Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Power to the People... and Louis XVIII

What should people in power do when their power is threatened? What should people in power do when Napoleon conquers Europe? The Congress of Vienna was created to help solve problems brought up by Napoleon Bonaparte’s European conquests. The congress played an important role in returning power back to those who had their powers threatened. In class we did a group activity on padlet.com, where we read a background essay and chose a solution to various problems the Congress of Vienna had to face.

Klemens von Metternich was one of many powerful people at the congress of vienna. He along with the other leaders came up with the principle of legitimacy. This principle restored the power in lawful monarchs. The charter of 1814 was put in place to make France a constitutional monarchy in which all French people were equal before the law. This allowed all people to practice any religion freely. Power was reestablished within the Bourbon monarchy, allowing Louis XVIII to rule,  but there was still more equality and power for the French people.

The decision to restore the throne to Louis XVIII was a good choice for the success of France. I think it was good idea because it allowed France to go back to a system of government that they were familiar with. This gave them the opportunity to rebuild their society rather quickly. I feel that that was a smart decision because France had a boost of confidence and strength.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ideologies Genius

Conservatism, liberalism, and national are three major ideologies. Conservatism is the idea that change in the current systems is bad. Liberalism supports individual liberties and nationalism focuses in uniting nations based on history, culture, and language. All three of these ideologies played an important role in the political and social systems of Europe in the 19th century.

To learn about these ideologies, in small groups we created a one minute project to teach the class about an assigned topic. After it was declared that my group would study nationalism, we made a video. In the one minute film, as I walk down the hall, I come across an "ideologies genius" who wants to tell me all about nationalism in the 19th century. He teaches me that nationalism is the idea that a nation is grouped by language, culture, and history. Nationalism helped people rebuild after the French Revolution. It also made Italy and France realize that if they hadn't been so separated and been more united like a nation then Napoleon wouldn't have been able to defeat them so easily.  Nationalism affected Europe socially and politically.

Nationalism wasn't the only thing that affected Europe's social and political systems. Liberalism, the idea that all people had their own god given rights also impacted these aspects of 19th century Europe. Liberals believed in a meritocracy, a system in which people were awarded by their skill rather than their class. This system would put monarchy out of power and give more power to the talented poor people. Conservatism on the other hand, wanted to keep the power within the church and monarchy. Conservative people were afraid of a possible revolution due to change, so they did not support innovation and reform. In addition to nationalism, conservatism and liberalism impacted the social and political systems of 19th century Europe.h

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Bold and Brave Bonaparte

In the early 1800's Europe was majorly affected by a very powerful man. This extraordinary military leader is commonly known for "his untiring industry, his devotion to the public service, his enlightened views of government and legislation, his humanity." Napoleon Bonaparte, said to be "the greatest genius of his time," had a great influence on the economic, social, and political systems of Europe.  

Politically, Napoleon had both positive and negative impacts on Europe. He was able to overthrow the directory and he was powerful enough to take over many countries, but he became an emperor. Rulers and people like Madame de Staël, who came from families connected to monarchy were not fond of Napoleon. Napoleon took power away from them when he became an emperor and they were forced to follow the Napoleonic code. Madame de Staël claimed Napoleon's goal was to "encroach daily upon France's liberty and Europe's freedom." Though there were clearly people who didn't favor Napoleon, people in the countries he controlled did benefit from his rule.

Napoleon's economic impact was especially positive on France. He strongly encouraged new industry. He built many new railroads and canals. With this increased industry, France was given the opportunity to trade with all the other countries Napoleon ruled over. Impacts like this contribute to why Marshal Michel Ney, an officer who served closely with Napoleon, referred to him as France's "august emperor."

Under Napoleon's rule, people were able to improve their own lives. Napoleon impacted the social system of Europe by creating a meritocracy. A meritocracy is a system in which people are rewarded by skill rather than social class. Napoleon made it so that more people had rights to their own property and access to education. This was seen as a positive impact on the social systems of a Europe.

Ten Years of Exile, by Madame de Staël, trans. Doris Beik (Saturday Review Press, 1972)
The French Revolution and Napoleon: An Eyewitness History, by Joe H. Kirchberger (Facts on File, 1985).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Rock, Paper, Socialism, Shoot!

The classic game Rock, Paper, Scissors, can be used in more ways than just a game to play when you're bored or a way to break a tie. In class we played this fun, interactive game to simulate communism, capitalism, and socialism. Adding chocolate to the game made it even better! This class was exciting yet frustrating at the same time. I hated losing my chocolate when I lost a round of the game. I can only imagine how people felt having to give up some of their wealth when faced with capitalism, communism, and socialism in real life.

Karl Marx and Adam Smith both wanted to help the poor, but they had very different approaches on how to do so. Marx came up with theories in which the poor would help themselves. We call these ideas communism, socialism, and capitalism. In communism, there would be no government needed. Everyone would share the resources. Therefore, the poor could have access to the same things the wealthy did. With socialism, there would be economic equality and a classless society. Each citizen would start with the same amount of wealth. The poor people would have an equal amount to the rich people. And lastly, there's capitalism, in which there is freedom of competition and unequal economic classes. With this system, the poor would truly have to fight for themselves. Adam Smith's theory of the invisible hand helped the poor in a very different way. Smith believed in a government that let the market naturally take care of itself. This would allow higher quality goods to be sold at lower prices due to competition between companies. The invisible hand initiates the changes. Poor citizens could buy good products at an affordable cost.

I personally believe that Adam Smith's theory is best. Industrialists are allowed to be in control of their own businesses. Under this system people can choose what they want to buy and sell. Higher quality products could be sold at more affordable prices. Opposed to Marx's theories the wealthy people could continue to be wealthy, but the poor people are given opportunities to catch up and prosper. This theory  seems to please many social groups. This is a good system because it seems to please many social groups.