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20th Century Political Events and Philosophy

20th Century Political Events

The Second World War caused the end of Imperialism in Europe and left it in ruins. Since new political borders were drawn during and after the war, millions of people were rendered homeless and thus, had to live like refugees. Many of the industrial infrastructures in Europe were destroyed and most of the people found themselves to be in hostile territories. A major part of the United Kingdom had been destroyed and thus, a rapid decolonization process took place that shook France, United Kingdom and other imperialist nations. All through the second half of the 20th century, numerous countries gained their independence.

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Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which was a great power, slowly collapsed and United States of America, which suffered very little due to the war, emerged as the only superpower and even today remains so. The Soviet Union lost a lot of civilians and armed forces which even today they have not been able to replenish. But, United States of America, on the other hand prospered immensely in the areas of technology, agriculture, and industry. The European Union also came into being whose purpose was to combine the coal and steel resources from its 6 member states in order to support other economies. The League of Nations has not been able to prevent the Second World War and thus, after the war a more modern international alliance, called the United Nations or UN, was formed.

Unlike the League of Nations, the UN actively participated in the problems faced by the world, like fighting diseases and supplying aids to nations. The Second World War forced the world superpowers like Russia and the United States of America to join the UN but the League of Nations did not have this advantage since they had very little presence of international power. The Second World War was also directly responsible for the Cold War. After the war ended United Kingdom was no longer a superpower and they passed the baton onto Soviet Union and the United States of America.

However, slowly friction started building between them and after Germany collapsed so did the relation between them. The Soviet Union formed the Eastern Bloc and later the Warsaw Pact including all of their satellite states that were forced into communism, while United States of America favored the NATO. This finally led to a complete deterioration in relations among the two superpowers which ended only after Soviet Union was dissolved.

20th Century Philosophy

Existentialism is a modern philosophy that considers human subjects to be the starting point of their philosophical thoughts. Existential philosophers included the individual’s conditions of existence, feelings and actions in their philosophy. Existentialism focuses on the way by which humans discover their existence in the world and thus, according to it human existence comes first and only after that does every individual spends their entire lifetime changing their basic nature and spirit.

Simply put Existentialism can be thought of as one which focuses on finding one’s self and also the meaning of an individual’s life by means of personal responsibility, free will and choice. Individuals try to find out throughout their lives what they are and make certain changes, reflected through Existentialism, in their lives based on their outlook, experiences and beliefs. These personal changes and choices are completely unique and do not require to be objective. According to Existentialism, an individual must be responsible for the changes in their life and choose them without considering traditions, laws or ethnic rules. Also, an individual is also at his best when he has to fight for his life against his basic nature.

There have been indications of Existentialism in the works of 19th and 20th-century philosophers, like Friedrich Nietzsche and Søren Kierkegaard. Among the more modern philosophers who believed in Existentialism was Martin Heidegger. He further influenced other philosophers like Albert Camus, Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Franz Kafka and Fyodor Dostoyevsky also used existentialist philosophy in the literary writings.

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Existentialism also refers to change in the form of revolt. The fundamental concepts of our modern industrial society were formed in the 17th century as a result of a revolt and thus Existentialism also reflects the changes in the industry. Existentialism can be viewed as a revolt against the various features that existed in the industrial society before the 17th century. People constantly protested against the attitude of the industrial society in those times which finally resulted in its change today. When man protested against the belief that he was a mere element of the social process consisting of production and consumption procedures, it reflected the feeling of meaninglessness, estrangement and finitude in man.

Individuals protested against a system with the intention of changing it which considered them to be more than an object of the worldwide mechanical reality. People like Søren Kierkegaard, Alfred North Whitehead, Karl Marx, Henri Bergson, Trendelenburg, Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach and Friedrich Nietzsche favored Existentialism and wanted to change the constitution of the industrial society for saving our basic existence.

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