Has the concentration of power in the hands of a centralized government been a good thing for Western society?
I think it has been a good thing. I don't necessarily believe that a monarchy is the greatest form of government, but these models of more centralized forms of government eventually would lead to republics and democracies, which are the foundations for Western governments. A centralized and focused power led to more political organization and strength of the state. This in turn allowed nations to build strong armies to better defend themselves, allowed them the security to develop their own economies and trade patterns, and allowed them the freedom to develop their own cultures and sense of nationalism. ~Ashley
I think it has definitely been beneficial for Western Society. Like Ashley stated, we do not get republics or democracies without first centralizing power in someway. The 13 American Colonies, for example, after the Revolution, realized that not having centralized power was detrimental to them as a nation, so they decided to centralize power in the creation of the Constitution. Also, the centralization of power leads to a much more efficient, and therefore powerful government capable of doing more things, like getting the money to explore and colonize new territories. – Erin :)
Overall it has been good for Western Society. Like Ashely and Erin said, a centralized government is a fundamental part of creating and maintaining a strong country politically and militarily. The centralization was also key because it allowed the monarchs to focus on exterior aspects of governing, such as trade and exploration, once the internal aspects of governing were handled. However, too much centralization of power can be a bad thing. If taken to the extreme, it can lead to dictators, Hitler, Mussolini, Castro, etc, who take complete control of a country politically, socially, and economically. The creation of a stronger central government was a big step in the growth of Western Society, but as with most things, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. -Sam
In the end I think the movement towards centralized power has been positive for Western society because of the effectiveness and stability it brings to government. A centralized source of power, as seen in its earliest form in monarchies of the 15th and 16th centuries, allows for larger regions to find common cause and give true definition to a certain country. But all of this stuff has been pretty much stated so, I think there is some merit in local governments that were widespread before the onset of centralized power in Europe. Local governments were more representative of their people. If the modern world had not moved towards a national governing style, we might not have had large-scale wars like the World Wars or even the Hundred Years War, all mostly caused by power struggles between centralized nations. These more decentralized governments required much less cooperation within their region and though not as powerful, would have less people to please. This argument is maybe not as supported as the success of centralized power, but it is something to think about: what if Europe had just remained in separate towns/villages? Was it necessary to change? -Becca
I don't think it was necessary to centralize power, and maybe if governments had remained small and local, there would have been fewer conflicts and World Wars. However, if every village was separate, artistic/scientific advances might not have spread so easily. For example, during the Middle Ages, power was not centralized, so villages and towns did not have the means or motivation to explore the world and exchange ideas with different people. This isolation resulted in a relatively stagnant cultural and intellectual age. On the other hand, the new centralized European nations were motivated to expand because of new nationalistic sentiments as well as political, economic, and religious competition. I also think that the shift to centralized power would have happened sooner or later because as small villages come into conflict with each other, other villages take a side, and eventually would combine to form a larger unified state. -Grace
I believe that the centralization of power for a nation-state government was good for western society because these rulers encouraged growth of trade, overseas expansion, and attempts to relieve social distress. People were able to now live in a territory that was culturally and politically the same. Rulers had authority that actually held worth and weakened all rivals to the crown by creating bureaucratic characteristics of the modern state. There was no longer a bloody scramble for power anymore so the person in power could focus on the economic well-being of the territory and other things that they felt necessary. - Chuka
Like pretty much everyone else, I’m agreeing with Ashley here on some points. Without the centralization of the government, democracies and modern form of governments would not have had anywhere to begin. The centralization of power made people more nationalistic and solidified the cultures of each nation, but in turn polarized Europe and led to more violent clashes in Europe. Though the centralization of power helps nations to strengthen individually and become, as Erin said, more efficient and effective, I think that it ended up hurting Europe, because without the centralization of the governments, there wouldn’t be as much nation-identification and therefore less war. However, the competition created by the centralization of power ended up benefiting Western culture because it spurred on trade and exploration of the New World. - Leora
Although the centralization of power united many nations internally and led to massive exploration and foreign trade, many of these centralized powers damaged far more than they improved. In an attempt to unify the majority of their people, many of the new monarchs of this era persecuted thousands of their own countrymen, and forced them into exile, or had them killed. The religious conflicts, among others, even spilled into international affairs, starting many wars between many of the centralized powers, which were now powerful enough to wage them. Moreover, as the centralized powers gained momentum, clashes arose between these nations as each attempted to grab as much land as they could in Europe and abroad. Centralization at a less extreme level was definitely an improvement for the nations individually, so that they could now move forward as a unified body, however, the more power each of these nations gained, the more ruthless and greedy each one became. I do not think that the centralization of power was worth all of the conflict and bloodshed. -Alexis
I agree with Ashley that in the long run, centralization of power was a good thing for Western society because it allowed for exploration and the economic development of secularized nation-states. Since basically everything I wanted to say has been said…In response to Leora and Alexis's arguments, war is obviously not a positive thing, but I think the polarization of nations has allowed for more cultural diversity throughout Europe as opposed to one large European entity, and war can also be beneficial in many ways, including forcing governments to reevaluate policies, encouraging development of technology, and controlling population. Also, war and conflict are an intrinsic part of human nature. Connie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I think centralized power has been a good thing for Western society because having one power governing the affairs of a country is much more organized than multiple powers, decisions could not be made effectively because no one would agree with each other. Having one monarch to make executive decisions allowed countries to develop much faster. Also, as everyone else mentioned, it provided unity for democracies and republics. Kristen.
Basically everything has been covered already, but yes, the move to a more centralized government has benefited Western society. Previously to the new monarchs, power was spread over a wide area and in the hands of countless nobles with rule over their own domains. It also brought about a boom in exploration and commerce. Kingdoms like France and England were able to become very powerful with a strong king, as the Holy Roman Empire had a harder time keeping up with its broken up provinces. Also, new forms of government were able to be made with united nations. Democracy would not work with disorganized states, the people would side with their own rulers and any type of centralization would be nearly impossible. Thanks to stronger kings, the individual states would now answer to one power. —- Hayes