After WW2, the entirety of Europe had suffered a great loss. The Maastricht Treaty created in 1992 discusses the purpose of the EU. The intention of this document is to outline the purpose of the EU and explain its goals. The main purpose of creating the EU, as outlined in the beginning of the document is to: “create an even closer union among the people’s of Europe” as well as “organize… relations between the member states and their people’s”. ((“TITLE I COMMON PROVISIONS.” Maastricht Treaty Title I. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.)) By creating a common currency, people are able to trade more efficiently. This promotes political and economic relations between the countries allowing their relationships to strengthen after falling apart during WW2. The document also mentions the creation of a union citizenship that re-enforces the idea of unity among the countries in Europe. Ethnic tension was a huge problem leading up to WW2, therefore by creating a union citizenship, it allows people to see themselves as part of a whole rather than separate countries. An interesting aspect of the treaty was the self-check component. It is stated that the different sections of the EU must abide by the “acquis communautaire” aka EU law. This checking system allows for each department to regulate each other and make sure one party does not have more power than the others, in theory. Lastly, the most interesting statement in the treaty in my opinion was the inclusion of the “eventual framing of a common defense policy, which might in time lead to a common defense”. I am wondering why the EU would need a defense department. What do you think?
Is it smart to allow each country to handle their own finance policies? What happens then when their economies crash like Greece? How much of a responsibility should the EU have?
John Maynard Keynes, as stated in the beginning of the article was an English Economist famous for his economic theories called Keynesian economics. After the treaty of Versailles was published, he became very depressed about the state in which Europe would be in as a result of the treaty. In the Treaty of Versailles, Germany is essentially cut off from all trade which Keynes states will make it difficult for a rising Industrial country. He states that by agreeing with the treaty it will be similar to signing over the lives of millions of German men, women and children. In his writing he talks about the destruction that will occur across Europe because of the Treaty that is tearing apart the Industrial societies across Europe apart. Prior to World War One, many countries across Europe we rapidly expanding as a result of Industrialization. Boarders were changing, and technology was becoming more advance. World War One however, brought to surface the growing tensions within nations regarding misrepresented populations as well as conflict between larger nations. I believe Keynes was upset by the Treaty because prior to the war he saw millions of people across Europe finally putting an end to suffering, middle classes were being formed, and people’s lives were seemingly better. After the war and the Treaty of Versailles, it seemed as though Europe would be taking a step back.
Why was Keynes so upset by this treaty? Do you think the treaty was a good idea? Could the situation have been handled better? Should Germany have been involved in the process
Pope Leo XIII concludes his writing by stating that the employer and the worker need each other; they have a dependent relationship. This may seem obvious, but the simplicity of the situation did not occur to me until I read Rerum Novarum where Pope Leo related the struggle of the worker to human nature. Pope Leo was an intelligent, adaptable, decently educated young boy who caught the eye of members in the Church. He eventually worked up the line on rank due to his enthusiastic energy and self-control. Pope Leo XIII offered a new pursepective during the time of nation wide suffering. He earned his popularity through his acceptance of the changing world around him and his willingness to prove to the public that the church was willing to adapt to these changes.
In his piece Rerum Novarum meaning “of new things”, written in 1891, the pope acknowledges the struggle many members of the working class were facing during that time as a result of the Industrial Revolution. He explains the reasons why he sees this struggle, stating that since the guilds were abolished, there was no one to protect the working class man. One can tell from this reading, that he is not a fan of the State, although he believe that its existence is necessary when resolving familial issues etc. he believes that man is in charge of his own life and therefore does not need to rely on the state. He brings up God when discussing the idea of private property (which he is in favor of) stating that He did not create land for people to own all for themselves as a symbol of power, rather He created it as a resource so man could satisfy his needs. He also critiques socialism, a proposed solution to the power struggle capitalism created, by saying that it would only hinder the working class man and cause more chaos. He ends his piece by analyzing the relationship between the landowner and the laborer, stating that they need each other in order to survive and progress.
Pope Leo XIII analyzes and proposes an abundance of ideas in this piece, some I am still trying to wrap my head around. Do you think that the working class accepted his theory about the relationship between the landowner and laborer? Do you think because it was coming from the Pope, people would be more or less likely to accept this idea? What I am getting at is, do you think religion was enough for people to settle and accept their situation and Pope Leo XIII says they should?
In the “Theory of the Leisure Class” by Thorstein Veblen, he critiques the upper class for their behaviors regarding their dress and speech. He observes that their odd behavior stems from capitalism and the effect is has on their need to consume goods that are seemingly un necessary. He starts off by critiquing the way they dress and the emphasis they place on the value of clothing and its ability to show ones status. His tone remains critical throughout the entire reading, stating that he sees it as wasteful to place such an emphasis on clothing for status rather than for the obvious use of clothing. He then goes on to critique the English they speak. According to Veblen, the upper class spoke in classic English, as opposed to the regular English that everyone else spoke.
Veblen is very critical of the upper class, perhaps this comes from his back ground, being raised by an immigrant family and not knowing wealth as many people he later observes do. Do you think that where we come from, our backgrounds, influence the way we look at others/society? Do you think it is fair to have these biased views about others? Perhaps they were born into a family of wealth, but does that give us the right to judge them?
There was a lot of tension leading up the Austro-Prussian War also known as the Seven Week’ War. The war was fought between the Austrian Empire with the aid of Germans, and Prussia who was also aided by the Germans and Italy. Prussia ended up winning the war and therefore took control of the German states, leaving Austria as a separate country. In the first set of documents, there are several passages that show the build up to the War. In the first text, Johann Gustav Droysen, a German historian, discusses the relationship between Germany and Prussia where he implies that Prussia is already a part of Germany. Otto von Bismark, an advisor to the King of Prussia states in some of the later passages that he foresees a need for a war between Prussia and Austria because Germany is too small for both to exist under its reign. In the end, Prussia and Germany do end up uniting, creating one nation. The Imperial Proclamation states this newfound concept of unity and nationality which Mazzini discusses in his text. Mazzini, a leader in the Italian unification states that the people of Italy were fighting for the unification of their country. This idea of unification is brought up throughout the texts as either being spread throughout Europe or through each country’s individual will.
America is a very powerful, strong nation. We take our national pride very seriously, but recently I feel as though there has been a divide within the nation; or maybe this divide has always existed. A country made up of so many people from many different backgrounds is hard to unify. Do you think America is truly a united nation?
The readings for this week were quite upsetting. All of the reading focused on the abuse that people, children in particular experienced during the mid 1800s at the height of the Industrial Revolution. The first text, The Life of the Industrial Worker in the 19th Century-England exposed the harsh circumstances people were working under in factories. The workers are often described as pale and sickly looking due to the immense amount of hours they were working each day. One of the texts mentions that there was a point where people were working seventy one hours a week. The very last text in the first reading talks about how crippled children became so early on in their youth due to the gruesome working conditions they were put under. In the poem called The Silesian Weavers a particular line struck me because of the violent image it implanted in my brain, “who wrenched the last coin from our hand of need, And shot us, screaming like dogs screaming in the street”. This sentence sums up the attitude of the factory owners who did not care about the conditions their workers were subject to. Lastly, Oastler shows the anger and frustration felt by people after witnessing and hearing accounts of abuse from children workers. Oastler recounts one boy by the age of ten who had suffered many injuries already at such a young age that would surely affect his health in the future.
These texts make me wonder about how such inhumane conditions and treatment of other human beings became acceptable in the first place. Today there are a number of companies that employ child workers who are paid very little and forced to work long hours. Not only child workers, but adults as well in many developing countries are treated poorly, regarding their wages and/or the conditions in which they are expected to work under. Why haven’t these issues been solved, why is it so easy for people to take advantage of others regarding their work? I am currently in a business class and the other day we were talking about business ethics. The question my teacher asked was as follows: Is it right of a U.S. company to support a company (presumably in an underdeveloped nation) who underpays their workers and makes them work under bad conditions if the workers say they are grateful for their work? Where is the line drawn? What if that job is the only way the workers are getting food on the table? Who are we to judge?
In his essay titled Essay on Population by Thomas Malthus he talks a lot about the relationship between population and supply. He talks about the human relationship with the resources on the earth and states that there is not enough food to sustain mankind. He goes on to propose solutions in order to counter this problem that was anticipated in the 19th century when Enlightenment was at its peak. During this time, people started moving away from the church and began to put their faith in science and reason to guide their thought and outlook on the world. Malthus states that disease and misery were the only solutions to help the people overcome the inevitable suffering that would occur due to a lack of resources because of an increasing population.
While reading this piece, I couldn’t help but think of today with the rising problems credited to climate change and the growing anxiety regarding the future of our planet. It’s interesting that over a century ago Malthus predicted the increasing population as a problem facing humanity. The idea that the earth could run out of resources as essential as food didn’t seem to be a problem people were concerned about back then as much as we are now. Today there seems to be a growing pressure on our generation to come up with ways to live sustainability since so much of the earth has already been destroyed. I wonder had the technology been available during Malthus’s time would he have proposed a more logical solution than wiping out a large portion of the population with disease. I also wonder if people would have been more accepting of his idea that “the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce substance for man” if they were in as desperate a time as we are today. Overall, I though this reading was very interesting because of its relevance to today. One thing I love about history is how it repeats itself so often and society doesn’t seem to learn from its mistakes. I am wondering what you think Malthus would say about society today and people’s ignorance towards the climate change, increasing lack of resources, environmental hazards that are all results of the growing population and ironically negatively impacting society.