1.What was the origin of liberalism and its rise in 19th-century Europe? 2.What was nationalism? How did it rise in modern Europe? 3.In what ways did liberalism and nationalism align with each...

1.What was the origin of liberalism and its rise in 19th-century Europe?

2.What was nationalism? How did it rise in modern Europe?

3.In what ways did liberalism and nationalism align with each other?

4.In what ways did they compete with each other?

5.How did liberalism, nationalism and even socialism contribute to the revolutions of 1830 and 1848?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. Until 1769, the word liberal was not used with any political attachment to its connotation or denotation. In his Wealth of Nations, Scottish economist Adam Smith used "liberalism" in terms of free trade because he was strongly against restrictions being placed on the free market, hoping to see markets "resting on such liberal principles."

During the Enlightenment (appr. 1700-1800), John Locke was credited with founding liberalism as a philosophical tradition that rejects beliefs in "hereditary privilege," "absolute monarchy," and the "Divine Right of Kings." Thus Liberals were in opposition to traditional conservatism, striving for representative democracy and "the rule of law" which ignores the divine right of monarchs, making everyone subject to the laws. Certainly, the term became political in the revolutions in England (Glorious Revolution in which James II was overthrown), the American Revolution of 1776, and the French Revolution of 1789, all of which were rebellions against tyranny. In the 19th century, the influence of Thomas Paine's Rights of Man [based upon Voltaire's work of the same name, Les Droits de L'Homme] and the writings of the Baron de Montesquieu became influential is promoting individual rights, such as the rights to a fair trial, and the end to other injustices.

2-3. Nationalism is a political ideology or belief that involves an individual's feeling of attachment to his country. Since, there is a certain sense of unity and self-protection involved in the establishment of a national identity, nationalism developed in European countries as a national economy came into being. Such things as revolutions, too, produced nationalism as people became united in identity and cause. With these revolutions, too, liberalism and its ideal of individual rights conjoined with nationalism.

4. On the other hand, nationalism can be very anti-liberal in the sense of respecting other ideologies or other countries. For example, secret societies went underground in some countries, distributing propaganda and plotting rebellions. Certainly the rise of imperialism demonstrated how the nationalism of Britain or of France, for instance, ignored the liberal concept of self-government as well as many of the individual rights of the people in countries that fell under colonial rule.

5. From 1815-1848 there was a proliferation of new ideologies, and the idea of nationalism, having a country for one's own ethic group, developed during this period. This thinking, coupled with the ideals of liberalism caused the people of France to reject the re-establishment of a Bourbon king after the exile of Napoleon. Also, under the rule of Charles X with the younger brother of Louis XVII, the king restored for "One Hundred Days" La Charte, which established a constitutional monarchy and excluded the Catholic Church was disregarded by the following:

  • The imposition of the death penalty for anyone profaning the Eucharist (see Anti-Sacrilege Act).
  • The provisions for financial indemnities for properties... to be paid to any one, whether noble or non-noble, who had been declared "enemies of the Revolution."

King Charles also dissolved parliament and imposed censorship on newspapers and postponed elections; also he disbanded a voluntary group of citizens called the National Guard; a trustworthy group who acted as a means of communication between the citizenry and the rulers. When the elections took place, liberals won as the citizens demanded more democratic rule.

robyn-bird96 | Student

3. Nationalism is an offshoot of romanticism.  Romanticism came about as a critique of the Age of Reason.  Especially after the French Revolution, which was based off of the Age of Reason, which led to decades of blood shed, and after Napoleon's reign, in which he forced all of the countries that he conquered to follow French society, and especially after the Industrial Revolution and its subsequent problems (poor sanitation, exploitation of workers, poverty, etc), many people grew tired of the Age of Reason. The Age of Reason brought suffering, which introduced romanticism.  Immanuel Kant in Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals wrote that not only should reason be scrutinized, but reason is not the only important force at work in human behavior.  Romanticism brought about the ways of the heart, of human nature, of impulses/intuition, of what is natural (wild, untamed by society). 

From here, nationalism came into existence. Nationalism is believed to have grown in "Germany."  The German states were all divided after the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, and after Napoleon ran through the states, promoting a society that was not theirs, many Germans realized that they wanted what was naturally theirs, embracing local and traditional values.  Johann Gottfried von Herder wrote Materials for the Philosophy of the History of Mankind, and in the essay, he discussed "kultur" versus "zivilization."  Here, he discussed that each nationality has its own path to happiness, promoting local cultures. Kultur is that which is true, the common folk.  Zivilization is that which is foreign, common to all, sacred to none.  He calls for a brining back of what has been forgotten while purging what is foreign.  This led to a rise in nationalism, as each group recognizes their distinctness and desire for independence from a bigger empire, or a desire of union among similar people.