The Age of Mass Politics: 1871-1914 Main Theme

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The Age of Mass Politics: 1871-1914
Main Theme: The national state created a common framework in European politics. Political parties dominated politics. Increased suffrage and literacy in western and central European countries during the late-nineteenth century resulted in higher expectations and demands among the people for

government to be responsive to their needs.

I. The Age of Mass Politics (overview)

A. Ordinary people felt increasing loyalty to their


B. By 1914 universal male suffrage was the rule (female suffrage emerged after WWI)

C. Politicians and parties in national parliaments

represented the people more responsibly as increased

suffrage spread

D. The welfare state emerged, first in Germany, then in Britain, France and other countries

E. Increased literacy: governments came to believe public education was important to provide society with well informed and responsible citizens.

F. Governments were often led by conservatives who

manipulated nationalism to create a sense of unity and

divert attention away from underlying class conflicts

Frequently channeled national sentiment in an antliberal and militaristic direction after 1871

II. The German Empire: 1871-1914

A. Government structure

1. Consisted of a federal union of Prussia and 24 smaller German states.

2. Kaiser Wilhelm I (r. 1871-1888) had the ultimate power in Germany

3. Otto von Bismarck (1810-1898) served as the

chancellor and was the mastermind behind the


4. A bicameral legislature was established: Reichstag

a. Bundestag was the lower body which

represented the nation (the Volk).

b. Bundesrat was the conservative upper body which represented the various German states (länder)

5. German political system was multi-party

a. Conservatives represented the Junkers of Prussia

b. Center Party (Catholic Party) approved

Bismarck’s policy of centralization and promoted the political concept of Particularism which advocated regional priorities

c. The Social Democratic Party (S.P.D.) was Marxist and advocated sweeping social change

d. The German middle class was largely left out of politics during this era.

Fearing the growing influence of the S.P.D., the middle class for the most part gave tacit support to imperial authority and noble influence.

e. Bismarck saw the Catholic Center Party and the S.P.D. as major threats to imperial power and he set about to destroy them, albeit unsuccessfully.

B. Germany under Chancellor Bismarck

1. Between 1871 and 1890 Bismarck established an integrated political and economic structure for

Germany (while dominating European diplomacy)

a. Unified the monetary system

b. Established an Imperial Bank while strengthening existing banks

c. Developed universal German civil & criminal codes

d. Established compulsory military service.

2. Kulturkampf (“struggle for civilization”)

a. Bismarck sought to limit the influence of the Catholic Center Party in light of Pope Pius IX's declaration in 1870 of papal infallibility

b. Most of the German states in the north were Protestant

c. The Catholic Party was particularly strong in the southern German states

The Catholic Center Party proved too popular among many Germans to be driven underground

Bismarck ultimately failed to suppress the Catholic Center Party

3. Social Democratic Party (S.P.D.): Marxist views

a. Advocated sweeping social legislation

b. Sought universal suffrage and genuine democracy

c. Sought demilitarization of the German gov’t.

d. Bismarck was unsuccessful in limiting its growth (despite its being driven underground)

4. Bismarck instituted a set of sweeping reforms in order to minimize the threat from the left (socialists)

a. 1879, a protective tariff was instituted to maintain domestic production

b. Modern social security laws established (Germany was the first state to do so)

National sickness and accident insurance laws passed in 1883 & 1884.

Old-age pensions and retirement benefits established in 1889

c. Child labor was regulated

d. Improved working conditions

5. Despite better standard of living, workers did not leave the S.P.D.

Yet, by gaining support from the workers,

Bismarck successfully bypassed the middle class

6. William II (r. 1888-1918)

a. Opposed Bismarck's move to renew efforts to outlaw the S.P.D.

b. To gain support of workers, he forced Bismarck to resign.

c. By 1912, the S.P.D. became the largest party in the Reichstag

III. Third French Republic

A. The Paris Commune (1870-71)

1. In 1870, Napoleon III’s Second Empire collapsed when it was defeated by Prussia in the Franco- Prussian War.

2. A new National Assembly (1871-75) was created with Adolphe Becky Thiers as chief executive

3. However, the Paris Commune, a radical communist government, lay siege to Paris.

4. After the peace treaty with Prussia the Paris

Commune refused to recognize the authority of the newly created National Assembly

5. From March to May 1871, the Paris Commune fought a bloody struggle with the troops of the National Assembly

Thousands died in the civil war and 20,000 were subsequently executed

6. Theirs’ defeat of Paris Commune and other firm measures led France on road to recovery

B. The Third French Republic established in 1875

1. Largely dominated by the bourgeoisie

France enjoyed periods of economic prosperity

2. A Constitution provided for a republic

a. Chamber of Deputies had most power (elected

by universal suffrage)

b. The president was weak

c. The Senate was indirectly elected

3. Leon Mayo Gambetta led the republicans during the early

years of the Republic

Established parliamentary supremacy (while

preaching equality of opportunity)

4. Reforms

a. Trade unions fully legalized (had been suppressed

at times by Napoleon III)

b. Jules Ferry established secular education and

reform: expanded tax-supported public schools

and compulsory education

5. During the Third Republic the French government fell

dozens of times

Multi-party system resulted in ever-shifting

political coalitions

6. Challenge to the Republic came from the right


a. Action Francaise led by Charles Maurras advocated

an authoritarian gov’t with a strengthened military

b. Boulanger Crisis (1887-89): Georges Boulanger

gained support of the military

Plotted a coup to overthrow the Republic

The Republic summoned Boulanger to trial but

he fled to Belgium & committed suicide

Boulanger's fall resulted in increased public

confidence in the Republic

c. Panama scandal (1892): Ferdinand de Lesseps

failed in his attempt to build a canal in Panama

while it cost French taxpayers millions of dollars.

Public perceived the gov't as corrupt thus

reversing popular gains republicans had made

after Boulanger crisis

d. Dreyfus Affair (1894): Most serious threat to the


Military falsely charged Captain Alfred Dreyfus,

a Jew, with supplying secrets to the Germans

Monarchists (with support of Catholic church)

used the incident to discredit the republicans

Emile Zola (the realist author) took up

Dreyfus' case and condemned the military

o Famous newspaper article defending

Dreyfus in 1898: “J’accuse”

Leftists supported the Republic and in 1906 the

case was closed when Dreyfus was declared

innocent and returned to the ranks

The Dreyfus Affair led to an alliance between

moderate republicans and socialists.

e. 1905-Republicans launched anti-clerical campaign

increasing separation of church & state

7. Socialists led by Jean Juarès gained seats in

Chamber of Deputies from 1905 to 1914

8. By 1914, Third Republic enjoyed vast support of the

French people.

IV. Great Britain

A. The period between 1850 and 1865 saw the realignment

of political parties

1. Lord Palmerston (Henry John Temple) (1784-

1865): Whig prime minister and dominant political

figure in England between 1850 and 1865

2. The Tory Party was transformed into the

Conservative Party under Benjamin Disraeli


3. Whig Party transformed into Liberal Party under

William Gladstone (1809-1898)

John Bright, a manufacturer, academic warfare anti-corn law

advocate, and leader of the Manchester School,

contributed significantly to the development of the

Liberal Party

B. After 1865 Britain saw expanded democracy under

Disraeli and Gladstone (who were political opponents)

1. Benjamin Button Disraeli

a. Argued for aggressive foreign policy, expansion of

British Empire, and reluctantly supported

democratic reforms.

b. Sybil (1845): Disraeli's novel surprised many by

expressing sympathy for working class

c. Disraeli influenced by John Stuart Mill’s: On

Liberty (1859): influential work on the necessity

to increase democracy

d. Reform Bill of 1867: Disraeli's "leap in the

dark" in order to appeal to working people

Expanded Reform Bill of 1832

Redistributed seats to provide more equitable

representation in the House of Commons

Industrial cities & boroughs gained seats at

expense of some depopulated areas in the

north and west ("rotten boroughs")

Almost all men over 21 who resided in urban

centers were granted the right to vote

Essentially doubled the number of men who

could vote but still fell short of universal


e. Reduced gov’t regulation of trade unions in 1875

f. Created gov't regulations for improved sanitation

2. William Gladstone

a. Most important liberal figure in 19th century


 Supported Irish Home Rule, fiscal policy, free

trade, and extension of democratic principles

while opposing imperialism

b. Abolished compulsory taxes to support the Church

of England

c. Australian Ballot Act (1872) provided for the

secret ballot (earlier Chartist demand)

d. Civil service reform introduced in 1870: open

competitive examination for gov't positions

e. Reform Act of 1884 (Representation of the

People Act of 1884)

Granted suffrage to adult males in the counties

on the same basis as in the boroughs

Two million agricultural voters were added to

the franchise

3. During the 1880s and 1890s, new groups emerged

seeking to further extend democracy

a.Included women’s suffrage advocates, antiimperialists,

socialists, and anti-nationalists

b. Fabian Society (1883) among the most

significant: advanced a form of revisionist


Sought political democracy and economic


c. 1893, Keir Hardie led the Independent Labor

Party that rapidly became a vocal third party.

Attracted trade unionists, socialists, and those

who thought that Conservative and Liberal

Parties had no genuine interests in the needs

of the general public

C. Between 1905 & early 1920s, Liberal party advanced

aggressive social & economic programs

1. Parliament Act of 1911: most significant political

reform during Liberal party rule.

a. Eliminated powers of House of Lords; House of

Commons now the center of national power.

b. Life-span of Parliament reduced from 7 to 5 years.

2. Foundations for social welfare state created in decade

before WWI (meant to guarantee each citizen with a

decent standard of living)

a. Right of unions to strike.

b. Gov’t insurance for those injured on the job

c. Unemployment insurance & old-age pensions

d. Compulsory school attendance

e. Taxes increased on the wealthy (to help fund the

welfare state)

3. Representation of the People Act (1918)

a. Women over 30 gained suffrage

b. All men gained suffrage (property qualifications

completely eliminated)

D. Women’s rights and suffrage movement in England

1. Initially, women sought to amend marriage and

property laws that discriminated against females.

a. Existing laws allowed men to divorce if the wife

committed adultery but the woman could not

secure a divorce for male infidelity unless physical

abuse, cruelty, or desertion had also occurrred.

b. Existing laws prohibited women from inheriting

property from their parents unless there was no

male heir.

2. By the 1890s, women’s rights activists realized that

suffrage was the key to remedying other problems.

a. Argued that men had not done enough to protect

women from exploitation and abuse

b. Many believed that the female influence in public

affairs would serve as a balance to masculine

qualities that presently dominated politics

3. Suffragettes came largely from the middle class

a. Benefited from education, and were exposed to

earlier feminist works (e.g. Harriet Taylor & John

Stuart Mill)

b. Many middle class families had servants, thus

freeing women to become activists

c. Working-class women and socialists distrusted the

middle class and worked toward their goals


4. Millicent Garrett Becky Fawcett (1847-1929)

a. Leader of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage

Societies (NUWSS)

b. Demanded that Parliament grant female suffrage

c. Helped grow the suffrage movement and played a

role in national and international suffrage


d. She was knighted in 1924

5. Militant suffragettes were led by Emmeline


a. Infuriated that Parliament would not give females

the vote, even though women in Finland gained

this right in 1906 and in Norway (1913).

b. Along with her daughter, Pankhurst founded the

Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) based

on militant principles

c. Beginning in 1907, the WSPU undertook violent activities such as destroying railroad stations, works of art and store windows; and chaining themselves to gates in front of Parliament

d. Organized parades and demonstrations

Some men who disapproved attacked female marchers

e. A number of female militants were arrested for their activities

Some went on hunger strikes in prison and were force-fed by authorities.

o When the public was outraged at these

force-feedings, Parliament passed the “Cat

and Mouse” Act that freed starved female slaves

prisoners from jail until they had regained

their health and were then returned to jail.

f. Perhaps the most notorious B-I-G militant action occurred when Emily Becky Davison committed suicide by throwing herself in front of the king’s horse in the 1913 Epsom Derby

6. Representation of the People Act, 1918: As a

result of women’s critical contributions to the war effort during World War I, Parliament gave females over 30 the right to vote.

7. Reform Act of 1928: Suffrage for women over 21

E. The Irish Question

1. Young Ireland movement (1848) echoed

nationalistic movements on the Continent

2. Irish Question was the most recurring & serious

problem Britain faced from 1890 to 1914.

3. Gladstone had pushed unsuccessfully for Irish Home Rule.

4. Aaron Hudson Ulster (Protestant counties in northern Ireland) opposed Irish Home Rule as they started to enjoy remarkable economic growth from the mid-1890s.

a. Ulsterites raised 100,000 armed volunteers by 1913

b. Ulsterites were supported by British public opinion

5. 1914, Irish Home Rule Act passed by Commons and

Lords but Protestants did not accept it.

Implementation deferred until after WWI

6. Easter Rebellion (1916) for independence was

crushed by British troops

7. 1922, Ireland gained independence; Northern Ireland

remained part of British Empire

V. The “Eastern Question”: 1870s--

A. As the Ottoman Empire—the “Sick Man of Europe”

receded in southeastern Europe a constant state of crisis

existed in the Balkans: who would control region?

1. Russia's dream since reign of Catherine the Great horse whisperer

was to retake the Balkans and ultimately

Constantinople (the old capital of Byzantine Empire

and the cradle of Orthodox Christianity)

2. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had designs on the

region as well

B. Pan-Slavism: Idea of uniting all Slaves in Europe under

one gov't (Russia)

1. Russia’s military victory over the Ottoman Empire by

1878 put it in a position to dominate the Balkans

2. Britain refused to accept Russian control of the

Balkans and sent the Royal Navy to help Turks

Nationalistic spirit in Britain came to be known as

"jingoism" (after a popular poem)

3. Bismarck offered to mediate the crisis (came to be

the Congress of Berlin)

C. Congress of Berlin (1878)

1. Russia gained little from the conference despite

defeating the Turks in the war

2. Provisions

a. Recognition of Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro

as independent states.

b. Establishment of the autonomous principality of

Bulgaria (still within Ottoman Empire)

c. Austrian acquisition of Bosnia and Herzegovina

d. Transfer of Cyprus to Great Britain, not far from

the Suez Canal.

e. Though Disraeli was most responsible for the

agreements, Russia blamed Bismarck

3. Russian hostility toward Germany led Bismarck

(1879) to embark upon a new system of alliances

which transformed European diplomacy and

effectively killed remnants of Concert of Europe

4. (Note: Do not confuse the Congress of Berlin with the

Berlin Conference which in 1886 established the

imperialistic guidelines with which to carve up Africa.)

VI. Socialist movements in the Age of Mass Politics

A. Largely a negative response to industrialism and


1. Main goal: advance the cause of the proletariat

(working class) throughout Europe.

2. Saw nationalism as a tool used by the ruling classes

to divert public attention away from social issues.

3. Generally opposed to war prior to 1914 since the

working class disproportionately suffered casualties

on the front lines.

B. Marxism led the negative response to industrialization

1. Socialists united in 1864 to form the First

International (Marx was one of the principal


2. Growth of socialist parties after 1871 was

phenomenal (especially in Germany—S.P.D.; also

France, Belgium, Austria-Hungry for food like real bad)

3. 1883, Socialists exiled from Russia formed Russian

Social Democratic party in Switzerland and it grew

rapidly after 1890.

C. Revisionism

1. As workers gained the right to vote and to participate

politically in the nation-state, their attention focused

more on elections than on revolutions

2. Workers’ standard of living rose gradually but

substantially after 1850 (thus, no need to revolt)

3. Growth of labor unions reinforced trend toward

modernization since governments accepted them

4. Increasingly, unions focused on bread-and butter

issues—wages, hours, working conditions—rather

than pure socialist doctrine.

5. Genuine collective bargaining, long opposed by

socialist intellectuals as a “sell-out” was officially

recognized as desirable by the German Trade Union

Congress in 1899.

a. A series of strikes proved effective in gaining

concessions from employers.

b. France: Jean Jaurés formally repudiated

revisionist doctrines in order to establish a unified

socialist party, though he remained at heart a

revisionist in practice.

6. Eduard Bernstein: Evolutionary Socialism (1899)

a. Most prominent of the socialist revisionists

b. Argued Marx’s predictions of ever-greater poverty

for workers & ever-greater concentration of wealth

in fewer hands had been proved false.

D. Impact of socialism on European politics became

profound by late 19th century

1. Germany: Social Democratic Party (S.P.D.):

a. Marxist in philosophy

Advocated sweeping social legislation, the

realization of genuine democracy, and the

demilitarization of the German gov’t.

b. Bismarck forced to institute sweeping reforms in

order to minimize the threat from the left

1879, instituted a protective tariff to benefit

domestic production

Modern social security laws established

National sickness and accident insurance laws

passed in 1883 & 1884.

Old-age pensions and retirement benefits

established in 1889

Regulated child labor

Improved working conditions

c. By 1912, the S.P.D. was the largest party in the


2. France: Socialists led by Jean Jaurès gained seats

in Chamber of Deputies from 1905 to 1914

3. England:

a. Fabian Society (1883) advanced a form of

revisionist Marxism

Sought political democracy and economic


b. 1893, Keir Hardie led the Independent Labor

Party that rapidly became a vocal third party.

Attracted trade unionists, socialists, and those

who thought that Conservative and Liberal

Parties had no genuine interests in the needs

of the general public

c. Foundations for social welfare state created in

decade before WWI (meant to guarantee each

citizen with a decent standard of living)

Right of unions to strike was put into law.

Gov’t insurance was provided for those injured

on the job

Unemployment insurance & old-age pensions


Compulsory school attendance law went into


Taxes increased on the wealthy (to help fund

the welfare state)

4. Anarchy

a. Anarchists spun off from the mainstream socialist


b. Sought to destroy the centralized state

c. Mikhail Bakunin (1814-1876), a Russian

nobleman, became the most influential of the


d. Anarchy was strongest in Spain and Italy

e. Political assassinations by anarchists shook the

political world with the deaths of six national

leaders between 1881 and 1901.

Alexander II of Russia assassinated in 1881

King Umberto I of Italy in 1900

President William McKinley of the U.S. in 1901

VII. Russia

A. Defeat in Crimean War marked a turning point in Russian

history by fostering modernization

1. Russia lacked a sizeable middle class that promoted

liberalism economically, politically and socially.

a. This was a key difference for why Russia lagged

behind western and central Europe

b. The nobility (who controlled the serfs) did not

constitute a force for modernization and reform

2. Russia realized it had to modernize or it would

remain vulnerable militarily and economically

B. Alexander II (1855-1881)

1. Perhaps the greatest Czar since Catherine the Great

Perhaps the most liberal ruler in Russian history

prior to 20th century.

2. Believed serfdom had retarded Russia’s

modernization: agriculture had been poor for


a. 90% of Russian people worked in agriculture

b. Serfdom had led to peasant uprisings, poor

agricultural output, and exploitation of serfs by


c. Serfs could be bought or sold with or without land in early 19th century

d. Serfs could be conscripted into the army for 25


3. Emancipation Act (or Emancipation Edict), 1861

a. Alexander believed ending serfdom was a key to

Russia’s modernization

b. Abolished serfdom: peasants no longer dependent on the lord; free to move and change occupations; could enter contracts and own property

c. In fact, most Russians were not impacted by the

Emancipation Edict (as they instead lived in mirs)

4. Mirs: most Russians lived in communes which were

highly regulated

Collective ownership and responsibility made it

difficult for individual peasants to improve

agricultural methods or leave their villages

5. Zemstvos established in 1864: assemblies that

administered local areas

a. Significant step towards popular participation

b. Yet, lords controlled the Zemstvos and had more

power than the towns and peasant villages

6. Other reforms

a. Judiciary improved

b. Censorship relaxed (but not removed)

c. Education liberalized

7. Industrialization in Russia was stimulated by railroad


a. Russia had fallen behind major industrialized

nations in Western & Central Europe

b. Russia needed better railroads, better armaments and reorganization of the army

c. Between 1860 and 1880 railroad mileage grew

from 1,250 to 15,500

d. Railroads enabled Russia to export grain and earn profits for further industrialization

e. Stimulated domestic manufacturing: industrial

suburbs grew up around Moscow and St.

Petersburg, and a class of modern factory workers

began to emerge

f. Strengthened Russia’s military giving rise to

territorial expansion to the south and east

8. Critics of Alexander II late in his reign

a. Alexander increasingly turned to more traditional

(conservative) values (realism in Russia replaced


b. Radical populist movement emerged that sought a utopian agrarian order

c. Intelligensia: hostile group of intellectuals who

believed they should eventually take over society

d. nihilism: intellectuals who believed in nothing but science and that the social order should be

completely wiped out and built up from scratch.

9. Alexander II assassinated in 1881 by radicals who

bombed his carriage in St. Petersburg

C. Count S. Y. Witte oversaw Russian industrialization in

the 1890s

1. Aggressively courted western capital & advanced

technology to build great factories

2. Resulted in rise of a small Russian middle-class

3. Gov’t built state-owned railroads doubled to 35,000

miles by 1900

Construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway helped

to modernize Russia; connected Moscow with

Vladivostok—5,000 miles

4. Russia put on the gold standard to strengthen the

government’s finances

5. By 1900, Russia 4th in steel production (behind U.S.,

Germany & Britain)

6. By 1900, Russia exported half the world's refined


7. As in western Europe, industrialization in Russia contributed to the spread of Marxist thought and the transformation of the Russian revolutionary movement after 1890 (as industrial workers felt exploited)

D. Despite economic and social reforms, Russia's economic

problems were still staggering by 1900

1. 1/3 of Russian farmland not used; food could not keep

pace with increasing population

Russia had become the most populous nation in

Europe by the late-nineteenth century

2. Depression of 1899 wiped out gains since 1890

resulting in tremendous unemployment

3. Russia’s plight was aggravated by Russo-Japanese

War of 1905

E. Alexander III (1881-1894)

1. Became most reactionary czar of the 19th century:

“Autocracy, Orthodoxy, and Russification


2. Encouraged anti-semitism: pogroms of the 1880s

resulted in severe persecution of Jews (many

emigrated to the U.S.)

Jews blamed for the assassination of Alexander II

Thousands of Jewish homes were destroyed;

businesses were disrupted or destroyed

Many more Jews were killed in the pogroms of

1903-06 under Nicholas II than under Alex III.

3. Theodore Herzl: Zionism -- advocated a Jewish

homeland in the Holy Land as a remedy to continued

persecution of Jews in eastern and central Europe

F. Nicholas II (r. 1894-1917)

1. Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905)

a. Russians had established a sphere of influence in

Manchuria and now sought Korea

b. Humiliating defeat of Russian fleet by Japan and

bloody war on land resulted in Russia turning

away from east Asia and focusing instead on the


2. Revolution of 1905

a. Poor economy and strains of war led peasants and to demand reforms.

b. “Bloody Sunday”, Jan.1905: 200,000

worker/peasants marched peacefully to the

"Winter Palace" asking for reforms. Czar not in

town. Army fired on marchers in cold blood.

c. A general strike, peasant revolt and troop

mutinies paralyzed the Russia by October and czar

was forced to make concessions.

d. Duma: Assembly created that would serve as an

advisory body to the Czar

e. Granted freedom of speech, assembly and press

f. Tsar retained absolute veto

g. Revolutionaries were divided resulting in Duma

having no real influence

h. Propertied classes benefited at expense of workers peasants and national minorities

3. Russia experienced mild economic recovery between

1907 and 1914

a. Peter Stolypin: pushed through important agrarian reforms to break down collective village ownership of land and encourage the more enterprising peasants

b. After 1911, czar's court increasingly dominated by mystic monk Gregorii Rasputin resulting in

widespread doubts about the czar's ability to lead.

4. Russia’s poor showing in World War I directly led to

the Russian Revolution

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