Suggested languages for you:

Americas

Europe

|
|

# Age of Anxiety

Lerne mit deinen Freunden und bleibe auf dem richtigen Kurs mit deinen persönlichen Lernstatistiken

Nie wieder prokastinieren mit unseren Lernerinnerungen.

What happens when the world as we know it changes dramatically and long-held beliefs are shattered by new discoveries?

I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow..." –Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front, 19291

A phenomenon known as the Age of Anxiety is the result of uncertainty and unprecedented shifts in the understanding of our world. Spanning from 1914-1950, the Age of Anxiety left Europeans feeling they were in a constant state of crisis, whether it be political or economic. The end of WWI left people wondering if things would ever improve and whether they had any influence over world events. People saw governments try and fail to improve their circumstances. A combination of humanitarian and economic crises led to the decades known as the Age of Anxiety. New philosophies shaped the worldview of Europe, and all corners of life reflected these new perspectives.

## Age of Anxiety Time Period: 1914-1950

WWI changed the worldview of many, and the new world order caused severe anxiety. Those who had survived WWI were left with a pessimistic conclusion that they as individuals had little to no control over world events. The political landscape of Europe had changed, and long-followed traditions were no more. Large empires collapsed, with the fall of the Tsar in Russia and the end of the Habsburg rule in Austria. Economic hardships resulted from both the lack of reparation payments from WWI and the effects on Germany from making the reparation payments.

## Age of Anxiety: European History

In Europe, pessimistic attitudes spread following WWI, and belief in a brighter future was seen as unrealistic. After the end of WWI, Europe was left with little to no infrastructure, and people saw no avenues to better themselves. The chain of events that led to WWI left citizens feeling that they had no individual control over world events. People saw themselves as unwilling participants in decisions made by senior government officials who are unable or unwilling to relate. All of Europe had suffered terribly during WWI, and the previous romantic, heroic, depiction of war was rejected.

## Scientific Discoveries in the Age of Anxiety

Along with political instability, people were unsettled due to several major scientific discoveries. These new discoveries shattered the previous understanding of how the world worked.

### Scientific Discoveries in the Age of Anxiety: Marie Curie

Marie Curie succeeded in building on the discovery of radioactivity by Henri Becquerel in 1896 by separating the radioactive residues from the radium. This allowed Marie to study the properties of radioactive substances and characterize their properties with a great deal of certainty. Through isolating the properties of radioactive residue, she was able to discover therapeutic applications of radioactivity. Marie's life work consisted of applying radioactivity to improve people's lives.

Marie Curie is the only person to have been awarded two Nobel Prizes in two different scientific fields, physics in 1903 and chemistry in 1911.

Fig, 1 - Marie Curie

Her discovery of radium and polonium led to innovations in medicine in addition to chemistry. She pioneered the use of x-rays during WWI and even created cars equipped with x-ray equipment to travel to the war front.

### Scientific Discoveries in the Age of Anxiety: Ernest Rutherford and Splitting of the Atom

Marie Curie's work enabled later scientists to reach for the impossible. Ernest Rutherford became the first to separate an atom in 1919. Previously, the atom was believed to be the smallest, unbreakable building block of all things. Rutherford designed and performed an experiment where he bombarded nitrogen with alpha particles. This bombardment caused what would be termed a proton to be ejected from the nuclei. The experiment showed that the atom is a combination of different particles and not a set solid.

While Rutherford's work is commonly referred to as "splitting the atom," it is not to be confused with the discovery of nuclear fission in 1938.

Fig. 2 - Ernest Rutherford

## The Age of Anxiety in Great Britain & France

Great Britain needed a successful Germany in order for their post-WWI recovery to be possible. Reparations from Germany were slow to materialize and short of the specified amounts. The economic crisis was compounded by the huge loss of life in WWI. Great Britain was willing to work with Germany on adjusting the reparation payments, however, France was not. The reparation payments were crucial to both Great Britain and France's recovery. This led to the United States floating large loans to Germany, and those funds were paid to France and Great Britain. The economic situation was precarious–both France and Great Britain were in debt to the United States and required the funds to avoid defaulting.

The Age of Anxiety encompassed economic stress, and the rapid changes experienced at the beginning of the 20th century altered commonly accepted philosophic truths. New ideas regarding the purpose of life and the influence of the individual on world events. France gravitated to the idea that the individual is the key in times of helplessness and that the actions of individuals influence world events. In Great Britain, many returned from WWI and the reality of what they experienced was beyond the understanding of those on the home front. This led to disillusionment and a lack of faith in leadership. These ideas combined into an unsettled public permeated with the fear that things could only decline further. WWI had shown Great Britain and France that the world can change abruptly, and not always for the better.

## Age of Anxiety in the 1920s: Reparation Plans

The political crises of the 1920s were compounded by the Great Depression starting in 1929. These events led people to believe they had no power or influence over world affairs. WWI compounded this helplessness and left Germans feeling that they were being used or unfairly penalized by the actions of Western governments, big businesses, and communists.

By 1923, Germany was struggling with reparation payments. The US Government formed a committee of experts to resolve the situation. Charles G. Dawes and other officials came up with a plan to lend Germany $200 million dollars in order for Germany to pay reparations to France and the United Kingdom. In turn, France and the United Kingdom used these funds to repay their wartime debts to the United States. Fig. 3 - Charles Dawes ### The Young Plan (1928) In the fall of 1928, another committee was formed in an effort to settle the German reparations problems. Under Owen D. Young, this new committee proposed to make a final loan payment to Germany of$300 million and to reduce the reparations owed by Germany. Reducing the German reparations to $29 billion dollars, payable over 58 years. This was intended to float the world economy and allow for recovery. However, the Great Depression beginning in 1929 upended all of these plans. Fig. 4 - Owen Young Across the globe, countries were defaulting on the loans extended by the United States. The United States had been supporting Germany, but the economic crisis at home led to a collapse of the German economy. A final point of the Young Plan was a call to form a Bank of International Settlements to preside over war reparations. ## Age of Anxiety: WWI WWI produced changes in politics, the economy, and public opinion regarding the state of the world and the possibilities of the future. WWI resulted in more deaths than all preceding wars combined. This demonstrated the destruction possible in the new industrial age. The First World War not only shaped the leadership of Europe but also set the stage for WWII. The desperate economic situation of middle-class Germans enabled a campaign based upon placing blame on who was seen as responsible for their suffering. As shown in other times in history, when a large group of people suffers, it is easy to place blame on a group seen as an “other.” German Reparations & the Ruhr Crisis After the end of WWI, Germany was directed to pay almost$35 billion in reparations. The war had left Germany with a weak economy, and they did not have the funds to pay what they owed. Great Britain agreed to allow for a pause on payments. This led to great political pressure from France; France would not agree to postpone reparation payments while the German economy recovered. This would have allowed Germany to recover and ensure its citizens were cared for.

In 1923, Raymond Poincare of France began to occupy the Ruhr industrial region to seize the funds they were owed. The German government protested strongly and called for citizens to stop working and resist the French occupation. The call for passive resistance was answered by the German people and the situation escalated.

Fig. 5 - Raymond Poincare

The German government responded by printing money, which only increased inflation and worsened their economic situation. This led to the German people looking for someone to blame for the loss of savings in both the middle class and retirees. The middle-class saw Western government, big business, Jews, and the communists as responsible for their suffering.

## Age of Anxiety - Key takeaways

• A combination of political shifts, economic downturn, and scientific advancement left many Europeans feeling unsure of the future.

• After WWI, people felt as though they had no control over world events, and were at the mercy of high-ranking leaders across the world.

• Science reshaped the understanding of human existence and shattered the previous idea that the atom was the basis of life.

• WWI left Europe in an economic crisis, and the attempts to alleviate the problem were unsuccessful.

• While the economic recovery did not succeed, the creation of the International Bank of Settlements continues today.

## References

1. Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front (1929)

The Age of Anxiety is commonly agreed to have spanned from 1914-1950.

The drastic political and economic shifts led many to believe things could only get worse, no matter their efforts.

WWI changed the world stage and the resulting upheaval of what had always been true left people afraid.

The Age of Anxiety is the term for the overall social phenomena that was a result of the drastic changes in politics and the economy from WWI.

The Age of Anxiety is commonly agreed to have spanned from 1914-1950.

## Age of Anxiety Quiz - Teste dein Wissen

Question

Which are the main ideas of existentialism?

essence before existence

Show question

Question

Who is considered the father of existentialism?

Søren Kierkegaard

Show question

Question

Religion and existentialism are mutually exclusive.

False

Show question

Question

During what period in Europe did existentialism see a rise in popularity?

The Age of Anxiety

Show question

Question

Which existentialist philosopher claimed God was dead?

Friedrich Nietzche

Show question

Question

Which existentialist philosopher proposed the concept of "existence before essence"?

Jean Paul-Sartre

Show question

Question

According to existentialism, why does anxiety develop?

The freedom of creating your own meaning and the choices you have to make.

Show question

Question

How did World War I and World War II influence the rise of existentialism?

The atrocities of war made the world seem even more meaningless than before and people began rejecting traditional values.

Show question

Question

Which playwright wrote the existentialist play Waiting for Godot?

Samuel Beckett

Show question

Question

Which existentialist philosopher developed the philosophy of absurdism?

Albert Camus

Show question

Question

How many waves has feminism had?

Four

Show question

Question

What event started the feminist movement?

March of Versailles

Show question

Question

What was the name of Betty Friedan's book that kicked off the Second Wave of feminism?

The Feminine Mystique

Show question

Question

Which of these was not a goal of Second Wave Feminists?

Inclusivity

Show question

Question

Who was the author of "Becoming the Third Wave"?

Rebecca Walker

Show question

Question

True/False

Third Wave feminists focused on inclusivity.

True

Show question

Question

Who was Ireland's first woman president?

Mary Robinson

Show question

Question

Which issue did Irish, lesbian feminists educate people on?

AIDS and HIV

Show question

Question

True/False

Second Wave Feminists weren't concerned with workplace equality.

True

Show question

Question

Which of the following was not a hallmark of Third Wave Feminism?

Inclusivity

Show question

Question

Who split the atom and discovered the proton?

Ernest Rutherford

Show question

Question

How did advances in science cause problems for accepted philosophies?

The advances in science showed that the previously thought absolutes of time and space, were relative.

Show question

Question

What was the goal of the Dawes Plan?

To provide loans to Germany in order for them to pay their reparations to Great Britain and France.

Show question

Question

What financial institution did the Young Plan committee propose?

The Bank of International Settlements, the global authority for reparation payments.

Show question

Question

When was the Age of Anxiety?

1914-1950

Show question

Question

How much in reparations did Germany ultimately owe after the readjustments from the Dawes and Young Plan.

From $31.5 billion to$29 billion

Show question

Question

Who is the Dawes Plan named after?

Charles G. Dawes

Show question

Question

Who was the Young Plan named after?

Owen D. Young

Show question

Question

What was the Ruhr Crisis?

Upon Germany failing to pay, France invaded Germany and occupied the Ruhr industrial area intending to seize what they were owed.

Show question

Question

Why is the 20th century known as the Age of Anxiety?

The drastic political and economic shifts led many to believe things could only get worse, no matter their efforts.

Show question

Question

When did postmodernism emerge?

Right after the Second World War ended - around the beginning of the 1950s.

Show question

Question

What does moral relativism refer to?

Moral relativism is the idea that morality cannot be defined by one viewpoint.

Show question

Question

Postmodernism was a response to _____________.

modernism

Show question

Question

True or False:

A characteristic that separates modernism from postmodernism is the acceptance of metanarratives.

True

Show question

Question

Some areas of the postmodern movement include _________, _________, and ___________.

Art, architecture, and literature

Show question

Question

Who are three of the main theorists of postmodernism?

Jean-François Lyotard

Show question

Question

What did Frederic Jameson mean by something being "pastiche"?

Jameson used the word pastiche to refer to an imitation of another thing, especially when the imitation did not have the weight of the original.

Show question

Question

What is mediatization?

Mediatization is when the reality of human life is filtered through the media.

Show question

Question

True or false:

Relativism only applies to morality

False: the postmodern theory of relativism can be applied to history and science

Show question

Question

What do postmodernists mean by simulations?

A simulation occurs when society becomes removed from reality and their history

Show question

Question

When was Jean-Paul Sartre born?

June 21, 1905

Show question

Question

Who was Jean-Paul Sartre's life partner?

Simone de Beauvoir

Show question

Question

What was Jean-Paul Sartre's most influential book?

Being and Nothingness.

Show question

Question

Who were not influenced by Jean-Paul Sartre?

The Impressionists

Show question

Question

What famous writer did Sartre write a book about?

Jean Genet

Show question

Question

Sartre's first novel was_________________.

Nausea

Show question

Question

What famous Nobel Prize winner was related to Sartre?

Albert Schweitzer

Show question

Question

What was Sartre's most famous play?

No Exit

Show question

Question

Complete the quote: "Hell is..."

–other people."

Show question

Question

What did the Beat writers share with existentialism?

A sense of nihilism and futility.

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Age of Anxiety quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

## Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

## Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

## Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

## Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

## Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

## Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

## Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

## Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

## Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

## Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

## Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

## Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.