POLI 212 Lecture Notes - Leading Edge, Otto Von Bismarck, Austro-Prussian War
FEBRUARY 15, 2012:
States and territories: The British state is a composite state while the French state is
a unitary state.
The second distinction is between political accommodation in the British case and
political assimilation in the French case.
The difference between Britain’s multi-national structure (Scotland and Wales are
sub state nations) contrasts with France because it more closely approximates the
ideal type of “nation-state” because regional differences aren’t as powerful or
Territorial cleavages in Britain have played such more important role than they
have in France, because they persist in the British state and are never very
important in French politics.
In 1997-1998 the British government recognized the creation of legislatures in
Scotland and Wales, which is a form of political devolution. The creation of their
legislature does not amount to a transition from a composite to a unitary state,
because the new legislature exists with the prerogative of the British state. The
British government has the ability to dissolve these parliaments if they so wish
(which would be political suicide). These legislatures were put in place as a
political recognition of the importance of Welsh and Scottish identity in local politics
and British politics more generally.
Scotland is now at the point of holding a referendum on independence. This is
evidence of how the territorial dimension has proceeded in British politics. The
granting of legislatures has further politicized the issues of territory and political
integration. Scotland has a large part of the population organized around
independence. Wales has change from cultural nationalism to a political
nationalism. All of this is the legacy of the multinational structure of the British
In France, the contrast is that there is no political devolution in France and it
continues to be very centralized. France has “the de-concentration of administrative
power,” not devolution. It is transferring power with regards to administrative
authority from central bureaucracy to local bureaucracy. Political sovereignty rests
in central institutions.
Political sovereignty in France is being divided.
The English Revolutions were more complete than the French Revolution. There
were 2 dimensions both the British and the French Revolution. The British
revolution implied a kind of religious settlement. In effect, from the civil wars
onwards the self-identity of Britain was of a protestant nation. This was a kind of
glue that bound together Wales and Scotland. The sense of Britain as a Protestant
nation was formed in response to Catholic Europe (France, and to some extent,
There was also a political settlement in both cases. In the British case, the political
settlement was the constitutional monarchy. It was never seriously challenged after
the civil wars of the 16th century (in general). It settled the religious question and
the question of political regimes.
Exception: Ireland. Ireland was never integrated in the same way as Scotland and
Wales because it was Catholic. It is an exception because it is a challenge to the
religious settlement, a challenge to the liberal constitutional monarchy, and it is a
challenge to the territorial structure of the British state. By the mid-19th century a
movement for home rule emerged and by the turn of the century it is not just an
interest in home rule and recreating an Irish legislature, it is an interest in full blown
independence. The Irish question is deeply politicized by WWI. It is a challenge to
regime because it becomes organized in a Republican political movement. It is a
challenge to the territorial structure because it is a movement for independence,
where the goal is political life within a republic.
The wining of dominion status in 1921-1922. Independence in complete in 1942
when they declare themselves a Republic.
The Revolution in France is incomplete because it does not settle the regime
question, nor does it provide a religious settlement. The revolution divides France.
How will all of France be governed?” is not a question about the politicization of
territory, it is how the centre should be organized and what the governing principles
should be. France is still a catholic society but the important political option that
emerges is very much an anti-Catholic kind of politics. The division is between a
catholic society which is suspicious of Republicanism or a Republic. Without a
political settlement, there is political instability until the post 1945 period.
British Territorial History is very significant: 1997: New Constitutions; 1921: The
Irish Free State; 1914: Referendum in Scotland
The same key dates in France would be the regime changes. France is not
punctuated by territory; it is punctuated by regime option.
There is a conflict with a disagreement about how education should be supplied in
French society. Private schools organized and run by the church and public schools
run by the state to introduce a standardized curriculum.
Italy and Germany:
These are states that emerge on the historical scene relatively late in the process of
political modernization. Timing is important.
They are late industrializers.
In terms of political modernization, they need to confront mass politics. By this time
there have been important extensions in suffrage. The working class is entering
politics and they are increasingly organized in labour markets and trade unions.
These are states that are formed in the heyday of last-blast age of nationalism. They
are being formed in a relatively short period of time. Britain and France evolve
slowly, and state formation is a process over decades or centuries. In Italy and
Germany it is more of a political project.
Nationalism played a role in this process of integration. The process by which they
are formed→ what does nationalism add to this mix? What are some of the benefits
of economic and political integration?
Gains from trade are an important benefit. Integration implies a creation of a
trading area; you become part of a large economic hole that provides gains from
There is more mutual security in a larger political unit because geopolitical
competition has intensified. Nationalism adds independence from alien domination
(which is of particular importance in Italy). It also implies the cultural virtues of
sharing cultural markers such as language.
These are cases that will shortly into their lives experience war. War is a shock to
newly formed systems. The transitions to National Socialism and to fascism are
social and political revolutions. They are the revolutionary experiences of the late
state formers and represent the breakdown of democracy in the 1920s and 1930s.
They are the equivalent of revolution in the early state formers.
Democracy is only consolidated in both cases in the post 1945 period. Features of
democratic consolidation: It takes a republican form, it is organized around a
particular political option in the party systems (Christian Democracy is the leading
element, but it is slightly differently organized in both cases→ it Italy it is an
expression of Catholicism, but it is bi-confessional party that joins together Catholics
and Protestants in Germany).
Italy: A unitary state emerged with a constitutional monarchy. The process of
political integration is a process of independence because part of what will become
Italy is a part of Hapsburg Empire prior to unification; and it is a process of
unification because it brings together 5 city-states in the Italian peninsula.
In unification, there is part of the territory that is not fully integrated→ the Holy See
(papacy) retains sovereign authority over a small piece of territory.
The Italian state is built on territorial difference between the north and the south.
The formation of state depends on striking bargain between elites in the north and
elites in the south. The north was more industrial, the south more agricultural
(organized around large landowners and estates). The north tends to be more
republican and the south tends to be more catholic and more interested in some
form of monarchical rule. This division is brokered between an economic alliance
that joins large landowners in the south and industrialists in the north (a tariff
package is put in place that is designed to protect the economic interests of both).
The liberal monarchy is challenged almost from its inception both from the right
and the left. It was a fragile compromise. On the left, the republican had dreamed of
an independent and republican Italy who never accepted the constitutional
monarchy. Anarchists and radical socialists also challenged the liberal
constitutional monarch. On the right, conservatives who preferred a monarchy but
feared the restrictions a liberal constitution placed on monarchical rule challenged
it. They wanted to see rule more personalized and conservative.
The final source of opposition was the papacy itself. It counselled Catholics to
abstain from votes in national elections because they thought liberals were anti-
German unification: In the first instance it is a competition between Prussia and
Austria about who will control the German federation. Unification turns on victories
in war. There is leading edge to German unification. Prussia becomes to most
important part of Germany in the 2nd Reich. Unification is led by Otto von Bismark.
Unification follow three important military victories: Prussian defeat of Denmark
(1864), Prussian defeat Austria (1866), and the Prussia defeat of France (1870).
Germany is unified around Prussia and what emerges is an empire state. It is
monarchical, conservative, and it is also federal.
The 19th century has a process of consolidation of a large number of independent
principalities into a much smaller number of consolidated units in a federal
structure, on top of which sits a powerful and relatively authoritarian political ruler.
Protestantism is dominant.
There is also a regional division solved by a political exchange: the division is
between grain producers in Prussia and industrialists in north-west Germany. “The
marriage of Iron and Rye” is the political bargain or exchange that removed conflicts
between them. It provides tariffs for both industries.