Civilization Week 23 Modernism and The Start of World War 1

Question 1: What are the values of Modernism that we see reflected across different fields, and how do they represent a departure from neoclassicism and the Enlightenment?

Modernism was an art and cultural movement made popular around the late 19th century, which then lasted strong into the early 20th century. Sigmund Freud played a large role, contrasting the previous neoclassicism and bringing forth new and powerful world views. Freud believed that the world was not an organized machine as people believed it to be, but instead much more chaotic and complex. He believed humans weren’t naturally good natured, but rather that good nature sprang from a need for personal satisfaction and animalistic instinct. We have many unsavory desires, Freud believed, and to maintain the appearance and reputation required to thrive in society we deny and stuff down those desires. Having no other place to turn to those desires manifest in our unconscious, our dreams. Through the study of dreams we can gain a higher awareness of our personal wants (wholesome and otherwise), and from that gain the grounded base necessary to evolve our character.

With this enormous psychological leap Freud brought on a new cultural era, one where pure reliance on spirituality was slowly being replaced by study of the human psyche. Universal optimism began to be replaced with realism, which can be argued as either helpful or harmful for societies majority. Artistry such as “American Gothic” and “We are Making a New World” began to be produced, which show some reality behind the feign glory of war and the struggle of economic depression. Sigmund Freud has been described as the grandfather of psychology, his work has influenced a cultural shift of such magnitude that we still refer to its modernistic importance to this day.

Question 2: What factors contributed to the coming of World War I?

At the time directly before World War I Germany was worried about being geographically surrounded by enemies. There was Lithuania and Poland to the east, Denmark to the north, and a long time German enemy to the west in the form of France. So Germany turned to the south. At the time the Southern Slavs were under a duel monarchy run by the Magyars and Austrians. In 1879 Germany organized a defensive alliance with Austria to keep France at bay, and Italy joined the pack soon after. Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany had a peace treaty with Russia at the time, but he abandoned it to pursue more powerful political alliances. What he didn’t expect was for Russia to team up with France, the two countries were about as polar opposite with their ruling styles as you can get. But they found common ground (in their shared hate of Germany), and in 1894 the two assembled an alliance to surround and attack it. The majority of Europe actually thought very little of the war when it initially began, expecting it to be completely finished by Christmas of that same year. As history would tell thats far from what actually unfolded, and the war would turn into the beginning of a massacre.

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