Saturday, 25 February 2017

Feminism, socialism,anarchism


The nineteenth century saw the advancement of political rights for men but the emancipation of women was hampered by the doctrine of separate spheres and by the double standard of sexual morality. This was attacked in John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women (1869), the key feminist text of the nineteenth century.

Mill was a Liberal, who propounded an individualistic concept of feminism. In 1879 the German socialist leader, August Bebel published Woman and Socialism, which set out a utopian view of a future classless society in which 'bourgeois' marriage and family life would no longer exist. This embarrassed some of his colleagues.

By 1870 both France and Germany had universal male suffrage. This was introduced in Austria in 1907. In Italy in 1912 a law was introduced to include all literate men of twenty-one or older, or who had served in the armed forces. These advances made women’s exclusion from the franchise all the more striking. 

Hubertine Auclert (1848-1914)
Public Domain

The movement for women’s suffrage was strongest in Britain. It was more difficult in France because of the combined opposition of Republicans and conservatives. Nevertheless a female suffrage movement emerged in 1876. In 1880 its leading figure Hubertine Auclert launched a tax revolt, arguing that without representation women should not be subjected to taxation. 

In February 1881 she launched a monthly periodical, La Citoyenne, arguing for women’s enfranchisement. In early 1885 she and her supporters held a shadow election in which fifteen women stood, though they did not gain admission to the Assembly. In 1904 she led a feminist demonstration in Paris in which she tore up a copy of the Code NapolĂ©on. From a balcony she launched balloons on which were written the words: 
‘The Code crushes women: it dishonours the Republic.’ 
In 1908 she invaded the Chamber of Deputies with twenty followers and threw leaflets at the politicians. In the same year she and her companion invaded a polling booth and overturned ballot boxes. But the movement was weak compared with its British counterpart. A rally held early in July 1914 attracted only 6,000 people.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Religion and secularisation

The Church of SacrĂ© Cour, 

Religion under threat?

Historians and sociologists have been interested in the phenomenon of ‘secularisation’, which had usually been linked with ‘modernisation’. The nineteenth century saw a continuous conflict (and sometimes attempts at reconciliation) between the forces of religion and those of ‘modernity’. Conflicts arose when the state began to assume the functions that had traditionally belonged to the Church over matters like marriage and education. As the Church lost its monopoly, the working classes seemed to be increasingly indifferent to religion.

Many saw the findings of science and the growth of biblical criticism as attacks on religion. Charles Darwin (1809-82)  argued that humans and apes shared a common ancestor. The German theologian David Strauss (1808-74) scandalised orthodox Christians with his his Life of Jesus Critically Examined (1835). He argued that the New Testament should be read as any other historical text rather than as the divinely inspired word of God.

But it can also be argued that Europe was still fundamentally Christian. For people such as the Irish, the Poles, and the Russians, religion was tied up with national identity. Christian missionary work expanded in Asia and Africa. Popular religious movements often caused problems for the authorities.

Pius IX

The papacy of Pius IX (1846-78) saw powerful counter-blasts to the secularising trends of the age. In 1854 he proclaimed the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.  In 1864 he issued the Syllabus Errorumwhich condemned most trends in the modern world and declared it a heresy that ‘the Roman pontiff can and ought to reconcile and harmonise himself with progress, with liberalism and with modern civilisation’.  Napoleon III responded by banning it in France. 

Pius IX ('Pio Nono')
Public Domain

The pope was deeply alarmed by the unification of Italy in 1861. Most of the Papal States, the territory in central Italy that had historically been part of the Holy See, had been annexed, leaving Rome itself dangerously exposed. Only a French garrison stood between Rome and the Italian army. He issued an interdict forbidding Italian Catholics to vote or to stand in elections. The Italian state responded in 1867 with the expropriation of church land, the closure of religious orders, a ban on pilgrimages, civil marriage and the extension of equal political and civil rights to non-Catholics. 

The First Vatican Council, 1870
On 18 July it proclaimed the doctrine of papal infallibility
Public Domain

In the summer of 1868 Pius summoned the Vatican Council, the first General Council of the Church for over three hundred years. Over 700 bishops convened at St Peter’s on 8 December 1869. In May 1870 the Council promulgated a constitution containing fundamental statements of faith. A separate constitution setting out the doctrine of papal infallibility in matters of faith and morals, was voted through on 18 July, though a minority of 150 refused to assent to the doctrine regarding it as either inopportune or untrue.