Reforms or Revolutions?

The early European revolutions began with the Carolingian renaissance, then from Italian Renaissance to Protestant Reformation, along with the flourishing of the America and new economic patterns, European society began to develop new ways to look at their social system. Therefore, during the period of 1640-1914, three major types of revolutions occurred, and those revolutions would directly influence our living nowadays. The first is called political revolution, also called the “Age of Democratic Revolution”, which symbolizes the world’s first large-scale attempts toward democracy, for instance, Americans revolted against England in order to gain independence, or the same right they had inherently. The second one is often called the “Industrial Revolution”, this greatly promoted Europeans’ economic productivities, especially in England, Germany, and France, etc. The third one is social revolution, as referred as “Nationalism, Imperialism, and Resistance.”





First, new philosophies of political structures of this society were proposed, such The Prince of Niccolo Machiavelli, and the humanists’ ideas of Erasmus, etc. Second, the unprecedented success of the global exploration provides foundations for intercontinental commercialization; Third, the battles between countries gave Europeans chances to reconsider the validity of absolutism. Fourth, the increasing wealth of people and their eagers to reform current social system to gain more interests.


Spain would be a perfect example for this. At first, Spain and Portugal became the first two nations that colonize American Continent, they once had the opportunities to become the dominators of Europe. However, Spain was suffered from their war-fares in home, such as Habsburg-Valois War and the Thirty Years’ War, the costs of those wars were expensive, most of the profits that Spain has gained from the exploration were wasted on wars. As a nation with restricted population and wealth, it is impossible for Spain to win both domestic and overseas. Another example is France, as well as Spain, the French conducted many wars in Europe, such as French Religious Wars, Nine Years’ War, and War of the Austrian Succession, etc. While focusing on the wars on European continents, the French lost its controls of American colonies eventually, and brought more revolutions domestic and outside against them.


Since I am from China, a country that had been through countless revolutions since Xia Dynasty, revolutions won’t be so new for me. Based on my current understanding of this world, I personally consider new revolutionary classes inspiring revolutions, although revolutionary ideas basically provide the foundation for people, however, a new class would develop ideas for people. To specify this idea, a class would assimilate people, but ideas could be varied from seconds to seconds, and it is very hard for a group of people have the same idea to form a class, since the conflicts of interests always constrain the unification of classes. Fortunately, revolutionary ideas and classes would be united together under the premise of the formation of a union, ideas and classes, they constrain and contradict each other, one from the idealistic view of democracy, for instance, one for realistic view of interests and feasibilities.

© 2017~2020 Christopher Wang 

International Educational Philosophy Seminar

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