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Essay Nationalism and Racism in the Late 19th and 20th Century

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In the late 19th century, with the squelching of the revolutions of 1848, many Europeans still desired reforms. In this desire, the longing for unification began to gain ground. As the probability of unification in places, such as, Germany and Italy began to intensify, Europeans with liberal views quickly began to entertain a nationalistic way of thinking. Many leaders of this school of thought were supporters of, British statesman, Benjamin Disraeli. Disraeli gave a famous speech at the Crystal Palace in London, in 1872. In his speech he challenged Europeans to choose their paths. The two paths were to either advance global Imperial expansion or embrace insignificance in world affairs (Perry 151). This aroused the spirit of loyalty in many European citizens and inspired many speeches and literature in allegiance. These loyalists included Hermann Ahlwardt and Karl Pearson in “The Semitic vs. the Teutonic Race” and “National Life from the Standpoint of Science,” respectively. The beginnings of Nationalistic extremism threatened to destroy the peaceful ideals that had come about with the Enlightenment. European Nationalists combined the ideas of Social Darwinism with extreme Nationalism and soon became wrought with intolerance and irrationality.
In the late 19th century, Jews had legal equality in most places; however, having already endured anti-Semitism for hundreds of years, Jews began to see a rise in the persecution of their people. Jews had suffered pogrom, unfair imposes and were denied fair offices throughout Europe. Racists said that Jews were different, thereby inferior, physically, intellectually and spiritually (Perry 146). Hermann Ahlwardt, a member of the Reichstag, had strong views against the Jews and of...


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...nd will no longer progress; there will be nothing to check the fertility of inferior stock; the relentless law of heredity will not be controlled and guided by natural selection. Man will stagnate…” In this quote, Pearson makes it clear that any mixing of the races would be socially and scientifically to the detriment of man.
Although many European nations desired the preservation and exploration of their lands, nationhood, language and culture, loyal extremists began to tear down those ideals by including the promotion of hatred against certain groups for their physical differences. The abuses lead to increased agitation of diverse peoples who had once lived together, even if, shakily. This harmful approach to nationalism stunted the growth and morality of Europeans and climaxed in even more turmoil as the racist arrogances began to bleed throughout Europe.



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