Throughout the 20th century, Europe experienced vast amounts of change. New countries were established, old empires were eliminated, and conflict was common. While many factors in European culture advanced, progress was offset by conflict, economic depression, and political dictatorships. When considering the consequences of change, this 50 year block of time should be considered somewhat progressive due to the advancements in social life, science and technology, and economic recovery following WWI and the Great Depression. However, these advancements were almost counteracted by the regress in politics, namely the rise of fascism and communism, the age of anxiety, and the Cold War.
From the early 1900s to mid century, social life in Europe generally progressed. New ideas about life came forth, and with that came breakthrough movements in art, religion, and philosophy. Before the 1900s, Europeans had faith in their own human abilities to figure out the situations and “wisely act on” what they assumed to be best (854). But around 1914, a group of intellectuals rejected society’s faith in progress. One of them being Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher who argued that “the West overemphasized rationality,” which ultimately smothered passions for creativity (854). One of the main ideas that groups of intellectuals came up with was logical positivism. This philosophy only sees meaning in the physical aspects; “beliefs that can be empirically proven,” thus logical positivists see God and the meaning of happiness as nonsense (855). One of the biggest developments in social progress was the acceptance of this theory in university circles. More people began to come up with new theories and philosophies to be shared, and universities...
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...to prevent an international economic crisis, the U.S. decided to postpone payments and reduced Germany’s reparations through the Dawes Plan in 1924 (873). Germany received loans from America to repay France and Britain, who could then repay their debt to the U.S.. The circular flow of payments appeared to benefit Europe, as Germany, as well as Europe overall, experienced a shaky recovery throughout the late 1920’s.
However, the recovery was short lived and the European economy took a turn for the worse during the Great Depression. From 1929-1939, Europe was marred with insecurity, failing farms, and mass unemployment (874). The depression was spurred on by the U.S. stock market crash, as they had lent capital to many other countries. As a result, the world output of goods fell drastically and international trade was limited as countries enacted protective tariffs.
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