European Civilization, 1871-1914: Society and Culture
Between 1871 and 1914, liberal ideas withstood the challenges of innovations in the
sciences and the arts and the growing influence of popular political movements. Against
the backdrop of Europe’s increasing economic influence and prosperity, workers
embraced trade unionism and parliamentary socialism as a means of ameliorating the
demands of capital, much to the dismay of radicals. Marxism was transformed from a
revolutionary vision to one embracing social democracy. In the sciences, the theories of
Darwin and Einstein undermined older notions of the natural world. Freud, the new
cultural anthropologists, and philosophers like Nietzsche, initiated a debate about the
nature of human beings. Religion underwent a rigorous questioning, which the Catholic
church responded to more effectively than did Protestants. Finally, although classical
liberalism was indeed undermined, it did not disappear, but rather was transformed into a
new liberalism. Under the influence of the new liberalism, Europeans embraced a greater
role for government intervention in national economies. Most socialists sought
compromise rather than revolution. Despite an increase in racism and nationalism, the
humanitarian strain within liberalism still held sway over Europe.
15.74 The Advance of Democracy: Socialism, Labor Unions, and Feminism
a. The Trade Union Movement and Rise of British Labor
i. “New model” unionism
ii. The British Labour party
iii. The Taff Vale decision
b. European Socialism after 1850
i. The First International
ii. The Paris Commune
iii. The Second International
c. Revisionist and Revolutionary Socialism, 1880-1914
i. Fabian socialism in England
ii. Parliamentary socialism on the Continent
iii. The revisionists
v. Orthodoxy versus Revisionism
vi. Marxism transformed
d. Feminism, 1880-1914
i. Suffragettes seek the vote
15.75 Science, Philosophy, the Arts, and Religion
a. The Impact of Evolution
i. Charles Darwin
ii. “Survival of the fittest”
iii. Changing views of nature
iv. Social Darwinism
b. Genetics, Anthropology, and Psychology
i. Gregor Mendel
ii. Anthropology and religion
iii. Sigmund Freud
c. The New Physics
i. Einstein’s theory of relativity
d. Trends in Philosophy and the Arts
ii. Friedrich Nietzsche
e. The Churches and the Modern Age
i. Threats to religion
ii. Challenges to Protestantism
iii. Catholicism resists
iv. Vatican City
v. Rerum Novarum
vi. Jewish Emancipation
vii. The rise of anti-Semitism
15.76 The Waning of Classical Liberalism
a. The Decline of Nineteenth Century Liberalism: Economic Trends
i. A revival of List
ii. Economic nationalism
iii. The “new” liberalism and the welfare state
b. Intellectual and Other Currents
i. Challenges to Liberalism
ii. The popularity of struggle
iii. The persistence of liberalism
Chapter 15 teaches students about:
1. the spread and influence of industrial unionism, especially in Britain.
2. the schisms among European socialists and Marxists produced by conflicting
views of parliamentary socialism and trade unionism.
3. the campaign for women’s rights, especially suffrage.
4. the impact of Darwin’s theory of evolution, the new cultural anthropology, and
Freudian psychoanalysis on ideas about race, religion, and human rationality.
5. new currents in philosophy and the arts, which included agnosticism, thinkers like
Nietzsche, and Impressionism.
6. Protestant and Catholic responses to the scientific and cultural trends of the age.
7. how classical liberalism was undermined.
8. the new liberalism and the appearance of the welfare state, both of which came in
response to the insecurities produced by the free economy.
9. the debate over the rationality or irrationality of human beings.
10. the persistence of liberalism in spite of the challenges to it.
1. Why did the working classes view bourgeois liberalism with suspicion?
2. What was the relationship between middle class intellectuals and workers in the
late nineteenth century?
3. What was the “new model” unionism? Why did the prosperity of the 1850s favor
the founding of such unions?
4. How did the British Labour party approach the differences that existed between
socialism and trade unionism?
5. How did the Taff Vale decision aid the founding of the Labour party?
6. What was the fate of the First International? How was the Second International
7. How did Fabian Socialists differ in their views of socialism and the means of
establishing it from more traditional Marxists?
8. How did revisionism among Marxists lead to the emergence of revolutionary
9. How did revisionism and its opponents shape Russian politics in the first years of
the twentieth century?
10. To what issues did feminists dedicate themselves most avidly between 1880 and
11. What do you think of the tactics of Pankhurst and the suffragettes? Were such
tactics effective? Were they necessary?
12. How did Darwin define evolution? How did the idea of evolution resonate with
notions of progress?
13. Why did Darwin’s ideas provoke an outcry?
14. How did Darwinism, in tandem with anthropology, encourage racist explanations
of social and economic inequality?
15. How did developments in psychology change conceptions of human freedom and
16. How were older views of matter and energy undermined by breakthroughs in
17. How did Spencer incorporate the concept of evolution into philosophy?
18. How did Nietzsche appropriate evolutionary ideas for his philosophy? How did he
differ from Spencer?
19. How was religion threatened by the new scientific ideas in psychology, sciences,
20. What differentiated modernist and fundamentalist Protestants?
21. How was the Rerum Novarum a response to the conditions created by
22. What were the sources of anti-Semitism in the late nineteenth century?
23. How did liberals view individuals and individualism?
24. What brought about economic nationalism?
25. Why did a new kind of liberalism, in which the government took on greater
responsibility for social welfare, emerge around 1900?
26. How was liberalism, especially the classical variant, undermined between 1900
1. The site below contains information on the history of feminism and feminist
issues, with links to images, biographies, and other sources.
2. The Freud Museum, available online at the following site, offers a virtual tour.
3. This site, maintained by Christopher Green of the Department of Psychology at
York University, contains critiques and links regarding the history of psychology.