• The "isms"—those ideas which originated between the Congress of Vienna and the year of revolutions (1848).

    "An ism is the conscious espousal of a doctrine in competition with other doctrines." 

                --Colton and Palmer

    Major Characteristics of the Isms

    Romanticism--love of the unclassifiable, value feelings as well as reason

    embrace middle ages, Gothic revival, seen as expression of inner genius

    ** not a political ism, rather a reaction against rationalist stance of philosophes; yet  Rousseau called the father of romanticism-- Emile

    Classical Liberalism-- begins in Spain as anti- Napoleon movement, stresses freedom of individual, concern for the minority, embraces doctrines of Rights of Man. In France liberalism is anti-imperial.

    Embraces modern, enlightened, efficient, fair.  In favor of Parliamentary rule, but NOT democrats-- they feared the tyranny of the majority and mob rule.  Laissez-faire, free int'l trade, increase of personal wealth advocated.  Anti- war, anti- revolution.

    Radicalism--Led by Jeremy Bentham, followers of Thos. Paine, claimed that the right form of any institution could be derived from the nature of man, the very "root" of things.  Above all, democratic, demanding one vote per adult. Anti- church, anti-"squirearchy" and generally working class.  Government is in the position to right the wrongs of society.

    Republicanism--longed for the republic of the 1790's, thought revolution would lead to liberty, equality, fraternity.  Demanded universal suffrage, viewed Church as enemy of reason, liberty.  Oppose monarchy, considered by most to be little better than anarchists, repressed by police.

    Socialism--regarded economic system as chaotic, aimless, unjust; sought to redistribute ownership of capital ; questioned the value of private property, profit.  Laissez-faire rejected as an ideology aimed at increasing production and profit, not equality.  Sought to establish social and economic equality.  Key figures-- Robert Owen, Count de Saint Simon, Charles Fourier, later Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels.

    Conservatism--politically meant status quo preservation.  Philosophically hostile to any radical innovation, not against change but only slowly and carefully thought out.  Edmund Burke-- people should change their institutions gradually, based upon past history.  NO revolutions are justified in conservative ideology.

    Nationalism-- sentiment unifying a group of people who have real or imagined common historical experience and a common aspiration to live together as a separate group in the future.  **Nationalism is a figment of the mind, an idea, not based on race, or spirit, or geography.  Partially language, because it indicates common culture.  Partly historical, because on man can and does recall the greatness of the past--- (Herder).  Know Mazzini, Grimm Brothers, Hegel, Ranke, List, Clay.

    Monarchism-- conservative, reactionary, longed for enlightened despots, to maintain the "throne and the altar." 

    Communism-- a stateless society in which each receives according to need, each contributes according to ability.  Relies upon the positive attributes in humanity; an idealist view of allocation of capital, labor, resources  (and an example of economic determinism).

    Marxism--  too much to summarize on a sheet like this; essentially views all of history as a dialectical event pitting oppressors against the oppressed.  History not as a pendulum but as a spiral leading to a culminating state of human existence—in Marx’ assessment, Germany in 1848.

    ****The isms are visceral, and must be considered with regard to how things were, and are.  They are also relative to one another, and borrow heavily from one another.  Imagine a time when people meet in pubs and coffee houses to discuss the fate of mankind, and seriously believe the crucial moment is upon them.























Last Modified on January 13, 2011