Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Dangerous Post WWI World

Today we are going to look at the rise of militarism and violent and extreme nationalism in places like Japan, Italy, and the Soviet Union. We are also going to consider the difference between Authoritarianism and Totalitarianism.

The League of Nations began after World War I as a body designed to preclude another disastrous war like the one just concluded.  Along with a bunch of platitudes about respecting the rights of minorities and national boundaries, it placed a lot of hypothetical restrictions on military spending - especially navies. Part of this was self-preservation - navies were expensive. Especially when countries like the USA and Japan could afford to spend more than European nations. But not everybody bought into these restrictions, and it was very unequally followed until the system broke down entirely in the 1930s. 

Japan had been on the move ever since the Meiji Restoration. Building up a powerful army and navy, the most modern in the region, it sought to put this force to good use. The First Sino-Japanese war in 1895 resulted in significantly increased Japanese presence in the Korean Peninsula. This same war gave control of Taiwan to Japan. In 1904-05, the Japanese Empire fought Russia and drove the Czarist forces from Korea completely, leading to Japan's annexation of the peninsula in 1910. Japan used WWI to sieze German holdings in the South Pacific. This was followed by the invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and the second Sino-Japanese war in 1937, which featured the Rape of Nanking. There is a lot of information about this event on the web. Who controls it? We will discuss this.

 Japanese expansionism 1900-1941

So what drove the Japanese to expand in such a fashion? And what was the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere?

Why does this image put me in mind of REM's "Shining Happy People?"
The reality wasn't quite so shiny or happy.

Mussolini was the first true practical progenitor of the theory of Fascism. This is his description of the system, which is worth reading. Hitler may have gone farther, but you could argue that Mussolini was the real innovator.  Of course the Fascists could produce excellent consumer goods, an act of which you could not accuse the Soviets.

 1938 Alfa Romeo Tipo 8C 2900B

But we must consider how Mussolini came to power. Was it just because he supposedly made the "trains run on time?" Perhaps we should consider what was going on in post World War I France with regard to the emergence of Socialist, Communist, and Democratic (and Fascist) wings of the government. What role did violence play in turning the tide?

Even the Russians freely admit that Stalin was a sociopath, and the "Revelations of the Russian Archives" presented by the Library of Congress does much to document that.

Stalin and Colleagues, 1929 (People here are going to die)
From the Library of Congress "Revelations of the Russian Archives" 

What was the Cult of the Personality and who was Leon Trotsky? What happened to ol' Leon?

How would you like to be one of these friends? Here is a letter from one of them.

 But what a nice guy, right?

As this Pravda puff piece from 1930 indicates, the Soviets were not above lying about the success of their collectivization activities.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Troubled Origins of the Modern Middle East

The Ottoman Empire in 1914

Today we are going to look at how the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following the First World War set into motion much of the central tensions that we find in the modern Middle East.

Some of the terms that I'll be using in this lecture include:
T.E. Lawrence
The Arab Revolt of 1916-1918
Sykes-Picot Agreement

Balfour Declaration: which reads... His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

Franco-Syrian War of 1920
San Remo Conference
Class A,B, and C League of Nations Mandates
Mandate for Palestine, July 1922
The emergence of modern Turkey and
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Kingdom of Iraq
1936-39 Arab Revolt

Faisal, Lawrence, & Co at the Treaty of Versailles in 1918

Ottoman administrative divisions in the region of Syria

Mandate Zones based on the Sykes-Picot Agreement


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Modern War, Modern Defeat, Modern Peace

The polyglot Austrian-Hungarian Empire

First off, I think it is important that you recall that Britain's King George V, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and Tsar Nicholas II were COUSINS. They were all grandsons of Queen Victoria of Great Britain. They also looked a lot alike.

After the Battle of Jutland, the Germans had few naval options. We'll spend some time looking at the age-old world of commerce raiding and how the Germans came to the game too late and in the wrong way during the First World War. Some old ways just couldn't be converted to modern means!

The BBC put together this excellent Flash map about the fighting during World War I on the Western Front. We're going to look at it today. 

One of the key problems with fighting WWI was that mobility technology hadn't caught up with firepower technology, at least on land. 
From inter-ord.net: "Since artillery support was not always at hand, German soldiers were provided with their own defensive capability and one form was the Mauser M1918, 13.2mm Anti-Tank Rifle. The large bolt-action rifle proved effective, although its horrendous recoil** was not well received by the troops who had to use it. Since Germany was late to develop tank technology, the Allies never adopted a comparable weapon of their own, but were quick to realize the need to have one as the tank was a certain future threat."

** my aside: you don't say?

Some casualty figures stolen from another website:

Mobilized            Dead         Wounded     Missing/PoW
Russia                12,000,000       1,700,000       4,950,000       2,500,000
Germany               11,000,000       1,773,700       4,216,058       1,152,800
Great Britain          8,904,467         908,371       2,090,212         191,652
France                 8,410,000       1,375,800       4,266,000         537,000
Austria-Hungary        7,800,000       1,200,000       3,620,000       2,200,000
Italy                  5,615,000         650,000         947,000         600,000
US                     4,355,000         126,000         234,300           4,526
Turkey                 2,850,000         325,000         400,000         250,000
Bulgaria               1,200,000          87,500         152,390          27,029
Japan                    800,000             300             907               3
Rumania                  750,000         335,706         120,000          80,000
Serbia                   707,343          45,000         133,148         152,958
Belgium                  267,000          13,716          44,686          34,659
Greece                   230,000           5,000          21,000           1,000
Portugal                 100,000           7,222          13,751          12,318
Montenegro                50,000           3,000          10,000           7,000
Some interesting statistics from the Canadian government on how casualty rates compared between the two world wars. 
In short, Canada on the above table would fit between Italy and Russia with 13.5% of soldiers killed in battle. 47.3% were wounded, which comes second only to France. Six out of every ten Canadians were killed or wounded in the Great War.

World War I memorial in East Angus, Quebec

Over 6.5 of every 10 soldiers from France were either wounded or killed in the First World War. This figure is 5.4 Germany and 5.9 for Austria-Hungary. One-Third of all British soldiers were killed or wounded. Only 8% of American soldiers shared this fate.

Because so many men were mobilized (and if you consider the shadow of civilian mobilization) you might consider how that would change the societies from which the combatants came.

Here is a link to a great film about the War Poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen

After the war (a prelude to a coming lecture.)

A great page on the early radio by the University of Virginia

A scene from Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times

Chapter 19 Terms

Chapter 19:
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Vladimir Lenin
Treaty of Versailles
Liberal Capitalism
Authoritarianism (Totalitarianism)
Whites (not the band, Jack, etc.)
Beer Hall Putsch
The Enabling Act
Getúlio Vargas
Salt March
Chiang Kai-shek
White Wolf
Mustafa Kemal "Ataturk"

Your Extra Credit Opportunity

I have been hounded for extra credit opportunities for this class. I seldom offer such opportunities. BUT, I will offer ONE opportunity for extra credit, and it will require some effort on your part. If you cannot make it to this event, that is just bad luck.

Our event will be on Friday evening, April 8, at the New Orleans Museum of Art. They have a traveling exhibit on display that features Zen Calligraphy. Titled "The Sound of One Hand: Paintings and Calligraphy by Zen Master Hakuin"

As part of this exhibit, they have a lecture and demonstration titled "The Creation of Zen Calligraphy" at 6:30 PM on Friday, April 8. My plan is for you to go tour the exhibit at 5:00 PM and attend the lecture at 6:30. I will be there with a sign-in page.

If you attend this lecture, I will boost your first test grade by 10 percent, or an ENTIRE letter grade.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lecture Question

I said that I would add a question from the first lecture after Test 1, and here it is:

Describe how the tension between modernity and traditionalism fueled discord in Western nations between 1815 and 1900, considering case studies of England, France, Germany, the U.S.A., and Japan.

Monday, March 14, 2011

National Modernity in the East

An early scene from 55 Days at Peking

We'll talk a little bit about this American movie made in 1963 and the memory of the Boxer Rebellion.

But overall, we'll be talking about anti-colonial movements and the formation of modern states in India and China at the turn of the twentieth century.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chapter 18: Review Terms and Questions

Cultural Modernism
Boxer Rebellion
"spheres of influence" versus the "open door"
Labor Party (Britain) - (what did it signify?)
Porfirio Díaz
Diego Rivera
Sigmund Freud and Friedrich Nietzsche
Popular culture: lithographs, vaudeville, professional sports, newspapers
Pablo Picasso
Shanghai School
Sun Yat-Sen

How did German unity foster new rivalries in Europe?

What was Bismark's approach to social unrest among the poor?

In what way was the Boxer Rebellion anti-modern? How did this differ dramatically from the political vision of Sun Yat-Sen?

How did the Swadeshi movement differ from earlier revolutionary movements in India?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Into Africa

Defense of Rorke's Drift by Alphonse de Neuville

Southern Africa, 1885

Boer Rebels

Some terms that I'll use in Wednesday's lecture:

The Great Trek
Rorke's Drift
Cecil Rhodes
Boer War 1899-1902
Jameson Raid
Kimberly Diamond Fields
Orange Free State
South African Republic (Transvaal Republic)
Witwatersrand Gold Rush