organization, of
which Herzl was the president until his death in 1904. This Zionist Organization eventually became the
cradle of the state of Israel.
This excerpt makes clear that Herzl saw Zionism as a defensive reaction against ongoing anti-Semitism
in Europe. At the same time, Herzl’s opposing Europe/civilization to Asia/barbarism reveals that he
refused to reject his identity as a European.
1.7  Social Movements
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he first years of the 20th century witnessed a significant increase in general political
activism. Beyond electoral politics and labor activism, social movements such as
feminism and pacifism gained new strength.
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Section 1.7  Social Movements
The feminist movement grew stronger and became more organized, particularly around
the issue of women’s suffrage. One group of suffragettes, the British Women’s Social and
Political Union (1903), led by Emmeline Pankhurst, engaged in direct action, such as arson,
window breaking, and attacking Members of Parliament with umbrellas to draw attention to their demands. Feminists on the continent were more restrained, staying away
from direct action and limiting themselves to holding meetings and producing pamphlets
and newspapers. Whatever their tactics, in all but two cases (Finland and Norway), feminists failed to get the vote before World War I.
Feminists also took on new issues, sometimes coming down on opposing sides. In France,
concerns that, at a time of rising international tensions, the country needed women to
give birth and raise children led to new laws that restricted women’s ability to work. For
example, women were prohibited from working in certain hazardous industries and at
night or on weekends. This sort of legislation was debated at the International Women’s
Congress in 1913. An official motion to accept laws that protect women was voted down
after heated debate; an alternative motion demanding protective legislation for men as
well as women was approved.
Feminists also debated the question of motherhood. Some developed a position known
as maternalism, which used women’s roles as mothers as the basis for social and political
rights. One of the most influential was the Swedish feminist Ellen Key (1849–1926). Key
argued that women’s road to self-realization led through motherhood, not employment.
She saw men and women as different and complementary, and believed that a just society
must recognize this. She also argued, however, that this required a complete revaluation
of motherhood to recognize its importance to society. Mothers should receive financial
support from the state. They should also receive training, which would be considered the
equivalent to the national military service required of young men.
Key produced a severe critique of the family. Married women should have legal rights;
they should be paid for housework; divorce should be made easier; and illegitimate children should have rights. The French feminist Nellie Roussel (1878–1922) also argued that
full citizenship rights should flow from motherhood. She combined this with a belief that
women should have a say in reproduction, which led her to become a vocal advocate of
In many ways, this right to control their own sexuality and reproduction was the most
revolutionary and shocking feminist demand. The most significant figure here was Madeleine Pelletier (1847–1939). A psychiatrist who moved in both syndicalist and Socialist circles, Pelletier twice stood as a Socialist candidate for the French parliament and,
between 1908 and 1919, ran her own newspaper, La Suffragiste. Pelletier was critical of the
maternal feminists who based their claims to rights on the biological difference between
men and women. For Pelletier the cultural meaning of gender was much more important
than physiology. It could also be changed. She denounced the family as an institution built
on the servitude of women. The purpose of sex, in her view, was not reproduction but
pleasure, and she advocated sexual freedom for women, including the right to abortions.
Pelletier set out her demands in books such as The Sexual Emancipation of Women (1911),
The Right to Abortion (1911), and The Feminist Education of Girls (1914).
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Section 1.8  Cultural and Intellectual Life
There were feminists with similarly radical positions in Germany too. Anita Augspurg
(1857–1943) was the first German woman with a doctor of laws degree, although she
had been forced to study in Zurich because universities in her country did not grant full
degrees to women. She was also a feminist activist and an outspoken critic of prevailing
sexual relationships, which she saw as a form of “sexual slavery weighing directly on
some and indirectly on all women.” In 1905, Augspurg called on German women to boycott marriage.
Women who were Socialists had a different approach to women’s issues. The Socialist
analysis, which had first been made by Friedrich Engels in his book The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884), saw private property as the source of the oppression of women and argued that this would end only through the revolution, which overthrew capitalism. Separate feminist organizations and demands for women’s rights were
thus “bourgeois” and pointless. The SPD had its own women’s movement, which was led
by Clara Zetkin (1857–1933). Under her leadership, Socialist women in Germany refused
to collaborate with feminists.
Later in this chapter, we will discuss the arms race and growing diplomatic tensions seen
in the first years of the new century, but these years also saw the emergence of a peace
movement. The largest national movement was in Germany, where the German Peace
Society had more than 10,000 members, and peace marches drew crowds of up to 250,000
in Berlin. Women had a major role in the peace movement, and there were even some
specifically feminist pacifist organizations. In addition, all Socialist parties proclaimed
themselves to be against war.
The most prominent peace activist in Europe was Bertha von Suttner (1843–1914), the
daughter of an impoverished nobleman. During the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78), she
had set up a hospital for wounded soldiers in her home. This experience turned her into
a pacifist. Her antiwar novel, Put Down Your Arms! (1889) made her famous, and she
became the leading figure in the emerging peace movement. As a young woman, she had
worked for a while as the secretary to Alfred Nobel; they remained in contact and von
Suttner played a role in convincing him to establish the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1905, she
herself became the fifth person—and the first woman—to be awarded the prize.
1.8  Cultural and Intellectual Life
ultural and intellectual life also changed dramatically starting in the final decades
of the 19th century, and these changes would intensify after 1900. European thinkers rejected existing forms and values, and the ongoing experimentation and search
for new forms of expression became known as modernism.
In almost every realm of cultural activity, new ideas questioned the assumptions that
had dominated European intellectual life since the middle of the 19th century. European
writers and artists sought to get beneath the surface of human experience and gave new
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Section 1.8  Cultural and Intellectual Life
importance to the roles of subjectivity and the unconscious. They also responded to economic and technological developments, which seemed to be advancing with ever greater
speed. While some writers and artists embraced this, others felt that the modern world
had become a barren field for cultural creators and turned to “primitive” cultures for
In the second half of the 19th century, European philosophy was dominated by positivism. This was a way of looking at human society that drew on science. Positivists believed
that what mattered was what could be seen and measured and that human behavior,
like natural phenomena, was determined by scientific laws. The term came from Auguste
Comte (1798–1857), creator of a science of society he called Sociology.
Comte’s positivism was further developed by Herbert Spencer (1829–1903). Spencer had
invented the phrase “survival of the fittest” to describe his understanding of Darwin’s
theory of natural selection. Spencer brought his enthusiasm for evolutionary biology to
positivism, and developed what came to be known as social Darwinism, the belief that
among humans and human societies, as among natural organisms, there was a struggle
for survival. These ideas led to the emergence of so-called scientific racism, which provided a justification for European imperial rule over nonwhite colonial subjects. These
ideas were also very popular in the United States, where they were used to defend racist
practices against African-Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans.
The first major dissenting voice to the positivist consensus belonged to the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900). Nietzsche became a professor at the University
of Basel at the young age of 24, but he left this position after ten years. From 1879 to 1888 he
lived in a number of different cities without a normal job. During this period he produced
most of his influential works: The Gay Science (1882), Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883), Beyond
Good and Evil (1886), and On the Genealogy of Morals (1887). Nietzsche had a mental breakdown in 1888 and spent the rest of his life in mental institutions and in the home of his sister.
Nietzsche’s great radicalism lay in two areas. The first was his rejection of one of the
underlying premises of positivism, that what we can see and measure was the basis for
understanding the world. In valuing nothing other than what our perceptions can detect,
positivists had “suppressed the true world” that lay beneath them. The second respect
in which Nietzsche was radical was his rejection of Christian morality. Christianity, in
his view, was for weak people who made themselves subservient to its myths. He also
criticized both democracy and nationalism for privileging the group over the individual
and the mediocre over genius. For Nietzsche, the most important thing was that individuals, and especially those “noble” people with greater talents and abilities, be allowed to
develop fully. He stressed the importance of “life affirmation,” the need to question all
beliefs that might constrain human capacity.
Nietzsche did not develop systematic treatises the way most philosophers did. Much of
his work consists of fragments and parables written in a poetic style and is populated by
a number of fictional characters such as “the hunchback,” “the ugliest man,” “the soothsayer,” and “the Last Man.” His most famous declaration, “God is dead,” was made by
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Section 1.8  Cultural and Intellectual Life
one of the characters, “the madman.” In making this shocking statement, Nietzsche was
trying to convey the idea that belief in the Judeo-Christian God prevented people from
reaching their potential.
Literature and Theater
Realism dominated European literature, and especially the novel, from the 1850s until the
1890s. Realism was a turn away from Romanticism, which was marked by mysticism and
escapism, instead embracing social life as it actually was. The first major Realist writer
was Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850). His Comédie Humaine (The Human Comedy) was a
series of novels that presented a portrait of life in France in the years after the defeat of
Realism also reached the theater. The most important Realist dramatist was the Norwegian Henrik Ibsen; his plays Pillars of Society (1877), A Doll’s House (1879), Ghosts (1881),
and An Enemy of the People (1882) showed ordinary people in everyday situations dealing
with contemporary issues. A Doll’s House, for example, examined the nature of marriage
and ended with a woman leaving her husband and children. This ending was hugely
controversial; it was rewritten before the play was performed in Germany so that the wife
remained with her family. More than a decade passed before it was performed in London.
By the 1880s, realism was overtaken by a related approach: naturalism. Both took existing society as their subjects, but Naturalist writers were strongly influenced by the ideas
of Charles Darwin and by positivism. French novelist Emile Zola (1840–1902) invented
the term and also introduced the concept of the “experimental novel,” in which a close
description of real life sat within the context of the experimental method drawn from science. In Naturalist novels, characters’ fates are not determined by choices they make but
by their heredity and their environment.
Novelists also began to pay more attention to the individual mind and questions of memory, and they used new narrative techniques such as stream of consciousness, in which the
narrator presents thoughts and impressions that are triggered by random stimuli, to convey them. The outstanding example is the semiautobiographical Remembrance of Things
Past by French writer Marcel Proust (1871–1922), in which the taste of a cake dipped in
tea prompts the protagonist’s memory of the past. The first volume of this seven-volume
novel appeared in 1913. It was a forerunner; literary modernism would flourish only after
World War I.
In the world of painting, the impressionism movement signified the first clear departure from traditional artistic sensibilities that valued strict representation of reality and
privileged specific genres, especially history painting, portraits, and still lifes. The impressionists were a group of primarily French painters active between the 1860s and 1880s:
Claude Monet (1840–1926), Camille Pissarro (1830–1903), Paul Cézanne (1839–1906),
Edgar Degas (1834–1917), Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919), Alfred Sisley (1839–1899),
and one woman, the American Mary Cassatt (1844–1926).
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Section 1.8  Cultural and Intellectual Life
Mary Cassatt was born and raised in the United States but
lived most of her adult life in Paris. She was the one wellknown female Impressionist.
Impressionists did not paint in a
single style, but they did collectively reject the established rules
of academic painting. They used
large, quick brushstrokes, which
made their paintings look unfinished. They also sometimes set up
their easels and painting outside,
in the plein air, rather than painting
in their studios. The most distinguishing feature of impressionist
painting was the attempt to capture the changing effects of color
and light. This is well illustrated
in the paintings Claude Monet
made of London Bridge at different times of day and in different
lighting conditions
Another of the impressionists’ innovations was to take themes from everyday life as
their subjects. Among these was the varied nightlife that grew up as a result of the
newly developed electric light. Electric lights were first used in Paris in 1875 and soon
spread to other cities in Europe and beyond. Better lighting made city streets safer after
dark and interiors more inviting. New venues such as dance halls and cabarets emerged
alongside bars and theaters. Edouard Manet captured this in his masterpiece, Night at
the Folies Bergere (1882).
Another artistic movement, post-impressionism, took painting in a new direction, rejecting
objective reality in favor of expressing the emotional state of the artist. Painters who worked
in this vein included Henri de
Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901), Paul
Gauguin (1848–1903), Georges
Seurat (1859–1891), and Vincent
Van Gogh (1853–1890).
Symbolism began as a literary
movement associated with the
poets Stéphane Mallarmé (1842–
1898), Paul Verlaine (1844–1896),
and Arthur Rimbaud (1854–1891).
The Symbolist Manifesto, published
in the Paris paper Le Figaro on
September 18, 1886, announced
the approach of the symbolists.
Symbolism was a reaction against
realism and naturalism; it rejected
“plain meanings, declamations,
false sentimentality and matter-offact description”; instead, its goal
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For post-impressionists such as Vincent van Gogh, external
reality was less important than the artist’s response to what
he or she saw.
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Section 1.8  Cultural and Intellectual Life
was “to express the Ideal.” (This also initiated a
practice that would become common in the 20th
century—the issuing of a manifesto in which a
new artistic movement announces its existence.)
Symbolism proved very popular among painters across the continent and beyond. Symbolist
painters employed symbols or conventions to
convey allegorical meanings or interior states of
mind not visible on the surface. Among a large
body of work, the best-known symbolist painting is The Scream (1893), by the Norwegian artist
Edvard Munch (1863–1944). For Munch, the goal
of his art was “the study of the soul, that is to say
the study of my own self.” The Scream captured
his soul at one specific moment: “I went along the
road with two friends—The sun set. Suddenly,
the sky became blood red—and I felt the breath
© 2011 The Munch Museum/The Munch-Ellingsen
of sadness. I stopped—leaned against the fence—
Group/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
deathly tired. Clouds over the fjord dripped reekSymbolists gave the artist’s emotions
ing blood. My friends went on but I just stood
even more importance than did posttrembling with an open wound in my breast. I…
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