The Maastricht Treaty was ratified by 12 democratic countries part of the European Union in 1992. The document clearly states from the start that this treaty is a cooperation between each country on the principles of economics and foreign policy. This treaty did not try to change the internal politics of each nation, but rather respected the national identities of its member states. The timing of the ratification of the document is interesting in that it is shortly after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. Perhaps this document was an incentive for many former satellite states(including east Germany) to become democracies, as they could make a case to join the EU. I find the word choice in this document to be surprising, especially in Article A, as it refers to the benefits for the ‘citizen’ of each country. It gives the feeling that they are trying to build a community in an effort to bring prosperity, rather than another NATO which brings military implications. Article F even states that the Union will respect human rights, adding to this idea of benefiting the people.
One of the most important themes is the economic implications put in place by this document. In an attempt to create economic cohesion, the introduction of a single currency is put in place. A single currency helps stimulate trade activities as well as the free movement of goods. On the subject of foreign policy, Article B states the need for a common defense policy for each country to follow. This policy is understandable as if a number of nations are under attack or in war, it would disrupt the overall economy of the union. Lastly there is an emphasis on consistency throughout each member state as a whole. Internal justice and home affairs will not vary dramatically, but as mentioned before there is a respect for each national identity.
Why do you think this treaty calls for consistency on justice and home affairs? Why would countries want to join the European Union?
In 1920, after the first World War, John M. Keynes wrote “The Economic Consequences of the Peace” on his dissatisfaction with the Treaty of Versailles and calls out to those who are drafting the treaty to think of the potential economic consequences it would have on Germany and Europe as a whole. Keynes was an established economist in England and most notably would revolutionize the ideas seen in macroeconomics. Throughout the chapter Keynes writes in a style of urgency and fear as he sees the stability of Europe at risk.
Right from the beginning of the chapter, Keynes believes the treaty does not promote the idea of ‘good neighbors’ for the defeated states. He believes the arrangement reached in Paris was not based on the future of economics in Europe, but rather on political folly ((Keynes, Economic Consequences of Peace)) . After such a dramatic and long war, it seems that the victorious states wanted to extensively punish those who stood against them in the so called ‘heat of the moment’, without taking account of its long-term effects. Keynes goes on to express how European countries have become economically interdependent on each other and how this treaty would disrupt each country’s economy ((Keynes, Economic Consequences of Peace)) . With declining trade and commerce comes a lower standard of living, or even the possibility of starvation. On the topic of starvation, Keynes makes the statement, ” Men will not always die quietly”, inferring that revolution and instability could develop in certain countries.
Keynes is very concerned with how the treaty will specifically effect Germany, stating that those who sign this treaty will be responsible for the death of millions of Germans. The treaty would cause Germany to lose all of its colonies, merchant fleet and foreign investments ((Keynes, Economic Consequences of Peace)) . In basic economic terms, the demand of the German people will become greater than what can be supplied according to Keynes. He predicts that Germany will regress in its industrial development, and as a result negatively impact the rest of Europe.
I find this reading to be related to the discussion we had in class about the effects of propaganda. It seems that the allied powers could not forgive the countries they had defeated and still viewed them as barbarians or inhuman.
Were the conditions in the Treaty of Versailles towards Germany too harsh after WWI? Do wars need propaganda?
Eduard Bernstein composed “Evolutionary Socialism” as a response to the stigma the “Communist Manifesto” had created, while also addressing the problems he saw with this specific work. Almost fifty years after the “Communist Manifesto” had been published, Bernstein saw many of Marx’s predictions to be incorrect and out of touch with the changing world. Bernstein came from modest means as a jewish child growing up in Germany, which perhaps helped lead him against capitalist economics. He starts off by addressing how the average person does not really understand the ramifications of socialism and would eventually end up repeating some random phrase he heard on the street ((Evolutionary Socialism, 1899)). This jab at socialism’s integrity leads to Bernstein’s so called ‘reassessment of socialism’.
Bernstein agrees with Marx on the conditions that lead to socialism. He sees the alienation of the worker from production and the hurtful effects of the boom and bust system. However, Bernstein believes socialism must take control as a political party rather than Marx’s inevitable call for revolution. This is the basis for Bernstein’s idea of democratic socialism. He believed a revolution would be filled with inconsistent views, as the working class at this time had become much more varied in their political and economic means ((Evolutionary Socialism, 1899)) . An agricultural worker would probably not have the same opinions as a factory worker, which in return could lead to more fighting in the end.
Bernstein also critiques Marx’s idea that a government would be able to manage every worker, business and land holding. To nationalize the entire state would require a huge government that would need to be filled with high talent for management ((Evolutionary Socialism, 1899)) . I find Bernstein’s critique on this a little puzzling because he does not actually offer a solution to this problem.
Is England’s motto of fending for yourself a deterrent to socialism? Do you believe a socialist political party would be more successful than a revolution? Do you agree that a government would not be able to manage such a complex economy?
In 1899 Thorstein Veblen wrote “The Theory of the Leisure Class” on his observation of division of labor; specifically the effect capitalism had on the upper/leisure class. As a child of immigrant parents being raised in Wisconsin, Veblen had trouble adjusting and felt isolated from the American way. This detached upbringing seems to have an impact on the way he describes the leisure class, as he speaks as though he is on the outside of society looking in. Veblen is very critical of the effects capitalism had on the leisure class and believed it was leading to regression rather than progression. His writing calls out those of the leisure class for their over consumption of goods and their archaic values.
Veblen starts off by describing how the leisure class has taken on the duty of “…the vicarious consumption of goods” ((The Theory of the Leisure Class, 1899)). It’s obvious that he is poking fun at the wealthy, as he sees that their only role in society is to buy the products the working class makes. In a visual sense he is basically comparing them to a parasite, as they received goods without contributing anything back to society. Veblen goes on to describe the unnecessary waste of goods that go into how people dress. Dress is considered the easiest way to show others your class, as all observers will know your status at first glance ((The Theory of the Leisure Class, 1899)) . Veblen has trouble trying to fathom why people give up life’s necessities just so they can afford more expensive clothing. The value of clothing is based on fashion, rather than their practical use which Veblen sees as unenlightened.
After his rant on dress, Veblen decides to go after the very language used by the leisure class. Those of wealth practice classic English rather than the common tongue seen with the rest of society. Just as dress shows class status, the use of old/classic English shows that you are of an important, wealthy family. Veblen describes the word “classic” as word that carries the “…connotation of wasteful and archaic” ((The Theory of the Leisure Class, 1899)), implying that the use of classic English is simply inefficient and backwards.
Do you agree with Veblen’s statement that the leisure class’ duty is only to consume products? Why is there such an emphasis on class status during this time? Do we still stress importance on the way we dress and speak today?
Otto von Bismarck was a Prussian Statesman and a close adviser to the King of Prussia, Wilhelm I. Upon further research, I discovered that he was born in a part of Germany under Prussian rule and would later attend the University of Berlin. At the time this was written in , Prussia had just one a major battle over Austria in the war between the two countries. In Bismarck’s Memoirs, he uses language that identifies with the emotions of panic and dread. He writes certain phrases such as, “A painful illness from which I was suffering…”, and how he, “…begged the king…” ((Memoirs, Otto von Bismarck)) . His audience for this piece would be for the king of Prussia, as well as the Prussian council deciding if Prussia should continue the war against Austria. Bismarck’s intent of his memoir was to convince the King to stop his acquisition of new territory from Prussia, and to unify the German states under Prussian rule. He suggests that Prussia cease fighting and create a peace treaty with Austria. Bismarck adds that there is no value in acquiring land that would have a rebellious nature towards Prussian rule. On the topic of the German states they had acquired, Bismarck tells the King to not mutilate these newly gained territories but instead unite them as one country. Under Prussian rule, Bismarck theorized that a unified Germany would be less inclined to rebel and would benefit both sides. Under this policy, it seems that Prussian rule would become more popular in the former Austrian controlled German states.
How does Bismarck’s background affect his advice to the King of Prussia?
Would it have been more beneficial for Prussia to have strict control over the German states, or do you agree with Bismarck’s philosophy of having control over a more autonomous Germany?
Factory work during the Industrial Revolution was an extremely torturous job that gave too little benefits for the workers. Although workers in general were treated poorly, it’s hard to fathom how children were able to endure working everyday in these conditions. In Yorkshire Slavery, Richard Oastler emphasizes the struggles of child laborers and the effect it had on their families. Oastler argues that as a child it is important to travel and learn different trades, but child labor completely disrupts this process. It is observed in a factory that a young boy had been beaten without mercy on his face, cheeks and back for only making a few mistakes ((Oastler, “Yorkshire Slavery”)) . Even slave owners in the West Indies during this time were disturbed to hear the practices forced upon these child laborers ((Oastler, “Yorkshire Slavery”)) . The parents of these children are also filled with guilt for having to put their children through this process. Parents are not able to interact with their children as they only see them in the morning and at night. These children are not able to develop any strong relationships when they are forced to work all the time ((Oastler, “Yorkshire Slavery”)) . Children are usually observed as beacons of energy and life but under these conditions they are seen as the opposite.
Child labor is still a major problem in the world today as seen in countries such as China, India and many other countries. Many of the items we buy today are produced by some form of child labor, yet we are more concerned about the cost rather than how it was made. We all acknowledge child labor is bad, but as consumers we do not necessarily use our wallets to stop this practice
Is it fair to tell China or any other country practicing child labor that they should not use this practice even though it was a strong contributor to making America an economic powerhouse?
The Industrial Revolution was an important step for many countries during the late 18th century to 19th century, as it changed the way products were manufactured to what is now seen today. In Adam Smith’s first chapter of, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, the division of labor is seen as a necessity for maximizing the efficiency of creating manufactured goods. The way Smith describes the importance of the division of labor relates back to Hoffmann in, “European Modernity and Soviet Socialism”, as both emphasize the categorization of the branches of labor and making humans more efficient during their livelihood. The division of labor sets apart the most powerful countries from rest of the world. Smith argues that, “In agriculture, the labour of the rich country is not always much more productive than that of the poor…” ((An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith)) ,in his attempt to show that the taste and price of agricultural goods will never diverge too much between countries. However, countries that are industrialized will be able to sell finished goods of higher quality and lower cost to their consumers. This in return leads to a society with a higher standard of living, with more people being able to afford various finished products.
Smith outlines three circumstances necessary for the division of labor to be effective in a state. Dexterity relates to the time in which one can complete his job in. If the job becomes more simple, then the worker will be able to complete this job at a faster rate. The time between each process is the next important part of this outline. If the time between each process is reduced, there will be more energy being spent on the development of the product rather than the transport. Lastly, the development of machinery helps increase the overall speed of creating goods. All three of these concepts are seen to be necessary to build an industrialized society.
What group of people is this being written for?
Does Smith miss any points necessary for an industrialized society?
As the Russian empire began expanding its borders through the acquisition of new land, Russia became home to became convoluted with foreigners. Non-Russians approximately made up more than half of the total population according to the first general census conducted in 1897. This information was actually pretty shocking for me, as it gave me an understanding of how hard it must have been to govern an empire that was filled with so many ethnicities.
The Russian empire appeared to be mostly tolerant of other religions besides orthodoxy being practiced. This is very different compared to how the old believers were persecuted against in the 17th century. 71 percent of the population belonged to the Orthodox Church, while other major beliefs included Islam, Catholicism, Judaism, and Lutheranism. The orthodox church was still a unifying force, although there was still a major presence of other religions.
The position of a hereditary noble became harder for most non-russians to achieve through government service. However, those who had achieved hereditary nobility before the reforms that were put in place to emphasize Russification were able to retain their position. It’s even noted that, “The Muslims of Azerbaidzhan and the Germans also had a considerably higher proportion of hereditary nobles than the Russians” ((Kappeler, Andreas. “The Late Tsarist Multi-Ethnic Empire between Modernization and Tradition.” Chap. 8, In The Russian Empire: A Multiethnic Empire. Translated by Alfred Clayton, 283: Longman, 2001.)). It seems that the non-russian populations that were more educated, according to the census, were more likely to have higher government positions.
Some minorities, however, seem to have been treated worse than others. Non-russians made up a significantly large portion of revolutionary groups which shows that there must have been unrest in their treatment. Ukrainians and Jews were especially well represented in revolutionary parties and eventually representing the Bolsheviks after the 19th century. The Russian government seemed to restrict groups they disliked or that they felt were a threat to their rule.
As Peter the Great tries to westernize Russia, he enacts many reforms that follow a similar pattern. One pattern that I was able to discern from the readings was that each reform had a part in limiting the power of the church or Boyars. The church is seen to be limited with the role of priests. To become a priest you must be taught by a bishop and formally trained. A person cannot just decide to be a priest because he wants to reap the benefits of the position. Priests are not able to make any commercial gains from baptisms or any sort of service. They are to must represent a good lifestyle and not set a bad example for those around them (RS, 334-36). Education begins to become a requirement for admission into the elite class as well and you would not be considered for the position of a noble without being educated. This forced elites to receive an education outside of traditional religious instruction, perhaps undermining the church (RS, 246-49). Peter seems to be at least trying to enact requirements for positions, instead of letting the less qualified gain these positions.
It seems that Peter’s intent for the Table of Ranks was to undermine the power of the Boyars. The Table of Ranks introduces how rank is attained and clearly displays which classes have more power compared to the others. One sentence from the eighth statute is striking as it states, “… We shall proffer no rank to those who have rendered no service to Us and the fatherland….”. This really drives the point that your rank is decided by how useful you are to the state, not entirely by lineage. If a noble does not follow this rank and acts higher than their rank, they would be fined. This could’ve been put in place to deter any Boyars trying to act out of place (RS, 228-29). The factor of lineage is not completely taken out of determining class, but what you are able to do for the state seems to become a more vital part of the process.
Kneller, Godfrey. 1698. N.p.
Ivan “The Terrible” during his later reign, seems to be pretty catastrophic for Muscovite Russia. The creation of the oprichniki was his way of getting rid of anyone that could threaten his rule. This group became extremely problematic, as they had unrestricted authority wherever they went. There required garb of black further linked them to a sort of “Unholy” group that was linked to Ivan, not the church. The oprichniki were able to steal property and money from the zemskie people without any punishment. Anyone who stood in the way of this group or tried to stop them were immediately killed. One of the governors even fled to Poland once he discovered what was going on with the oprichinia (KM, 152). Country sides were being ravaged without orders and shows how much power they had accumulated. Ivan had anyone who he thought suspicious killed and it could be imagined the amount of people living in fear.
However, we see the the Tsar having the leaders of the oprichninia killed as well. Perhaps it seems that he believed that they had gained too much power and were becoming a threat to himself at this point (KM, 153). The killing of these leaders was brutal and sent a message to the people in Russia that he was not to be reckoned with.
Was Ivan’s terrorizing rule perhaps good for guaranteeing loyalty for future Tzars?