Revolutions of 1848

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Revolutions of 1848
I. Causes

-food shortages and unemployment

-a new willingness of political liberals to ally with the working classes in order to put increased pressure on the government, even though the new allies had different aims

-a movement to create national states that would reorganize or repace existing political entities (nationalism)

-unprecendented economic growht

-increased influence of socialism as a political force

II. France

-temporaray success only

-Louis Blanc-He demanded the equalization of wages, and the merging of personal interests in the common good--"à chacun selon ses besoins, de chacun selon ses facultés," which is often translated as "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." This was to be affected by the establishment of "social workshops," a sort of combined co-operative society and trade-union, where the workmen in each trade were to unite their efforts for their common benefit- didn’t work

-eventual election of Napoleon III and the creation of the 2nd Republic 1848, then 2nd

Empire Louis Napoleon (President 1848-1852, Nap III 1852-70)
III. Austria Hapsburg Empire – unsuccessful

-Bohemians, Italians, and Hungarians all had nationalistic aims

-nationalism, liberalism and socialism evident in this uprising

-these revolutions forced Metternich to flee the country

-serfdom abolished

-the revolutions failed, in part because the various revolutionaries had conflicting goals

IV. Italy & Germany – unsuccessful

-Sardinia-Piedmont retained its new liberal constitution

-Prussia adoped an undemocratic constitution (the conservatives regain control here)

-liberals not violent enough and there was no military to enforce demands for reform,

nationalism, and better living conditions
V. Effects of these revolutions (Why did they fail?)

- had very few immediate effects

-The revolutionaries all agreed that they wanted to get rid of the old governments, but they disagreed about what to do next. These disagreements resulted in a lack of organisation, which made it difficult for revolutionaries to continue to resist the armies of returning monarchs. Thus, by 1849, Europe had practically returned to its pre-1848 status

-brought about the downfall of Metternech and his “Concert of Europe”

-the short-lived gov’ts were precursors for modern gov’ts such as liberalism and socialism

-a republic and universal manhood suffrage in France

-Louis Napoleon’s election proved that an absolute ruler could come to power thru the ballot box

-a liberal consitution in Peidmont-Sardinia

-these revolutions marked the last effort in 19c Europe to overthrow reactionary gov’ts by

revolution alone

-the European middle class ceased to be revolutionary. It became increasingly concerned

about the protection of its property agianst radical political and social movements

-the political initiative passed from the liberals to the consevatives and socialists

Lasting Effects


Though the Revolutions of 1848 had few short-term effects, if any, they did have some long-term effects. The new governments set up as a result of the revolutions could easily be dismantled, but the forces of change could not be destroyed. Again and again throughout the course of history there would be uprisings and demands for independence and an end to old empires. Also, the short-lived governments of 1848 were precursors to many more modern forms of government, such as liberalism and socialism, which are still around today. In addition, Louis Napoleon's election changed the rules of politics, proving that an absolute ruler could come to power through the ballot box.

VI. Anarchism - According to The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, "there is no single defining position that all anarchists hold, beyond their rejection of compulsory government, and those considered anarchists at best share a certain family resemblance"

-William Godwin-founder of modern anarchism (1756-1836) m. Mary Wollstonecraft at the evil actions of men were solely reliant on the corrupting influence of social conditions; recognized the need for government in the short term and hoped that the time would come when it would be unnecessary,

-Bakunin- (1814-1876) political beliefs rejected governing systems in every name and shape, from the idea of God downwards, and every form of external authority, whether emanating from the will of a sovereign or from universal suffrage. Argued with Marx-communism would lead to dictatorship

-Proudhon (1809-1865) As a consequence of his opposition to profit, wage labour, worker exploitation, ownership of land and capital, as well as to state property, Proudhon rejected both capitalism and communism. He adopted the term mutualism for his brand of anarchism, which involved control of the means of production by the workers. Like Godwin he opposed violent revolutionary action.

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