COLLAPSEOF LIBERAL DEMOCRACY AND THE RISE OF AUTHORITARIAN STATES IN THE1920s AND 1930s AFTER THE GREAT WAR
Generally,since the world is a multicultural community, it also has people whohave different perceptions to life. Such distinctions may eventuallyresult in conflict and tension, especially if a nation becomes powerhungry. Consequently, war becomes the outcome and tends to shape thelife of people in primarily negative ways. In this light, the WorldWar I contributed to a noteworthy divide of the politics and societyof Europe, which lead to the end of four major empires including theOttoman, Austrian, Russian, and German empires1.Most of these empires played a key role in shaping Europe’s historyfor centuries. However, devastating conflicts, desired for supremacyand power initiated their demise. Even though these empires hadpreviously provided order and stability, their fall caused greatpolitical unrest and economic depression. It caused the people ofthis time to seek for drastic solutions to counter these profoundissues, many believing that ideology could offer a suitable answer.In this paper, I will discuss about the fall of the liberal democracyin Eastern Europe and the rise of the authoritarian regimes in thisregion after the conclusion of the First World War.
Liberaldemocracy was meant to create a world where peace reins due to thepresence of democratic and self-determined governments. Globally, thecolonists and nationalists unrelentingly fought for theirparticipation privileges associated with governmentaldecision-making. Atypically, this regularly compelled thesegovernments to remain strict to thwart civil wars and revolutions,preserving domestic stability. Correspondingly, the capitalisteconomic ideology and liberal democracy were instrumental to thedevelopment of the Great Depression2.During the years of 1920s and the beginning of 1930s, as this GreatDepression escalated, democratic nations followed their permissiveapproach, refusing to intercede with the economic issues. As thepeople’s living and life conditions dampened, democracy seemedunable to offer the much-needed solutions.
Theoverall collapse of democracy occurred due to the influence of SovietUnion on other regions of Eastern Europe, exaggerated nationalism,and democracy inequality3.The Soviet Union mainly reformed their government to end selfdom, andrearranged their judiciary following French and English frameworks,which ensured that they established a body of self-government.Regarding the Soviet style influence on Eastern Europe nations, most,excluding Finland and Czechoslovakia, practiced liberal democracyvirtually by retaining the parliamentary government external formsand introduced specific progressive measures4.Otherwise, they mostly practiced partial or complete dictatorialregimes.
Onthe other side, exaggerated nationalism formed a barrier for thedevelopment of liberal principles in multiple manners. Firstly, theproduction in individual states, not including Latvia and Estonia,formed pre-tensions to persons and territories beyond its borders,creating room for hostility and suspicion in a place where commontrust was crucial5.For example, Poland took interest on the Ukrainian, Czechoslovak, andLithuanian territories and Finland eyed Russian lands that oncebelongs to the Finns6.Additionally, the Soviet Union sought back their territorial lossesthat happened during the establishment of their revolutionary regime.Secondly, even though liberal democracy required a logically stableand balanced economy, exaggerated nationalism increased economicuncertainty in many of the states, which formed after thedisintegration of the nineteenth century empires7.Hyper nationalism had not just represented the political but even theeconomic bodies. Successors remained deprived of exemptionagricultural states, while the outdated ones continued to fighteconomic unbalance and dislocation resulting from independence,political, and social change, causing global depression. Thirdly, allthese nations identified the power in general collaboration. TheBaltic group not excluding Poland were aware of their limitations andparticipated in several conferences up to 1925 to form a potentialBaltic confederation that took advantage of political, military andeconomic platforms8.Additionally, Balkan powers strived to coordinate politically,socially, and economically to provide substantial solutions arisingfrom the communal economic crisis. Lastly, even though hypernationalism carried welfare and security disadvantages, it helpednumerous states to intensify domestic social and politicalhardships9.A countable number of governments including the Czechoslovakia,Baltic group, and Austria saw it fit to follow rational policiesconcerning minorities. The majority, chiefly Hungary, Rumania,Turkey, Poland, and Yugoslavia often employed prejudice and favouredonly the main national group. These national sensibilities existedthroughout eastern European nations with no exception of Austria andCzechoslovakia played a huge part in allowing the growth of Communismand Nazism because of the presence of discontented minorities.
Subsequently,liberal democracy collapsed owing to the intense hardships that arosefrom the ideology’s broad acceptance of the equality ideal10.the concept of equality in Eastern Europe with no doubt attracted astrong appeal. Even with the intermixture of individuals within theregion, liberal democracy had the tendency to allocate position andsuperiority to those long-term created advantages and components,which were unknown to broad populations. The circumstance was aconsequence of the territorial state establishment. Resultantly, manypersons misplaced their identity as the gifted people, nobility,elite were deprived of new national consciousness, merged withforeign ruling classes. For instance, Jan Sobieski, a littleUkrainian or Russian nobleman who became king, defending Vienna fromthe Turk and is documented as a historical Polish hero11.Such events led to the need for the collapse of democracy.Additionally, the women who lived through the democratic regimesplayed a crucial role in ensuring its downfall because of unequalparticipation. They have always presented arguments linked todemocracy hypocrisy. They claimed that since democracy is a rulingframework that involves people, every person should be included.Throughout the Great War, the female race run the farms and factoriesguaranteeing the production of the needed supplies that maintainedfunctional homes. They also retained family units, which clearlyproved that they were psychologically and physically fit of handlingboth their civic and domestic lives. Suffragist protests after thewar resumed vigorously making it very difficult for the democraticgovernments to ignore the rights of women to engage in governmentalfunctions12.
Riseof Authoritarian Regimes
Theestablishment of authoritarianism regimes relates to the inability ofnations to acquire an internal ethnic or political accord needed forthe success of democratic governments. Upon the onset of the GreatEconomic Depression in the year 1930, it became hopeless to develop awell-organized economic, social, and political response13.Therefore, the most applicable manner to counteract intrinsic unrestin these nations was to create authoritarian regimes, which wereeither ruled straightforwardly or greatly reinforced by the military.The countries include successor states, Russia, Italy, and Germany.
WhileAustria was formed in grounds of parliamentary democracy, itexperienced a League of Nations ruling structure during the 1920s dueto severe economic debts. In the year 1933, with the aim ofcounteracting the spread of Nazism into Austria, the nation’schancellor dissolved its parliament and banned the Social DemocratParty14.further, it formed an authoritarian kind of rule that ignited civilviolence. Several military officers in Poland created a Sanacjamovement, leading a coup de ta against the Second Polish Republicgovernment in 192615.Under the rule of Jozef Pilsudski, the country’s political partiesapart from Sanacjarenderedillegal and every aspiring government leader needed his approval toacquire position.
Latvia,Estonia, and Lithuania struggled to gain independence from Russia,establishing democratic governments around the 192016.In Lithuania, a 1926 military coup resulted in the rise of anauthoritarian rule that was characterized by radical landreorganizations and nationalist education. Until 1934, Latvia andEstonia remained democracies and then political revolutions in therespective countries formed nationalist dictatorships.
Czechoslovakia,the most probable strong successor state, maintained democracy with acorrespondingly successful industrial sector. Notwithstanding, thecountry struggled with severe intrinsic ethnical divisions17.The dominant ethnic group in Czech operated an exceedinglycentralized economic and political structure, which subjugates theSlovak, Hungarian, and German minorities. Consequently, thesesubjected masses failed to completely acknowledge the Czechgovernment’s authority and constantly functioned against it and itsprejudiced ideal.
Underthe rule of the Bolsheviks, the Soviet Union experienced harsh andhefty regulations imposed on them by the Communist Party’s GeneralSecretary, Lenin, and the Red Army18.After the death of Lenin in 1924, this Communist Party divided intoJosef Stalin’s supporters who advocated for slow industrialization,concentrating on an individual country’s socialism and LeonTrotsky’s groups who encouraged fast industrialization withoutregard to peasantry. By the year 1927, Stalin came out victorious inthis struggle for superiority and evicted his rival from the partyand the Soviet Union altogether19.As if that was not enough, he further sent assassins who murderedTrotsky in Mexico using an ice pick.
Theconventional Bolshevik principles followed the Marxism theory andsupported a lasting international reform20.subsequently, Lenin managed to form commitment to reinforcerevolutions happening in other nations. Marx foretold that thepopular reform would happen spontaneously and globally, exceptLenin’s approach drifted away the impulsive requirement21.Notwithstanding, Stalin’s ideologies were different to Lenin’sboth ideologically and practically. He made it clear to the citizensof the Soviet Union that he wanted to restore peace and end famine asa first result before spreading the Communist theory worldwide. Sucha move endured his popularity around the country since he was notgamble with power.
Betweenthe years of 1936 and 1938, Josef Stalin strengthened his completesuperiority of the Soviet Union with the Great Purge that initializedafter the assassination of his dearest comrades22.In a public platform, Stalin asserted that he was driving outcounter-reform infiltrators and opportunists from his CommunistParty. In the real sense, the ruler detained and murdered any personincluding military officers, Communist Party members, ethnicminorities, and government officials, he assumed might threaten hisleadership23.Therefore, by the finalization of the 1930s, the Communist Partyleader noticeably controlled the Soviet Union.
Further,in defiance to the spread of the Communism political ideology, theFascism ideology surfaced throughout the years of interwar. It mainlyrelied on an authoritarian approach to ruling where the governmentconstruct provided the required stability for its citizens. Theideology was anti-Marxist, antidemocratic, and highly racist24.Despite this, it was extremely nationalistic and promised thecontainment of the communist reforms. Resultantly, it got theattention of most of Europe’s middle and upper status citizens.Primarily, the fascism ideology was largely practiced in Italy andGerman.
Eventhough Italy joined the allied side when participating in the GreatWar, its delegation was disallowed from equally engaging at the ParisPeace Conference with other victors25.The country’s government did not take this well, especially afterthe Treaty of Versailles’s first version denied it a hugeterritorial proportion that they felt was rightfully earned. Insidethe country, citizens suffered from the war’s outcome and lostfaith in their governments ability to represent their domestic andinternational interests. From the years 1919 to 1921, Italyexperienced massive social turmoil and its parliament failed tosettle on any legislation that would assist its people26.Consequently, the country’s people of middle upper status becamescared that the social uncertainties and poverty would provide roomfor a communist revolution.
Amiddle class well-educated man, Benito Mussolini, arose to providesolutions to Italy’s problems. He practiced active journalist andsocialist prior to his enlistment and military participation in theFirst World War27.after the conclusion of the war, he utilized his own newspaperplatform to give the people insights about his newly establishedfascist ideology and formed the National Fascist Party in 191928.to gunner support, Mussolini created the National Security VolunteerMilitia, an unpaid paramilitary group that aimed to scare communists,guaranteeing the Italian citizens neighbourhood security. The grouptook advantage of the outright anger and frustrations of the Italiancitizens after the war and attracted nationalists, young bourgeoismen, and previous military soldiers and officers as volunteers29.Their promise to block the spread of communism in their government,Mussolini’s political ideology gave the needed solutions to theItalian people, making him among the elected 35 fascists in the 1921parliament30.
TheSocialist Party, as well as, its union representatives initiated alabour strike throughout Italy in August 192231.To utilize this opportunity, Mussolini commanded his paramilitarygroup to take the place of these striking workers so that Italy’seconomy does not stagnate and sustain social order. Consequently, hebecome a champion of the average and elite citizens of Italy. Afterthe end of this strike that run for four days, Mussolini becamepopular in Italy and was made the country’s Prime Minister inOctober 1922 by King Victor Emmanuel to avoid civil war32.Mussolini enacted well-recognized and legal reforms that made Italy adictatorial single-party state under the National Fascist Party.
Mussoliniinitiated a public works program, extended wheat farming, broughtforth protective tariffs associated with the Italian industry, andsponsored the shipping industry to handle the economic unrest afterthe Great War33.He established treaters with industrial and agricultural leaders butfaced out the labour unions. He subordinated the private industry tostate direction but not full control using Corporatism, which failedto find solutions to the economic instability faced by the people.Clearly, he led Italy with an authoritarian hand ensuring that heretained power over the state.
Germany,in the 1920s, under the Weimer democratic government struggledpolitically, socially, and economically and the people blamed this onthe Treaty of Versailles terms34.Severe poverty resulted in political uncertainties, which attractedpeople more to communism and other drastic political alternatives. Bythe years in the 1930s, the anti-government opinions were on a riseand Adolf Hitler believed his National Socialist German Worker’sParty would resolve the German issues35.Hitler’s party compared with Mussolini’s ideologies that includedbrutal anti-Semitism racism, intense nationalism and militantanti-Marxism. These principles gathered support from a highpercentage of paramilitary volunteers linked to the SA (SturmAbteilung)36.The party wanted the winding up of the Versailles Treaty impositions,integration of Germany and Austria, agrarian reforms, Jew exclusionfrom the German citizenship, and other variables that benefited thecountry’s working class. As the Nazi talked, the German citizenslistened and gave their support. They loved the Nazi messagesconcerning nationalism and wished its economic growth promises weretrue. Under his rule, established SS (Schutzstaffel) a selected guardunit inside SA to bring adolescents to join the party’soperations37.
Hitlerdecided to run for president against Hindenburg but lost. Despitethis, the country was filled with unrest within the governmentstructure forcing the president to appoint Hitler as Germany’schancellor38.In the year 1933, a popular Dutch communist burned Reichstag buildingdown, leading to his conviction and beheading. Upon seeing anopportunity, Hitler incited fear regarding a communist revolution.Resultantly, the SS and SA rounded up, imprisoned, and murderedsuspected liberals, communists, and social democrats. Even so, theNazi party could not gather enough supporters at Reichstag makingHitler look for the Enabling Act that would help him take absolutecontrol, ending German democracy. Upon Hindenberg’s death, Hitlercombined the chancellor and president offices under law becoming thecountry’s main ruler39.Every German military soldier had to take an obedience oath. Hitlerformed a police state that experienced forced ruling, eliminatinganyone who was against the Nazi party40.the leader made justifications of his Party’s anti-Semitism naturegrounded on the Social Darwinism, which gave him the right to createa stronger Germany where only the capable could engage in theoperations.
Itis apparent that the Great War brought about many consequences forthe eastern European people. The predominantly democratic politicalideology followed for many years was not enough to allow thecountries to recover from the First World War consequences.Accordingly, people in these nations had to look for ways ofimproving their living standards resulting to more radicalauthoritarian forms of rules. The successor states, despite havingdemocracy embedded in their governmental structures got tired of thepassive nature of the ideology and created authoritarian regimes,which would ensure political stability. Similarly, the Soviet Unioncame up with the communist ideology to help the people gain economicsecurity and maximized on the Marxism economic theory to ensure thatevery citizen on the country benefited from the returns. Lastly,Italy and Germany could not agree with the ideologies of communistsand created fascism and Nazism respectively. Under these rules, theleaders served as dictators who killed anyone threatening theirpowers, promoting intense nationalism and racism. Therefore, theGreat War marked a significant time in the Eastern Europe promotingthe fall and rise of democratic and authoritarian regimescorrespondingly.
Alfred,Skerpan. “Liberalism and Eastern Europe.” Bulletinof the American Association of University Professors (1915-1955),1948, 34, 4, 719-731
Carsten,Francis Ludwig. Revolutionin Central Europe.Temple Smith, 1971
Dallin,Alexander. "The Soviet Stake in Eastern Europe." TheAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science,1958., 138
Gat,Azar. "The return of authoritarian great powers." ForeignAffairs,2012
Keegan,John. Thefirst world war.Random House, 2014.
Paxton,Robert O. TheAnatomy of Fascism.New York: Vintage, 2007
Stanley,Zyzniewski. “Economic Perspectives in Eastern Europe.” PoliticalScience Quarterly,1960, 75, 2, 201-228
1 Carsten, Francis Ludwig. Revolution in Central Europe. Temple Smith, 1971
2 Stanley, Zyzniewski. “Economic Perspectives in Eastern Europe.” Political Science Quarterly, 1960, 75, 2, 201-228
3 Alfred, Skerpan. “Liberalism and Eastern Europe.” Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors (1915-1955), 1948, 34, 4, 719-731.
5 Ibid., 723
6 Carsten, Francis Ludwig. Revolution in Central Europe. Temple Smith, 1971
7 Alfred, Skerpan. “Liberalism and Eastern Europe.” Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors (1915-1955), 1948, 34, 4, 719-731
8 Carsten, Francis Ludwig. Revolution in Central Europe. Temple Smith, 1971
9 Skerpan., 724
11 Alfred, Skerpan. “Liberalism and Eastern Europe.” Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors (1915-1955), 1948, 34, 4, 719-731
12 Ibid., 726
13 Carsten, Francis Ludwig. Revolution in Central Europe. Temple Smith, 1971
14Carsten, Francis Ludwig. Revolution in Central Europe. Temple Smith, 1971
15 Francis Ludwig., 274
16 Paxton, Robert O. The Anatomy of Fascism. New York: Vintage, 2007
17 Francis Ludwig., 288
18 Dallin, Alexander. "The Soviet Stake in Eastern Europe." The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 1958., 138-145
19 Alexander., 138
20 Ibid., 139
21 Ibid., 141
22 Dallin, Alexander. "The Soviet Stake in Eastern Europe." The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 1958., 138-145
23 Ibid., 143
24 Gat, Azar. "The return of authoritarian great powers." Foreign Affairs, 2012
25 Paxton, Robert O. The Anatomy of Fascism. New York: Vintage, 2007
26 Gat, Azar. "The return of authoritarian great powers." Foreign Affairs, 2012
27 Carsten, Francis Ludwig. Revolution in Central Europe. Temple Smith, 1971
28 Paxton, Robert O. The Anatomy of Fascism. New York: Vintage, 2007
29 Gat, Azar. "The return of authoritarian great powers." Foreign Affairs, 2012
30 Paxton, Robert O. The Anatomy of Fascism. New York: Vintage, 2007
31 Robert., 110
32 Gat, Azar. "The return of authoritarian great powers." Foreign Affairs, 2012
33 Stanley, Zyzniewski. “Economic Perspectives in Eastern Europe.” Political Science Quarterly, 1960, 75, 2, 201-228
34 Paxton, Robert O. The Anatomy of Fascism. New York: Vintage, 2007, 56
35 Gat, Azar. "The return of authoritarian great powers." Foreign Affairs, 2012
36 Paxton, Robert O. The Anatomy of Fascism. New York: Vintage, 2007
37 Keegan, John. The first world war. Random House, 2014.
38 Gat, Azar. "The return of authoritarian great powers." Foreign Affairs, 2012
39 Francis Ludwig. Revolution in Central Europe, 128
40 Keegan, John. The first world war. Random House, 2014.