Survey of Modern Western Society, With Emphasis on Absolutism and the Enlightenment

Published: 2021-07-29
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Absolutism is a form of government or political theory where complete and unlimited power is withheld by a centralized empowered individual with no reference or relation from another part or arm of the government. The ruling or empowered individuals have complete power, and their power cannot be challenged by any legal forms or discretionary powers. Some of the political leaders who are related to absolutism include Hitler, Julius Caesar as well as some monarchies in France such as Louis X1V. However, the degree of absoluteness is far from that in the twentieth century in the western society where the powers of those placed in leadership are entirely dependent on the constitution. The leaders have to seek the opinion of the citizens through their representatives. In the modern western society, the leaders can regulate the citizen's lives through the technology. A society that uses absolutism, there is a fixed ethical code which must be followed by every person in the region to measure the actions. This is therefore not applicable in the western society as its structural principles forbid taking into account considerable circumstances. The culture cannot be tolerated to circumstantial cultural diversity as well as moral wrongs. Enlightenment, on the other hand, can be characterized by emphasizing on empiricism and reason. It has played a significant role in shaping the western culture's philosophy. Additionally, enlightenment has a historical impact of the people's academic, religious, cultural lives as they have a freedom of choice from the 18th century in Europe. Enlightenment has had not only a positive impact on the western societies but also other democratic countries.

The French Revolution and Human Rights.

Many historians are still debating on the causes of the French Revolution as they are complex and unknown. The French government was in great debt after experiencing seven years of war as well as the American Revolutionary War. This was followed by deep taxation which was significantly regressive in the aim to restore their financial status. Moreover, there was bad harvest which fueled deep taxation affecting aristocrats and the clergy. There was the rise of political struggles between the human right wings and liberal assemblies trying to fight for the rights of the citizens while the government tried to regain their financial status. In September 1792, the republic was proclaimed after the French won as Valmy. Louis XV1 was executed as an international condemnation in the year 1793. French revolution wars began in the year 1792 which enabled the defeat of Italian Peninsula and the achievements of many territories towards the west of The Rhine which had fled former French government. The current western society has unfolded in the shadow of the French revolution. However most of the institutions and values of revolution control politics in France up to date. The feudal system has continued being suppressed, citizens' freedom has been affected, and there is a great division of property. Moreover, there is the obliteration of equality establishment and noble birth. French revolution enhanced rise of democracies and Republicans as it aimed at not only merely benefiting the nation as a general but every individual. Through this, the present western society enjoys feminism, socialism, liberalism, secularism as well as nationalism. French revolution included some documents such as Declaration of Rights of Man that increased the human rights arena. This aimed at reaching out to slaves and women who were oppressed hence leading to universal suffrage and abolitionism.

World Wars and the Cold War.

Both the first and second world war were national calamities for Europe and Germany. However, the Second World War was even a bigger calamity as compared to the First World War. The two wars fueled the generation of European Union (EU) in the present western society. EU has played a significant role in dealing with political infrastructure in the western countries and especially in Europe. The EU has promoted international relations as opposed to its reflection on the man lives lost and diplomatic blunders that were experienced in the western countries in the great world war of 1914 to 1918 (First World War). Due to these cold wars, the western societies have strengthened their security defense as evidenced in the year 2013 where some countries such as European nations contributed 1.4% of their Gross Domestic Products into defence while France nations contributed 1.9% of their GDP on defence. Also, Britain had its largest contribution leading with 2.3% of its Gross Domestic Products invested in defence. This indicated that countries have continuously invested in the security measures. The terror of the cold wars has greatly contributed towards these measures. The wars have also terrified most of the western countries n using force to achieve their desires. However, there are two powerful nations have continuously used force to achieve political aims including the United Kingdoms as well as France. The United States of American has however persuaded them to have their investments in the EU defence force as opposed to using force which has fallen on deaf ears. This was illustrated in the Balkans war which occurred in the 1990s with many people losing their lives.

The application of history to the present.

There are many applications for history in the present including providing identity. Historical information or data is a clear evidence of a people's origin, the country formation as well as formation of institutions and groups. In the western society, the study of history enlightens one on their genealogy and the historical changes. People can establish and confirm their family identity. Most of the businesses, institutions, social units and communities use history to determine their purposes .National values and loyalty commitment are also better understood through history. This is mostly done through national stories which are clearly identified through histories. History also enables moral understanding among the people of a nation. Through studying of history, especially on stories of individuals and situations helps one evaluate on their morals hence driving towards change. Historical conditions and circumstances inspire readers for example through stories of great women and men who played a significant role in shaping the country. Moreover, there are many ordinary people in history who provide educative information or values which can be emulated such as diligence, courage and constructive protest. Finally, history is essential for proper citizenship among the people in the nation. This is the primary objective of enhancing history education in most of the learning institutions. Study of the past challenges people to be proud of their nations hence laying foundation for genuine citizenship. It is fueled by the fact that in most of the nations' history, there was bloodshed as people tried to fight for freedom and hence the current life. The citizens can understand the present, recent and prospective changes which can affect their lives and their consequences. They are therefore encouraged to promote peace and loyalty in their country.


Henshall, Nicholas. The Myth of Absolutism: Change & Continuity in Early Modern European Monarchy. Routledge, 2014.

This is a book authored by Nicholas Henshall on absolutism in Europe and the change and continuity in early modern Europe monarchy. The author suggests that absolutism is a myth stating that it is an enemy of liberty. Historians have different views suggesting that absolutism is autocratic, bureaucratic while some says that it is not English. However, the book suggest that recent research indicates that all these definitions are misleading. The author criticizes two ancient stereotype, historical interpretations and a whig desire to side the future.

James, Stephen. Human rights. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2008.

Human Rights is a book authored by Stephen James in the year 2008. The book defines human rights as a strong moral claim which dignifies life which is owned by people of a particular region simply by the fact that they are human beings. Human rights are developed at different pace, different ways and in different parts of the country to suit their needs. They have played a significant role in history and politics as they have been limitations of government in constitutional traditions. Moreover they are part of the growing society and have fueled debates in moral and political philosophies.

Israel, Jonathan. Democratic enlightenment: philosophy, revolution, and human rights 1750-1790. Oxford University Press, 2013.

It is a journal authored by David which is part of the enlightenment series by Jonathan taking Israel as a case study. He suggests that enlightenment is characterized by the human amelioration quest which occurred between the year 1680 and 1800. Enlightenment was geared by political, science and social science. This led to generation and revolution of attitude and ideas which sought universal recipes for the people. The author suggests that enlightenment is the foundation for democracy and modern basic human rights.

Westad, Odd Arne. The global Cold War: third world interventions and the making of our times. Cambridge University Press, 2005.

It is a book authored by Odd Arne Westad who defines both the First World War and the Second World War. The book further define the cold war which greatly affected the westad countries. It suggests loss of lives and damage of property as one of the major effects of the cold wars. The book also suggests the creation or development of the European Union in which the Western countries are a part for security and defence.

Fassin, Didier. Humanitarian reason: a moral history of the present. Univ of California Press, 2011.

This is a book authored by Didier and Fassil on the moral history. The books explains some of the importance of history in the present society. The book explains that history assists in the growth and encouragement of loyalty for one country and citizenship. Citizens are able to appreciate their citizenship upon learning the struggle that the country underwent to gain their independence and rights as well.

Nunn, Nathan. "The importance of history for economic development." Annu. Rev. Econ. 1, no. 1 (2009): 65-92.

This is a journal authored by Nathan Nunn on the importance of history for economic development. The article suggests that understanding the history of a nation or the origin of a group or family facilitate the growth of an economy. It has mentioned culture and technology as some of the important key facilitators for business growth over the history of the economy.

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