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Explain the concept of liberal nationalism which developed in Europe in early 19th century.

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By the 1848 Revolution of the Liberals, we mean, the revolution led by the educated middle classes of Europe. Events of February 1848, in France brought about the abdication of the monarchy and a republic based on universal male franchise was formed. The social and economic ideas supported by the liberals are

(i) Politically,  it emphasised the  concept of government by consent, abolition of autocracy and special privileges.

(ii) Socially, the liberals supported the abolition of discrimination based on birth.

(iii) Economically, it stood for the abolition of trade restrictions imposed by the state.
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Liberalism meant different things to different people.

Political liberalism:

  • It stood for equality before the law.
  • Revolutionary France marked the first political experiment in liberal democracy in which right to vote and get elected was granted exclusively to property-owning men.
  • Men without property, and all women were excluded from political rights.
  • Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, women and non-propertied men organised opposition movements demanding equal political rights.

Economic liberalism:

  • It stood for freedom of markets and the abolition of state-imposed restrictions on the movement of goods and capital.
  • Customs Union or ‘zollverein’ was formed in Prussia, joined by most of the German states.
  • The Union abolished tariff barriers and reduced the number of currencies from thirty to two.

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