Political Parties and Struggles During the European Revolutions (page 2)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 3, 2012


Nationalism is similar to patriotism. It refers to the pride a person takes in his or her nation and culture.

During the nineteenth century, the people of Europe began to identify them- selves more with their native countries than had ever been the case in the past. Formerly, people had thought of themselves as belonging to a particular family, town, village, or perhaps even a province. Some monarchs, such as Elizabeth I of England, had attracted a high degree of personal popularity. However, since borders constantly shifted in Europe, relatively few people thought of them- selves as being citizens of a nation.

With the Enlightenment and the coming of the nineteenth century, a gradual shift in thinking became apparent. Europeans began to think of themselves as Frenchmen, Spaniards, or Britons. Even in places like Italy that were still not unified nations, the people took pride in their common language, their shared history, and their unique national culture. The revolutions of the nineteenth century encouraged nationalism by defining national borders and making them permanent. By 1900, nationalism was deeply rooted all over Europe—at least among the educated classes.

Nationalism was a unifying force in culturally homogeneous nations like France, where the vast majority of the population spoke the same language and worshiped in the same church. However, in a diverse empire like Austria- Hungary, which included a variety of ethnic groups and religions, it could be explosive. Nationalism could make citizens react adversely to a monarch or leader who was born outside the country’s borders. In the twentieth century, it would be one of the forces that led to both world wars. Nationalism is also the main reason for the conflict that continues to exist in the United Kingdom between Ireland and England.


Socialism is a form of government in which the good of the whole is more important than the rights of the individual. In a socialist state, the government is in charge of major institutions such as education and health care. In a socialist economy, the state owns and controls the businesses and can establish prices. In a capitalist economy, all businesses and industries are privately owned, and the laws of supply and demand set the prices. Socialism was to thrust deep roots into European soil; by the end of the twentieth century, most European nations would have mixed economies, with major elements of socialism as well as capitalism.

One interesting but short-lived form of socialism developed early in the nineteenth century. Utopian Socialism was based on the Greek word utopia, meaning “nowhere”: a utopia was an ideal society in which there was no conflict, which of course exists nowhere. However, in the nineteenth century, hopeful philosophers believed in the possibility of a real utopia. They envisioned self-sufficient communities in which everything was jointly owned. Followers of Robert Owen in England and Charles Fourier in France founded a number of small utopian communities, but none lasted very long. It seemed that for human beings, private property was desirable and a certain degree of conflict was inevitable.

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