Europe after 1850 (rouhgly)

Western Europe, United States (and other British former colonies), and Japan were on the lead. Some other countries made efforts while others slumbered (notably Ottoman Empire and China). But the leaders did not stay still. They kept moving. But they also faced new problems


The industrial revolution brought forth masses of people in the cities and made their poverty visible. (Nobody could see the starving farmers).

1848 revolts in several parts of Europe


The revolutionary wave began in France in February, and immediately spread to most of Europe and parts of Latin America. Over 50 countries were affected, but with no coordination or cooperation among the revolutionaries in different countries. Five factors were involved: widespread dissatisfaction with political leadership; demands for more participation in government and democracy; the demands of the working classes; the upsurge of nationalism; and finally, the regrouping of the reactionary forces based on the royalty, the aristocracy, the army, and the peasants.

They demonstrated the popular desire for increased political freedom, liberal state policies, democracy, nationalism, and freedom from censorship. The middle class elements were committed to liberal principles while the working class sought radical improvements to their working and living conditions. However, the middle class and working class components of the Revolution split, and in the end the conservative aristocracy defeated it, forcing many liberals into exile, where they became known as Forty-Eighters.

The uprisings were led by shaky ad hoc coalitions of reformers, the middle classes and workers, which did not hold together for long. Tens of thousands of people were killed, and many more forced into exile. The only significant lasting reforms were the abolition of serfdom in Austria and Hungary, the end of absolute monarchy in Denmark, and the definitive end of the Capetian monarchy in France. The revolutions were most important in France, German states, Poland (then under German control), Italy, and the Austrian Empire, but did not reach Russia, Great Britain, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, or the Ottoman Empire

In France it started with the February 1848 revolution. It established the principle of the "right to work" (droit au travail), and its newly established government created "National Workshops" for the unemployed.

US Civil War

In reality a war for stronger federal government (favored by the North). Enabled by telegraph and railroads. Abolition of slavery as a cause came up later. A major effect of the war was the strengthening of the Federal Government and the office of the President. The freed slaves continued to be subject to discrimination, etc. It took over 100 years for a semblance of true equality to be established.



Karl Marx (1818 – 1883) published The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Das Kapital (1867–1894). He introduced a system where the means of production are owened by the workers. But Marxism faces the "agent problem." Who is going to look after the interests of the workers?

Marxism is supposed to come after industrialization but it succeeded only in largely agrarian countries, Russia and China.

Social Security

Germany became the first nation in the world to adopt an old-age social insurance program in 1889, designed by Germany's Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck. The idea was first put forward, at Bismarck's behest, in 1881 by Germany's Emperor, William the First, in a ground-breaking letter to the German Parliament. William wrote: ". . .those who are disabled from work by age and invalidity have a well-grounded claim to care from the state."

Earlier (1883) Bismarck pushed and got enacted a health insurance program to provide health care for the largest segment of the German workers. The health service was established on a local basis, with the cost divided between employers and the employed. The employers contributed 1/3, while the workers contributed 2/3s. The minimum payments for medical treatment and Sick Pay for up to 13 weeks were legally fixed.

In 1884 Bismarck had an Accident Insurance Bill passed that replaced the health insurance program as of the 14th week. It paid for medical treatment and a Pension of up to 2/3s of earned wages if the worker was fully disabled. This program was expanded in 1886 to include Agricultural workers.

The Old Age and Disability Insurance Bill of 1889 was equally financed by employers and workers and it was designed to provide a pension annuity for workers who reached the age of 70 years. Unlike the Accident Insurance and Health Insurance programs, this program covered all categories of workers—industrial, agrarian, artisans and servants from the start. Also, unlike the other two programs, the principle that the national government should contribute a portion of the underwriting cost, with the other two portions prorated accordingly, was accepted without question. The Disability Insurance program was intended to be used by those permanently disabled. This time, the State or Province supervised the programs directly

Bismarck was motivated to introduce social insurance in Germany both in order to promote the well-being of workers in order to keep the German economy operating at maximum efficiency, and to stave-off calls for more radical socialist alternatives. Despite his impeccable right-wing credentials, Bismarck would be called a socialist for introducing these programs, as would President Roosevelt 70 years later.

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