Conservatives and the Liberals

Conservatives and the Liberals had major differences at the beginning of the 19th century. Conservatives regarded tradition as the basic source of human institutions. In their view, the proper state and society remained those of pre-1789 Europe, which rested on a judicious blend of monarchy, bureaucracy, aristocracy, and respectful commoners. Conservatism stressed on tradition, a hereditary monarchy, a strong and privileged landowning aristocracy, and an official church.

Now the Liberals believed that each person, each national group, had a right to establish its own independent government and seek to fulfill its own destiny. The idea of national self-determination was repellent to those Conservatives. It not only threatened the existence of the aristocracy but also threatened to destroy the Austrian Empire and revolutionize central Europe. In comparison to Conservatism, Liberalism demanded representation government as opposed to autocratic monarchy, equality before the law as opposed to legally separate classes. The idea of liberty also continued to mean specific individual freedoms.

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The Zollverein is the Germany customs union. Developing gradually under Prussian leadership after 1818 and founded officially in 1834 to stimulate trade and increase the revenues of member states, the Zollverein had not included Austria. After 1848 this exclusion became a crucial factor in the Austro – Prussian rivalry. Austria tried to destroy the Zollverein by inducing the south German states to leave it, but without success. Indeed, by the end of 1853 all the German states except Austria had joined the customs union. A new Germany excluding Austria was becoming an economic reality. Middle – Class and business groups in the Zollverein were enriching themselves and finding solid economic reasons to bolster their idealistic support of national unification.

Bismarck had long been convinced that the old order he so ardently defended should make peace, on it own terms, with the liberal middle class and the nationalist movement. He realized that nationalism was not necessarily hostile to conservatice, authoritarian government. Moreover, Bismarck believed that because of the events of 1848, the German middle class could be led to prefer the reality of national unity under conservatice leadership to a long, uncertain battle for truly liberal institutions. During the constitutional struggle over army reform and parliamentary authority, he had delayed but not abandoned this goal. Thus during the attack on Austria in 1866, he increasingly identified Prussia’s fate with the “national development of Germany.”

Imperialism is defined as the capstone of a profound underlying economic and technological process. There are 6 causes of the ” New Imperialism”. The first reason is that economic motives played an important role in the extension of political empires, especially the British Empire. The second cause is that many people were convinced that colonies were essential to great nations. The third cause is the Social Darwinian theories of brutal competition among races.

Social Darwinism and harsh racial doctrined fostered imperialist expansion. The fourth cause was the industrial world’s unprecedented technological and military superiority. The fifth cause was the social tensions and domestic political conflicts also contributed mightily to overseas expansion, according to a prominent interpretation of recent years. Finally, certain special-interest groups in each country were powerful agents of expansion. The actions of such groups and the determined individuals who led them thrust the course of empire forward.

The Open Door Policy opposed formal annexation of Chinese territory. At the high point of this rush in 1898, it appeared that the European powers might actually divide China among themselves, as they had recently divided Africa. The Open Door Policy and probably only the jealousy each nation felt toward its imperialist competitors saved China from partition . Bismarck’s solution was a system of alliances to restrain both Russia and Austria – Hungary to prevent conflict between them, and to isolate a hostile France, which could never forget the loss of Alsace-Lorraine.

A first step was the creation in 1873 of the conservative Three Emperors’ League, which linked the monarchs of Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Russia in an alliance against radical movements. Bismarck’s balancing efforts at the congress infuriated Russian nationalists, and this led Bismarck to conclude a defensive military alliance with Austria against Russia in 1879. Bismarck continued to work for peace in eastern Europe, seeking to neutralize tensions between Austria-Hungary and Russia. Bismarck also maintained good relations with Britain and Italy, while encouraging France in Africa but keeping France isolated in Europe.

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