Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization II L120

How did a political assassination in June 1914 lead to a world war?

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in 1914 by a sort of mafia that wanted to break off Austria-Hungary’s South Slav Provinces to be joined with Yugoslavia.  With this intent, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, but the Austria-Hungary government wasn’t pleased.  Austria-Hungary then declared war on the kingdom of Serbia, who didn’t fulfill all of the conditions of an ultimatum sent soon before.

Here is where the world war kicked in;  Austria had several allies, and when they declared war, Russia mobilized many troops in their support.  Germany then issued an ultimatum to Russia ordering that they withdraw.  Russia refused, and so Germany was brought into the war.

From this point, the war escalated.  Each combatant had allies, and when these were brought in, their allies had to join as well.  Thence nearly all of Europe erupted into a massive struggle to defeat the other half of it, resulting in the loss of millions and millions of lives.

Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization II L95

What happened in France during the Revolution of 1830?

In 1824, Charles X took the throne of France.  During his reign, he continually oppressed the people more and more.  In 1830, some newspapers started to speak out against the oppression, and when one of them called for revolt, the government finally got fed up and sent some police to raid the newspaper headquarters.  Raiding the newspaper was the number one thing the government could have done to incite a revolt, they probably didn’t realize it, but a revolt almost instantly started.

On that day, July 27th 1830, the “three glorious days” began.  People openly rioted, and attacked police and military.  The next day, after being stubborn and obstinate, King Charles lost the support of his prime minister and chamber to his cousin, Louis-Philippe.  The government’s authority was pretty much zero by this time.

On July 29th, the military was unable to suppress the citizens, and they sacked the king’s palace.  Louis-Philippe was then elected by the chamber, and Charles X abdicated the throne in view of keeping the peace.

Louis-Philippe went on to sieze all power from the chamber, and reigned as king until 1848.

Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization II L85

What is a key idea of Classical Liberalism?

One key idea of Classical Liberalism was that the government is erected by citizens in order to protect themselves from each other.  In an ungoverned state of nature, conflicts naturally arise.  A government erected by a Classic Liberalist state would have the main purpose of protecting people from each other.

This idea was based on the assumption that all people are naturally incapable of getting along with each other.  Although this is not necessarily true in entirety, it is true enough to need police and military to be kept up.

On that note, as in Iceland, there is no military.  This is because the Icelandic government has weighed the chance of an invasion over the expense of keeping a military.

As has been shown by Iceland’s peaceful record, when there isn’t a lot to take, there aren’t a lot of people who are desperate to take it, despite almost no resistance.

The idea that people need a government to keep them at peace amongst each other was originally adopted by Thomas Hobbes who lived from April 5 1588 to December 4 1679.

Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization II L70

Describe the difference between the French revolution and the English Reformation.

The French revolution was initially started because the french people were oppressed by the ruling nobility.  It ran from 1789-1799 and basically evolved into a bloody reign of terror.  For further details check out my last essay.

The English reformation was also quite an upheaval in society, but in a much more tame manner.  It was also started for a completely different reason.  Although King Henry VIII had not intention of starting a reformation, in seeking permission to get a new wife, he threw out the pope, and so gave the Protestants a great chance to start overthrowing the Catholic system.

So, the English reformation was unintentionally started, and the leaders of the reformation had the goal in mind of throwing off the rule of Catholicism.  The French revolution was initially an effort to free the people, but quickly became a bloody thirst for power, with some seriously tyrannical leaders.


Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization 2 L65

How would you summarize the principles of the French Revolution in its first three years?

The French revolution originated simply as a means of throwing off the tyrannical rule of some of the nobles in France.  The idea was solely to become free, and not be oppressed by the overbearing upper class.

As you probably know, this quickly got out of hand, and the “government” became even more tyrannical than the last one.  The principals of this new government, were to kill anyone that opposed it; even if there was an anonymous denunciation with no proof whatsoever.

The “people’s government” also believed that all forms of inequality whatsoever were evil.  Thus, anyone who had previously held any decent position whatsoever deserved to be killed.  Their was almost never any real trial, just a “judge” pronouncing the victim to be “guilty of treason.”

It is no surprise that the people eventually got tired of this, but it took a lot of courage for anyone to finally stand up against it, when the government could immediately condemn anyone for no reason whatsoever.

Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization 2 L60

What was enlightened absolutism?

Enlightened Absolutists were of the view that royal power was not divine, a new thought in the era.  Instead, they viewed the monarchy as more of a social contract with a man or woman who was put in charge of the country.  Some rulers, like Catherine II of Russia, entirely rejected the non-divine idea, but embraced other ideas of the absolutists.

One of the key ideas of the enlightenment was, as the name suggests, enlightening people.  The key thinkers of the movement were of the opinion that a better society could be obtained by the general public staying out of the dark.  The more each person knew, the more they could understand decisions made by the government, thence, there would be much less civil unrest due to misunderstandings.

Many great rulers adopted this theory, using it to achieve many ends.  Here is a list of what leaders who took advantage of the enlightenment did with it.

Codifying the laws of their territories.

Reforming the countryside by establishing who owned which land and by reporting this data in property surveys called cadasters.

Abolishing, or taking steps to abolish, aristocratic tax immunities.

Limiting the nobility’s power to police and pass judgement upon their peasants.

Diminishing peasants’ legal disabilities, including ameliorating, if not abolishing, the hereditary status and impositions of serfdom where they still existed.

Promoting commerce (whether directly, through royal manufactures, or indirectly, through subsidies, tariffs, the reduction of tolls, or the improvement of transportation).

Establishing some measure of religious toleration.

Sponsoring cultural activities and institutions (such as individual philosophies, royal academies, libraries, and essay contests).

Sourced from Wickepedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization 2 L55

What does Adam Smith mean by the “invisible hand”?

Adam Smith actually used the term, “invisible hand” only three times in all of his writings.  The few times that he did use it, he was referring to an individual unintentionally benefiting society in an attempt at self-improvement.

Smith first coined the term, “invisible hand” in 1759, in The Theory Of Moral Sentiments, in which he mentioned how society is often benefited more, when people are intent upon bettering their own situation in one way or another.

The whole idea of the “invisible hand,” rests on the theory of society benefiting from individual actions.  When a person seeks to better their social standing, they might think of numerous paths to an end.  One of the thoughts that might occur to someone would be donating to a charity or cause.  Donating to a charity could very well improve society’s view of someone, but at the same time, society was benefited by the donation.

I have touched on but a few points that Adam Smith wrote about, the “invisible hand” being one of these.  Put in a nutshell, the term summed up how society can benefit from unintentional acts of self-improvement.

Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization 2 L45

Describe Peter the Great’s program for Russia.

Peter the Great was a very ambitious man, and in 1689, when he rose to the throne, Russia was lagging far behind other European countries.  Peter first decided that it would be imperative for Russia to have at least one port for sea trade.  He at once launched a campaign in hopes of winning himself a path to the Black Sea.  Although this campaign was at first failing, it eventually started to pan out, and he did gain some land.  However, it soon became clear that he could not fight the Turks alone, and with no allies, he was forced to give up the Black Sea campaign.

Peter then decided to fight the Swedes, and conquer the Baltic coast.  This proved to be a bit of an undertaking, but after about 21 years, he finally succeeded.  I am sure he never dreamed that it would take so long, but when he at long last achieved his goal, he couldn’t stop there.  He went to great lengths to modernize Russia, beards were not legal, the army was updated, and many other steps were taken to ensure absolute modernness.

Peter the Great’s ambitious reign was spent almost entirely on modernizing Russia, and turning it into a great world power once again.  He certainly achieved this, and is generally considered as one of the most successful of the Russian leaders.

Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization 2 L40

What were some key ideas of mercantilism?

Mercantilist theorists believed that there was a certain amount of wealth in the world.  Thence, if mass amounts of precious metals could be accumulated in a specific country, that country’s power could be drastically increased.

The methods used by various governments to accumulate wealth, mostly implied increasing exports, and decreasing imports.  Imports were controlled easily by imposing large tariffs on any imported goods.  Since imported goods started to cost more, people were forced to buy locally.  This also opened up local trade, as the market was no longer dominated by the cheap imports.

Maintaining an economy highly biased towards exports wasn’t quite so simple though.  When you think about it, it is quite impossible for all the countries in an economy to export yet not import.  There would be an intense excess of goods, which nobody would be able to use because the government wouldn’t permit free imports.

Mercantilism eventually collapsed because it was simply unsustainable; one or two countries could actually benefit from it, but when it got to where no one would except imports, the whole system broke down.

Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization 2 L25

Who were the Levellers and what did they believe?

The Levellers were the people involved in a political movement during the English Civil War.  The movement involved equality before the law, religious tolerance extended as far as the English Catholics, who were despised by the vast majority of Englishmen, and popular sovereignty.

One of the key ideas of the Leveller movement, was that of free trade.  England, in that era, had very strict trade laws, so the principalities were able to give the right of producing or selling a certain item to only one favored person or group.  The Levellers believed that everyone should be able to produce or sell whatever they wanted to, and so prices would go down due to competition.  One of the major flaws of the biased trade system involved high prices because there was no competition whatsoever.