By Carl Strikwerda
The 1st publication to discover the old improvement of Belgian politics, this groundbreaking examine of the competition among Catholicism, Socialism and nationalism is vital studying for somebody attracted to Europe prior to international struggle I.
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Some of them tore societies apart; others enhanced the welfare of many citizens. What explains the rise of such a variety of political movements and parties? Recently, some scholars have argued that one can only fully understand these developments by tracing them back to the rise of mass political movements in the pre-World War I era. Increasing worker militancy before the war, for example, helped to quadruple labor union membership after 1918. Pre-war dissidents within the nationalist and Socialist camps presaged the rise of fascism and communism.
Ghent, a Dutch-speaking city whose economy rested on textiles, was a densely populated factory and harbor town. Liège, in the French-speaking part of the country, depended on sprawling coal and metallurgical industries that covered the city's hinterland. Brussels was the bilingual capital of Belgium and possessed a diverse and rapidly growing mix of commercial, artisanal, and industrial occupations. In addition, this book will investigate how the Catholic and Socialist working-class organizations in these three cities could constitute communities themselves, because labor unions, political leagues, clubs, singing societies, and consumer cooperatives also brought workers together and gave them a sense of belonging.
These divisions did not turn out to be a quarrel among elites. Since the coming of universal male suffrage in 1894, the Catholic party has received large numbers of middle- and lower-class votes, while the Socialists have almost always placed themselves firmly on the anticlerical side in issues involving religion. Furthermore, at the same time as the Socialists, other groups organized, in their view, to emancipate themselves. Dutch-speaking Flemings tried to reassert their language against the dominant French-speakers, farmers demanded tariffs and subsidies, and lower-middle-class shopkeepers sought government protection.