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West European Studies: Politics and Culture Essay

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Updated: Apr 18th, 2021

Culture is the combination of certain values, norms of behaviour, beliefs and meanings given to specific symbolic structures in a society or a community within an environmental setting. On the other hand, society is the structure and way of life for a unique group within which people share common associations and norms. Individuals who belong to one and the same society often live on a defined territory or have a common culture. Reflectively, societies exist in accordance with a unique culture. Politics touches the system of acculturation and nationalism in a series of politically instigated moves. As a matter of fact, culture can only exist in society. Thus, this research paper attempts to expound the influence of political structures/systems on cultural stability.

During the middle age and onset of the early modern period, a wide range of formal territories surfaced within Eastern and Western Europe. Establishment of these territorial boundaries triggered political reshuffle in more stable and older states. Moreover, technological establishments seen in the industrial revolution encompassed with stable environments were a sign that the states of Europe were ready to establish a stable political power away from home.

As a matter of fact, nationalism began only appearing in Germany after its invasion by the powerful Napoleon. Following a humiliating raid, smaller forty territories that formed Germany began feeling the nationalism spirit and started preparing to embrace change (Kendall 278).

Through the middle age and the early modern period, Italy consisted of a scattered group of states. Fortunately, its strategic location in the Mediterranean line and political stability greatly contributed to a stable economy. Napoleon, who was ruling Italy during that era, brought unity and a sense of belonging by conglomerating the country into a nationalism wagon. Germany, on the other hand, drew its sense of nationalism from the fact that its people did not want to be under the rule of foreign dictators. This sense of nationalism was encouraged by the German philosophers and writers through poetry and gothic art.

Herder, an exposed German writer, said that German states had a very rich cultural history and were not as insignificant as other large European states as a result. This, therefore, made most of the rulers of the German societies understand the importance of standing together and sharing common beliefs and culture. Through art and poetry, the ideology of nationalism was managing to hold the Germans together during the war (Eerson 154).

Italy’s ruler, Napoleon, attempted to merge the Italian states into one via treaties, to bring unity and a sense of belonging to the people. Actually, he effortlessly succeeded in restoring the Vienna treaty despite insignificant resistance from smaller states. On the contrary, Germany’s ruler, Bismarck, was cunning and known to use unscrupulous and mischievous ways to unite the scattered states of Germany. Bismarck decided to use wars as a unification strategy to unite the Germans into a family. Thereafter, he optimized this influence to initiate a number of wars in which the German states had to come together to fight as a community united by the purpose of independence.

In 1864, Germany went to war with Denmark. This war climaxed with Germany coming out triumphant, forcing the Danish king to surrender and leave the lands of Schleswig and Holstein. Later, in1866, Prussian, a German state, triumphed yet in another battle against Australia. Following the preceding success of the two battles, Bismarck manipulated a telegram sent from France to Prussia. This brought bad blood between France and Prussia, resulting in a war of all the states of Germany against France (Haviland, Prins, & Walrath 346).

As a matter of fact, the political fascist regime contributed to the creation and stability of Italy. Under the leadership of Mussolini and his co-fascist rulers, they defined an Italian nationalist as the one who was not individualistic but could be considered as a statesman. During this time in Mussolini’s rule, for one to be declared a complete citizen and a true Italian, there must be a visible inclination towards the fascist movement. This front established propaganda in all the avenues of expression available in media, such as newspapers, radio, posters, and art established in theatres that displayed propaganda materials before commencement of a film or a play (Eerson 235). The most successful means to pass these messages were newsreels, but only a few people could afford radio receivers.

Politics interfered and influenced religious practice in Italy. Despite earlier squabbles, the fascist party relationship with the Roman Catholic Church improved quite significantly during Mussolini’s rule. He allowed sovereignty to the regime of the Vatican in the Lateran treaty. When this treaty was passed, then, the Italians were asked to vote to pass it for formality; since everybody voted, no one would be condemned and receive personal attacks from the regime. Subsequently, the majority voted for the treaty, so it passed (Dikenelli, Gleizes, & Ricci 121).

Italy adopted the policy of anti-Semitism from Germany as a political tool of influence. This law was meant to banish all the Jews from their territory because the Jews controlled most of the schools, businesses, and the financial institutions in Italy. Mussolini, however, was not happy because the result of passing this law led to the fascist regime losing its director of propaganda. A few fascist leaders were pleased with this law because the Italians gained maximum control over financial institutions. In1938, the minister for culture created laws that were meant to prevent interracial mixing; that is why he pushed the Jews far away from Italy. Although Mussolini was unwilling to adopt this policy, he only agreed to do this deal due to pressure from Germany (Eerson 234).

During this era, it was realized that the majority of the Italians were illiterate. Therefore, the political fascist government applied a severe educational policy aimed at reducing illiteracy and creating a social challenge towards growth. The fascist government-controlled educational syllabus and made sure it was steered towards hypnotizing the young students with the fascist ideology. They went to the extremes of equalizing this ideology to religion. Therefore, students believed that they owed the same loyalty to fascism as they did to God. The Nazi focus went contrary on the Italians as they laid emphasis on educational fitness and health. Influenced by the German system of education, the fascists also steered their educational focus on this direction (Eerson 239).

In 1925, the fascist government created a successful recreational movement known as the National after work program (Dikenelli, Gleizes, & Ricci 321) aimed to help the working adults to relax and relieve stress. This was commonly known as the dopolavoro in Italian. The program was politically un-attached, making it receive a lot of attention and positive responses from the adults. The politically instigated dopolovaro organized vast recreational activities.

They included 11,000 sports grounds, movie houses, 1200 theatres, 6400 libraries, and over 2000 orchestras (Ethridge & Haelman341). Reflectively, this was one of the most successful doings of the Mussolini’s regime. This success urged the Nazis of Germany to create their own recreational version of the dopolavaro, ‘strength through joy’ (Kendall 126), which turned out to be more successful than the dopolavoro of Italy.

Mussolini decided to use the police to guard and protect his political territory. The “black shirts” were their name due to the colour of their uniform. The fascist regime used by them to not only provided security but also trailed the enemies of the regime who were believed to be part of the cocoon plotting to assassinate Mussolini. This force, unlike that of the Nazi in Germany, caused few deaths and practised inhuman and torturous ways when dealing with their enemies, especially, those who went against the fascist ideology and the Jews in general. For instance, they could make the enemies drink castor oil, and hence severe diarrhoea escalated into serious dehydration and even death (Forrest 234).

To counter organized crime by the mafia, special powers of prosecution were given to the leader of the police, Cesare Mori. This powerful police boss was able to succeed in doing his work very efficiently but was fired when he started going after the mafia in the fascist regime. The fascists only felt safe in such a way making their opponents experience constant fear.

With regard to the existence of stable political environments, such as imperialism, the newly unified Germany viewed expansion as a sign of greatness, superiority, and foreign competition. The great power of nationalism was felt by the world, especially, as a result of Napoleon’s Empire and conquest (Kendall 123). Due to these forms of nationalism, governments began to crave for more power by increasing expenditure on their troops to counter enemies’ and triggering conquest of colonies for provision of the workforce as well. Due to this basis, the colonization began, and Germany broke out a couple of conquests, and Tanganyika in Africa was one of them.

In conclusion, Italy and Germany are societies that have experienced vast growth through time and struggle. These changes and developments have a great influence on the existing culture. Every existing and growing society has a culture because no culture can exist without society.

Works Cited

Dikenelli, Oguz, Gleizes, Marie, and Alessandro Ricci. Engineering societies in the agents world VI: 6th international workshop, ESAW 2005, Kuşadasi, Turkey, October 26-28, 2005: revised selected and invited papers, Heidelberg: Springer, 2006. Print.

Eerson, Thomas. Archaic societies: diversity and complexity across the midcontinent, New York: SUNY Press, 2009. Print.

Ethridge, Marcus, and Howard Haelman. Politics in a Changing World: A Comparative Introduction to Political Science, Stamford: Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.

Forrest, Tyler. Cultures, communities, competence, and change, Heidelberg: Springer, 2001. Print.

Haviland, William, Prins, Harald, and Dana Walrath. Cultural anthropology: the human challenge, Stamford: Cengage Learning, 2007. Print.

Kendall, Diana. Sociology in Our Times, Stamford: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.

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