Friday, October 23, 2009


Hobsbawm focuses his attention in Chapter 12, of the book, The Age of Empire 1875-1914 on Revolution. Revolution as defined in class as “violent seizure of state power through class-based revolts from below,” allows for an insight. A fifteen year time period is described a belle époque which in basic terms is a “Golden Age,” for the upper class at least. This was a time of possible and inevitable revolutions in the future. Many ancient empires are accounted for and their demise and rebirth with new governments, mostly reformed to Western standards, as the case of the Japanese. A few such cases are that of the Russian, Chinese, Habsurg, Ottoman, Mexican, and Irish empires to name a few took place. Ancient empires should not be crumbling unless due to some sort of legitimate cause, so why the need for revolution?
Revolts in this time period consistently occurred wherever there was internal pressure such an upset working class, not to mention under educated. I believe the people revolted one reason internally is to be find equality with westerners and upper class alike. Governments like Russia’s misuse of peasant labor, serfdom, certainly cause a suppressed upheaval in it population. The case of China and many of its ancient views led to revolution and rebellion. Empires such as these were not without their external influences as well. The West played a huge role in shaping the East. The core empires did not have much to worry about but many of the periphery countries were affected by the West. The Irish as they sought independence from Britain, and Poland as they were torn between Germany and Russia as well. The United States and other Western Empires played a key role economically and socially to influence revolution in empires throughout the world. The book goes on in detail to describe reasons of internal and external cause for revolution and change in major empires, ancient and small.
While I find revolutions are necessary to accomplish goals of change especially when in absolute rule, these revolutions were destined to come about in these ancient empires. The only way for survival is adaptation and these empires were stuck on the old ways. Suppressing the rising working class and ancient narrow minded views led inhabitants to want reform. People do not “rebel” without at least a solid cause to support. I feel it was inevitable for such reforms to occur do you?

1 comment:

  1. I agree, these reforms seem to have been inevitable. Institutions that refuse to change with the views of society must eventually be forced to adapt or fall. A great example of this is the Church. The Church refused to acknowledge the merits of science, so millions of people pulled away from religion to pursue more reason-based ideas.