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THE AGE OF SOCIAL CHANGE
The French Revolution opened up the possibility of creating a dramatic change in the way in
which society was structured. Not everyone in Europe, however, wanted a complete
transformation. Some were ‘conservatives’, while others were ‘liberals’ or ‘radicals’.
Liberals: Wanted a nation which tolerated all religions. They were against the uncontrolled
power of the dynastic rulers. They wanted rights for individuals. They argued for an elected
parliamentary government, subject to laws interpreted by a well-trained judiciary that was
independent of rulers and officials. They were not Democrats because they did not believe in the universal adult franchise.
Radicals: Wanted a nation in which government was based on the majority of a country’s
population. They disliked the concentration of property in the hands of a few, not the existence of
Conservatives: They resisted change. After the revolution, they started accepting change
provided it was slow and had links and respected the past.
Industries and Social Change: This was the time of economic and social change. It was also
the beginning of the industrial revolution. Men, women, and children were pushed into
factories for low wages, Liberals and radicals who were factory owners felt that efforts must
be encouraged so that benefits of industrialization should be passed on to workers.
Socialism in Europe: Socialists were against private property and saw it as the root of social
evils. They had different visions of the future. Some believed in cooperatives, some demanded that governments must encourage cooperatives.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels added that industrial society was capitalist. Marx believed that a socialist society would free workers from capitalism. This would be a communist society
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