HIS109Y1 Lecture Notes - Wall Street Crash Of 1929, Beatrice Webb, Ramsay Macdonald

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March 23, 2011
Europe Between the Wars
- Italy - won the war lost the peace => Fascism
Britain
- Suffered terribly in WWI - economic damage = just as awful - lost much of int’l carrying trade
with U.S.
- Many markets and seaborne trade = picked up by U.S.
- Accumulated wealth = lost in battlefields of France and Belgium
- Double blow
- Since mid-19th - position challenged - end 19th c - Germany and U.S. Threat => old factories
because Britain started industrialization => new countries, new markets
- Every penny available had to be used to ensure Britain would not lose to Germany
- Any money available in Britain able to be used to compete with new industrial power = gone
- People in colonies (e.g. India) questioned why they should be ruled by such a distant nation and
why they had sacrificed their lives in the war
- WWI - no exultant victory like Napoleonic wars
- Weakened economically, shattered psychologically => war won but at such a cost that it would
be impossible to recover to pre-1914
- Very little employment - huge debt - almost inconceivable that ex-soldiers would ever work
again
- Pensions - families of killed soldiers, trying to rebuild a military so depleted from war
- 2 million unemployed in early 1920s
- Basic industries - manufacturing textiles, production of raw materials (coal and iron) = suffered
greatly
- Textiles = cheaper to be produced in U.S.
- Coal and steel = no one needed them because there was no money to spend on it
- People resuced price => reduced profit
- Economic prospects of Britain = desperate
- Working class = fighting to make things fairer, more democracy => people came home to find
no money, few jobs (jobs available = low paying, tiny pensions)
- Impossible for gov’t to deliver things it had implied: better housing, working conditions, health
care, job security
- Liberal party - david lloyd george - any deep interference in economic structure would disrupt
in “unseen hand” -- things would come back
- He was incapable of acting
- Elections = liberals did not have a strong following => people looked for alternatives
- Working class = rise of universal suffrage => alternatives to traditional parties (left and centre
-- liberals and conservatives)
- People looked for socialism -- labour party - trade union
- 1923 - labour party surpassed liberals - popular appeal
- Socialism as alternative to liberals => polarization of left and right
- Liberal party wasn’t happy - tried to fight back => draw some members of left back to centre --
coalition
- Ramsay MacDonald (d.1937) - 1st labour P.M. Of britain - seemed that labour party was rising
- Coalition wouldn’t work = differences were too great (1924 - collapsed)
- Conservatives, traditional ruling elites = very scared of labour party => said labour party was
secretly Bolshevik => they sounded much like Lenin
- Conservatives - able to return to power because they scared people into thinking they were
threatened by Communism; conservatives won
- Things got worse
- 1926 - huge surplus of coal and steel => solution: reduce wages
- Whether to work for nothing or close the steel/coal pits
- Trade union congress - general strike 1926 - polarizing act - galvanized left - has to be marxist
solution; galanivzed right - marxism is at our doorsteps
- Well-born aristocratic young men took jobs of strikers (e.g. delivering milk, coal)
- Collapse of world economy - 1929 stock market crash
- Polarization would result in some kind of coup d’etat => some kind of accommodation: social-
ist solution? Property-driven solution?
- Strength of british democracy - but both sides had powerful leaders
- Some brits (sidney and beatrice webb -- leftists) went to Soviet Union to analyze the way things
were done => Praise of soviet communism
- The right went closer to those ideas that influenced Hitler and Mussolini => only solution is a
fascist solution -- new discipline, new person, rational planing - state to regulate private property
to achieve goals (like Mussolini)
- Attracted many people => beat up socialists, increasingly anti-Semitic
- Attracted terrified, overwhelmed citizens who were upset they weren’t getting what they want-
ed
- British parliament - flexible to right and left - but centre remained, democracy survived
France
- Like Britain
- Suffered material damage - 4 ½ years of trench warfare
- Huge population loss
- Humiliation of germany - police germany and make sure it can’t rise
- More tightly policed empire than britain
- Better-balanced economy than britain
- George clemmencaeu - strengthened, more discipline and purpose - passed along to parliamen-
tary gov’t
- Polarization in france like in biritna - french politics divided b/w left and right
- Raymond Poincaré (d.1934) - right-wing wanted to continue harsh politcies towards germany,
humiliate them as much as possible
- Leftists diagreed - let’s rebuild France, let’s strengthen our economy
- 1932-3 - 6 govt’s in 18 months - impossible to maintain policy and adddress depression - poli-
tics couldn’t decide which way to swing
- Like in italy, centre stopped functioning; left and right put more and more pressure
- Someone needed to bring order - 3rd republic (which had alienated everyone)
- Gov’t represented no one
- Fascism rose in structured, disciplined manner
- Ultra-right = long tradition (monarchists, R.C.s, etc.) => protect france from communism
- Axion francaise = call for discipline, new moral order -- attracted right and middle class (prop-
erty), workers (saw what happened in italy - national purpose, rebuild economy)
- Mass demonstrations
- Feb. 1934 - fascist coup possible? France seemed to be the next to fall (Italy and Germany had
already fallen)
- Left cooperated = why fascism didn’t happen
- Extreme marxists and moderate socialists got together and said if we don’t get together we’ll
end up fascist
- Creation of coalition gov’t on the left: Leon Blum (d.1950) -- saved france from fascist coup =>
stable strong gov’t, addressed issues that couldn’t be addressed in Britain, Germany, Italy
- Minimum wage laws in france, legal collective bargaining, higher pay for overtime, 40 hour
work week
- Attracted fascists, middle class, etc.
- By 1938 - france was relatively homogenous - threats from right and left diffused - france was
able to take on germany, prepare for war and arm itself
- New states = not ready for democracy
- Hungary - caused fear on right and left
- Before WWI ended - knew they would lose => separated themselves from Hapsburgs