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Anonymous History 4C- Western Civilization May 30, 2012 Freedom and Equality

Throughout the course of modern western civilization from the Enlightment to the Industrial Revolution and world wars, people have been on a quest for individuality, civil rights, opportunities to thrive, and a sense of equality within a nation. Freedom and equality are fundamental goals that past societies have longed to achieve by means of incomparable struggles like wars and revolutions. Although freedom and equality are commonly synonymous with each other like Alexis de Tocqueville once claimed, men cannot become absolutely equal unless they are entirely free1, the two concepts are worlds apart. By analyzing Western Civilizations struggle to reconcile freedom and equality it is evident that complete freedom only leads to inequality and perfect equality (socialism or communism) leads to a lack of freedom. One cannot be achieved without infringing on the other, they are simply not compatible. Equality during the early 18th century in French society was nonexistent. There were three separate classes of people or estates: the clergy, nobility, and everyone else. Each had varying levels of liberty and equality. The rising middle class or the Bourgeois grew inspired by the revolutionary Enlightment ideals of philosophes and saw a problem with the aristocracy and their special privileges, a clear example of inequality. After years of being shackled under the command of Kings, Queens, the Church, and the Nobility did the third estate, encouraged by the words of philosophers at the time dare to rise from the shadows and demand the freedom and equality that those without a title in society had been deprived of for past centuries. Approaching the end of the 18th century, in 1789 the National Assembly composed of the 3rd

Brainy Quote, Alexis de Tocqueville Quotes http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/alexis_de_tocqueville.html (accessed May 29,2012)

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estate succeeded in establishing a constitution for France called the Declaration of Rights of Man & Citizen which integrated concepts of both freedom and equality developed by Rousseau and Locke. The Enlightment/French Revolution were times for progress but what seemed to be heading in the right track towards achieving the goal of freedom and equality would soon succumb to Robespierres The Terror influenced by ideals of Rousseau and the general will of the people. The reign of terror would force the population to be free or else suffer dire consequences, let the traitors be the 1st holocaust to Liberty2 clearly the pursuit of freedom was taken to the extreme and in effect defeated its own purpose in subordinating the individuals freedom. The redeeming effects of the French Revolution and Reign of terror were that more equality was achieved; Feudalism became abolished, as did the unproportionate heavy taxing on the third estate. The guillotine was a huge breakthrough in the penal reform system, the same crimes were now punished in the same way, not even King Louis XVI escaped his tragic finale. The people received more equality but it costed them their freedom. The catch phrase of the French Revolution was Freedom, Equality and Fraternity but the result was lost in translation. Happening simultaneously to the French Revolution but not reaching a level of significance until the mid-19th century was the Industrial Revolution in Britain. With European nations recovering from the effects of the French Revolution, a new age of class equality appeared to be transpiring. But this seeming equality between man, woman, child, bourgeois, and proletariat was only a facade for what still continued to be a class driven society full of injustices in both freedom and equality. The accomplishments of the industrial revolution e.g. the railway, steam engine etc. could not be possible without the hard working and often exploited proletariat class; Yes, the proletariat had more equality in the work force, even women and children had

Hasegawa, (2012, April 10). French Revolution: Reign of Terror Lecture, Hist.4C, UCSB.

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jobs; The proletariat are free in two fundamental senses: they are legally free from all feudal fetters; and they are economically free from the means of production. They possess nothing but one commodity in capitalism: his labor.3(Marx). They were only mere tools in the economic goals of factory production that ended up robbing them of freedom. With the recent change from organic energy to mineral energy there was a demand for coal but with its known dangers, and difficulties in acquiring it, the bourgeoisie called on the working class to have this job, specifically the women and children. One testimonial from a South Wales mine worker in 1832 reads, I have been down six weeks and make 10 to 14 rakes a day; I carry a full 56 lbs. of coal in a wooden bucket. I work with Sister Jesse and mother. It is dark the time we go."4 The children had lost their freedom to simply be kids; instead they were withering their young lives away in the factories. According to the Sadler Commission hearings, the common child worked an 18hr work day with a 40min break and frequent beatings to keep them awake.5 There was a false notion that heaven helps those help themselves 6 championed by liberalists like Samuel Smiles, but it only created a cycle of oppression in the workforce that further drained freedom, which there was no longer time for. Unfortunately the lack of freedom was the least of the proletariats worries. As a result of opportunity and equality in the work place, urbanization soared and with it came epidemics of Cholera, Typhus, and Tuberculosis mostly reserved for the working class. The Proletariat and Bourgeois were like two different species of people. They lived in the same city, yet they were certainly not equals. Freiderich Engels writes, The working peoples quarters are sharply

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Engels, Karl Marx. The Communist Manifesto (1848), 410. Hasegawa, (2012, April 19). Industrial Revolution Lecture, Hist.4C, UCSB. 5 Parliamentary Committee, The Sadler Commission Hearings (1832) 6 Samuel Smiles, Self Help (1882): 1

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separated from the sections of the city reserved for the middle class7 Not only are living quarters segregated but they are uninhabitable, Everywhere heaps of debris, refuse, and offal; standing pools for gutters, and a stench everything which here arouses horror and indignation is of recent origin, belongs to the industrial epoch.8 Clearly the success of the industrial revolution came with a price. At the 1815 Congress of Vienna an unlikely pairing of ideologies emerged; Nationalism and Liberalism. Nationalism had people united in equality for the nation, with the one for all and all for one mentality, while Liberalism focused more on freedom with laissez faire/everyman for himself ideology. While nationalism was all about the majority, Liberalism was about protecting ones individual freedoms from the tyranny of majority as exemplified by John Stuart Mill, If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person9 These two concepts contradicted one another just like the concepts of freedom and equality do too but both had the same origin: the French Revolution. Both Nationalism and Liberalism bonded over their anti-Metternich conservatism beliefs, but after the 1848 Revolution realized they were much too different had to separate ways. It was either freedom or equality but not both, a recurring theme throughout Western Civilization. Karl Marx a Socialist believed the freedom being publicized was a sham to hide the exploitation of capitalism, and that true freedom achieved only when complete equality is fulfilled: communism.10 But that is also contradicting as with full equality come restrictions on

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Friederich Engels, Industrial Manchester(1844):2,4 Ibid. 9 John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859): 2. 10 Hasegawa,(2012, April 24) Liberalism & Socialism Lecture,Hist.4C, UCSB

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freedom; people are no longer able to compete for better opportunities and have a limit to their potential e.i. cap on freedom. As there are conflicts over inequalities in populations within people of the same nation, there are also conflicts over the same principles between different nations of the world. Dangerous consequences can arise when one country feels inequalities within humanity. A sense of superiority paired with freedom to act in accordance to ones beliefs makes for a recipe of disaster. In 1859, Charles Darwins, Theory of Evolution propelled the idea of survival of the fittest and this quickly transformed from a biological to a sociological sense. This was when Imperialism was born. Karl Pearson a professor in 1900 lectures in favor of Social Darwinism by saying, The strong nation has always been conquering the weaker, and the strongest tend to be best The path of progress is strewn with the wreck of inferior races, yet these dead people are, in very truth, the stepping stones on which mankind has risen to the higher intellectual and deeper emotional life of today.11(Pearson) . Ruler of Belgium, King Leopold II was one of the firsts to take advantage of the opportunities Imperialism had to offer. King Leopold II established the ironically named Congo Free State and ruthlessly murdered thousands of innocent Congolians for ivory and rubber. Moving into the 20th century it becomes evident that murder is no barrier to achieving the selfish gains of a country. As seen by these atrocities, maybe freedom and equality are not compatible for a reason, equality takes away from freedom and freedom takes away from equality. Russia longed to be considered an equal with Western Europe. It too commenced a revolution, and paralleled many of the French Revolutions tactics. The first step in the Russian Revolution was the red armys overthrowal the Tsarist family, just like the Jacobins overthrew
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Karl Pearson, Social Darwinism: Imperialism Justified by Nature

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the monarchy and King Louis XVI. Both Lenin and the radical revolutionaries promised equality and freedom but neither delivered. The French still had expensive bread, and Russian peasants were forced into collectivization of crops. Lenin took over the Tsar but made it worse like Robespierre took over the Monarchy and caused terror. The worse part came after. When Russia was void of their freedoms and under a totalitarian government controlled by Stalin another terror ensued, The Great Purge(1937-1938) and forced collectivization caused famines and starvation. There was even a type of genocide except it dealt with class instead of ethnicity of the Kulaks whom were wealthy peasants. Stalin worked to achieve perfect equality even if that meant mass murder and starvation for his nations people. The concept of mass murder kept rolling on well into the 20th century with WWII. After Germanys loss in WWI it got dealt with serious consequences from the Treaty of Versailles including restrictions on the nations liberty. These punishments incited Nationalism and with the encouragement of leaders like Hitler, people started thinking with their blood instead of their brains. After Hitlers bestselling book Mein Kampf message got around, it was time for revenge by means of genocide of the Jewish community. It was no longer enough to search for equality, nations had to be superior to others and steal others freedom or destroy them completely. The solution to stopping these acts of genocide was to have wars, drop atomic bombs and destroy whole cities creating a never ending cycle of revenge and animosity. The people of the 21st century can still relate to those in the past for their struggles to reconcile freedom and equality are some of the same struggles we face today. However, in observing and analyzing the actions of Western Civilization, society today has learned to force the two. They are simply two puzzle pieces that cannot connect, and forcing them to only leads

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to destruction on the forms of wars among other things. Equality and Freedom are simply not meant to be.