European Society Post World War I Era

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15. Assessment of the European society¡¯s social, economic and political as well as philosophical tendency of the post world war I era.

For Europe and the European world the years 1871 to 1914 were marked by hitherto unparalleled material and industrial growth, international peace, domestic stability, the advance of constitutional, representative, and democratic government, and continued faith in science, reason and progress. But in these very years, in politics, economics, philosophy, and the arts, there were forces operating to undermine the liberal premises and tenets of this European civilization. The belief in progress has been at the center of modern thought since the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century. Although some romantic poets, conservatives, and socialists questioned the consequences of modern techonologies and industry, most people in the nineteenth century assumed that progress was both inevitable and beneficial. Liberals were especially optimistic about progressive developments in all the main spheres of modern life: scientific knowledge, new inventions, economic expansion, constitutional government, and protection for fundamental human rights. But the liberals were by no means alone in seeing the late nineteenth-century European ascendancy as the historical confirmation of human progress.

There were also many Europeans, however, who believed that whole groups of human beings were denied the benefits of modern civilization, that workers were not receiving their rightful share of modern wealth, or that women were not entering their rightful place in modern political life. The popular new political movements in these decades thus presumed that they were on the side of progress, and in fact they often gained new tights or benefits for the groups they represented.

Meanwhile, science itself continued to produce advances in both the theoretical understanding of nature and the technological inventions that transformed modern...
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