123c final 2

123c final 2 - Jon Coleman 7/28/2011 History 123C Final...

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Jon Coleman 7/28/2011 History 123C Final Question #2 World War II was the most calamitous event in human history. The war took the lives of roughly 50 million people and left the continent of Europe in shambles. Economies were stagnant, infrastructure was virtually non-existent, and a general sense of malaise permeated throughout the continent. However, the second half of the 20 th Century witnessed the resurgence of Europe. Focusing specifically on Western Europe, I will discuss how political stability and economic integration allowed that half of Europe to rebuild itself with remarkable success. Politically, the imposition of parliamentary democracies that were accountable to the people led to political legitimacy. The succession of governments in the various Western European states, whether liberal or conservative, all governed with enough political stability to avoid anarchy and disintegration. Outside of the radical student protests of the 1960’s, these governments enjoyed relative popularity throughout the period. Economically, Western Europe is a success story to be studied and modeled after. The European Miracle as it came to be called describes the period of extensive economic growth that took place in the late 1940’s and 1950’s. Unemployment hit all- time lows and GDP grew at unprecedented rates. There was however certain limitations that were imposed on Europe and its role as an international player certainly diminished throughout this period. Their colonial empires were dismantled and the continent itself became but a theatre in Cold War power politics between the United States and the Soviet Union. However, any holistic characterization of Europe from 1945-2000 should conclude that the continent witnessed an era of prosperity, peace, and stability.
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First I wish to provide some context as to the general political and social environment in the late 1940’s. As mentioned before, Europe was in a state of ruin. However, a persistent optimism existed that it was time for Europe to rebuild and that Europe could in fact bring itself
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123c final 2 - Jon Coleman 7/28/2011 History 123C Final...

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