Guide The Persistence of the Old Regime: Europe to the Great War

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A very enjoyable and provocative book. And he makes a great case as summarized on p. Jan 17, Ted Morgan rated it it was amazing. I read this decades ago but no longer remember it very well. At the time I read it, I thought the work incisive and important. It probably was and is. Professor Myer is a major critical historical who deserves my rereading this work and reading other of his work. Jun 22, Mary Catelli rated it really liked it Shelves: history-modern.

An interesting analysis of how Europe was agricultural and ruled by nobles and kings up to World War I. Yes, even France. Well, not a king, but the nobles had disproportionate clout despite having no legal positions. Elsewhere the nobles and kings were extremely powerful -- partly because they were able to co-opt the rising classes, partly because the middle classes were not united, partly because they set the standards to which the others tried to rise. Lots of discussion and distinction about ma An interesting analysis of how Europe was agricultural and ruled by nobles and kings up to World War I.

Lots of discussion and distinction about manufacturing and what was really being manufactured -- even in Great Britain and Germany, where the Industrial Revolution was the most powerful, the extent of small-scale craftsmanship was large. Agriculture was big, and so were landowners. In the census, Tsar Nicholas had no objections to being described as a landowner. All the monarchs owned lots of land. How they kept political power. Germany had a voting system that even Bismarck described as perverse, but it helped put the power in the hands of the upper classes.

New nobles were usually created from people of noble descent, and land-owners -- even if they made a mint in industry, they would become landowners, often, before the title came. And their control of high culture. This gets a little weak because while he opens with the observation that "pre-industrial" presupposes a natural evolution, he has a tendency to throw around "progressive" as if it were obvious what is progress in the art.

And it goes on a little too long about the difficulties of the avant-garde, when we tend to be more ignorant of academic artists of the time. Still, an interesting look at the social structure of 19th century Europe. Mar 07, Matthias rated it liked it.

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Mayer states at the outset that this is not an even-handed work - he is in lawyer mode, not judge mode, attempting to present a brief to the effect that in late 19th century Europe it was the aristocracy, not the bourgeoisie, who held pride of place economically, politically, and culturally.

While I'm far from convinced, he does lay out a fascinating panoramic picture of upper-echelon Europe between and the Great War that would easily make this a 4-star book - if not for the lack of citatio Mayer states at the outset that this is not an even-handed work - he is in lawyer mode, not judge mode, attempting to present a brief to the effect that in late 19th century Europe it was the aristocracy, not the bourgeoisie, who held pride of place economically, politically, and culturally.

Europe to the Great War

While I'm far from convinced, he does lay out a fascinating panoramic picture of upper-echelon Europe between and the Great War that would easily make this a 4-star book - if not for the lack of citations, or, in the statistics-heavy first chapters, tables which would have made international comparisons infinitely easier. As such, 2. Peter rated it really liked it May 22, Jennifer rated it it was ok Aug 08, Mo rated it liked it Oct 06, Aventine rated it liked it May 25, Benjamin rated it really liked it Apr 15, SyphilisVictim rated it really liked it Dec 27, Nick rated it really liked it Aug 01, Sharon rated it really liked it Aug 27, Ben Petersheim rated it it was amazing Apr 20, Nani rated it liked it Aug 13, Tony Novosel rated it it was amazing May 13, Conor Reid rated it really liked it Jun 28, Charles Nicholas Saenz rated it it was amazing Aug 20, Mayer turns upside down the vision of societies marked by modernization and forward-thrusting bourgeois and popular social classes, thereby transforming our understanding of the traumatic crises of the early twentieth century.

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A classic now out in new edition.. Verso World History Series. Mayer pushes against the emphasis in historical writing that places the burden of cause for the Great Power sleepwalk to the Great War in on modernizing industrializing stresses and strains on brittle monarchies. Instead, as the title indicates , he finds the Old Regime of landed aristocrats, noble public service, and military tradition still quite in charge. Chapters on economy, social structure, and politics follow a comprehen A classic now out in new edition..

Chapters on economy, social structure, and politics follow a comprehensive introduction to much of the other literature. Best, though is final chapter.. Shelves: european-history. Edward Said referenced this book in Culture and Imperialism , writing in a footnote: "Mayer's book, which deals with the reproduction of the old order from the 19th to the early 20th century, should be supplemented by a work that details the passing on of the old colonial system, and trusteeship, from the British empire to the United States, during World War II: William Roger Louis , Imperialism at Bay: The United States and the Decolonization of the British Empire, Feb 15, Lauren Albert rated it it was ok Shelves: history-european.

As the book went on, my patience decreased and so did its rating. The author started out at a four—he had an interesting argument that the old regime lasted longer than given credit for and did so in part because it co-opted competitors. Then the repetitiousness started to get to me. He felt the need in each chapter to repeat his arguments over and over again—once at least for each country.

The book reveals a remarkably simplistic notion of the connection between politics and culture as well as a tendency to project political motives onto people just bumbling around as they are wont to do. It behaved, not like a proud master commissioning his own buildings and testimonials, but like the dutiful curator and tenant of an old patrimony. Jan 24, Emily rated it really liked it Recommends it for: conspiracy theorists. The European feudal nobility maintained their grip on power through the Industrial Revolution to by co-opting the most talented and wealthy of the bourgeoisie, maintaining the agrarian economic sector's traditional political over-empowerment, and promoting themselves into the "steel frames" of civil service and the military.

They showed notable flexibility in adapting to social change. Co-optation of bourgeois aspirations included controlling education access and curriculum, dangling the po The European feudal nobility maintained their grip on power through the Industrial Revolution to by co-opting the most talented and wealthy of the bourgeoisie, maintaining the agrarian economic sector's traditional political over-empowerment, and promoting themselves into the "steel frames" of civil service and the military. Co-optation of bourgeois aspirations included controlling education access and curriculum, dangling the possibility of intermarriage and ennoblement, and resisting avant-garde cultural innovation.

Seems applicable to an examination of our reliance on non-profits to provide civil service, and of ruling class attacks on our education system. Also, Hogwarts and most of the fantasy genre? Apr 22, Kevin Carson rated it it was amazing. Education and the use of cultural capital form one mode of social reproduction, alongside others such as inherited privilege and the transmission of wealth.

The different types of capital become different modes of social ascension, with varying importance in family strategies for passing power from one generation to the next. The position of the true aristocracy, the traditional landed class, was one example of this. Rejection of the secular values of the state University in favour of a Catholic schooling became one of these symbolic choices, which could be made by bourgeois families with bien pensant views or social ambitions as well as by those with longer aristocratic traditions.

By making this choice they were consciously turning their backs on modernity, distancing themselves from the state, and rejecting one of the instruments of social power Anderson, R. If the nobility wished to exploit the educational system, they were well placed to do so, given their wealth and their resources of social and cultural capital.


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  • The Persistence of the Old Regime: Europe to the Great War - Arno J. Mayer - Google книги?
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  • A Catholic education was likely in any case to lead to discrimination within the public service Larkin , so that the nobility developed closer links with private business, where they found more ideological sympathy Bourdieu The army was another refuge for aristocratic values in France, even though the officer corps as a whole remained more bourgeois and meritocratic than in Britain, where it had much the same social profile—a mingling of aristocrats and upper middle class, stamped in the public school mould—as the rest of the service class Cannadine There was no serious political or religious obstacle to the fusion of old and new elites.

    This was one of the points made by Arnold when he compared France and England: in England the glamour of antiquity and public status belonged to Eton and Harrow, Oxford and Cambridge. Education was not their only mode of reproduction, but it was central to the family strategies of those who identified with state service and the professions. But the predominating feature is that a common pattern of education encouraged uniformity within the elite.

    Once the level of wealth needed to use the public schools was reached, the British middle class seem to have adopted a homogenized mode of thinking, and when families made plans for their sons they looked to the whole range of professional and business careers, not giving any privileged role to state service. The result was that the topmost elites in Britain—in politics, the civil service, law, medicine, the Church, the City, the armed services—shared a remarkably similar system of values, absorbed through education and reinforced in later life by the masculine culture of club and regiment.

    Alumnus networks were significant, but tied to secondary schools, not to specific occupations. In certain respects, therefore, the British elite was even more powerful, unified, and metropolitan than the French, and the fact that the newly wealthy had immediate access to the most prestigious forms of education meant that there were close links between political and economic power Ringer But with the end of the notables, cultural capital came into its own.

    So did the growing academic profession, whose values conformed closely to those of the Third Republic. Families went into teaching from generation to generation, often moving up from the elementary to the secondary and higher sectors. It was an intellectual aristocracy of the middle class, the nearest equivalent in other countries being the French eighteenth century noblesse de robe. He did include the Indian and colonial civil services, important outlets for the service class: the British Empire was central to their ideological identification with the nation-state, whereas in France colonial service never won a place of prestige.

    Academic intellectuals became professionalized, were drawn from the same kind of families as the rest of the service class, and absorbed the same gentrified values. Writers and artists too were increasingly drawn from this limited social milieu, a phenomenon which perhaps reached its peak in the inter-war years du Sorbier Rubinstein Perkin ; Rubinstein Their attention focused particularly on the relation between the business world on one hand, and the land, the civil service and the professions on the other.

    Rubinstein, linking the analysis of elites with his studies of the distribution of wealth, has argued that the rise of industry in northern England failed to shake the long-term dominance of land, finance and the south-east Rubinstein , How far either of these patterns may have undermined the entrepreneurial spirit remains an open question. One of the chief arguments against the thesis has always been the existence of similar value-systems in countries with more successful economies, notably Germany. Without entering at length into this now rather tired controversy, it is worth noting that contemporary French observers of the Taine school turned the comparison on its head, arguing that Britain gained its economic and political dynamism from the persistence of aristocratic traits in its education, while France was held back by the egalitarian, bureaucratic values inherent in the Napoleonic tradition.

    And Leclerc anticipated the Wiener thesis to refute it:.

    The Persistence of the Old Regime: Europe to the Great War - Arno J. Mayer - Google книги

    There is no doubt that both systems continued to be deeply marked by their origins, but they both had to adjust to a significant expansion of student numbers between and The structure of French secondary education changed least, and numbers in traditional secondary education hardly rose between the s and But in Britain a new system of state secondary schools was created virtually from nothing, and in higher education student numbers rose four or five-fold, as they did in France Anderson, R.

    In both countries, elite and elementary education were separate sectors virtually sealed from each other, but this did not preclude some social mobility within the elite system. In France, there was a narrow but real path by which talented individuals, usually from white-collar or artisan backgrounds rather than the peasantry or the working class, could reach the top. In Britain, there was a high financial threshold for entry to the privileged sector, and cultural capital was less valuable than capital of a more classic kind.

    Only the handful of older schools really gave contact with the aristocracy. Moreover, in the twentieth century the new state grammar schools gave direct access to Oxford and Cambridge, and the opportunities for working-class children to join the elite may well have been significantly greater in Britain than in France. In Britain it may be considered a new aristocracy because of its takeover of gentlemanly values and its identification with a metropolitan culture and public life in which the old aristocracy itself still played a significant part; while in France segmented professional groups tied to specific formative institutions formed a new aristocracy in a different sense through their strong sense of esprit de corps, their semi-hereditary status, and their close association with the post-revolutionary state.

    But is the use of the aristocratic label more than a mode of speaking? The example of France reminds us, however, that a bourgeoisie based on the professions, land and public service was a normal phenomenon, and no less bourgeois than one based on commerce and industry. But one could argue that many of these phenomena were predominantly bourgeois: that the professional and public- service spirit was a quintessential expression of bourgeois moral and religious seriousness; that the British Empire was a capitalist rather than a neo-feudal enterprise; that the cult of team games had more to do with new patterns of recreation among the urban and suburban bourgeoisie than with the field sports of the aristocracy; and so on.

    And an alternative reading of the history of British education can present it as a triumph of the middle classes: having secured their provincial base, they moved on to the national stage, took over and transformed the national educational institutions, devised the gentleman ideal as a way of legitimising their new power, and delegated to the aristocracy those political, military and imperial functions for which their traditions and training best fitted them. Historians today are sympathetic to the idea of aristocratic survival in Britain, but sceptical about the openness of bourgeois society in France.

    Perhaps the best solution, suggested by Harris and Thane , is to accept that aristocracy and bourgeoisie should be seen as ideal types rather than rigid social formations, and that the nineteenth century saw the development of hybrid groups of a new sort. Beliefs in culture, tradition, service, and patriotism expressed rather than contradicted the specific functions of a service class in a modern, democratic, economically expanding society.

    Whatever might be the case further east, in the two great liberal states of nineteenth-century Europe this class may be seen as a product of capitalist civilization rather than a symptom of the persistence of the old regime. Anderson, Robert D. Plumb ed. Trevelyan, London, Longman: