Global Theme Change
The ideas and beliefs of philosophers and leaders have led to changes in nations and regions. For example, John Locke believed that all men were equal and had the right to life, liberty, and estate. This later triggered the French Revolution and had a tremendous influence on the Constitution of the United States and its Declaration of Independence. Another leader that had a large impact on global history was Otto von Bismarck. Bismarck unification tactics were so successful that they triggered World War 1 and upset the balance of power in Europe.
John Locke was an Enlightenment thinker. He wrote a book, two treaties of Government, in which he compares absolute and limited monarchy. His beliefs about government were that every person was entitled to life, liberty, and property. Locke said if the rights to life, liberty, and property were not protected, citizens had a right of rebellion. Locke also believed that all men were created equal and could learn from their mistakes, which gave them the ability to rule their own country. Locke believed that property was used in a more general sense, referring to material goods. John Locke argued that property was a natural right derived from labor. Unlike Thomas Hobbes, Locke believed that human nature is characterized by reason and tolerance. Like Hobbes, Locke believed that human nature allowed men to be selfish and lustful. This is evident with the introduction of money. Locke believed that in a normal state all people were equal and independent, and none had a right to harm another’s “life, health, liberty, or possessions.” Locke also supported governmental checks and balances and believed that revolution is not only a right but an obligation in some situations. These ideas would come to have profound influence on the Constitution of the United States and its Declaration of Independence.
John Locke’s revolutionary ideas had an impact on more than one nation. Some nations that used Locke’s ideas were France, the United States, and the countries of South America. One effect is that John Locke wrote two treaties. Two Treatises was a blow to political absolutism. The first treatise was a denial of the theory of the divine right of kings, which speculates that monarchs gain their authority from God. The second treatise had the most lasting effect, because it laid out a theory of politics that acquired its way into U.S. law. In this second treatise, Locke maintained that people are naturally open-minded and reasonable, but if there isn’t a governing force, a certain amount of chaos and other trouble will occur. In his view people are basically appeasing and good-natured. This belief different from the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, which is if people are left to their own strategies, they will live in violent and selfish disorder. Another effect of John Locke’s ideas was on the nation of France. John Locke’s ideas diffused into France through the printing press and other forms of communication. French people began to use Locke’s beliefs against the government and started to rebel. As rebellion created chaos and disorder, a revolution was required to bring France back to an organized state. In the United States, John Locke’s ideas continue to defend resistance to executive oppression, such as the absolutism that was shown by President Richard M. Nixon in the Watergate affair in the early 1970s and led to his resignation in 1974. Locke’s second treatise provides support for U.S. constitutional principles of complete rights and personal liberty. The First Amendment and the Declaration of Independence (Thomas Jefferson’s life, liberty, and “pursuit of happiness”) would be unthinkable without Locke’s philosophical foundation.
Otto von Bismarck was the leader of German Unification. Before unification, Germany consisted of a large amount of principalities loosely bound together as members of the German Confederation. Bismarck played a vital role in uniting most of the Confederation’s members into a single nation. In his first speech as Minister-President, he had referred to the problem of German unification in a now famous remark: “the great questions of the day will not be decided by speeches and the resolutions of majorities — that was the great mistake from 1848 to 1849 — but by iron and blood.” This was later changed to the now famous “blood and iron”. He was referring to the failed Frankfurt Parliament as the great mistakes of 1848 and 1849. Bismarck used both negotiation and the Prussian military in order to achieve the objective of German unification. He excluded Austria from unified Germany, for he sought to make Prussia the most powerful and dominant component of the nation.
Otto von Bismarck’s radical ideas have let to changes in more than one country. Some nations that were influenced were Austria, Italy, France, and Prussia. Otto von Bismarck’s idea of using military force, lead to the unification of Germany. Numerous people believed that Prussia needed to lead the way in order for the unification of Germany to be successful. This led the King of Prussia to appoint Otto von Bismarck to prime minister in 1862. Prussia formed an alliance with Austria to go to war with Denmark, which they won, inspiring nationalism. France and Austria disapproved of the unification of Germany so Otto’s idea of “blood and iron” and using military force influenced the German States into wars with both of these countries. Prussia first went to war with Austria in the Seven Weeks War over a border dispute, which Prussia wins uniting the Eastern and Western German States. Also Otto believed in getting a common enemy so he altered a telegram to France that outraged France, forcing them to declare war on Prussia. This started the Franco-Prussian War where Prussia invades France, defeating them. This gave Prussia the control of the Alsace-Lorraine, and also inspired nationalism between the German States. Because these states were now united through nationalism the southern states agreed to be governed by the north and Germany was united. Otto von Bismarck’s ideas of “blood and iron” and warfare as a way to unify Germany united 39 German States into a country. This also upset the balance of power in Europe.
Throughout global history the ideas of philosophers and leaders have significantly changed countries and regions. John Locke and Otto von Bismarck are two examples of philosophers whose ideas have resulted in huge impact and change on many nations. John Locke’s beliefs in natural rights led to Constitutional and governmental revolutions in many countries including the United States. Otto von Bismarck’s “blood and iron” policy and using violent warfare to unite Germany, lead to the unification of Germany and upset the balance of power in Europe.