For hundreds of years, the world has changed significantly and rapidly in different fields. Modernisation is one of the trends of the world. People the effects that modernisation brought to the human life and mind has long attracted people’s attention. The first step in discussing the subject is to understand its histories, from the records that Western Europe is the birthplace of the earliest modernization. Therefore, reading trough the evolution of modernism in Europe could also exploring the transformations of European life style. In the following essay, I will analyse the effects of modernisation on European lives and minds. First of all, I will describe how an industrial revolution impact on European lives, and illustrate the relationship between industrialisation and modernisation. Second, I will go through the advantages and disadvantages of the mechanised society. After this, I would like to explain more on the influence of the values in urban society, and how the crime rates have come along. Finally, I will state an enormous problem that alcoholism and drugs use brought to the modern society.
In the late 18th century, there was an industrial revolution started in the United Kingdom and spread to the whole of Europe. The industrial revolution, which starts from the invention of the steam engine for trains and ships, changed the life of Europeans. During this period, there have been a lot of inventions that begun using around in the majority of regions, for example, spinning machines and motor cars, which has developed the country. People started to use spinning machines to produce fabrics and drive motor cars instead of carriage. Their original life had become more convenient and speedy. Industrialisation is the basis of modernisation or rather modernisation is the ultimate result of industrialization, and there is the inextricable relationship between them.
People have paid the price for progress. On the one hand, due to the industrialised society, the needs of machineries have been increased, so people built factories in order to facilitate mass production and the factories need a large number of workers to manipulate the machines. In factories, workers routinely do the same task but nothing else. They lived a mechanical life just like a part of the machine; therefore, they are almost dead, and this brought to an unimaginable result (Merriman J, 1996: 884-885). The film Modern Times (Chaplin 1936) has described that intense industrialisation created a large issue of mental health in a factory worker’s life. In the film, a worker ran amok because of the constantly repeating manipulation of the same task on the accelerating assembly line. This unnatural condition caused his behaviour become anomalous, like a machine failing during operation. This story is indicative of the mechanisation in human life is highly likely leads to insanity.
On the other hand, the record shows that the key point of eliminating the aesthetic control craftsman via processing the mass production. Before industrialisation and mechanisation, the society has classified into two groups, mass culture and high culture. The group from high culture represents aestheticism, which relegate the mass culture as a working class. Until the mass manufacturing and teeming cities have appeared, the machine then became the master of both of aesthetes and workers, which means when the society has a revolutionary transformation could save the working class, as well as, art and architecture could be saved by a revolution in aesthetics (Merriman J, 1996: 884-885). It turns out that society has become harmonised after the mechanical industrialised, while people started to treat equally without discrimination the artists objects that has elevated a taste to a new level.
However, industrialisation also leads to the rabid uncontrollable growth of large cities, which had ruined the moral constraints of maintaining the individual in traditional society. People have lost social cohesiveness in the urban life, compared to people who live in rural areas have strong interpersonal interaction relationships, and it is easy to blame the reduction of conversation on the pace of modern life (Merriman J, 1996: 888-889). In other words, people have faced alienation within the urban society, which means we become strangers and no one cares about each other. It follows that the crime rate has increased rapidly; the reason is that the cold attitude between people could possibly had poison immoral thoughts in the human mind. For instance, we might think that if we do something evil in the anonymous city no one would find out, wouldn’t they? Therefore, urban society have suffered from social and moral disintegration. However, at least the optimism suggested that social problems were not unfathomable enigmas, which could be solved through studying the theory of criminology.
Last but not the least, the growing population of cites and the accelerating pace of life had the side of effect of bumping people into heightened emotional tensions. In consequence, alcoholism has become a huge problem to many countries in Europe. The cause of alcoholism is that people could eliminate tense feeling by drinking alcohol, so liquors of various kinds have been mass produced, and then it has become more and more popular. However, the birthrate was concerned in French, some doctors and reformers claimed that they faced racial degeneration, which the reason would likely be pointing to the ravage of alcoholism (Merriman J, 1996: 882-883). As a result, the temperance movements began even though the effect was not significant. Furthermore, the use of drugs became common among the artistic avant-garde, due to it can emancipate human from rationality. Thus, many famous characters have used drugs, such as, Sigmund Freud, Jean Charcot and Pablo Picasso. After the devastating effects of drugs were known, doctors have also found out overuse drugs lead to the psychological illness- the irrationality (Merriman J, 1996: 883-884).
In the meanwhile, some intellectuals and artists begun to insist in the basis of the human mind are irrational; the inner world of the individual has been called as subconscious, is a state may activate human potential. We all know alcoholism and drug uses could lead the human mind become irrational, which means it gives us a way to get into subconscious, and release potential abilities. That is the reason why many notable masterpieces have come into the world in the late 19th to 20th century. Perhaps if, alcohol and drugs were strictly banned at that time until recent years, we would not be able to see these masterpieces. For better or worse, at least in history, this period was the art of the golden age.
In conclusion, it seems like modern life always brings many benefits for modern people, but by reading through the evolution of modernisation in Europe to discover the disadvantages that come along. The crucial influence to people is the healthiness; many findings have now been confirmed that the increasingly rapid pace of modern life is the main cause of many diseases. To sum the effects of modernisation that mentioned above: 1. Industrialisation- the speeding up of lifestyle have increased productivity, and makes life more convenient; 2. Mechanisation- machineries only make lives faster and faster, workers were needed to facilitate mass production in factories, in contrast, transformation society saved both mass culture and high culture; 3. Urbanisation- population growth significantly, modern individuals faced alienation; the moral standard crushed and leads to higher crime rate years by years; 4. Irrationality- a tense and rapid pace of society gives rise to alcoholism and drug uses, which have relieved European minds, but also the declining birth rate and mental issues have become the most crucial impact. The facts tell us that to find a balance between progress and life is an important subject for modernist. Even if, we are tired of progress, we cannot stop making progress, but what we can do is try to make it balance. There still are plenty of ways that we can do to create more effort to make life easier.
Merriman J, 1996. Rapid industrialisation and its challenges, 1870-1914, in A History of Modern Europe, Vol2, pp 882-901.