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Stanley (24) confirms that towards the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, the West experienced a remarkable change in various aspects within the society. In this paper, we are particularly concerned with how violence affected the society in general. These changes sole contributed to both confidence and apprehension concerning the state of the Western society. Through the aggressive expansion of the West, non-Western societies underwent major political and cultural alterations. One era associated with this period is the “fin de siècle” political culture, that was very controversial. Fin de siècle has been characterized as conducive to fascism (Stanley 24). The main political theme during that period was revolt against rationalism, materialism, bourgeois society, liberal democracy, and irrationalism. The culture of fin de siècle is perceived to have influenced the twentieth century culture.
Generally, Europeans during the twentieth century justified their supremacy over the subjugated peoples based on the principle of Social Darwinism and Christianity. Moreover, the epidemic of World War I in 1914 ultimately was a challenge to the values and purpose of Western society. This is well illustrated through the ever-shifting foundation of the West. Consequently, the World War II and III were also very influential. This essay therefore answers the questions: How central was violence to the development of a “crisis of the West” in the fin-de-siècle and early 20th century? And when did violence become a mass phenomenon felt by entire societies?
To begin with, we must admit that violence played a very fundamental role in the developmental process of the crisis of the West. For the post-war West, it was through violence that the Nazi and Nazism became safely contained within the cinematic imaginary as a political system (Stanley 24). In addition to that, the World War II also played an important role in shaping of Berlin. This was through the Berlin division which shaped not only the city but also the estranged double German identities that arose afterwards. In that regard, the Berlin is actually distinguished from other border cities, such as the imperial Vienna. This is because it is considered as the site of deep ethnic and religious conflict that also led to the division of their individuals such as Jerusalem, Bosnia, Belfast, and Croatia.
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Secondly, violence in the West also played the important role of dividing the German population. This ensued as a result of the formidable effect of the artificially inserted political schism. The division of Berlin, indeed, began a bit early prior to the end of the epidemic of World War II. This period witnessed a number of Allies who made plans in order to subsequently occupy Germany. Following the end of the war, the Allies began to demarcate their lines and zones. The Allies made the city perform two roles: a buffer zone for the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and a frontier for the West. Before even the wall was built, West Berlin tourism and international market endorsed a form of frontline visit, which was a clear indication of capitalism (Stjepan 1). This in turn affected the functioning of the already developed cities.
Finally, in order to comprehend the many-sided forms of violence among civilians, combatants, as well as prisoners, it is true that violence was an indispensable prerequisite to any basic understanding of the “crisis of the West”. Many interpretations concur that the reticence in discussing the war is indeed unfortunate because it all began with fighting. Such conditions of the warfare had huge consequences for the rest of the century since the death toll increased immensely (Stjepan, 1).
In answering the second question, violence became a mass phenomenon following the emergence of the Great War. According to Audoin-Rouzeau and Becker (48), this period witnessed an increased death toll of roughly 9 to 10 million. Nearly all soldiers died and, on the verge of the violence, the civilians also died. During this period, smaller nations were proportionally most affected as a result of the nature of the warfare. France holds the worst record in the proportional losses as their soldiers engaged in fighting (Audoin-Rouzeau & Becker 61). More so, the Germans also perished in large numbers during the 1914 and the 1918 years of war.
Surprisingly, when we compare the number of daily casualties in 1914 to 1819 to the average number in the World War I and II, we realize that the First World War recorded high mortality rates. This is true because the total number of military losses in the Western zone were twice as high as in 1939 to 1945. In Eastern Europe, a total of 8.5 were killed in combat and such huge numbers indicate the intensity of the combat violence during the First and Second World War (James and Martel 73). Moreover, the latest artillery accompanied by the emergent intensity of firepower caused unprecedented physiological damage to both the civilians and the combatants. Finally, the violence caused great suffering and also inflicted psychological damage on the society at large.
In conclusion, it is evident that the violence played a huge role in shaping the society at that particular moment. The twentieth century witnessed the Berlin division as a result of the war. The “fin de siècle” political culture was also instrumental in the development of the “crisis of the west”. The Allies also decided to demarcate their zones and lines, thus making the city to perform certain roles. In addition, violence became a mass phenomenon following the beginning of Great War where civilians, combatants, and the society went through various sufferings. It is worth noting that warfare had huge consequences for the rest of the century since the death toll increased enormously (James and Martel 57).
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