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Actually there were three new political movements in Europe which developed after the French Revolution. Together, they collectively prevented the Congress of Vienna from re-establishing the Ancien Regime. The three movements were:
- Liberalism: Liberalism held that human beings were basically good, and therefore human progress was inevitable. Liberals were firm believers in representative government (although they anticipated and believed that only men should/would vote.) They also supported freedom of the press, speech and assembly and freedom from arrest for arbitrary reasons. Economically, liberals believed in laissez faire capitalism in which government remained entirely out of economic matters. They also believed that education was the key to self improvement and thus enthusiastically supported free public education.
- Socialism: Socialists believed that capitalism led to selfishness and pursuit of self interest to the detriment of others. Socialists believed that the government, not competition, should determine the direction of the economy. Competition they believed to be destructive. They further supported equality for all, rich and poor; private property should either be completely abolished or at a minimum regulated by the government. Many Socialist thinkers, including Charles Fourier and Louis Blanc were somewhat utopian in their ideas.
- Marxism: Founded by Karl Marx, and ultimately the most successful of the new political movements, Marxism (or Communism, as it came to be called) argued that there was a continuous struggle between the classes of society in which one class continuously exploited the other. He anticipated a great class war in which the working classes, which he called the proletariat, would overthrow the capitalists in a violent revolution. In the closing lines of his famous work, the Communist Manifesto, he stated:
Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of the world unite!
One of the major changes that historians point to that occurred after the French Revolution was the continued decline of the power of the church and the rise of more prominent secularism in politics across Europe. Alongside the loss of power in the hands of the church was the permanent decline of the aristocracy in French and in other countries in Europe. It was not as though the aristocracies simply vanished, but the specter of violent rebellion coupled with the assassination and murder of anyone seen as too rich or too powerful certainly changed the way aristocrats did business on the continent.
One of the other lasting changes that came to Europe after the French revolution was the importance of participatory politics. Citizens all over Europe suddenly saw that they did have power and they have remained more willing to participate and expect politicians to respond to their demands than any other area of the world.
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