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Principles of Liberalism and its Connection to Enlightenment and Conservatism Essay


Liberalism seeks political freedom against the absolute monarchy. It involves freedom, free elections, and liberal democracy. Liberalism embraces freedom both politically as well as economically. It states that the social-economic way of life of people should not be interfered as well as their rights. Economical freedom maybe reflected when someone’s private properties are protected.

Liberalism has different forms. Classical liberalism is one of them and requires freedom of social relationships. A state is seen as a failure if in any way it interferes with the freedom of social relationships. A person has the freedom to be in business according to the classical liberalism.

Liberalism in Europe began as early as from the 17th century. There was French liberalism and English liberalism. French liberalism tried to do away with authoritative political structures while English liberalism promoted democratic values. The conservatives observed the adherence of laws contrast to liberals. Conservatives stress submission to the law.

The liberalism is connected to enlightenment in that the liberalists are enlightened people who always wanted freedom in all spheres of life. They wanted democracy, free elections and were not subjective. The conservatives’ ideas and beliefs did conflict. Liberalists questioned the subject of powers while conservatives did not.

The conservatives had Platonic sentiments; they liked being subjects of a government that was established. Therefore, they didn’t get their satisfaction from seeking freedom but from an established government. The Conservatives believed in traditional life, and were mostly from the upper class. Liberalists were mostly from the middle class.

Effects of Industrial Revolution in Europe

The industrial revolution changed the social structures. It changed the way people lived. People were mostly found on very small village before there was revolution. They either worked as either skilled craftsmen or in fields.

They did not use machines, only by hand and worked mostly in families. Most people in Britain came from countryside and only relied on farming. After the revolution, all this changed. The revolution introduced laws for enclosure which required everyone to fence their grounds.

Many farmers were left unemployed and sought work in factories that were opened regularly. This made them to migrate to towns so as to be near their working places. This resulted to urbanization and a higher cost of living. Others worked for less money, and many working hours.

Everyone worked, both women and children due to high cost of living. Women and children were liked by factory owners because they accepted little salary. Children were easily employed due they were easy to control than adults.

Due to long working hours of women and children, almost eighteen hours a day, most of them did not have time for each other. They spent their free time sleeping due to exhaustion. The children neither went to school, nor did they have normal growth and were often sick. The families did not have good living conditions. The introduction of machines in the factories replaced many hand weavers resulting in lack of jobs.

In 1802, there were introduction of reforms so as to reduce abuse of human rights. Instead of working for eighteen hours, everybody had to work for twelve hours per day and below. Employers were required to provide accommodation, education etc. Children under the age of 10 were not allowed to work, and those that were under the age of 18 were not allowed to work overnight. The working conditions had to be good in factories.

There were inspectors to check the working conditions of the workers. There was shift of classes, and the factory owners had wealth increase. Some workers began making good wages and poverty started to reduce. There was no longer mass starvation. The reforms also led to improvement of people’s health.

Romanticism and Nationalism

Nationalism promoted unity and aimed at restoring broken nations. Romanticism aimed at bringing freedom of expression. The Romantics were recorded to be both conservatives and liberals. The movement of Romanticism was also expressed in art and music. It was as a result of enlightenment after discovering that human beings were not only guided by the forces of physics etc.

One way that the Romantics reflected nature is by picking landscape arts that showed nature. Human beings were mostly used like heroic figures. Nature was shown as powerful and vague. A good example is of Friedrich’s Wanderer called “Above the Sea”.

It showed a man looking above the sea with breakers hitting the shore. The man was seen admiring the scenery and its elements. Romanticism was a reaction to enlightenment in that, it tried to explain that the mind was blank but experience wrote it.

Nationalism was a reaction to enlightenment because some people started to embrace national identity. The nationalist argued that nationality held societies together. Nationalism was embraced by people who were intellectuals. Nationalism was used by many countries like Belgium, Poland and Norway to resist against countries that held them captive. For instance, Belgium was able to gain independence after practicing nationalism from the Netherlands.

Scientific Revolution and Darwinism

Charles Darwin brought about scientific revolution and this is called Darwinism. He argued that natural selection led to the origin of human beings and natural things. Scientific revolution changed the way people viewed human beings as miraculously created. This differed with Christian’s teachings. Darwin explained that people were governed by laws of biology, chemistry etc. It is natural selection and adaptation that have shaped the human beings.

Charles Darwin stated that living things originated from primordial cells dating some billion years. He said that variations were created as a result of mutations and they were either accepted or rejected by the environment that they were in.

The scientific revolution was also contributed by other scientists like Russel Wallace’s who supported Charles Darwin’s ideas. There were others like Francis Crick and James Watson who discovered the structure of DNA. This helped people to have knowledge of heredity; how it is achieved through inheritance of genes.

Scientific revolution changed the way people viewed the nature of the world in that, it tried to uncover life mysteries. Scientist proved adaptation of plants by giving an example of wild orchids. They adapt their flowers so as to attract certain moths to help in cross fertilization.

Another example was long necks of giraffes. Erasmus Darwin, son of Charles Darwin, explained that environmental factors made giraffe grow long necks. This enabled the giraffes to reach leaves of high trees which were green and soft. Darwin explained that people were originally animals but they evolved to become human beings. He said that people came from apes like baboons and monkeys although his theory has been rejected by many critics and scientists.

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IvyPanda. "Principles of Liberalism and its Connection to Enlightenment and Conservatism." March 28, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/principles-of-liberalism-and-its-connection-to-enlightenment-and-conservatism/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Principles of Liberalism and its Connection to Enlightenment and Conservatism." March 28, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/principles-of-liberalism-and-its-connection-to-enlightenment-and-conservatism/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Principles of Liberalism and its Connection to Enlightenment and Conservatism'. 28 March.

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