The focal point of this paper is to evaluate and analyze the reasons behind the opposition to enlightenment values in Europe between the mid-18th and mid 20th centuries and who identify the section of the society that objected to progress, science, reason, liberty, happiness, etc. It can well be stated that the main aspect of this enlightenment was chiefly based on openness to religion, racism and civil rights along with freedom of thought process.
These are all highly acclaimed values of today but back in mid-18th and mid 20th centuries, which are stated as Modern society, there were enough opposition in this context and this opposition was mainly economical. The idea of Modern Society is more of a concept than actuality. For this reason it is essential to define Modern Society. There are several notions regarding the concept of modern Society but most acceptable is the period dating from 1800s. Therefore, it is obvious that the era after 1800 (specifically after Industrial revolution) could be termed as Modern.
However, when conceptualized, it can be stated there are several distinguishing features. It can well be stated that the industrial revolution brought the concept of modernism into existence during the mid-18th century. The most distinctive features of Modern society could be enumerated as Universality, development of Political thought, advent of technology and science, different inventions, approach towards Arts, Specified Cultures, distinctive warfare and industry. There are several social and economic factors that make the Modern society different from the Pre Modern Society.
These social and economic factors are development of concepts like secularization, decontextualization, totalitarianism, mechanization, democratization, centralization, hierarchical organization, individualism, linear progression, homogenization, diversification, , hybridization, unification, industrial society, reductionism, , universalism, subjectivism, alienation, rationalization, and bureaucracy making the Modern society a complex and intricate civilization. Another distinctive feature of Modern society from its Pre modern counterpart is that during the modern era the advent of capital as a means of power came into existence.
Previously this place was occupied by land in general. Alongside the advent of capital one of the most interesting feature that came into existence was the high volume of goods movement at a given state of time. In the Pre modern Society this phenomenon was unimaginable and Modern society only made it possible with help of capital and industrialization. (Kar, 2006) Yet another interesting feature of the Modern society is the availability of information. This became more easily available due to development of roads and other transportation and similar communication systems that made information abundant.
Formerly, the areas that were separated by geographical barriers were broken down after the Pre modern Society and thus people became more aware of things happening around them. However, it should be taken into account that one of the most distinguishable aspects of modern society is its attitude towards sexuality and marriage. Given the many problems that are associated with marriage, it is not so surprising that many young people in Modern societies- which, to a great extent, now values individual fulfillment over traditions – have become disillusioned with the institution of marriage.
This has resulted in the surging of non-traditional social structures. This could be termed as an extended approach of freedom of sexuality that flourished in the latter stages as one of the aspect of the civil right movements. This was predominantly an economy related factor as the voting rights of women and human rights of colored population were fallout of payment equality and right of work. All these factors instigated a complete openness to a number of aspects that was not only seen as immoral during the earlier period but also deem as sacrilege.
It is obvious a section of the society was not in favor of the changes that were going around. The problem with these traditionalists was more economical than anything else. The lack of devotion towards the concept of God certainly displease the church as lesser interest in religion resulted into lesser amount of revenue and lower power in the sociopolitical perspective. The medieval period had the church at the center of all political and social structure and it gained huge authority over every aspect of life.
Industrialization and economic independence certainly constricted the power and jurisdiction of the aspects of church and religion and thus made the religious authorities extremely unhappy about the proceedings. It was no surprise that the church openly opposed the progression of the European society. It was during this time slavery was banned first in United Kingdom and then the abolition was practiced all over Europe. This also was subjected to protests from certain part of the society, particularly from the commercial agricultural product manufacturers.
These were the chief population that supported slavery in the different colonies of the Asia, Africa and Latin America under the imperialist banners of countries like UK, Germany, Spain, Portugal and France. Abolition of slavery was a huge attack on their profit margin and no wonder they protested with social and political influence and sometimes with financial and brute forces. (Lamb, 2004) The concept of civil rights developed as a logical fallout of these aspects.
People were becoming aware of their position in the society through better mode of education and communication systems. The general mass was able to see the misgivings of the upper classes towards the rest of the population and identified the problem parts of the system and thus started to look for solution. The next step was rights for further participation into political arena and manifestation of political rights. Labor unrest and labor movement became a regular feature of the 19th century Europe and particularly in UK.
These were movements that influenced the economical stability of the patricians of the society and hardly any of them was willing to part with their profit margin with the labors without a fight. Thus opposition in this case too was evident. It could also be stated that all the development of the era started from the openness of the thought process. The ultimate result was the combined force of religion and patricians worked overtime to resist this improvement of human dignity but eventually failed. King, 2006) In conclusion it can well be said that the driving force of history is predominantly economy and it is the different aspects and approach towards economy that give rise to conflicts and revolutions. It was true during the time of the crusades and it certainly relevant to the reasons behind the opposition to enlightenment values in Europe between the mid-18th and mid 20th centuries and objection of certain parts of the society against the aspects of progress, science, reason, liberty and happiness.