This week, the readings included chapters 4 and 5 of Hobsbawm's Age of Empire. In these chapters, the discussion was centered around industrialization and the political atmosophere in the 19th century, and the interaction between the two. Up until this time, agriculture had been the staple form of subsistence and economic stability for the common man. However as industrialization took hold, more an more people turned to the wage labor that factories provided. With the sub-par conditions of factory life, workers became increasingly discontent with their positions causing turmoil between the employees and the factory owners- and on a macro level, the aristocracy in general. Democracy, became a viable solution to the proletariat cause. With the implementation of democracy as the new form of government, commoners would then have a voice in legislation that would lead to an increase in power and economic freedom. The bourgeoisie of course did not agree with democratization. They did not want to share power or economic freedoms with the lower class causing a factionalism between the two parties giving credence to Marxian ideals. With the growth of the working class, they began to outnumber the upper class and could no longer be pushed around. The corrupt tactics that the aristocracy had previously used to stage elections and such no longer worked and democracy became the staple form of government.
I found it interesting how industrialization as was used to try to exploit workers even more so than in the agricultural realm. The upper class thought that they could overwork and underpay the people while remaining in complete and total control of the entire situation. That plan backfired and instead of reaping all the benefits, the tide was turned and social movements inevitably changed the fabric of European society. One question I would raise regards the importance of the mass media in the reform. Does anyone think that unification would have possible to such a high degree if the media had not been created? Would democracy have prevailed?