Changing political attitudes

The philosopher Karl Marx
Philosopher Karl Marx

During the second half of the 1800s, socialism began to spread throughout Europe.

This ideology put forward the view that:

  • the workers were responsible for producing a country’s wealth
  • workers should be able to influence politics
  • political power should be distributed more evenly among the population

By the 1870s, many trade unionists supported this new ideology. It appeared to offer a brighter future for the working class.

Threat of revolution

Marxists (followers of Karl Marx’s views of socialism) and some of the more militant socialists, believed that violent revolution was the only way to change the unfair political systems that existed in Europe.

One such revolution occurred in Russia in 1917, overthrowing the traditional government and bringing in firstly a more democratic government, then a communist dictatorship.

As a result socialism was seen by many landowners and businessmen as a real threat to their interests.

If large numbers of people were denied the vote then they might be attracted to new dangerous political ideologies. Including more of the working class in the political system might make them less likely to support such revolutionary ideas.