Edward Berenson’s textbook “Europe in the Modern World Since 1500”
As transportation networks and technology began to develop, they allowed for fast and efficient shipment of goods anywhere in Europe and across continents. This resulted in a dramatic decline in prices on food and crops, particularly with the arrival of mass shipments from the United States. However, agricultural costs for Europeans remained stable, eventually making it extremely unprofitable for small farmers to grow crops domestically.
Besides, price declines in the industrial sector resulted in low-profit margins and potential losses for companies. Small businesses were focused on artisanal products and lacked mass production capabilities. They could not increase their production to compensate for financial losses or compete with larger firms that had begun to implement mechanized production. Less developed nations in Southern and Eastern Europe experienced a decline of entire national industries, increasing cheap imports to ensure basic survival needs, but failing to support domestic production.
Britain experienced a period of technological stagnation, which led to its factories and equipment becoming outdated, preventing the process of industrialization from making significant progress. Furthermore, Britain lacked a variety of assets needed to compete with the United States and Germany, including natural resources, slowing the process of modernization. Besides, other countries had the advantage of human capital, particularly the United States, whose labor force increased dramatically with the influx of immigrants at this time.
Even Germany, which was experiencing the effects of economic depression along with the rest of Europe, chose to reform its industry and financial sector so that they would become more efficient and specialized and subject to the lowest possible risks. Britain failed to address these issues in its industry sufficiently or capitalize on the advantages the country enjoyed economically and politically.
Economic nationalism increased as prices continued to decline, resulting in countries implementing tariffs and other mandatory policies which were intended to support domestic products by making it difficult to import cheap foreign alternatives. This policy was based on protectionism, which would ideally allow national industries to regain their footing. Large farmers benefited as tariffs were implemented on imported grains. Industrial companies with a domestic market also prospered. However, many specialized industries, such as pharmaceuticals and chemicals, experienced difficulties. Economic nationalism was implemented by most countries and entailed placing tariffs on imports in a retaliatory manner. These steps began to limit international trade severely.
Despite being initially opposed to imperialism, Europe adopted the approach of bringing modern civilization to less developed parts of the world. European societies, filled with nationalistic pride, considered their nations to be superior economically, culturally, and militarily to the peoples they conquered. With the support of significant resources and human capital, Europe was able to colonize the world. The Industrial Revolution created the technology, production capabilities, communication methods, and transportation networks required for conducting large-scale military and economic operations.
Conquest was a method for building empires, which was intended to further increase a country’s power and influence and to gain access to new markets, resources, and goods. There was a shortage of raw materials in Europe needed for rapid industrialization, with the result that the mostly undeveloped lands in other parts of the world were seen as an opportunity to acquire cheap resources. Imperialism as a whole was an economic endeavor that attempted to stabilize the supply-demand balance in Europe, while each country wanted to ensure access to new markets and trade routes.
European policies and the administration of colonies allowed for the creation and adoption of new governing practices. For example, Britain created the concept of civil service in India based on indigenous practices regarding tax collection and judicial procedure, which was later implemented domestically. Other aspects, such as food management during crises and fingerprinting techniques in criminal investigations, were developed through colonization.
European powers gained military experience and developed new tactics, particularly for suppressing uprisings and resisting guerrilla warfare. There were cultural changes as colonialism created a flow of foreign traditions and goods that were considered exotic, thus attracting public interest and further glorifying the “heroism” of the colonists. This aspect of colonialism was commercialized by many enterprises, leading to the creation of a whole movement in journalism and products that sought to take advantage of the public interest in colonial life.
Germany was strategically in a very weak position. Most of its allies, such as Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, had been defeated, leaving Germany alone on the Western Front. Any attempts at counter-attacking failed, as Germany was now faced with fighting fresh American troops arriving in Europe in large numbers. The war of attrition that Germany had attempted to fight to this point ultimately proved to be a failed strategy.
Allied forces supported by the US began to utilize innovative technology and weapons that further put Germany at a disadvantage. Meanwhile, Germany was experiencing numerous domestic socio-political issues. The war devastated the country, causing a famine that was exacerbated by the Allied blockade. Military morale was extremely low, resulting in mutiny and desertion. The German people openly protested the war, and there were political disagreements between the military dictatorship and civilian leaders about Germany’s further participation in the war. The Kaiser refused any participation in peace negotiations, as he saw them as destructive for the country, but he ultimately failed to consider the national attitude towards the war.
Cabet’s Voyage to Icaria of 1842
Public health and safety are heavily emphasized in Cabet’s description of Icaria. The air is circulated and decontaminated if required. There are no cemeteries, chemical production facilities, or hospitals within city limits that can contaminate the air. The streets are kept clean, preventing the accumulation of trash, dust, and mud. Animal control is strict within the city to limit waste and accidents. Transportation is strictly regulated to prevent waste and ensure pedestrian safety. Cross-walks and intersections are constructed with pedestrian precautions in mind. Sidewalks are covered to protect from the weather while not blocking out the light. Overall, the city is well illuminated, and its urban design focuses on public health and well-being.
Cabet described the city as circular and divided into two parts by a river, which has been artificially deepened to allow in shipping vessels. The river splits again to form an island in the middle of the city with a large palace, monuments, and wharves. The city is divided into blocks which are formed by 50 streets crossing both parallel and perpendicular to the river. Housing is equal on all blocks, with public and commercial infrastructure distributed equitably throughout the city.
Public buildings are located in streets surrounded by houses, which are designed to form an exterior residential section. Paved streets contain tracks going in both directions to accommodate an efficient transportation network. Individual streets are designated for the movement of cargo. The citizens openly discuss and decide how the city should be built based on the analysis of current large urban centers. All infrastructure would be focused on public use and comfort. There would be no aristocratic residences or institutions.
Commerce is merged so that each industry has shops that are aesthetically pleasing and have anything a person could want. It would be pleasant to visit these stores and purchase artisanal crafts and goods produced by the city. Monuments and museums of considerable size would be typical in the city. Cultural objects such as paintings and sculptures will be available to the public, openly displayed and not hidden away like in other cities. Promenades and public gardens will be open for recreational and artistic use. The city would have various public recreational and cultural infrastructures such as arenas and theaters. Common institutions such as schools, hostels, and temples would be supported as places of the popular assembly.
Places of public indecency such as cabarets, roadhouses, smoking joints, or gambling facilities would not exist in the city. Even places such as stock exchange, prisons, or barracks would not be present. There would not be offensive behavior such as prostitution, thieving, or drinking. Toilets would be established around the city and kept clean. Graffiti and insulting vandalism would not be tolerated, and children would be trained to reject anything indecent and inappropriate. Commercial advertising and posters would not be allowed to maintain the aesthetic appearance of the buildings. Specially designated bulletin boards would be ornamentally installed throughout the city to relay any announcements.
Karl Marx “The American Civil War”
The export of slavery to new territories provided prospectives for advancement for poor whites. The slaveholding oligarchy of the South sought to maintain their support through the promise of new land and the potential to become slave owners in the future. Furthermore, the Republican party sought to legally limit the spread of slavery to new territories. In the long run, it would put the territories under Northern influence, leaving the Southern states as a minority coalition in Congress. Despite not owning slaves, most poor whites followed the Southern political ideology and sought to protect the economic survival of their states.
Southern slave owners consistently sought to expand the practice of slavery (and therefore political influence) over new territories, including foreign lands. Buchanan was elected with the priority to establish control over Cuba by any means possible. Northern Mexican lands were divided by land speculators. Meanwhile, filibusters traveled to Central America on direct orders from the White House. The scheme for this international expansion was based directly on the alliance between the South and Northern Democrats.
The Union government secretly maintained the stance of legalizing and reopening the slave trade since it was exponentially growing despite laws against it. Under pressure from the South, US foreign policy sought to expand the country’s borders with the introduction of slavery into more territories.
The Kansas crisis that was a result of an alliance between Southern slaveholders and the Northern Democrats resulted in a widely popular anti-slavery Republican Party. The Northern Democrats, realizing the loss of public support, took a different approach by making the introduction of slavery dependent on the will of settlers in the territories. The South meanwhile maintained the Constitutional approach and wanted to force slavery onto territories with the support of Northern Democrats, similar to what was done in Kansas. However, Democrats were rapidly losing political power to the rising Republic party and were unable to satisfy the Southern ambitions.
Meanwhile, the territories were antagonized by the constant change in-laws and Southern attempts to force slavery onto their societies. The South only saw the Union as valuable if slavery powers were relinquished on a federal level, which was unlikely to happen. The Democrats stopped supporting slavery, and after Lincoln was elected, it was the perfect opportunity and excuse for the South to secede.
The initial Missouri Compromise, which banned slavery north of the 36th parallel, was continuously challenged politically and judicially. Slave owners had close connections to the Northern Democrats who were in power at the time. Stephen Douglas proposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, which sought to repeal the slavery clause of the Missouri Compromise. In this way, the concept of slavery was made equivalent to freedom and therefore would have to be recognized as a sovereign right of the people. Settlers could vote whether to enable slavery in their state, eventually resulting in New Mexico becoming a slave territory. Any geographical limits to slave ownership were removed.
However, after failure in other territories, the South sought to judicially challenge any slave regulations in the Supreme Court. Since the majority of the judges were siding with the South, it was an effective solution. The 1857 Dred Scott case recognized that American citizens could take any property with them across territories. Since slaves were constitutionally recognized as property, the South utilized a legal loophole to introduce slavery into the territories, despite the majority of settlers being opposed. This helped further the political influence of the South over the Western territories.