Transition To The Modern Society And Socialism’s Role In It

1949 words - 8 pages

When a social system and its productive relation are no longer compatible with its demand for productivity development, people are going to overthrow that system and introduce a new one suitable to current economic situation. In the case of Europe, when history rolled its wheel to 1500’s, such a situation applied. In this century, alongside the great discovery, the activities of Europeans was suddenly not confined to the continent and the neighboring waters, but reached great remote oceans and any corners of the world with their vessels and compasses. Trade and commerce grew exponentially as several small nations like Spain, Portugal, and later Holland became masters of the sea and the route ...view middle of the document...

In this author’s opinion, two factors stand out as the most important driving force in the transition from traditional to modern society in Europe: the spread of ideas and the expansion of commerce.
The spread of ideas among common people, as nobody would deny it, is vital to this transition, which lay the ideological foundation of the modern society. It can be safely said that modern societies were born in these humanistic and political ideas, ideas like those found in the great works of several humanistic writers and philosophers, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. Thomas Hobbes is often called the forefather of social contract theory which established the foundation for most of western political theory. He popularized the ideas of the right of the individual and the natural equality of all men. Through his work, the view was promoted and widely accepted that all legitimate political power must be representative and based on the consent of the people. Another figure which is of equal importance to social contract theory is John Locke. Locke exercised a profound influence on political philosophy, in particular on modern liberalism. (Laslett, 1988)He believed that in a natural state, all people were equal and independent, and everyone had a natural right to defend his “Life, Health, Liberty, or Possessions.” (Locke, 1996) His argument concerning liberty and the social contract later influenced the founding fathers of America and the American Revolution as well as the Declaration of Independence. Based on these ideas and slightly modified version of later political philosophers, parliament, senate and other types of representative organizations evolved which are typical of a modern society.
The expansion of commerce is yet another major contributing factor in the transition. Through the great discovery, trade and commerce had been extended to the four corners of the world. North America became British’s plantation of sugar cane, cotton and others in great demand; Africa became the source of labor force in British factories. Trade and commerce greatly increased the riches of the businessmen, and naturally they wanted their voice to be heard in the government and the government making polices to be in the interest of them. Gradually, it dawned upon them it was quite impossible to achieve this goal without a modern form of government in which they could elect their representatives and exert an influence upon policy-making. So when the king or the queen became a hindrance standing in the way of the development of commerce, the classes of businessman, both wealthy and powerful, sought to change the government and society in its present form and propel it toward a modern one that could best satisfy their needs. Think the case of the Holland in the period of the 17th century. It was a best illustration of how important the expansion of commerce was to the transition of traditional to modern society. As trade and commerce was the most...

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