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Great War & Liberal Capitalism in Russia, Germany, Italy Essay

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Updated: Oct 7th, 2021

Introduction

The Great War-also referred to as the First World War occurred in the year 1914-1918. It marked the first time for the world to witness such a massive war where all nations took arms at the same time to fight one another. It was truly a gruesome experience where the world had its first experience of the chemical weapons. Many allies were formed, major and minor, at least every country or state belonged to some inclination: Russia, France and Britain took one side against the Central power: Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey.

Several reasons have been put forward as the root cause of the so called Great War. Whether it was social turmoil or Greed of the then rulers, the answers are still vast. One thing that is certainly clear that the war broke after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne) in Sarajevo on 28th June, 1914. The War had resulted to destruction socially, economically and politically as well as physical costs and eventually recession and depression. The Germans, Russians and the Italians, felt that the emerging political and economic structure called for a change or a diversion from the capitalism system.

Thesis

There was a change of attitude on how people viewed capitalism after the end of the First World War in 1917. Capitalism had been reported to have a negative take on the society. Therefore the need to shift from Capitalism was felt during the bad economic times, thanks to the change in the social structure of different institutions and competition in the business world. The history of capitalism has for long term highlighted the basis of reference on the impact of material prosperity and the overall view on the economy in the context of time and region.

Impacts in Russia

After many had lost their lives, it was now necessary to restore peace and find a way to survive. The situation only called for survival, not living because every aspect of human life had been disrupted. But on the contrary, many of the civilians and soldiers alike wanted to continue with the war to determine who will finally emerge victors. Several peace initiatives were proposed in 1917, but the Russians rejected them. The soldiers openly disobeyed their superiors [something which was un-heard of in the past], deserting all the military bases and got themselves involved in mass mutiny.

The Old Russian Empire was torn into peaces and socialism erupted, thanks to the emerging political force that fell for the idea to change the system of governance. The Great War also led to loss in a whole generation of Men. The Russian army was near collapsed by the end of 1917. This resulted to poor performance in the army prompting political unrest. The communists ruled the day and all Russian wealth (land, shops, factories and machinery) were bestowed upon the state. No individual owned anything; it was up to the government to decide who owns what and to what extent.

Impacts in Germany

All the German allies dropped, and the renewed war with the Americans sparked rebellion among the civilian who opposed the war. Then, the Navy eventually set on a mass mutiny. When the guns eventually stopped and the world was itself again, it was not so for the Germans. As people all over the world celebrated the return of peace, the German foes continued blockage through the winter months leading to a mass starvation in Germany hence many died of hunger.

After the peace restoration, the blame game began, and a German Nationalist, Hitler and numerous followers of his pointed accusing fingers to the Jews, Communists and Kaiser for their defeat, paving the way for World War II.

The war had led to the great development slump, especially in the expansion of heavy German industry and construction of rail roads and ships, due to the rising prices and low profitability. With this bad economic time of long-term depression, Germany faced the greatest economic challenge in her history and had to put an end to the Capitalism system. It was also evident that the women population remained almost the same even after the war since they were not directly involved in the battle. This left them with the responsibility to shoulder most of the economy since most men had died in the war.

The eventual destruction of the Great War was worrying: -The economic slump rose to 40%, inadequate workforce in all sectors of the economy persisted and finally acute food shortage erupted. This crisis had to be solved and there was a general feeling that capitalism would not help salvage the situation. On the political realm, the war forced Kaiser into abdication after being blamed on the defeat; this led to Weimer Republic taking charge, and subsequently the end of capitalism. Most countries disassociated themselves from Germany to form new allies, creating an even more devastating state in business situation.

Impacts in Italy

The great Slump affected every corner of the world both politically and economically, and Italy was no exemption. New economic models emerged to replace the old capitalistic economic system. But some international financial communities made steps to save the system and maintain the status quo. The proponents of capitalism saw it as the sole engine through which the economy can be strengthened, while its opponents cautioned that it was just a sinister motive by those in the throne to maintain power. The world’s economy became unstable. This was even made worse by the poor harvest due to low Agricultural input, hence a tightening the market further. This was followed by an excessive production due to the increasingly disruptive periods which eventually brought out stiff competition and subsequently fall in prices. The political landscape also changed, in 1919, just after the war, Italy went for their first election under a mass political democracy. This was one of the biggest signs that Capitalism was at the loose end.

Conclusion

The Great War shaped the world that we presently have. Allies and emperors have been broken up and new boundaries have since been formed. The huge corporations that were based on the fundamentals of Capitalism that have been accused to be the cause of the Great War got restructured due to the resultant political and economic systems that emerged after the war.

The Capitalist Industrialization which caused major transformations in the workers’ movements affecting their wages and urbanization in the above mentioned countries (Russia, Germany and Italy) was finally abandoned in the new world order.

Bibliography

Chandler D. “Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism”: Cambridge, (1990, 321-347).

Hannah L. “The Rise of the Corporate Economy”: London/New York, (1983, 76-201).

Haupt G. “Socialism and the Great War”: Oxford, (1972, 47-198).

Lynn H. Nelson: “First World War: World History Spring-Italy”: Department of History, University of Kansas, (1998, 121-243).

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IvyPanda. "Great War & Liberal Capitalism in Russia, Germany, Italy." October 7, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/great-war-amp-liberal-capitalism-in-russia-germany-italy/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Great War & Liberal Capitalism in Russia, Germany, Italy." October 7, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/great-war-amp-liberal-capitalism-in-russia-germany-italy/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Great War & Liberal Capitalism in Russia, Germany, Italy'. 7 October.

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