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Freedom from Enlightenment and Connecting to Modern Day 

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Freedom is something that should be present in every country throughout the world but is often not. Two of the biggest events in history; Enlightenment and Imperialism shaped Political, Economic, Social, And Cultural Freedom throughout the world. The views and ideas of Enlightenment shaped many modern government and societies. An example of this is The Declaration of Rights and Man of Citizen which reflects Enlightenment Philosophies and Ideologies on government. On the other hand, Imperialism caused mass freedom injustice and caused many developing societies to collapse.

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The White Man’s Burden by Rudyard Kipling is a poem that reflects Imperialistic ideas and thinking while the movie Hotel Rwanda shows how Imperialistic powers in Europe removed freedom and caused Genocide in Africa. Currently, our World is freer than Imperialistic Times but isn’t as free as The Enlightenment. Even though many imperialistic Powers have since fallen and have adopted more Freedom. But according to FreedomHouse. org in 2018, democracy has fallen into a crisis, where freedom has decreased in more countries than countries with freedom increasing. The impact of Political power on people’s freedom during the French revolution was significant. The political power in France was mainly controlled by the church and the 1st and 2nd estate. The 3rd estate of France (which consisted of 98% of people) was given little to no control over government actions and lawmaking. This caused most people (3rd estate) in France to have no freedom and little to no control of their rights, while the higher class got to control everyone else’s rights.

The Resolution of the French revolution caused the spread of enlightenment ideas which also caused a huge shift in government power from a monarchy to people governed government. A similar situation happened in Latin America when the French overthrew an oppressive government. Latin American borrowed the idea/concept and that’s how many South American countries got their independence. Most people in France (3rd estate) had little to no economic freedom. Prior to the French Revolution and the creation of The Declaration of Rights of Man of Citizen, taxes were required for the 3rd estate while the upper estates did not have to pay any taxes. Because of these high taxes, many French people became very poor while the other classes became rich. The 3rd estate challenged the government with the influence of Enlightenment ideas. Which later caused the French Revolution to question the intent of the upper estates.

The resolution was the creation of The Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen. This made taxation equal and caused the burden of taxes to be immensely lessened on the 3rd estate. This caused them to have economic freedom, meaning they could keep more of their money instead of it being snatched from taxes. Inequality and Segregation was the norm for the French Society prior to the French Revolution. In France, during this time the 1st and 2nd class were the main rulers of society. They were much more superior than the 3rd class people. Because of these unequal social classes, the classes didn’t get along and there was turmoil between the lower and upper class. The 3rd estate didn’t like this inequality from the upper classes & the government. They then challenged their rule. The Declaration of Rights of the man of citizen said that the government had to preserve the rights of man and that society was equal, meaning that the people controlled the government and no one person is superior to another, The Culture of the French people changed quite a bit from the French Revolutionary war and Enlightenment ideas. Prior to the French revolution, people were segregated and many people had no basic right such as Rights of religion, expression, and speech.

The attitude of people also changed, after the French revolution. Enlightenment ideas were beginning to get more accepted and embraced, people began to have an open mind and individualism began to be celebrated. This was all caused by The Church having less power in the spread of information and control of religion and culture. This lack of power caused the Scientific Revolution to also become more embraced and widespread which changed how people viewed the world. Imperialism Political power had a lot of influence on freedom. When nations would become colonized, the local government would be wiped out immediately. Following this event, the colonizers would establish their government and create laws and government norms. When this occurred they came in the form of strict laws. These laws came in the form of European ideals that had little to no rights for the ordinary citizen. The impact that this government had on freedom caused limited freedom and very strict control for the colonies, which was being controlled by a faraway government that did not care for the people. In the poem “The White Man’s Burden” we see that the author (who is a white man) believes it is the chore of white people to be colonizing and changing nations to make them civilized and influenced by Europeans. Money and Economics had a major impact on freedom in Imperialized colonies. New age imperialism is what many countries practiced. They would do this by going to a weak nation with developing societies and start to control the land and government. After they establish themselves, they would use that country to benefit their economy. For example, they would use natural resources and local labor from the region to create goods to sell. In this process, freedom was lost because the colonized country now has no control of their economy, what they were producing, and how to spend their natural resources. In “The White Man’s Burden” it states that imperialist powers should aim to change colonized countries in a more economical colonial style nation. Socially imperialistic Powers had a lot of impact on a colonized nation’s freedom. Imperialistic powers would usually colonize then would complicate and many times destroy the social structure of a society.

An example of this can be seen in the Film “Hotel Rwanda” when Belgium colonized Rwanda they influenced and changed society then they split the population into two groups. These were called the Hutus and the Tutsis. The splitting caused people who were no different from one another to have hatred for one another. Social freedom was not found in a colonized imperialistic society. Because of strict rules European standards and ideals did not usually fit well with the society of other nations. This meant that many freedoms that once were available socially became unavailable because of the social structure of the nation changed. Culture is one of the major aspects of Imperialism because it forever changed nations and cultures. Culture is an integral piece that is found in a civilization that shows what it’s ideals, and core principles are and it’s thinking. During the New Imperialism era, many countries became imperialized and colonized by major powers (mainly Europe). This caused a new influx of European ideas and culture. With the arrival of the new culture, the existing culture soon disappeared. This included languages, tradition, and clothing that became obsolete. Imperialism limits cultural freedom by not letting people practice their culture and custom. and to instead coercing people to follow European culture and customs. In the Poem “The White Man’s Burden” it says that many cultures that are not similar to European cultures are “uncivilized” and “not proper” and that it is the job of white men to purify and civilize these people.

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To summarize, Enlightenment and Imperialistic ideas influenced many countries and caused increased or decreased freedom in those countries. These enlightenment and imperialistic ideas are also prevalent in modern society in terms of freedom. Both old and new Enlightenment and Imperialistic ideas can be found in the lenses of Social, economic, and Political, and Cultural Freedom. A great Example of Enlightenment ideas and views on the 4 lenses can be the seen in The Declaration of Rights and Man of Citizen. While Imperialistic ideas and philosophies can be seen in the poem, “The White Man’s Burden” where it describes how imperialistic power thought and the movie Hotel Rwanda. which shows the effects of imperialism These 4 lenses can also be seen in our modern freedom in terms of how free our world is compared to past Imperialistic and Enlightenment eras

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