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Liberalism and the Bourgeoisie

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Stevie-Lyn Kim At the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, a great rise in the power of the bourgeoisie was seen. These determined bourgeoisie believe in the innate good of human beings and the power of the individual, as they had to prove their worth and ability during a time of aristocratic privilege. They strove for liberalism, an ideology that turned away from conservatism and pushed towards the ideals of the Enlightenment. From the liberal belief in the goodness and power of the individual came concerns that the government and the church stifled that liberty. Liberals attacked the government and other authority figures that did not allow free choice and free expression. They also believed that "the best government is that one that governs least" (Wes. Civ. 547). It was they who called for a freely elected government and the idea of checks and balances between the various branches so that their voices may be heard in legislative affairs. Many liberals liked the idea of laissez-faire, the doctrine that advocated leaving the economic market free of government intervention. This idea was at the center of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations (1776) ...read more.


(Wes. Civ., 522) Their working conditions were horrible as well: workers often toiled for inhumane hours in unsanitary conditions, often with little or no ventilation. Factory rules were quite strict and stressed strict timekeeping, with a normal working day starting at "6 A.M. precisely and end[ing], after the usual break of half an hour for breakfast, an hour for dinner and half and hour for tea, at 7 P.M." (Sources, 136). With overpopulation came unemployment; many of the working class did not even have jobs with which to support themselves. In 1842, Edwin Chadwick wrote The Report on the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain. He also pointed out that these living and working conditions detrimental were not only to the health of the working class but also to the morality of these people. His report, and others like it, opened the eyes of many citizens, leading to a serious consideration concerning social and public health reform. Stevie-Lyn Kim People began to question whether laissez-faire really helped all people in the nation. It seemed as if there was indeed a need for government intervention. The English Factory Acts, beginning in 1802, limited the hours of women and children who worked in the factories. ...read more.


Hobhouse. In his On Liberty (1859), Mill advocated individual freedom along with the rights of the minority. Green promoted this new liberalism in objecting laissez-faire and pointing out that it condemned the uneducated to remain that way. Hobhouse, in his Justification for State Intervention, stated that "the function of the State is to secure conditions upon which its citizens are able to win by their win by their own efforts all that is necessary to a full civic efficiency...A society in which a single honest man of normal capacity is definitely unable to find the means of maintaining himself by useful work is to that extent suffering from malorgainization (Sources, 191). Throughout the nineteenth century there is an obvious trend in the growth of liberalism. Just as the middle bourgeoisie class had to fight for their rights during and after the French Revolution, the lower class had to fight for their rights during the Industrial Revolution. It was in this pivotal century that finally gave the lower class their deserved liberty and rights. By the early twentieth century it can be observed that traditional liberalism had evolved into social democracy, which allows for the governmental assistance to those in need. What we also see in the following years is the birth of the Women's Rights Movement, obviously a continuation and product of the struggle for human rights. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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