B. Central and Eastern Europe: Persistence of the Old Order
A Second Industrial Revolution occurred in the latter nineteenth century, a revolution of steel, chemicals, electricity, and the internal combustion engine. Higher wages fueled internal markets. Tariffs replaced free trade and cartels monopolized production. Germany became the industrial leader as Britain was overly cautious in adopting new technologies. Europe was divided into a industrialized north and a poorer south and east, and, world-wide, European manufactured goods and investment capital was exported abroad in exchange for raw materials.
The status of women improved somewhat in service and white-color jobs as typists and clerks. Prostitution remained an avenue for survival for many women. Working-class political parties, such as Germany’s Social Democratic Party, were established. The Second International, 1889, hoped to coordinate Marxist socialist parties, but unity floundered on the shoals of nationalism as well as disagreements between the advocates of the revolutionary class struggle and those who envisioned socialism being achieved democratically. Trade unions were most successful in Britain. The anarchist movement was another response to industrial capitalism.
Europe’s population reached to 460 million by 1910. Many migrated from the poorer east and south to industrialized northern Europe and abroad, often for economic reasons, but also to escape ethnic and religious persecution. In the industrial north, urban populations constituted up to 80 percent of the total. Urban conditions improved because of building codes and better housing, cleaner water, and new sewage systems. Governments often took the lead in contrast to earlier laissez-faire, but wealthy reformer-philanthropists also established model houses and new garden towns. Old city walls were torn down and workers commuted by trains and streetcars to the new suburbs. In redesigned cities, such as Paris and Vienna, parks and wide roads were built.
The standard of living generally improved. The elite were 5 percent of the population but controlled 30-40 percent of the wealth, as old landed wealth merged with the new industrial wealth. The middle classes, with their values of hard work and propriety, encompassed the upper middle class professionals down to the lower middle class white-collar clerks and bank tellers. Family togetherness was the aim, with a new focus upon the child. The lower classes made up 80 percent of the population, but with rising wages many workers adopted middle class values. Industrialism reinforced traditional female inferiorly: women stayed at home while men went out to work. The birthrate dropped as families limited the number of children.
Because of expanding voting rights and the need to have an electorate educated in national values, most states assumed responsibility for mass compulsory education up to the age of twelve. Literacy rates reached almost 100 percent in northern Europe, leading to a demand for mass newspapers, filled with sports and sensationalism. New leisure hours, including the weekend, led to new mass entertainment; the music hall and dance halls were popular, as was organized tourism for the middle classes. Sports were also organized, on an amateur basis in the elite schools and professionally as in American baseball.
By the end of the century most British males had the vote. In France, the Third Republic was established in spite of opposition from monarchists, army officers, and the Catholic clergy. Italy was troubled by regional differences, political corruption, and ever-changing governments. The traditional order lasted longer in central and eastern Europe. In Germany, where the popularly elected Reichstag lacked power, Bismarck implemented social welfare programs to seduce the workers away from socialism. After the assassination of Russia’s Alexander II, the reactionary Alexander III (r.1881-189) and Nicholas II (r.1894-1917) opposed all reforms.
SUGGESTED LECTURE TOPICS
1. The Impact of the Second Industrial Revolution on the Transformation of Europe 2. The Middle Classes and Nineteenth-Century European Society 3. Nationalism in the Age of Mass Society: The Role of Mass Politics 4. The Democratization of the European Consumer Society and Its Cultural Repercussions
5. The Socialist Movements of Nineteenth-Century Europe