Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hobsbawm’s chapter four

Hobsbawm’s chapter four discusses the politics of democracy throughout the world. In 1870, Hobsbawm believes that it was inevitable for states to refrain from democratization of their policies. It was the coming of age for the masses, and new electoral systems began popping up throughout Europe as well as other regions of the world. Some countries were already using this model of universal male suffrage, such as Germany, France, Switzerland and Denmark. Other countries were soon to follow suit, like Norway and Belgium. Italy and the Austrian side of the Habsburg Empire also enacted this democratization in the early nineteen hundreds. Worldwide, these nations joined the community of countries such as the United States, Australia and New Zealand who were already democratic. Hobsbawm also highlights the first instances of women suffrage by highlighting how votes for women had been introduced on the margins of white-settler territory in 1890s Wyoming, New Zealand and Australia and continued in Finland and Norway between 1905 and 1913 (Hobsbawm 86).

Something I found interesting was the connection made by Hobsbawm regarding the political mobilization of the masses in society and how they put pressure on their national governments. This mobilization gives birth to political parties, as well as the developing mass propaganda and mass media. Hobsbawm also adds a section which I feel represents modern day politicians. He states, “What statesman, surrounded by reporters carrying his words to the remotest corner tavern, would actually say what he meant?” This mirrors politicians of today, each of whom are our elected voice have their own agenda to what they want to accomplish in their term. The working class had the power to elect but that is really it. The policies were left up to the politician.

My question is do you think this world wide spread of democracy cam about after the American Revolution of the late 1770’s? Would this emergence of democratic governments still have taken place if we would have lost?

1 comment:

  1. European politics clearly became democratic after America had established their constitution. I, however, do not feel Europe's political shift towards a government of the people was a direct effect of American reform. Electoral systems naturally expanded and sociological insight on politics began to emerge. The 19th century inevitably brought Europe to a democratic reform regardless of the American Revolution.