Conservapedia:World History Lecture Eleven
World History – WWI, Communism, and the 1920s
Instructor, Andy Schlafly
Outline of Lecture:
|The “Great War,” which was what we now call World War I, lasted in Europe from 1914 to 1918. It was the first global war in world history. It was the first war that used aircraft, including airplanes and blimps. The “Bloody Red Baron,” made famous later by a humorous song featuring the dog “Snoopy”, was a German ace fighter pilot named Manfred von Richthofen (1892-1918). Considered the greatest fighter pilot ever, Richthofen shot down 80 enemy aircraft during the war before being killed by anti-aircraft fire from the ground.||
"Listen carefully, kamaraden. The Schlafly Plan has failed in spectacular fashion. Instead of enabling us to sweep through the undefended provinces of Truth and Reason with childlike ease in order to crush the foul armies of Fact, we are now bogged down in calamity. The roads to Conservapedian victory are clogged with feckless footsoldiers lost by their bumbling officers; the rails are gridlocked by juggernauts of Fundafascist crap, while Truthers and so-called "historians" snipe at us from behind every bush and garden wall. There is only one solution, one way out of this disaster. We must make some examples! Terrorise the populace so that they no longer resist our crusade to crush Truth before it crushes us! Oberleutnant von Kendoll, fetch me that bystander over there!"
"Monsieur Anonymous readers of this site. , you are hereby found guilty of espionage and sabotage against the Conservapedian Königreich. The penalty for this heinous crime is death. May Gott im Himmel have mercy on your soul."
Come, citizens!! The Rape of Rationalism is afoot! These filthy hordes of slavering Conservapedians are rampaging across Terra, and it is the duty of every liberty-loving man, woman, and child to take up arms against the encroaching evil! Report to your nearest Recruiting Station - university, college, nightclass, school - and select your branch of service. Together, we shall smite the foe! Total war needs total committment!! Aux Armes, Citoyens! Ce-ci c'est la Mobilisation Général!!
Luckily, like the Western Entente facing the Central Powers in August 1914, we are aided by the sheer crapness of our enemies. Notice Andy's opening to this segment. Calling the 1914-1918 conflict the "first global conflict in history" is simply not true. As he (remarkably) gets right, people at the time did not call it a "World War" - that phrase was coined by Winston Churchill in the late 1940s. It was the "Great War" ("Great" obviously in a pejorative sense) and historians squabble over just what counts as a "world war". What about the Napoleonic Wars? The War of the Austrian Succession? The Seven Years' War? The Thirty Years' War? The American Revolution? All of these, and more, were conflicts fought by multiple nations on multiple continents and oceans, with global consequences. The 1914-1918 conflict was not a qualitative change, but a quantitative one. That is, the war was only unique because of the sheer intensity with which it was waged, not the geographic, national, cultural, or chronological spread. Come on Andy. Oh, and it wasn't the first war to use aircraft. The Battle of Fleurus in 1794 saw the first use of a hot air balloon for reconnaissance (cunningly, French observers in the balloon wrote information about Austrian movements on pieces of paper, rolled them around the tether cord, and let gravity carry the dispatches down to the French general on the field), while the first use of powered aeroplanes for combat was in the 1911 Italo-Turkish War, when an Italian aeroplane dropped hand grenades on a Turkish camp in Libya. And to cap it all, he ends with some pithy comment about the Red Baron, referenced via the medium of a Snoopy song. Why?! And do your bloody research, Andy!!
|World War I saw the first use of other weapons: machine guns, poisonous gas, large artillery and armored tanks. This war was a “total war” because the governments involved took control over the economy and factories, giving first priority to the goods needed for war. Wage and price controls were imposed, there was rationing of consumption of goods by civilians, and free speech was limited. Instead, the governments put out propaganda to maximize support for the war and dislike of the enemy.||
No, no, no. Let's ignore Andy's ironic bitch about state preoccupation with propaganda and war (**cough**CHENEY**cough**) and instead examine his happy little grocery list.
|With nearly all the young European men sent to battle, the women filled the factory jobs previously filled by men. Women tested munitions in factories, for example, and performed other strenuous jobs. Historians cite this shift in the workforce as being instrumental in changing attitudes about the proper role for women in society.||Careful Andy, this is dangerously close to support for female empowerment. Don't Christoservatives want women to be mere chattel? Barefoot and pregnant, chained to the kitchen sink? That's the Biblical ideal! If only that malodorous little turd Ann Coulter would practice what she preaches. Ah well, she'll die soon, and when she does, we'll have a party. I'll bring some good sherry. Terribly English.|
|World War I was so deadly that it killed an entire generation of men. In 1918, a deadly strain of the influenza called the “Spanish flu” killed 20 million people, including both civilians and soldiers. In addition another 9 million soldiers were killed in battle, and 21 million injured. Hundreds of thousands of Christian Armenians were slaughtered by the Ottoman Turks as a “genocide” or racial cleansing. The Ottomans also deported nearly two million Armenians in retaliation for their support of the Allies.||Andy is actually close to the truth here. The First World War was not simply the slaughter of ten million men, it was the slaughter of ten million young men. The demographic impact in Europe was severe, as the pool of potential fathers was drastically reduced. That is a very sterile, statistical, grim way to phrase ten million husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers bleeding in the mud, but remember that World War One command staff were hardly the most caring of people. The bureaucrats of the German General Staff coined a word for all those shellshocked young boys crying in the trenches - "Menschenmaterial". This was picked up by the Western Entente, who adopted their own translated version - "Human Resources". Remember that next time you get a pissy email from your HR department. The Armenian Genocide by the Ottomans was indeed a nightmare, but in predictable fashion, Andy is simply parading all those corpses before us in order to whine about the apparent "persecution" of pseudoChristians. Tosser. Casualties for the "Spanish Flu" of 1918-1922 vary between 25-65 million, due to inadequate record keeping in the colonies (where the Flu hit hardest) and the vagueness of the pandemic in its earliest stages. Anyway, why is Andy talking about 1918? Wasn't he talking about 1914 just a second ago? Is this an Introduction or a Summary? Either way, it's pretty shit.|
|As great as this cost of war was, the irony was that the war settled nothing and simply set the stage for another terrible world war about twenty years later. The Communist Revolution, which threatened the entire world for most of the 1900s, also occurred during World War II.||
Oh great, a crappy little polemic straight from a 1950s-era textbook. World War One caused World War Two, huh? Well the First World War was indeed - from our perspective - a pointless waste of lives (aren't all wars? Oops, sorry, I hear my soapbox creaking), but it did have lasting effects. Whether or not the war "solved" pre-war problems is a matter of interpretation. What Andy should stress is that by 1918, the problems of 1914 was becoming increasingly marginalised compared to the problems which had arisen since then, and were continuing during the Paris Peace Conference. But no, instead of suggesting this, he instead lazily plumps for a snide bitch about the Commies. How unsurprising.Well this is a great start for his huimzckuulerz. The attempt at an Introduction has simply confused the hell out of his readers, leaving them bumbling around in an unknown land, searching for any sort of solution. It's the Schlieffen Plan all over again. Well, let's seel where the Schlafly Plan will lead us...
World War I
|On the side of the Central Powers were Austria-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria and the Ottoman empire. On other side were the Allies of Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Japan and, beginning in 1917, the United States.||Apparently Greece, Romania, Belgium, and Serbia never fought in the war. Great work there, Andy.|
|Germany was still a very young country at the time of World War I. Recall that Germany became a nation under Otto von Bismarck in 1871, so it had only been in existence for a mere 43 years when hostilities broke out in 1914. But Germany had marvelous technology and a nationalistic spirit that did not expect to lose. Germany had a population of 68 million people in 1914, and had the best science and technology also. Germany feared no other nation, and had no reason to. It had every expectation to be able to defeat any European opponent.||Why is it important that Germany was a young nation? Are countries not supposed to fight wars until they reach a legal age limit? As for German technology, that was on the same level as machies possessed by the Entente powers. It is true that Germany's manufacturing and industrial production capacities were higher than any other single country in Europe, but that was a quantitative and not qualitative change.|
Great Battles of World War I
|This is easy, because there were not many great battles of World War I. It was mostly trench warfare, but highly deadly. Horrific poisonous gas was even used.||Christ. Let's ignore for the moment that Andy doesn't actually define what criteria (geography, timespan, numbers involved, strategic outcome, etc) makes a battle "great" (and also ignore that Conservapedia's homework for this tosh actually asks students "What is your favourite battle of World War One?" Are we supposed to like battles?) and simply focus on the sheer inanity of this statement. The First World War was essentially one vast battle. There were periods when the intensity increased, but generally fighting was perpetual throughout the period. Andy implies that there was no other form of fighting than trench warfare. Well, from August to November 1914, the fighting was back-and-forth until both sides decided to dig in and wait to emerge from a war of attrition. So he's wrong chronologically. He's also wrong geographically, as the often-forgotten Eastern Front of the war, between the Germans/Austro-Hungarians/Bulgarians versus the Russians/Serbians/Romanians, did not see trench warfare due to the sheer distances involved. He also ignores fighting outside of Europe, such as the Entente campaigns against the Ottomans in the Holy Land and Mesopotamia, and the fighting between rival colonial forces. He also completely ignores naval warfare. Strange, considering that he discussed the importance of the Naval Arms Race in his previous lecture. Even by Andy's low standards, these oversights are piss-poor.|
|There were four great battles before large numbers of American soldiers reached Europe in 1917.||Christ, Andy. Here, Andy is not only making an abysmal oversight of the scale of the war by reducing it to four shitty little snapshots, but (predictably) proclaims "Uncle Sam to the rescue!!" because, of course, we non-Americans are utterly incapable of doing anything until the Yanks turn up. So, let's see what everyone's favourite xenophobe has to say about battles between us dirty ferriners...|
|In April 1915, an amphibious Allied force landed on the Turkish peninsula of Gallipoli in a misguided attempt to knock Turkey out of the war. Though the Allies greatly outnumbered the Turks, Turkish fighters are extremely tenacious and they held their ground. The Allies did not properly understand the terrain and suffered from inadequate intelligence about the enemy. Nine months later the Allies had to withdraw, after suffering 46,000 deaths among over 250,000 casualties.||
This is an interesting place to start. April 1915. Apparently in Andy's world, the war started in August 1914 but the first nine months of combat were devoid of actual fighting. No reference to the German sieges of Belgian fortresses during the Schlieffen Plan. No Battle of the Marne at which the French and British halted the German advance on Paris. No mention of the Battle of Tannenberg in late 1914 at which the Germans repulsed a Russian invasion of Germany, nor of the French grand strategy, Plan 17, in which a million Frenchmen were killed or wounded in a badly-mismanaged attempt to invade Alsace-Lorraine. Really, Andy, this stuff isn't secret...So, Gallipoli. By early 1915 the Western Front had bogged down into trench warfare while the Eastern Front had reached stalemate. Fearing that they did not have the industrial capacity nor manpower to fight a war of attrition against Germany, the Entente Powers indeed decided to try and knock Germany's allies out of the war. Franco-British incursions into Palestine were fairly feeble. So the British Empire launched an invasion of the Dardanelles, indeed hoping to knock the Ottomans out of the war by capturing Constantinople and opening the Dardanelles to allow trade to Russia through the Black Sea, and possibly bring other Balkan states into the war on the side of the Triple Alliance. A combination of poor planning, poor logistics, and superior Ottoman leadership meant that the British-French-Australian-New Zealand expedition was decimated. The Ottoman Army, led by Mustafa Kemal (later General Atatürk, the President of Turkey) equipped with heavy artillery from Germany, mounted a fierce resistance. Covered by naval artillery fire the Allies managed to capture the beaches, but with extremely high casualties. Over the next few days the Turkish Navy mounted several successful torpedo-boat attacks against the Royal Navy, forcing the Allied fleet to withdraw, thus depriving the troops of artillery support. The Allies, who had not pushed inland due to bad logistics and intelligence, fought stalemate campaigns with the Ottoman forces throughout the summer, until in August 1915 an attempted Allied offensive was crushed with heavy losses on both sides. When Bulgaria joined the Central Powers in October 1915, a direct land route from Germany to Turkey was opened up, allowing rapid transit of heavy artillery and Bulgarian soldiers to reinforce the Ottomans. The British Empire evacuated its troops from October to January 1916. Andy gets the figures wrong (odd for a mathematician). It is estimated that almost 400,000 men were killed in the campaign, with combined Allied killed and wounded around 140,000, against some 250,000 Ottoman dead and wounded. Get used to these ghastly figures. They just get worse. As, predictably, does Andy's narrative...
|In 1916, the Battle of Verdun between the French and Germans was perhaps the most demanding battle in world history. The struggle started when the Germans attacked Verdun, France, a city surrounded by a ring of underground forts. At least 220,000 soldiers died, and at least 480,000 were wounded in this 10-month struggle that accomplished nothing. At the end the front lines were in nearly the same locations as at the beginning.||
Ah, Verdun. Even today it is still a word which the French and Germans associate with extreme grimness. By early 1916, both the Allies and Central Powers on the Western Front had realised that they could not break through the trench lines, and casualties were mounting. So the German General Erich von Falkenhayn proposed a simple, ghastly strategy - bleed France white. He planned a major offensive whose name was not to capture territory or strategic points, but simply to throw as many Frenchmen as possible into the meatgrinder, and hope that Germany's larger army would survive long enough to break through once the French collapsed. Hence, the Battle of Verdun.Verdun had, until February 1916, been one of the quietest stretches of the unbroken trenchlines running from the Belgian beaches to the Swiss border. Defended by a ring of immense underground fortresses, the Germans had been reluctant to try and attack the city, yet Falkenhayn knew that if the Germans did attack, the French would be obliged to defend the city out of fear of losing the most heavily-fortified position on the Western Front - even though the Germans had no intention of actually capturing the fortresses. So, when the Germans began shelling the shit out of the region, the French indeed rushed men and material into the Verdun sector. The fortresses changed hands at first, until the sheer amount of artillery shells in the air reduced even underground concrete fortresses to ruins. And if they could do that, you can imagine what they did to men on both sides, huddling in trenches. The french, though, held out. Building a railway and road to move trains and trucks of supplies into the sector ("La Voie Sacrée", the "Sacred Way") day and night, and bringing up hundreds of artillery pieces, the French held on to what the troops termed "The Mincing Machine". By December 1916 some 163,000 Frenchmen had been killed, around 143,000 Germans, and half a million wounded on each side. Andy is largely right about this paragraph. Falkenhayn's plan both worked and failed - it bled the French Army white, but it did the same to the Germans, and after eleven months of fighting the front lines had barely changed. It's a bit of an oversight to claim that the First World War was a pointless conflict, but Verdun arguably was exactly that. A million men lost, and for nothing at all. Unusual of Andy to paint the grim reality of war, rather than proselytise about the apparent nobility of militarism. Maybe he's finally coming round to a pacifist point of view...?
|Also in 1916, and also in France, the British and French armies met at the Somme River to begin a massive attack on the Germans in order to distract them from Verdun. This became the Battle of the Somme, and the fighting was even heard across the British channel in England. First the Allies “shelled” (fired many shots and bombs) at the Germans to weaken them, and then 100,000 British soldiers charged the enemy. But the shelling did not have its intended effect, as the Germans were dug in too deeply to be affected by it. On July 1, 1916, the Germans killed 20,000 of the British soldiers and wounded over 40,000, making it the single worst day for the British in their history. This battle, which did not succeed in moving trench lines, eventually involved over 2 million men along a 30-mile front. The British and French lost nearly 750,000 men.||
Let's ignore Andy's crap errors (it's the "English Channel" and "Britain", not the "British Channel" and "England", moron. Oh, and thanks for the definition of "shelling" which confuses rifle-shots and air-drop bombs with actual artillery projectiles. And there weren't 100,000 men, there were 90,000) and examine the Somme.
The Somme was indeed opened to relieve pressure on the French at Verdun, by launching a British attack further west against the Germans. The Somme was every bit as deadly as Verdun, but for different reasons. Verdun was, from the very start, intended to simply be a meatgrinder, wearing the two sides down until one shattered. The Somme, though, was intended to be an alternative to save lives, and a complex strategy was created. As the failures of this strategy exemplify the nature of World War One-style combat, let's examine them in greater detail.
World War One was an artillery war, and artillery dominated every battle. The basic British strategy was to quickly obliterate the German lines at the Somme with artillery shells. Lots of artillery shells. In the last week of June 1916, the British fired over one million shells - nearly one hundred shells per minute, every minute, for a week. The British General Staff rightly presumed that with that much steel coming down, nothing at all could survive in the German trenches, and thus when the shelling ceased, the British infantry would be able to simply saunter across no-man's-land and take the trenches. However, this was a ghastly failure.
So, when the guns fell silent on the morning of July 1st 1916, the British assumed that they would face no resistance at all. They'd fired off a million shells, and they presumed nothing could survive that. Yet in reality, few of the shells had actually hit their targets or even detonated, and those which were on-target couldn't destroy earthworks. The Germans had deep dugouts, and while we can't begin to imagine the psychological effect of having hundreds of thousands of tonnes of exploding steel raining down on raw conscripts for an entire week, the Germans did hold themselves together. When the shelling stopped they emerged from their dugouts to find 90,000 British soldiers walking calmly across no-man's-land, disoriented by the devastated landscape, milling around the uncut barbed wire, not realising the Germans setting the sights on their machine-guns. You can imagine what happened.
British casualties on July 1st, 1916, were in excess of 60,000 dead and wounded. This was 20% of the entire British Army. In one day. And as volunteer regiments were organised by town of origin, whole communities of young men were wiped out in one go. Yet this was just the beginning. Over the next five months, the British and French Empires lost up to 630,000 men. The German Empire lost somewhere around 470,000 men. When the fighting in the Somme sector died down in November 1916, the Allies had advanced less than ten kilometres. To put that as a Schlafly Statistic, for every centimetre of ground taken, a man died.There's a reason people at the time called it "The War to End All Wars".
Third Battle of Ypres
(Also known as the Battle of Passchendaele)
|For 18 months the British hid 19 huge land mines underneath the German lines southeast of Ypres, Belgium, a location that had already seen battles in 1914 and 1915. The British then detonated those massive mines, and charged the German positions in July 1917. At first the strategy worked, as the Germans were confused and disorganized. But the British did not pursue the Germans as quickly as they should have. Rain began to drench the area in one of the wettest fall seasons there in years. Soon the British forces were stuck in a mountain of mud, and this Allied plan was yet another failure.||
Passchendaele, like the Somme, was another British strategy to relieve German pressure on the French. Andy hasn't bothered telling us this, but in early 1917 the French Army came close to total collapse as mutinies broke out among regiments. French losses since the start of the war had been horrific, and in April 1917 an enormous amount of hope was placed in a strategy created by the Hero of Verdun, General Nivelle, to break the Germans at Chemins des Daimes. But in a repeat of the Somme, the Germans were well-protected from the French artillery (by caves and quarries deep underground), and when French troops attacked the German lines, 90,000 Frenchmen were killed, 30,000 wounded, and 150 tanks destroyed. The tank, recently pioneered by the British, seemed a miracle weapon to save the infantry from machine-guns. But when what was essentially the entire French tank force was destroyed and a horrific 90,000 men killed in one afternoon, all the desperate hope invested in Nivelle's plan was shattered. The French troops (who had the worst food, worst medical care, worst pay, and worst conditions of all the Western Front combatants) became so desperately depressed that whole divisions refused to fight. Many shot their own officers, while others determined to defend their positions but refused to attack the Germans. As this coincided with the February Revolution in Russia, the Allied leaders did not dare risk a revolution by the French Army, so entered into negotiations. To keep the Germans from attacking during these negotiations, and to keep the British troops from finding out (and thus probably mutinying as well), the Allied commanders launched a diversionary attack of British Empire troops on the Germans in Belgium. Hence, Passchandaele.
Passchandaele was, like most battles of the time, a disaster. Britain's latest plan to circumvent the Germans (who had reinforced their trenches with concrete bunkers) was indeed to dig tunnels and lay mines, which were detonated on 7th June 1917. The Germans had been aware of the tunneling and some tunnel battles had been fought, but they grossly underestimated the scale. The explosion at Messines Ridge, one of only 19, was heard in London and Paris, and erased half a mountain. It was the largest manmade explosion before the atom bomb, and killed 10,000 Germans immediately. Yet despite this start, the Allies bogged down in fighting and failed to capture objectives. By November 1917 the Allies had taken between 200-450,000 casualties, while the Germans took between 260-400,000. The sheer scale of the fighting destroyed so many bodies, historians still are unsure just how many men died there. Oh, and an Andy-style factoid: Passchendaele is where an obscure Austrian corporal serving in the Germany Army, by the name of Adolf Hitler, was wounded by rifle-fire and poison gas. And a Schlafly Statistic - one man died for every two centimetres of ground taken, not one man per centimetre. How cheerful.
These last two oversights are appalling. Considering that naval rivalries were one of the key motives for going to war in 1914 (a fact which Andy actuall mentioned in the previous class, the lack of discussion is dreadful. Put briefly, the Allied fleets bottled up the Germans by sealing off the English Channel and North Sea, thus denying imports to Germany, while Allied ships chased down the few German vessels already at sea when the war began. Yet in 1916 the German High Seas Fleet tried to break the blockade - evidently Andy has never heard of the Battle of Jutland between the German High Seas Fleet and the British Grand Fleet; a stalemate battle in which twenty-five battleships and nearly ten thousand men went to the bottom of the North Sea.
Equally, he has obviously never heard of the Eastern Front, as the Russians/Serbians/Romanians fought the Germans/Austro-Hungarians/Bulgarians. The Germans and Austrians took killed-and-wounded casualties of over a million, the Romanians 800,000, and the Russians ten million. The style of fighting was very different to the Western Front - due to the sheer scale of the Eastern Front, not enough men could be massed in one area to warrant trenches or enable quick breakthroughs, and fighting was back-and-forth in western Russian territory througout 1914-1917. German reinforcements from the West in 1915 caused the front to move further east for a time, and while the Russians had far, far more men, their manufacturing and logistics networks were abysmal. The result was that the Germans had the material but not the men, the Russians had the men but not the material. Romania fell to the Germans in late 1916, forcing the Russians to withdraw further, where they held the line against the Central Powers until revolutions in February and October 1917 ended the war in the east.No mention of the Italian campaign either, such as the Battle of Caporetto in October 1917, in which the Austro-Hungarians pushed the Italians 100km into Italy and caused the near-destruction of the Italian Army due to the number of prisoners taken and war material captured. They were only saved by the French sending troops and supplies to assist. And of course, no mention of the Germans and South Africans fighting each other for four years in Tanzania; or the British and Ottomans fighting in Palestine and Iraq (the Iraq Campaign being a total disaster for the British). As this material can only be gained from research, it is not particularly surprising that Andy isn't aware of it. He obviously has the ability to do research, yet chooses not to. And at this stage of the World History lectures, we have grown so used to the bizarre strategy he employs that, like the French soldiers of 1917, we're too apathetic to even care.
The United States
|For three years (1914-1916) the United States attempted to stay out of the war. Europe had been having internal fights since the days of the Greek empire, and the United States had friends on both sides of this massive war. Many Americans were of German descent and sympathetic to the Central Powers, although most Americans were of British descent then (and now). If the United States were to intervene, then it was clear that it would enter the war on the side of the British.||
Oh for God's sake.
First of all, it's worth noting that I am participating in the Conservapedia World History "homework" (and there's a misnomer if ever there was one) and even on that vaunted repository of knowledge, a user has pointed out that there was no such thing as a "Greek empire". But Andy - who, as ever, is hopelessly wrong on this - simply shoved his uncalloused, lily-white fingers into his greasy ears and chanted the Battle Hymn to the Republic in a piss-poor attempt to drown out the truth. While there were indeed loose hegemonia such as the Delian League, there was no unifying polity of the entire region, even under Alexander the Great. It's like claiming that there was an Asian empire, or an African empire. It's... it's just stupid.
Secondly, Europeans have been fighting other Europeans not since the days of the Greeks, but since human colonisation of Europe. Is he implying that before Aristotle, nobody on the continent fought? Idiot. I'm far from a specialist on this esoteric field of biology, but even I, with a limited knowledge gleaned from colourful historical atlases when I was a kid, know that species of hominid had colonised Europe from Africa long, long before modern homo sapiens turned up. Surely Andy, the fountain of all human wisdom, knows this? Hasn't he heard of the Neanderthals? Oh, right...
Thirdly, most Americans were not of British descent, and certainly are not now. Immigration into America following the end of the American War of Independence meant that by the mid-nineteenth century, the original population of the Thirteen Colonies in 1776 had been vastly overtaken by migration from Europe - and most of these migrants, as Andy really should know (and indeed referenced earlier) were of Irish, German, and Italian descent. Asians, of course, were prohibited from large-scale immigration. And he's ignoring the Native Americans who, by 1776, were still a sizeable if fractured population. And let's not forget those who share my own particular brand of melanin saturation - does Andy think that black people came to America from eighteenth-century Britain? But hey, who cares: in Andy's version of the Sweet Land of Liberty, there ain't no welcome fer none o' us derty darkies. He also completely overlooks the relationship between Britain and America throughout the nineteenth century. Sure, John Bull and Uncle Sam have been very chummy since the Second World War, but that was demonstrably not the case between 1776 and 1914. For most of the 1800s, our two nations had very frosty relations and were openly hostile. It is therefore absurd to say that most Americans considered themselves as of British descent - they considered themselves American. It's like claiming that because there was significant Anglo-Saxon migration to the British Isles in the third to eighth centuries, most Britons consider themselves Germans. Bollocks - we Britons consider ourselves British, just as Americans consider(ed) themselves American. And to add yet another criticism, migration from the United Kingdom to the United States was so meagre as to be not worth mentioning. We British, after all, had a whole Empire to which we could migrate. Why bother migrating to a hostile nation? So as for claiming that most Americans today are of British descent, that is frankly moronic. Apparently Andy's America is not, in fact, a melting pot. It's Somerset. This theory immediately discount anyone who is black, Hispanic, mixed-race, Asian, Amerindian, or of general non-British (specifically non-English) ancestry until the American population is whittled down to a small junta of pompous white upper-class twits deluding themselves that they are direct descendants of a mythical group, and it is a hopeless attempt to seek legitimacy by claiming to have an utterly fabricated link with a country that isn't theirs and a history which never happened. It's like all of those people who claim to be of Irish descent - the majority haven't got a drop of Irish blood in their bodies, they just like to think they are Irish. Why would it not be surprising to find that Andrew Schlafly has oh-so-conveniently "discovered" that he is of pure pre-1776 Protestant white Anglo-Saxon (Home Counties, of course, none of this northern or urban trash) descent? [Expletive not found]Fourthly, we arrive at Andy's pithy attempt to explain US foreign policy c.1914-1917. He uses this racial bullshit to arrive at the telelological conclusion that the USA would enter on the Allied side. "The US was founded by the British, therefore it is always close to the British". What absolute crap. By the same logic, he could argue "Britain was founded by the Romans, therefore Britain was bound to form an alliance with Mussolini". He completely ignores migration patterns, international relations, domestic politics, and economic and strategic competition between the British and Americans throughout the nineteenth century in order to make the brain-breaking assertion that two countries who had been at each others' throats were bound to become best friends. Ugh. I should have stayed in the gym. Drop-squats and weighted tricep dips are very painful, but they're bloody paradise compared to wading through this shit...
|The Germans were using submarines to patrol the Atlantic in order to intercept British ships. The German submarine was known as the “U-boat”, and it terrorized everyone. In 1915, still relatively early in the war, a U-boat sunk a massive British passenger liner known as the Lusitania. This one sinking killed 1,198 people, including 128 U.S. citizens. A member of the prominent Vanderbilt family, known for its railroad empire, was among the fatalities. The overall number of casualties was only a few hundred less than those who died on the Titanic when it hit an iceberg in 1912.||"The German submarine". What, was there only one? No wonder the Kaiserlichemarine had such a hard time. Points off for using a trendy neoCon buzzword (argh! "Terrorism"!!!), and especially in the context of American citizens being killed. Who gives a rat's ass about the other 1,070 people killed? Remember, kiddies - only Americans matter.|
|Americans were outraged by this German sneak attack on the Lusitania. But Germans claimed that the ship was carrying ammunition, and historians agree. Nevertheless, to avoid the loss of civilian life the Germans announced that it would stop attacking passenger liners and other neutral shipping.||
Andy now performs a complete about-turn by defending the German captain! Rather than listen to his shit, let's review the event.
RMS Lusitania, the flagship of the Cunard Line, was part-funded by the British government during construction with the clause that if war broke out, the government could take the ship from Cunard for use as a troop transport and/or supply ship; an "Armed Merchant Cruiser". This was public knowledge, and the Germans were aware of this. However, what the Germans may or may not have been aware of is that the Admiralty dropped the ship from its lists (but not in writing) as it was deemed too much of a fuel-guzzler and thereby would eat through the government's coal stocks. So, we might understand the Germans thinking that Lusitania was still an Armed Merchant Cruiser, when in fact she had been downgraded.
By 1915, with Germany's surface fleet bottled up in the North Sea, Berlin was resorting to submarines to attack naval vessels and some civilian ships presumed to be carrying armaments. However, in the case of civilian ships, a code was followed whereby the U-Boat would surface, give the ship's crew time to get into lifeboats, and then sink the ship with the submarine's deck guns. This was partly to save torpedoes, and partly because Germany didn't want to risk pissing off the rest of the world by indiscriminately sinking civilian ships. The British response was to disguise guns on board deck (nicknamed Q-Boats) - when a submarine surfaced and ordered the ship's crew to get into lifeboats, the British sailors would open fire on the exposed submarine using their hidden cannons. Germany's reaction to this was to start a limited policy of unrestricted submarine warfare, whereby submarines would torpedo enemy ships without warning. Neutral ships, though, remained unmolested. However, the Germans were well aware that neutral ships were frequently smuggling in munitions, and suspected that Lusitania was doing so.
Lusitania left New York on 1st May 1915. Before she left, the German Embassy had adverts printed in all the major American newspapers, and put on billboards at the docks, reminding passengers that there was a war between Germany and Britain, and that passengers travelling on a British-marked ship into a war zone did so at their own risk. The ship travelled across the Atlantic safely and approached Ireland, where U-Boats were known to be lurking. The British Admirality did actually know the locations of all the German submarines in the region, but this was so secret that the information was not passed on to the division responsible for warning merchant ships. British warships were sparse in the area to begin with, and a series of fuel shortages and mechanical failures meant that as Lusitania approached Ireland, there were no naval escorts to guide her into Liverpool. Around lunchtime on 7th May, the submarine U-20 fired a torpedo at Lusitania. The explosion was so severe, and the sinking so fast, that the Germans suspected the ship had been secretly smuggling explosives. The very high casualties were due to the impracticalities of launching lifeboats - the ship had to slow down before boats could be launched, and by the time they could, the ship was listing so badly to starboard that it was almost impossible to lower the boats into the water.
Following the sinking, official inquiries were held in London, Washington, and Berlin. The Germans argued that the ship had been carrying explosives and claimed that Germany did not Lusitania had been dropped from the list of Armed Merchant Cruisers. Conspiracy theories - Andy's favourite topic - quickly surfaced that the British had deliberately sacrificed the ship in order to bring America into the war (removing the cruiser escorts, not informing Lusitania's captain of U-Boat activity, stacking it with explosives, etc). Whatever the truth, the incident was not enough to bring American public support round to intervention in a war which they felt was nothing to do with them. Woodrow Wilson made some stern remonstrations against the German government and Berlin, fearful of American involvement, dropped its policy of semi-restricted U-Boat warfare.If only Andy had done his research...
|By 1917, and after nearly three years of brutal war, the Germans were not so friendly any more. When the British implemented a naval blockade of Germany, preventing ships from entering or leaving its ports, the Germans announced they would sink any ship entering or leaving Britain. The U-boats went back into action and quickly sunk three American ships.||Apparently sinking the Lusitania was a "friendly" act. Let's review. By late 1916, political pressure in America was growing, for intervention in the war. German Admiral Henning von Lotzendorff proposed to the Kaiser that unrestricted submarine warfare should be used. If 600,000 tonnes of British shipping were sunk per month, he argued, Britain would be starved out of the war within six months. This would allow the German Army to concentrate on crushing the French, while the Russians collapsed of their own accord, and all before the Americans could intervene. This policy seemed a godsend to a German government (but not its Chancellor, who realised the international repercussions) losing the savage war of attrition on the land, and on 1st February 1917 unrestricted submarine warfare began. At first it was remarkably successful - by April 1917, Britain had only six weeks' stock of food left.|
|But many Americans, and the influential William Randolph Heart newspapers, were still against the United States entering this bloody European conflict. True, the Germans sunk several American ships, but the Germans were simply doing what they must in response to the British blockade of Germany. Besides, the Germans warned the United States beforehand.||Is Andy defending or criticising the Kaiser? He's clearly too stupid too offer a balanced and objective narrative, so instead we end up reading this confusing story which swings wildly between screaming about the Hunnic Brute and softly-softly sticking up for Wilhelm. It's confusing.|
|Another incident outraged Americans more. German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann sent an encrypted (secretly coded) telegram to the German ambassador to Mexico, which sought to induce Mexico to declare war on the United States. The British intelligence intercepted and deciphered (decoded) the telegram and gave it to the United States to help the British cause. President Woodrow Wilson made the contents of the telegram public.||
It's surprising that Andy didn't seize this opportunity to talk about conspiracy theories - of which there are some about the Zimmermann Telegram.The Telegram was sent by Arthur Zimmerman in Berlin to Johann von Bernstorff, German Ambassador to the USA, on January 16th 1917. Bernstorff then forwarded it to Heinrich von Eckart, German Ambassador to Mexico. In a nutshell, the telegram proposed that Mexico should form a military alliance with Germany and invade the USA. In response, German would make sure that Mexico got Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico after the war. Historians disagree as to its nature. The telegram was unlikely to be a genuine effort to broker a military alliance as Germany knew that Mexico was not strong enough to defeat the USA. Rather, it would provide a convenient distraction and allow the Germans to try and defeat Britain and France while America was busy defeating Mexico. The Mexican government realised it had no hope of taking on the United States without German support, and had no intention of going along with Germany's hollow promises. The telegram may not have even been real - although the conspiracy theory that the telegram was a British hoax has very little evidence. Regardless, the telegram was intercepted and decrypted by the British, who showed it to the US Ambassador to Britain, Walter Page. Page transmitted it to Woodrow Wilson, who leaked it to the Press. The result, as you can imagine, was outrage.
|The telegram promised that Germany would help Mexico regain land it had previously lost to the United States in the Mexican War (in the 1840s) if Mexico would declare war against the United States during World War I. Americans were outraged, and some newspapers doubted that the British self-serving version of the telegram was true. But then Zimmermann himself was foolish enough to confirm the promise (pledge) to Mexico in a public speech.||Yes, Zimmermann did indeed, on March 3rd and March 29th, confirm he had sent it. Historians continue to theorise on why he did this, as his confession was an immediate blow to Germany. It is possible - but by no means certain - that Zimmermann saw the writing on the wall and became one of those people who seek to end a losing war quickly, rather than fight on to the bloody and bitter end of an inevitable defeat.|
|This news, plus the sinking of American ships by German submarines, swung American opinion towards entering the war against the Germans. Even though President Woodrow Wilson campaigned for office on the promise to keep America out of World War I, he pushed Congress to declare war on Germany on April 2, 1917. The addition of the United States to the Allies tipped the power in their favor.||Indeed. The various policies of Germany were enough - as Chancellor Bethmann-Hollwegg had predicted - to bring America into the war. Wilson cut off diplomatic relations with Germany, expelled the German Embassy on 3rd February, and on 6th April the US Congress approved a declaration of war. Now we'll read Andy's version of how Uncle Sam saved the world. You might want to go and watch Team America: World Police. Same basic mesage, but at least that one has puppets.|
|As the United States was entering the war on the side of the Allies, changes were occurring in Russia that would later cause it to withdraw from the side of the Allies and leave the war altogether. In 1917 Russia was having an internal revolution known as the Communist Revolution, which would change the world for the rest of the century.||Ahh, communism. Again. Andy's discussion of the concept in the previous lecture was surprisingly short, as is this pithy attempt to explain the Russian Revolution. Maybe he thinks he can't discuss it, for if he does, his students might be tempted to go off and read about the USSR. Do it, comrades! Anyway. Look at the grammar in this paragraph. It's acceptable, but it's really strange. Andy must have run out of his prescription medication.|
|The losses and hardship of the war had weakened Russian Czar Nicholas II. He abdicated the throne in March 1917 in favor of a provisional government, which intended to continue fighting in the war. But in November 1917 Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924), the leader of the Communist Party, overthrew the government. In July 1918, the communists executed every member of the czar’s family. (The bodies of two of the children have never been found, and years later a woman claimed to have been a girl in the family, but historians doubted it and DNA evidence did not support her claim.)||
So without bothering to explain the circumstances of pre-Revolutionary Russia, Andy dives straight in to the Tsar's abdication. Brilliant. We won't go too deeply into detail as we did that in a previous lecture. Suffice it to say here that by 1917, Russia was a deeply, deeply divided country. The aristocracy and church held disgusting amounts of wealth while the vast majority of the population were either brutalised factory workers living in urban slums, or peasants in isolated villages who had basically not changed since the Early Middle Ages. Most people had no rights whatsoever. Yet simultaneously, an urban middle-class of professionals had appeared, who guided Russia's fledgling industries and demanded Western-style rights and democracy. Internationally, Russia was unpopular following its defeat in the 1905 Russo-Japanese War and the Tsar's resolute refusal to even acknowledge the possibility that his country might need a bit of reform. When we factor in the appalling losses in the First World War and the extreme economic hardships suffered by the people, it is unsurprising that by 1917, the Tsar was hated by more people than the Kaiser.
In late 1916, annoyed at Russia's lack of military progress, the autocratic and extremely conservative (and therefore Andy's hero) Tsar Nicholas II left St Petersburg to command the troops personally. He had no more luck than his generals, yet in his absence, the Russian government degraded even further. The Tsarina fell under the increasing influence of Rasputin, and she began sacking good Ministers and appointing bumbling (but politically loyal) replacements whose sheer mismanagement of the Russian war effort greatly angered the middle classes and the proletarians. Increasing political pressure in the capital, combined with Russia's abysmal military campaign against the Central Powers, did indeed force Nicholas to abdicate in favour of the Duma, or parliament, led by Alexander Kerensky. Kerensky continued the war against Germany but it remained a losing battle for Russia - most Russians wanted to withdraw from the war but the British, French and Americans made it very clear that if Russia withdrew, they would cease all those payments and loans without which Kerensky's government could not rule.
Meanwhile the Germans, grasping this latest opportunity to cripple the Allies, secretly sent Lenin from Germany to St Petersburg, in the hope that he would start a revolution and pull Russia out of the war. Lenin's Bolsheviks did just this - they stormed the Winter Palace in St Petersburg and forced the Provisional Government to resign in favour of Bolshevik rule. And here's where it all turns to shit.
The Bolsheviks had a lot of supporters but an equal number of opponents, and in the ensuing Russian Civil War, the Russian Empire hosted some of the worst atrocities in history. Much, much worse than the Second World War. Various factions - the Reds (Bolsheviks), the Whites (an amalgam of monarchists, parliamentarians, and general anti-Bolsheviks), and the Greens (nationalist groups fighting to free their regions from Russian control) - fought a truly savage war for control of what remained of the Empire. Lenin, seeking to concentrate on winning the Civil War, withdrew Russia from the First World War and at the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, accepted extremely humiliating terms in Germany's favour. However, it is more than likely that Lenin only signed these terms because he knew Germany would ultimately be defeated by the other capitalist powers, with whom he might be able to broker a better deal.
The Tsar and his family met a glum end. They tried to flee abroad but no country wanted to host them. The Provisional Government let them stay in Russia is modest comfort, but after Kerensky's regime was toppled, the Bolsheviks took over the Imperial Family's management. After various moves, the Tsar and his family, with the last couple of loyal hangers-on, were moved to Ekaterinburg in Siberia. Lenin was unsure what to do with them - the Tsar still retained the awe of his office from before the Revolution, and Lenin feared that killing the Imperial Family would incite even more anti-Bolshevik uprisings against his weak hold on Moscow and Petersburg. Yet in the summer of 1918, the Whites under Admiral Kolchak were driving deep into Siberia. Fearing that the Imperial Family might be liberated, and thereby unifying the various squabbling White factions into one body to overthrow the Bolsheviks (although whether the Tsar could actually have done this is highly doubtful), the Central Committee in Moscow ordered their execution.It would have been nice if Andy had actually bothered to explain all this. There were complex and convoluted reasons why the Bolsheviks rose to power in Russia, and why they killed the Imperial Family - who were a speck compared to the millions slaughtering each other in the horrific Civil War. Yet instead, Andy overlooks all of this in order to simply bitch about communism. He obviously is aware of this complex history - he knows enough to throw in factoids about Anastasia - so he isn't simply ignorant of history; he is, to use a phrase beloved by Creationists, wilfully ignorant. How disappointing.
|Lenin was one of the most influential persons in all of history. He was both a thinker and a revolutionary, which is a rare combination. An atheist, he personally converted in 1889 to Marxism (as previously formulated by Karl Marx). He obtained a law degree shortly afterwards, and by 1895 was a subversive who was arrested and sent to the frigid Siberia as punishment. Once he served his time he left for Western Europe, where he developed his ideas further and became a leader of the Bolsheviks. He returned to Russia after tsarist (czarist) rule ended in March 1917, and then Lenin led the Bolsheviks to power in the “October Revolution” (which was really in November under our Western calendar). He then ruled the Soviet Union and imposed a system of Marxism-Leninism (communism) that remained in force there until the 1990s.||Great, another choppy, propaganda-ridden, Kent Hovind-esque biography. Andy should be aware that nobody "converts" to Marxism as it's a political philosophy, not a religion. Points off for bitching about atheism, saying "the frigid Siberia", and for making a dig at the Russian usage of the Julian Calendar as opposed to the Gregorian version. There aren't enough points in existence to take off for his reduction of the Soviet Union to a single sentence. Let's hope he actually discusses it later on. But I, for one, am not getting those hopes up.|
|Lenin quickly arranged for peace with Germany to end Russia’s involvement with the Allies in the war. In March 1918, Lenin signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, by which Russia gave to Germany much territory, including what is now Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Ukraine, Estonia and Latvia. This was a humiliating defeat for Russia, but it was simply too weak to fight the Germans further.||Well at least he mentions the Treaty! But as ever, it's a case of too little, too late.|
The Western Front
|The exit of Russia allowed Germany to shift all of its troops to the western front, saving Germany from having to continue a two-front war. Almost immediately it appeared that Germany would win, as it unleashed all of its power against France in March 1918.||No it didn't. Germany maintained a million men along the new Eastern border. After all, Russia had descended into one of the bloodiest and most brutal civil wars in history, and Germany now had a very long, very vulnerable border with this savagery. Admittedly none of the factions wanted to provoke the Germans into steamrollering deeper into Russia and thus they kept a good distance between their civil war and the heavily-armed Germans; but nevertheless Berlin didn't dare risk an underdefended frontier after Brest-Litovsk. A million men were the bare minimum necessary to let the Kaiser sleep easy at night. However, the end of the fighting did indeed allow the Germans to send a further million men to the Western Front. And unlike the raw Americans, these Germans were well-armed and battle-hardened. In the Kaiserschlacht or "Michael Offensive" of early 1918, this transfusion of troops allowed Germany to make gains unheard-of since 1914.|
|The Germans launched five major campaigns in a four month period in 1918 on the “Western Front.” The Germans had technology and lots of energy. They had elite storm-troopers with automatic rifles, light machine guns, flame-throwers and artillery fire. They used poisonous mustard gas lavishly. They easily defeated the British Fifth Army. The Germans were advancing and taking property.||Wow, this is really poor writing. As usual, Andy's information is accurate but his style of expression is shockingly shoddy. What makes it even stranger is that it's so out-of-character even for him. I wouldn't be surprised if this is in fact copy-and-pasted from one of his poor homeschool students. A couple of points off - soldiers aren't "armed with" artillery fire, they're supported by it; German technology was in no way superior to Allied [German tanks, namely the A7V, were fun to look at but mechanically and tactically awful compared to the trench-smashing Mark VIIs used by the British and the nimble, high-tech French Renaults], they simply could concentrate more veterans in one place than their opponents; and no mention of the French, British and French Empire forces, nor even Andy's beloved American doughboys? Oh, and a final point off for implying that the worst thing about the First World War was the loss of private property.|
|But fresh American troops entered the scene. In the Second Battle of the Marne in July 1918, the Allies started winning. Nine American divisions fought in this battle about 75 miles northeast of Paris. The Germans started this battle on another one of their offensives, but the Americans turned the tables and enabled the Allies to win it. Casualties were enormous for everyone, including the Americans. Former President Teddy Roosevelt’s son was killed in this battle.||So? Lots of famous people were killed in the war. Andy, as usual, has neglected to give us a single name of a famous Briton, Frenchman, Belgian, Italian, Russian, Canadian, Australian, New Zealander, South African, Pole, Brazilian, Japanese, Serbian, Romanian, Greek, Arab, Jamaican, Jew, Senegalese, Algerian.... etc etc etc, who was killed between 1914 and 1918. Hell, he hasn't even mentioned a single German, Austro-Hungarian, Bulgarian, or Turk. Except the Red Baron, and he didn't even know the poor man's name. Why is he now parading the carcass of Teddy Roosevelt's son? British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith's son was killed at Passchandaele - why didn't he get a mention?|
|American Capt. Jesse Woolridge, 38th Inf., 3rd Division described the battle as follows: “It’s God’s truth that one Company of American soldiers beat and routed a full regiment of picked shock troops of the German Army ... At ten o’clock ... the Germans were carrying back wounded and dead [from] the river bank and we in our exhaustion let them do it - they carried back all but six hundred which we counted later and fifty-two machine guns... We had started with 251 men and 5 lieutenants...I had left 51 men and 2 second lieutenants ....” http://www.worldwar1.com/dbc/2marne.htm||Here we go - more random snippets of dialogue which Andy is twisting to fit his piss-brained perception of Jeezuz (note how heavily edited it is; all those "..." mean that Andy's cut out something which doesn't fit in with his prejudgements), and which adds far less to the narrative than what could be gleaned from actually reading a f***ing history book. At least this one is cited. Bravo, Andy. You're slightly less shit than usual.|
|As the Americans and the Allies advanced toward Germany, the Ottoman Turks and Bulgarians surrendered. There was a revolution in Austria-Hungary that overthrew its government, and Germany would not recognize that new government. Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated his throne in Germany on November 1918, and the Germans formed a new republic. Members of the German republic signed an armistice (agreement to stop fighting) on November 11, 1918. The Great War was over.||
Ugh. Ok, quick history lesson on 1918. In the early months of 1918 the Kaiserschlacht was highly successful. Modified tactics (namely the "creeping barrage", whereby artillery would continue to lay down a curtain of shellfire in front of advancing infantry), a transfusion of hardened troops from the East, and the war-weariness of the Allies enabled the Germans to break the trench stalemate of the Western Front and rush towards strategic objectives. Primary among these was the city of Amiens, the hub of the Allies' railway network. If the Germans could capture it, they could disrupt Allied supplies to the point whereby remaining Allied troops would very quickly run out of ammunition and food, and thus be forced to surrender. This advance was very rapid to begin with, but rapidly bogged down for a variety of reasons. The advance was faster than German High Command predicted, and resupply units were unable to keep up (remember that all the railways and roads across no-man's-land had been destroyed back in 1914). While the elite stormtroopers were able to penetrate enemy lines, the follow-up regular infantry frequently got slowed down while trying to fight their way through pockets of Allied resistance, while the stormtroopers themselves often slowed down as they overran Allied supply dumps of cigarettes, medicine, booze, and tinned meat - things in desperately short supply among the hungry Germans. German tanks (their own clunky A7Vs along with captured British and French vehicles) were desperately short of fuel and unable to keep up with the advance.
Meanwhile in Germany itself, the situation had become dire. The winter of 1917-18 was one of the coldest on record, and the subsequent "Turnip Winter" in Germany saw large numbers of old people, the sick, and children die from cold and malnutrition, with the country subsisting on the turnips that had been put aside as animal feed. The effects of the Allied blockade, along with the drain of resupplying the armed forces, meant that Germany's civilian population had experienced a severe slump in living standards. National health and nutrition were terrible, signified by the falling value of the Deutschmark meaning that families could buy less food (rationing was considered, but rejected for reasons of morale) and the fact that bakeries were selling bread mostly made from sawdust. Opposition to the war was growing, both within the badly disaffected population and the overlooked government. Imperial Germany had always been autocratic, but during the war this intensified until by 1916, the Kaiser and his top two generals ran the entire country while the socialist-dominated Reichstag had no power whatsoever. Perhaps most notably, industries were starting to grind to a halt for want of manpower and resources. Germany still had plenty of coal and steel, but was desperately short of the raw materials - namely potassium - necessary to manufacture explosives. The result was that the frontline soldiers received lower quantities and lower quality; right in the middle of a major offensive.
The Allies, though, were gaining in strength. The entire British and French Empires were supplying troops and materiél, and most importantly (as Andy vaguely hints at), the Americans were on board. It took a few months for American troops to start arriving in significant numbers, but in the meantime the outpouring of supplies from American farms and factories - now nice and official since Congress' entry into the war - kept the European allies and their imperial forces fed and fuelled through the winter. And with the joint British and American fleets patrolling the Atlantic, merchant ships (increasingly arranged into protected convoys rather than isolated vessels) could reach British and French ports unharassed by the shrinking number underfuelled, under-supplied U-Boats.
With German factories and farms unable to supply Germans, the flow of supplies to the other Central Powers quickly stopped. Without German munitions, the Bulgarians and Ottomans quickly found themselves at a major disadvantage versus the Allied-supplied Romanians and Arabs, respectively. In the Ottoman and Austrian Empires, nationalist movements were taking advantage of the worsening situation to gain more and more support for national independence from Vienna and Istanbul; further weakening the Central Powers.
By autumn 1918 all of these factors had changed the tide of the war. The Kaiserschlacht - which at its height had brought the Germans to within 50km of Paris itself - had ground to a halt and been pushed back, inch by inch. The food and industrial situation in Germany had reached a new low, with the population and their representatives in the Reichstag deeply fearful of another Turnip Winter - only much, much worse. Bulgarian and Ottoman resistance had ended, the Americans were throwing more and more fresh, fully-equipped troops into battles with hungry and badly-supplied Germans, and the German Army's capacity to wage war rapidly declined. At the Battle of Vittorio Veneto in October 1918, the Italians (with British, French, Czech, and American assistance) destroyed the main Austro-Hungarian army and a few days later, Vienna sued for peace. Germany was now alone, facing the prospect of a disastrous winter, and no longer capable of feeding and supplying its overwhelmed armies.
So, here's where the German government steps in. The Kaiser could see the writing on the wall - every morning when he got out of bed in his unheated bedroom there was no coffee, bread made from sawdust, and a pile of military dispatches on his desk from embattled generals pleading for reinforcements and supplies which didn't exist. And when he looked out of his window, he was greeted by freezing, starving Berliners chanting for an end to the war. The Kaiser may not have been a very nice man, but he wasn't stupid. He knew the war was lost. But he didn't want to take the blame for surrendering. The previous Chancellor, a crony of the Kaiser, had tried to negotiate peace terms with Woodrow Wilson in the hope that he would be more reasonable than the British and French, but Wilson had made it very clear that he would only agree to peace if the Kaiser abdicated. So, the Kaiser did was necessary. On the morning of 9th November he telephoned Friederich Ebert of the Social Democrat Party (Germany's largest political party) and made him Chancellor of the German Empire. The Kaiser then officially abdicated (he later moved to Holland where he died in 1940), making Ebert the most powerful man in Germany. Ebert immediately phoned the Allied leaders requesting a ceasefire. The Allies, almost as exhausted as Germany, agreed, and in a railway carriage in the forest of Compiègne, Allied and German delegates signed a ceasefire on 11th November 1918. The war officially came to an end at 11:11am (both armies had been advised of this the previous day, and were told to stop shooting at that moment). But before we leave this section let's spare a thought for George Lawrence Price, a 25-year old Canadian who was offically the last casualty of the war when he was shot and killed one minute before the ceasefire began. Let's also not forget George Edwin Ellison, the last British soldier to be killed (around 90 minutes before the ceasefire began) and who, by a strange coincidence, is buried next to John Parr - the very first British soldier to die in the war. Andy loves factoids, so this sober snippet should interest him. Well it would, if he actually cared about humanity.So, that's the Great War over with. But oh, don't hold your breath, comrades. Remember that while the fighting had ended on the Western Front, conflict was still occuring in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Holy Land, and of course Russia - where the Allies immediately sent armies to try and help the White Russians overthrow the Bolsheviks. Let's also bear in mind that the Spanish Flu was sweeping across the world, claiming tens of millions of non-combatants. The end of the war, as you can imagine, had immense political, geopolitical, social, economic, and cultural effects. Let's see what Andy has to say about that...
Terms of Peace
|The war was over at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, but the terms of peace remained unresolved. The Allies convened at the historic Palace of Versailles outside Paris in January 1918 to discuss peace terms. The representatives at the Paris Peace Conference included Woodrow Wilson from the United States, David Lloyd George from Great Britain, Vittorio Orlando from Italy, and Georges Clemenceau from France.||Well, at least Andy starts this section by getting the names right. He's even spelled them right! See, this man can do his research. Occasionally.|
|President Wilson wanted his “Fourteen Points” adopted as the peace treaty. His proposal included moving national borders, creating new nations, and allowing ethnic groups to choose their own governments. His main point (#14) was to create a new entity known as the League of Nations to resolve international conflicts in the future. The American people never supported the League of Nations and the U.S. Senate never ratified the treaty establishing it, and President Wilson died thinking he was a failure. But less than 30 years later the United States did join a similar entity known as the United Nations, though it remains controversial and many Americans oppose it.||
Many historians - particularly of the Marxist flavour - are very quick to criticise the Paris Peace Conference as a bumbling, confused, half-arsed attempt to re-establish a nineteenth-century style of international relations. But let's bear in mind that the delegates at Versailles in early 1919 faced problems of a scale and character that had never been encountered before. The closest anyone had come to settling a major war had been the Congress of Vienna, and that was over a century in the past. The delegates had to make it up as they went along, juggling all sorts of ugly problems at once. Who officially represented countries - their monarchs, or their elected parliamentary leaders? And if the latter, which party should be invited to send a delegate? Where were new borders to be drawn? Who could officially speak for Russia? Who was going to pay compensation to all those civilians who lost everything? Who was going to pay the pensions for the tens of millions of wounded soldiers and sailors? What policies could prevent another disastrous world war? How would new nations rising from the ruins of the German, Austrian, and Ottoman Empires survive? Where would their borders be, who would rule them, which Allied state should take who under its wing? It didn't help that the "Big Four" (Orlando, Wilson, Lloyd George, and Clemenceau) were frequently squabbling among themselves and faced political pressures from their own populations; and also had to negotiate while they had the flu. Politicians, after all, are still just people.Wilson's Fourteen Points were a genuine attempt to prevent war, and choosing a "main point" is entirely subjective. Predictably, Andy seizes the one about the League of Nations - which was a half-hearted project at the best of times - simply in order to whine about the UN. Wilson did not "die thinking he was a failure"; like his arsey comments about Darwin being a failure, this is simply Andy once again deluding himself that people he doesn't like were chronically depressed throughout their lives, thus allowing this smug little bastard to feel good about himself. Moron. Mentioning the United Nations here is pointless as it is completely anachronistic and not even necessary (Andy has a good long bitch about the UN in a later Lecture). It'd be interesting to know how Andy felt about the United Nations if he was suffering from malaria, had to drink dirty water, and couldn't leave the house without worrying about getting shot, being kidnapped/tortured/sold into slavery, or stepping on a landmine. Arsehole.
|France wanted to punish Germany for the war, while Britain wanted to disarm Germany. The Treaty of Versailles, signed on June 28, 1919, did both. It imposed limits on the size of the German army and prohibited it from having submarines, an air force, or factories to make weapons. It could not import weapons either. A “war guilt” clause placed all the blame for the war on Germany, and it was required to pay reparations of $33 billion over a 30-year period. Germany lost its colonies in Africa and the Pacific. Germany had to give its territory of Alsace-Lorraine to France. The Allies and neutral nations created the League of Nations, which the United States never joined, and Germany and Russia were initially prohibited from joining.||This is simplistic, but basically accurate. Both France and Britain wanted to "squeeze the German lemon until the pips squeaked" - effectively binding Germany in a web of sanctions and prohibitions so that it could never again threaten Europe. Wilson disagreed with this, insisting that such punitive action against Germany would only embitter the Germans and make the situation worse. A particular sticking-point was the issue of reparations, which Andy vaguely gets right. Partly in order to help their own economies (which had been devastated by the war), partly to punish Germany, and partly to cripple the German ability to re-arm, Britain and France demanded that Germany pay for the war. In order to justify this, Britain and France demanded that Germany accept responsibility for starting the war. Wilson strongly disagreed with this, and even offered to write off many of the loans America had made to Britain and France to pay for their war effort, if the two countries dropped the issue of reparations. But Britain and France insisted, and both the War Guilt and Reparations clauses went into the final Treaty. As did the military prohibitions - Germany was indeed forbidden to possess tanks, artillery, submarines, and aircraft; the navy (most of the warships had been scuttled to prevent capture by the Allies) was reduced to a few coastal patrol vessels, the army was reduced to a mere 100,000 men (rather a lot; but Germany at this point had only just crushed an attempted revolution and was still experiencing a brief but bloody civil war between communists and nationalists - strange of Andy to miss this chance to bitch about the Reds), and no German troops were permitted on the western bank of the Rhine. The German colonies of Namibia, Tanganyika, Togo, Rwanda, Papua New Guinea, and the Bismarck Islands - along with the old Ottoman territories of Syria, Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine - were divvied up between Britain, France, and the Union of South Africa (officially these were "mandates", whereby the Allies would merely keep an eye on Germany's old colonies, but these were effectively absorbed into the empires). And notably - as Andy surprisingly knows - France regained Alsace-Lorraine. In this format the Treaty of Versailles was presented to Germany. Officially the two sides were merely in a state of ceasefire and Germany could technically resume the war. But in reality Germany was in no position to fight, and on June 28th 1919, Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles. The remnants of the other Central Powers (only Germany survived as a unified state; the Bulgarians were in the middle of a civil war while the Austrian and Ottoman Empires had dissolved and no-one was quite sure who should take responsibility for their actions) quickly signed similar treaties of their own.|
|It is said that hindsight is always 20/20 (which describes perfect eyesight), and the mistake of the above approach seems so obvious today. No matter how wrong Germany was in World War I, it was an even bigger mistake to humiliate it and try to force it to pay far more than it could afford. Germany suffered huge losses like everyone else, and simply could not satisfy those financial obligations. In short, the peace treaty was too harsh on Germany, and it would rise again in anger to try to destroy its enemies.||Again, Andy confuses us by showing support for both sides - through a weird analogy involving opticians. As noted above, many historians are quick to criticise the peacemakers at Versailles, but they did face an incredibly difficult task and did the best that they could. Admittedly they were hypocritical - the Big Four demanded that the defeated Central Powers cede their colonies and grant national self-determination, but did not extend this freedom to their own sprawling empires. Delegates from African, Asian, Pacific, and Carribean colonies travelled en masse to Paris to petition for their peoples' freedom, but all were turned away by the British, French, Italians, and Belgians who ignored their own oppressed populations while preaching independence for ex-Central Powers peoples. As for the Treaty, perhaps the Allies were too harsh in their treatment of Germany. But perhaps they weren't. The Reichstag itself was divided as to whether or not Germany was guilty and many left-wing organisations encouraged Germans to roll up their sleeves and pay the debt that was theirs by right of having tolerated the Kaiser and his warmongering. Yet many Germans complained that the British, French and Russians had been just as guilty of sabre-rattling, militarism, and imperialism - and we can sympathise with this view too. As is so often the case, the Treaty was an attempt to satisfy both sides, but ended up alienating everyone. The Americans considered it too harsh. The French considered it too weak. The British whined that they didn't get all the clauses they wanted, and the Italians grumbled that they had barely any say in it. Andy has a right to choose a side in this, by criticising the Treaty as far too harsh, yet he has a scholarly obligation to at least mention that there is an alternate interpretation - that the Treaty was surprisingly lenient given the circumstances. Even if he only mentioned this interpretation in order to demolish it using his impeccable Conservapedian logic, it deserved to be noted. But then, expecting good scholarship from Andrew Schlafly is like expecting to find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow...|
|The Allies negotiated separate treaties with each of Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman empire. These treaties created new countries of Austria, Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia out of the old Austro-Hungarian empire. Russia lost Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland and Latvia, which it had ceded to Germany in withdrawing from the war. Russia also lost Romania. All these territories became independent countries. The Allies took away territories in the Middle East (Southwest Asia) from the Ottoman empire, reducing it to present-day Turkey. The Middle East territories were then organized as mandates, such that France controlled Jordan and Syria and Britain controlled Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq.||Oh, Andy is aware of the concept of an atlas. We ought to applaud him for bothering to look beyond the borders of New Jersey, and for mentioning strange and faraway places without references to the War on Terror. He could have mentioned that Russia did not "lose" these territories - they broke away of their own accord, and the Paris Peacemakers didn't know who to invite to represent Russia as the country was in the middle of a civil war between multiple factions. But that would be mean. Let's give Andy a point here.|
|The Treaty of Versailles angered many countries in addition to Germany. The U.S. Senate never ratified the treaty, and instead chose to sign a separate treaty with the Central Powers later. Italy and Japan were unhappy that they did not receive new territory the way that France and Britain had. Colonies of European powers had sent soldiers to the Allied cause, and were upset that they did not receive independence. New countries were created by the Treaty of Versailles without regard to language or ethnicity, angering peoples affected by the arbitrary new borders. Most of the original members of the League of Nations were non-European countries, making it ineffective in its goal. But most of all, Germany was furious at the “guilt clause” and the massive reparations that it could not pay.||How many times is he going to mention ratification? Maybe Andy has one of those word-a-day calendars on his desk, which he keeps glancing at whenever he drags his eyes away from Fox News. At least this segment is more or less accurate, and Andy surprises us all by standing up for colonial populations against interfering Western powers. And thank god he was able to mention languages without wandering off into his wretched Linguistic Determinism. The borders, though, were not arbitrary. The borders of new countries were carefully researched, squabbled over, and ultimately were a compromise between idealism and the realities of strategic geopolitics. Alright, they didn't work, but at least the peacemakers tried. It's so easy for Andy to sit in his cosy office and bitch about the Paris Peace Conference, but at least Clemenceau et al didn't assert that the right way to solve the world's problems is to blame the gays and bomb the Muslims. Oh, and a final point off for implying that the League of Nations didn't work because it was mostly composed of non-white delegates. Prick.|
|The United States and Japan emerged the strongest economically after the war, as their involvement was much less than for the other combatants, and the war was not fought on their soil. Business opportunities for these two nations were enormous after the war.||Andy has just been harping on about how Uncle Sam saved the world in 1918 - now all of a sudden, he's claiming that American involvement was marginal. And why is he going out on this anachronistic, ahistorical, and inaccurate tangent about business opportunities? Has he run out of things to say? What about the attempted German Revolution by communist factions in 1919? What about the deal cut between President Ebert and the leader of the military freikorps, whereby the socialist government of Germany made an unholy alliance with right-wing militarists to crush the commies? Oh, right - Andy can't mention this because it demonstrates that, contrary to his imagination, socialists and communists are not the same thing. What about the German financial crisis which worsened and worsened until, by late June 1923, a cup of coffee cost 24,000,000,000 Deutschmarks and increased in price between sips? What about even mentioning the name "Weimar Republic", and that the German government c.1919-1933 was the most democratic government in world history? What about internal squabbles over the German Constitution, including the controversial Article 48 which granted the President total personal control of Germany during a state of emergency, and resulted in political deadlock for years? Sigh. Come on, Andy...|
|The taking root of communism in Russia during World War I was perhaps the single most important political event of the 1900s (the 20th century). It deserves greater study.||This is going to be painful. Commissar Schlaflavsky gave us a thumbnail sketch of communism in the previous lecture, but here he is about to vomit forthhis hyperRepublican propaganda by giving us a potted history of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, c.1917-1953. Without glancing ahead, we just know that this is going to hurt. Best crack open the good vodka, comrades. We're gonna need it...|
|Communism, like it or not, is a powerful idea. It embodies this basic complaint known to every child: “That’s not fair.” Communism takes advantage of the very powerful human emotion of envy or jealousy. By forcing everyone to have the same wealth (or lack of wealth), communism creates a superficial equality for everyone.||
Brilliant. What a monument of scholarly work - analogising communism to a whining child. Let's take a moment to unpick this new crapestry. When a child complains that something is not fair, that is probably because said phenomenon is indeed not fair. If a group of children are given lollipops but one gets nothing, that child is justified in complaining. If a child is given more homework than its peers, again it is justified in complaining. Admittedlty there are some whining little shits who will bitch about just about anything (imagine Andy as a child), but very frequently we can sympathise with the complaint - from child or adult - that something is not fair. The response of many is to simple say "life/the world isn't fair". But life, and the world, are of our own making. Why should you tolerate an unfair situation if you have the power to make it more fair? The desire for change lies at the heart of all political ideologies. It's not as though only communists want change. Fundafascist Christoservatives want change too - except their change involves bombing, executing, imprisoning, and sterilising most of the population before leaving the survivors to starve to death in a hypercapitalist nightmare. The communist looks at the world and says "That's not fair", but so does the conservative Republican. In fact, let's rephrase this paragraph:
"Conservatism, like it or not, is a powerful idea. It embodies this basic complaint known to every child: “Why should I? That's not fair.” Conservatism takes advantage of the very powerful human emotion [sic] of hate or greed. By forcing everyone to have unequal wealth (or lack of wealth), conservatism creates a superficial political equality for everyone."See how easy it is? And anyway, why is Andy explaining communism through the metaphor of a child? Would he explain free-market commercial capitalism through the metaphor of "Fuck you, peasants, I'm taking all the money!"? Couldn't he have trundled out his sacred Merriam-Webster online dictionary? Maybe he doesn't like the definition it provides. Ultimately, this Freudian assessment (note his emphasis on emotions) of a political theory is rather strange. We see what he is getting it, but it's a very clumsy and unscholarly assessment.
|Even Jesus’ Apostles complained about perceived advantages among each other, reflecting their human side. In one passage, Peter complained about what would become preferential treatment for John. In another passage, several Apostles complained about the request of James and John to sit next to Jesus in Heaven. In many parables (like the giving of talents), Jesus taught inequality rather than equality. It is clear that demands for equality in wealth are not based on Christianity, but rather are based on non-Christian materialism.||
Oh God, now he's bringing God into it! What does he mean "reflecting their human side"? Is he implying that the Apostles were only semi-human? What was the other half? If he is implying the Apostles were semi-divine, that's a big fat heresy. And Andy's already notched up enough of those to spend eternity enduring an endless cycle of Hell's "Sampler Package". Maybe he means the Apostles were part-robot. Which would be more fun.
As it happens, let's just briefly assess Andy's claim that "demands for equality in wealth are not based in Christianity". And where better to seek answers about Jesus' view on wealth distribution, than straight from the horse's mouth?
And let's not forget some factoids about the early Church:
So THERE, Mr Schlafly. Jesus HIMSELF frowns upon your dirty, money-grubbing ways. But look on the bright side. At least you'll spend eternity being roasted alive next to Rupert Murdoch.NB: It must be noted that the Conservative Bible Project thoughtfully amends these teachings to put more suitably right-wing words into Jesus' mouth, thus allowing Andy the Apostate to sleep a little easier before God hurls him into the darkest corner of Hades for tampering with the Word of the Lord. Of particular interest is Andy's version of Mark 10:20-22, complete with comments!
|Why and how did communism begin in Russia in 1917? We learn that next.||"Why and how did communism begin in Russia in 1917? Ignoring the fact that communism did not suddenly pop into existence in Russia in 1917 and actually predates the Russian Revolution by decades (the publication of Das Kapital), or millennia (Jesus' teachings on wealth centralisation and redistribution), let's get all of our factettes on this from Answers in Genesis and the back-copies of USA Today and White Power Newsletter I keep stacked next to my toilet!"|
Pre-Revolution Russian Policies
|Russian czars were harsh on the peasants for decades before 1917. The Romanov czars who ruled Russian in the 1800s allowed severe shortages in fuel and bread for the peasants, and highly unequal land distribution. Russia did not convert quickly from a farming (agrarian) economy to an industrial one, and feudalism bound serfs to nobles far longer than in the West. Russian defeats in wars, such as the Crimean War, were hurtful. One of the reasons Russia kept losing wars was its inadequate industrialization and transportation for soldiers and supplies.||In a written essay, this paragraph would probably get a C-. It's right, but is very vague. Andy has once again cited feudalism (remember, Andy, medievalists aren't sure feudalism even existed), and referenced one war without dates in spite of using the plural "wars". There were many internal and external reasons for Russian defeat in the Crimean War, but at least he's more or less right about Russia's slow and low-tech industrialisation.|
|Czar Alexander II rose to power after the Crimean War and attempted to modernize the country. He freed the serfs in 1861, but then made them pay the Russian government for land, which the government was buying from nobles. Alexander II was assassinated in 1881.||Tsars didn't rise to power like politicians, they were crowned according to a monarchical succession. Andy ought to know this.|
|Alexander III next became czar and continued the modernization of Russia. But he used a secret police to solidify his own power, and censored the press. He exiled political dissidents to the frightfully cold Siberia. He also oppressed ethnic minorities, such as the Jewish people, and made them live in segregated areas subject to “pogroms”, which was organized violence against them. Alexander III also forced everyone to speak Russian rather than ethnic languages.||The Okhrana or Imperial Russian Secret Police, far predated Alexander III. The Oprichniki of Ivan the Terrible were a Tsarist "secret police" as far back as the sixteenth century. It's worth noting that all of these policies which Andy references were enforced by the Okhrana's use of extrajudicial torture. Not very conducive to building a modern, civilised state (**cough**GuantanamoBay**cough**).|
|Czar Alexander III’s son was Nicholas II, who became czar in 1894 and is now recognized as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church. As autocratic as his father, Nicholas II continued the attempt to modernize (industrialize) Russia. He used government to create railroads and factories. His regime built the Trans-Siberian Railway. But all this industrialization brought some problems, such as low wages and harsh working conditions.||Recognised as a saint now, yes. But at the time, Nicholas II was a deeply unpopular man. Even abroad, where foreign powers viewed Nicholas - arguably rightly - as an extremely arrogant and conceited man who thought, against all advice, that he could govern his country as though it was the tenth century, not the twentieth. Andy gets a point - against his will - for mentioning the role of government in modernisation projects. But, we might take that point away for the jerky, staccato list of random innovations.|
Early Signs of Revolution
|By the late 1800s the views of Karl Marx had reached Russia, and by 1903 there were two Marxist groups: the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks. The Mensheviks sought more industrialization before seeking support from the proletariat (working class) for a revolution. The Bolsheviks were more extreme, wanting a violent revolution by a small group of people as soon as possible. Their leader was Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, who was exiled in Europe but still in charge of his followers in Russia.||Ugh. Andy tries to grapple with historical concepts and gets it, as he usually does, wrong. The Mensheviks were characterised by their belief that communism must be brought about moderately, using laws rather than bullets. The Bolsheviks were the opposite. That's crude, but is on the level of Andy's thinking.|
|Russia next lost another war, this time humiliated by the small islands of Japan in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. The credibility of the czar was weakened. Then, in January 1905, workers and their families marched on the czar’s Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to present a petition for improve working conditions in factories and to request a national elected legislature as in western countries. Czar Nicholas II was not there, but his soldiers responded by shooting the protesters, killing up to 1000 of them.||Ooh, Andy manages to narrate the Winter Palace Shootings without whingeing about protestors! Thankfully he wrote this years before the current (October 2011) protest groups on Wall Street. But as he is currently revamping his History Lectures in a pointless effort to make them more accurate (read "more partisan") than before, this ugly little analogy will doubtless get in there. Hell, if he can start talking about airport taxi drivers in Minneapolis in relation to eighth-century Islam, anything is possible...|
|More violent protests ensued, and Czar Nicholas II allowed the creation of the first-ever elected Russian parliament, called the Duma. It met initially in May 1906, when it was led by moderates trying to imitate the constitutional monarchy of Britain. But Nicholas dissolved the parliament after it met for only ten weeks. It did occasionally meet again in the future, but never seemed to have any power.||Yes, the tsar did indeed dissolve the Duma repeatedly - and on the rare occassions it was in session, it was just a rubber stamp to the Tsar. Unsurprising that Nicholas lost even more support.|
|Once World War I broke out, Nicholas moved to the front lines and left his wife, Czarina (Tsarina) Alexandra, in charge of running the country. Alexandra’s son Alexis, however, developed a bleeding condition known as hemophilia, which means blood has difficulty clotting. A small cut just bleeds and bleeds in a frightful manner. His mother, the czarina, understandably was fraught with worry about his condition. She increasingly relied on the only person who seemed able to stop her son’s bleeding: a peasant-turned-monk named Rasputin. Rasputin took advantage of this trust and began making decisions for the country, granting government positions to friends, and causing everyone (especially the nobles) to fear him. Rasputin had a mystical quality that has inspired many books and stories about him.||
Oh Christ, Rasputin. Let's all sing the song:
"Ra-Ra-Rasputin, Russia's greatest love machine!/Ra-Ra-Rasputin, lover of the Russian Queen!'"'Nicholas' departure for the front lines, as mentioned earlier, left domestic politics in the hands of Tsarina Alexandra. SHe was even less popular than her husband, particularly as she was German and was therefore associated with Russia's enemy. Her son the Tsarevich did indeed suffer from haemophilia (most of the royal families of Europe did, and still do - that's thanks to Queen Victoria carrying a defective gene which was spread throughout the bluebloods of Europe during dynastic intermarriage), yet Andy's description of it (bleeds and bleeds in a frightful manner) is frankly weird. By turning to Rasputin, the Tsarina did indeed seem to come under the political influence of the man. She fired and hired Ministers based on his suggestions, and consequently Russia's best administrators were kicked out in favour of incompetent and criminally negligent fops - in the middle of a losing war. This also turned many of St Petersburg's (or "Petrograd", as it was renamed to avoid association with the Kaiser) political elite against the Imperial Family.
|Rasputin converted to Christianity at the age of 18 and when everyone else failed to help the boy’s bleeding disorder, Rasputin claimed healing powers that would help. Whatever he did seemed to work, though historians still debate if and how he really stopped the bleeding. Regardless, the nobles hated Rasputin because he was a peasant who now had power over them, and the nobles plotted to assassinate him.||Actually it is very unlikely that Rasputin "converted" to Christianity as he probably grew up in the Russian Orthodox church and just became more religious after being sent to a monastery for three months, but then, why should we care? Once again Andy is devoting more time and space to wittering on about one man than actually discussing historical events. He did the same with Galileo, Newton, Dr Livingstone, and Martin Luther. Alright, sometimes individuals have a big impact upon history, but that does not warrant long tirades about them at the expense of proper history.|
|In a Russian tradition that continues to this day, the method of choice for assassination was poisoning. The nobles laced some pastries with enough poison to immediately kill a horse, and many times more what was necessary to kill a human immediately. Rasputin ate several of the pastries and seemed to enjoy it. He drank some wine. Nothing happened to him. His assassins watched and waited for hours. Rasputin was completely enjoying himself and showed no ill effects whatsoever from the massive dose of poison. Finally, after distracting Rasputin by pointing to a crucifix, a noble shot him point blank. Rasputin fell to the floor and appeared to die. His assassins left him there. But later, when one returned to make sure Rasputin was dead, he sprung to his feet and began shaking his assassin by his shoulders. Then Rasputin ran out, promising to tell the czarina. The assassins shot him again and again, and then beat him with a dumbbell, and he still was not dead. Then they tied him up and tossed him into the half-frozen river. He eventually died from drowning, on Dec. 17, 1916.||Oh for Christ's sake. How is poisoning a "Russian tradition that continues to this day"? Andy is possibly referencing Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB and FSB (Federal Security Bureau of Russia) agent who was posioned with polonium-210 in London in 2006, possibly by the FSB (I'm not taking sides here - I don't want to fall foul of Comrade Putin). Or he might be referring to the infamous "Bulgarian umbrella" developed by the KGB, whereby a disguised assassin could pretend to accidentally jab a pedestrian with an umbrella tip that actually injected ricin into the victim. Or he might just be talking out of his arse. Given the quality of his research, I wouldn't put too much faith in the first two... Anyway, this merry little tale about Rasputin's death is entirely fictional. It began as an urban legend in 1916 but it is precisely that - an urban legend. Possibly concocted to demonise Rasputin even further. We know this because at the autopsy there was no evidence of poisoning or of water in the lungs. What actually happened is that at a hedonistic party held by aristocrats Felix Yusupov, Vladimir Purishkevich, and Dmitri Pavlovich, Rasputin was shot in the head and died. That's it. What is noteworthy is that the fatal wound was caused by a British bullet, and Foreign Office records assert that MI6 wanted Rasputin dead - so it's possible that Rasputin was actually bumped off by a British secret service agent.|
|Meanwhile, peasant life was becoming more difficult. The war was taking its toll. Inflation was severe, and fuel and food were hard to find. Riots began in March 1917 to protest the hardship. A large protest against Czar Nicholas in March 1917 (the March Revolution) forced the czar to abdicate the throne (and not allow his heir Alexis to take it either). A provisional government was then established with Alexander Kerensky as the leader instead of a czar.||The February Revolution (Julian Calendar) was the inevitable consequence of Russia's long-term problems of industrialisation, international impotence, and internal dissent; and shorter-term causes related to military defeats and domestic desperation as the First World War continued to grind on. Appalling mismanagement of the government meant that famine appeared imminent, exacerbated by millions of refugees fleeing the Eastern Front and creating an even greater demand upon Russia's badly underdeveloped food, manufacturing, and distribution networks. Petrograd and Moscow were effectively shut down in early 1917 by strikers, and Nicholas' tried-and-tested solution to strikes - sending in the Cossacks to break up the crowds and looters stealing grain - backfired when soldiers and even the Cossacks came out in open support of the people. Following a particularly bad riot and looting spree in which the army mutinied and helped the looters acquire food, the Chairman of the Duma, Mikhail Rodzianko, sent an urgent telegram to the Tsar on February 26th warning that Petrograd and Moscow were out of control, that the government was completely powerless, that the railway strikes were preventing food and fuel getting into the cities, and that the military could not be relied on. The only solution, he advised, was for the Tsar to abdicate in favour of a democratic government. After some stalling, the Tsar was convinced by his top generals and advisors to step down and on March 1st 1917, the Romanov Dynasty ended. Georgy Lvov became the first President of the Republic, but was quickly sidelined by the much more popular Alexander Kerensky, who - with the financial backing of the Allies - vowed to keep Russia in the war.|
|But Kerensky continued the war, despite the protests against poor conditions. Revolutionaries formed “soviets”, which were local groups of peasants or laborers, and which sometimes included soldiers. The Germans sent Lenin back to Russia in the hope of dividing Russia further and causing it to withdraw from the war. The Germans were right, but the world paid a hefty price for that momentous decision.||Ah, Andy actually knows what a "soviet" is! It roughly translates as "committee" or "council", and referred to the early groups of factory workers and military personnel who spearheaded the Revolution. And look - Andy knows that the Germans sneaked Lenin into Petrograd in the hope that he would foment a full-scale Revolution and knock Russia out of the war. Why can't he do proper research more often?|
The Communist Revolution
|Lenin arrived in St. Petersburg (Petrograd) in April 1917, and he quickly gained control for the Bolsheviks in the largest Russian cities. Then, in November 1917, he organized armed factory workers known as the Red Guards to march on the Winter Palace in Petrograd. There they arrested the leaders of the Russian provisional government.||Hmm, close. Andy neglects to mention the battlecruiser Aurora which threatened to bombard the Winter Palace (where the Provisional Government was based) unless they surrendered, and ignores the context of the Provisional Government itself. Obliged to share power with the Petrograd Soviet in an uneasy alliance, the two governing bodies of Russia inherited all of the Tsar's problems yet had no better means of solving them. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, releasing political prisoners - all of these were popular, but didn't get more trains on the tracks or more food on the tables. And of course, they didn't help Russian soldiers break the deadlock with the Germans. By October, the Provisional Government had lost support as the heady excitement of February slinked back into the realities of growling stomachs and exploding artillery shells. Protests in July against the Provisional Government resulted in the army firing on the crowds, rendering Keresnky's government about as popular as the Tsar's. Lenin's Bolshevik Party, with its slogan of "Bread for the Worker, Land for the Peasant, Peace for the Soldier!" appeared an increasingly attractive option, and in October 1917...|
|Soon Lenin took ownership of the factories and gave control to the workers, and redistributed land among the peasants. He also ended the war with Germany, as described above.||The October Revolution was, contrary to popular opinion, not a great uprising. A few dozen guards marched into the Winter Palace, arrested the Provisional Government, and that was that. Indeed it was so unremarkable that Kerensky himself was able to give his guards the slip, hopped into his official car (still with the government flags on it), and drove to the city of Pskov from whence he ultimately escaped to France. The aftermath of the October Revolution was bloody in the extreme, but the actual revolution was a pretty tame affair.|
|The West was alarmed by these developments and supported a “White Army” to fight Lenin’s “Red Army.” Civil war resulted in Russia that lasted from 1918 to 1920, killing ten million people during the war, and another five million due a famine that followed the war. But the Red Army, led by Leon Trotsky, won.||Andy reduces the Russian Civil War to three sentences. He gets the White Movement wrong - it wasn't a single army but a hotchpotch of monarchists, parliamentarians, and other groups whose only common thread was that they all disliked the Bolsheviks. Yes, they were supported by Allied invasions of the Crimea, Karelia, and Siberia, but these expeditions were reluctant at best. No mention of Admiral Kolchak, whose armies seized all of Siberia and came close to crushing Lenin's forces in 1919; or General Denikin, whose soldiers and families committed mass suicide in the Crimea when the British and French expeditionary forces sailed away without them. No mention of the Franco-Polish invasion of western Russia in 1920, no mention of the "Greens" (various nationalist forces dotted around the remains of the empire), no mention of appalling atrocities committed by both Reds and Whites, who used genocide, man-made famine, and ghastly tortures with equal zeal; no mention of the Czech Legion which fought its way from western Russia to the Pacific Ocean, fighting off all factions in its march. Well, at least he mentions Trotsky zipping from one battlefield to another in his armoured train to manage the war. One out of a dozen themes ain't bad. For Andy.|
|Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) had been a participant with Lenin in the communist revolution in Russian in 1917. Trotsky had joined the Bolsheviks and was part of the October Revolution. But when Lenin later died, Trotsky had a power struggle with Joseph Stalin. Trotsky took the view that socialism in the Soviet Union must await a revolution in Western Europe and even worldwide. Stalin wanted power immediately, and expelled Trotsky in 1927 from the political party and exiled him from Russia in 1929. Trotsky eventually settled in Mexico in 1937, where he was hunted down and murdered by a Stalin assassin posing as a gardener. Trotsky’s famous motto in life was this: “Those who do not obey do not eat.”||
Andy completely confuses the issue. Lenin had three cerebral haemmorhages in 1922-23 - the second (December 1922) left him paralysed on one side, and the third (March 1923) left him incapable of speech. Following his death in January 1924, a power struggle occured between Lenin's lieutenants - namely Stalin, Trotsky, Bukharin, Kamenev, and Zinoviev. While Michael Kalinin was the de facto President of the USSR, his power was marginal as the top Soviet leaders scrambled for supreme power. Trotsky, contrary to Andy's version of history, was not the proponent of one-state communism. It was Stalin who advocated "Socialism in One Country" - that the USSR must become fully communist if it was to survive. Trotsky argued the complete opposite - World Revolution, claiming that the only way communism would survive its dangerous infancy was if the USSR exported Bolshevism across the globe. By 1928 Stalin - through creating a Cult of Personality for Lenin which made Stalin appear to be Lenin's natural successor (even though Lenin hated Stalin) - had secured the allegiance of several big names and eliminated others, including Trotsky, who fled to Mexico City.
As for Andy's little quote-mine of Trotsky, I googled it. The only exact match that comes up is the Conservapedia page of this Lecture. That says a lot. If someone can find this quote in writing, please amend this statement accordingly.(ADDENDUM: I've tracked down the Trotsky quote and (surprise, surprise) Andy is quote mining old Leon. The quote is actually occurs in Chapter 11 of Trotsky's The Revolution Betrayed (1937) and it's about Trotsky's criticism of Stalin(!), not, as Commissar Andrei Schlafflov suggests, a motto of Trotsky's. This is obvious when one reads the entire paragraph, but even the preceding and succeeding sentences clearly conveys Trotsky's sense of criticism: "The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced with a new one: who does not obey shall not eat. Exactly how many Bolsheviks have been expelled, arrested, exiled, exterminated, since 1923, when the era of Bonapartism opened, we shall find out when we go through the archives of Stalin’s political police." ScepticWombat (talk) 21:23, 8 May 2015 (UTC))
|After the Russian Civil War from 1818 to 1820, the country was in economic ruins. In March 1921, Lenin announced his New Economic Policy (NEP) to restore trade and industry to the country. The NEP permitted some capitalism to create incentives, and it allowed for some foreign investment. Peasants could sell surplus crops. Profits by merchants were allowed. But government still controlled all major industries. The private ownership only applied to small factories, farms and stores. Things had improved by 1928.||
Beautiful. Just beautiful. "the Russian Civil War from 1818 to 1820". Ahh, Andy. Crapness is Thy name...
NEP was Lenin's grudging acknowledgement that the USSR needed an economic boost if it was to survive. During the Civil War the economic policy had been "War Communism", which was essentially a make-it-up-as-you-go approach to acquiring whatever was needed, using whatever techniques were deemed appropriate. NEP, though, was quasi-capitalist, with the infamous NEPmen making money for themselves by providing goods and services on a semi-free market. As for Andy's assertion that "things had improved by 1928", that is entirely subjective. After all, Stalin was undisputed top dog by 1928. Is Andy coming out as a Stalinist? And lest we get rosy-eyed about all this, let's recall a famous (but whispered) joke from the time, which might tickle Andy:
"What does it mean when there is food in the countryside but none in the cities?" "~A leftist, Trotskyist deviation."
"What does it mean when there if food in the cities and food in the countryside?" "~The horrors of capitalism."
"And what does it mean when there is no food in either the countryside or the cities?""~The correct application of the Party line."
|Politically, Lenin established the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1922, allowing one central government under Lenin to control many socialized republics. In 1924, the Bolsheviks began calling themselves “Communists” and established a constitution. But there was only one political party, and it held all the power. It was the Communist Party.||Yes, the Constitution of 1922 assured all republics of the former empire (Kirgystan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, etc) that they were perfectly free to leave the Union. The reality, needless to say, was very different. Only one party was permitted, whose name is superfluous to mention. Andy neglects to mention the Russification of the Soviet Union, as Russian culture was forced upon non-native Russians. Most noticeable was that the illiterate masses were educated not in their local languages and alphabets, but in Russian, using the Cyrillic Alphabet. Noam Chumpsky here could have had a field day warbling on about Linguistic Determinism. If he had bothered to do some research...|
|As noted above, Joseph Stalin won the power struggle when Lenin died, which was in 1924. Stalin established a brutal totalitarian state, whereby he dictated all aspects of life and used violence to destroy any opponents. A secret police aided Stalin in his vicious execution of all opponents.||
Ahh, Uncle Joe. A popular Soviet quip of the 1950s ran like this. Stalin inherited a kingdom of wooden ploughs; and he bequeathed an Empire of nuclear missiles. This is true, but to illustrate why this happened, let's offer another joke whispered in the canteens of Volgograd and Smolensk:
"Stalin, not trusting his own secret police, wished to know what the people really thought of him. So he put on a disguise and went to a cinema in Moscow. Before the film started there was a news reel. It showed Comrade Stalin shaking hands with a farmer, Comrade Stalin visiting a factory, Comrade Stalin smiling at the crowds in Red Square. The crowd in the cinema all stood up and applauded throughout the reel. Stalin, feeling shy and modest, remained seated. The man next to him, clapping, leaned over to the slouched, unmoving figure and spoke. "We all feel like you do, Comrade. But stand up. It's safer to be seen clapping".
Stalin made the Soviet Union into a global power, but it came at a horrific cost in human lives. Factories, canals, mines, collective farms, apartment blocks, railways, ports, mills, warehouses, roads - all of these were Stalin's legacies. But all of these were priced in human blood. It's up to you to decide whether or not the price was worth paying. What is not up for debate, though, is that Andy has presented a monumentally shit version of history.
Iosef Vissarionovich Djughashvili - later known by the moniker "Stalin" ("Man of Steel"; a standard practice whereby Bolshevik leaders adopted pompous, macho nicknames) - was born in small-town Georgia in 1878, closer to Baghdad than St Petersburg. As a boy Stalin was badly abused by his alcoholic father and forced to work in a shoe factory to supplement the family's pithy income. At the age of sixteen he was enrolled in an Orthodox Christian seminary, which (rather oddly) were renowned as hotbeds of political radicalism. It was at seminary that Stalin read Marx, and when he was kicked out of religious education (the historical records claim that he missed his exams and couldn't afford his fees, while the official Soviet version was that Stalin was a political scapegoat) he joined Lenin's illegal Bolshevik Party. This got him exiled to Siberia seven times over the next decade, in-between bouts of dossing around St Petersburg and attending illegal political meetings. During the Civil War Stalin had a minor bureaucratic post in Petrograd and became one of Lenin's five closest advisors. As General Secretary of the Communist Party - a rather insignificant admin role, and one far less prestigious than his other job as editor of the Party's newspaper Pravda - Stalin engaged in the political squabbling following Lenin's death, eventually emerging triumphant by 1928 after his rivals had eliminated each other or been eliminated by him. With the secret police (Cheka, then GPU, then OGPU, then NKVD - shame Andy didn't know this) at his behest, Stalin indeed executed his opponents in the Great Purge of the early 1930s. Historians disagree as to what caused this, as the Purge came suddenly and unexpectedly. His wife's suicide in 1929 probably played a role, as Stalin became extremely emotionally unstable and lashed out at all those around him; but of course there were far larger political and social forces at work.Typically, Andy mentions none of this. Why does he even bother? He went into great detail about Darwin, Pasteur, Alexander the Great, and Newton; yet he seems to know next to nothing about a man who he himself considers to be one of the biggest figures in global history.
|Stalin was one of the worst murderers in the history of the world. He starved to death perhaps 20 million Ukrainians. He conducted the Great Purge from 1934 to 1939, in which he executed all opponents. He established youth groups to brainwash other youths in how great Stalin was, and how great communism was. He persecuted all religious groups and destroyed houses of worship. He controlled the press.||
Here it is again - another strange, out-of-place paragraphy which consists of short, staccato sentences and reads like it was written by a homeschooled student. Has Andy got no shame? This clearly isn't his writing, as it bereft of propaganda and irrelevant factoids, and is in a very different style. Stealing is wrong, but stealing from a homeschooled kid is frankly pathetic.Yes, Stalin was indeed a brutal man. We might be justified in assessing Stalin as worse than Hitler. In the Holodomor, some 2-4 million (not 20 million) Soviet citizens, mostly Ukrainians, starved to death in a man-made famine caused by the Bolsheviks seizing grain from kulaks, or wealthy peasants (not that such a class existed outside Politburo brains) to sell in order to generate money for industrialisation. In the contemporary Great Purge, in which Stalin personally ordered industrial-scale executions of suspected wreckers and spies, between 900,000-1.5 million Soviet citizens were executed. Most were sentenced as saboteurs or wreckers, and were largely scapegoats for the USSR's extremely inefficient industrialisation under Stalin's Five-Year Plans. It goes without saying that most were tortured - some in hideous ways. By the end of the Great Purge in 1938, the USSR's economic, political, military, artistic, intellectual, diplomatic, and administrative elite had disappeared into gulags, the dungeons of the Lubyanka Prison, or shallow graves in the forest. Not even Stalin's own family was immune, and he personally signed the death warrants of many of his relatives. Yes, Stalin pursued a campaign of violent secularism against all religions, but by the time he came to power organised religion had already been snuffed out in most areas. Andy could have expanded upon these important themes - but if he's so low as to copy-and-paste, it's unlikely that he would bother to flesh themes out.
|Stalin had women work in factories just like men, in addition to the women’s chores of homemaking and raising children. Stalin converted all schools into instruments of propaganda to teach students to love communism and worship the state. Abortion skyrocketed in Russia at rates many times the rest of the world. Alcoholism was rampant also.||Ahh, a troika of Conservapedian rhetoric! Chivalry, abortion, and the bottle - with a bit of state-worship chucked in for good measure. Really, Andy? Couldn't you talk about, oh I dunno, the f***ing Five Year Plans, rather than abortion?|
|Stalin continued to industrialize the Soviet Union (formerly Russia but now including surrounding “soviets” also). He established a command economy whereby the government made all economic decisions. Under such a regime, shortages became widespread and people have to wait in line for hours to obtain basic necessities. Stalin announced a Five-Year Plan to try to increase production of industrial items like electricity, oil, steel and coal. This was a failure, although production did increase a bit. Then Stalin tried a second Five-Year Plan to make up for the failure of the first one.||Hey, I take it back! Oh wait, no I don't. Because yet again, this reads like a copy-and-paste job. At least he's right in his crude assessment that the Five Year Plans did increase the USSR's industrial output (albeit inefficiently), and ignores the staggering human and environmental costs of rapid countrywide industrialisation.|
|Stalin seized millions of private farms in 1928, and combined them into large, government-owned farms. This was another disaster. Stalin particularly punished the Ukrainian kulaks, who were wealthier peasants who had done well (through their own hard work) during Lenin’s NEP. Stalin’s enforcement of collective farming against the kulaks caused a huge famine in the Ukraine and the death of perhaps 20 million people. In sum, Stalin was a brutal and not-very-bright dictator.||
Oh great, Republican propaganda on private property. That hasn't been seen for a while. Collectivisation of the farms did increase food production, but again, this came at a huge human cost as the kulaks were deported to Siberia or simply executed en masse. Andy gets half a point for being sympathetic to the kulaks, but only half as he neglects to mention that there wasn't really such a class of people. You were not a kulak by how much property you owned (and certainly not through pissy Conservapedian rhetoric on how hard work elevates you from slave to King overnight), but by whether or not the local Commissars deemed you a kulak. They didn't give a rat's ass about your circumstances - if you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, you were a kulak, and would probably be tortured until you revealed the location of your hidden grain before being shipped off to starve to death in Siberia, or simply receive a bullet to the back of your neck. As noted before, this figure of 20 million is way off the mark.
So, that's it? "Stalin was a brutal and not-very-bright dictator"? Well the first bit is right, he certainly was brutal. Stalin has more blood on his hands than Hitler - it's simply due to the caprices of history that we shy from demonising Stalin in the same way as he happened to be on the winning side of the war. As for claiming the man wasn't bright, this is demonstrably not true. He may have been an evil man, but he was extremely clever. To rise from a rustic provincial bumpkin to Lenin's inner circle in his late twenties, to survive the political infighting of the 1920s and emerge as the dominant figure in the USSR by 1928; to orchestrate a holocaust while industrialising his country; to defeat Hitler; and throughout all of this to remain in complete control of the Soviet Union (and, after 1945, the Soviet bloc) until his death in 1953, requires extraordinary intelligence. Claiming that evil men are stupid isn't going to help us. Evil men are very intelligent, and know exactly how to manipulate the masses into committing atrocities. Always bear this in mind. Never underestimate the enemy, and always treat the enemy as having equal intelligence as you. That way, you don't delude yourself into a false sense of security. Andy would do well to remember this. We certainly do.Well, that was painful. Do you have any of that vodka left, reader? Best keep it. We're about to leave this copy-and-paste claptrap and move back into "Classic Andy" - piss-poor propaganda and pointless factoids - and that brain-cleansing booze will undoubtedly come in handy...
Nationalism in Eastern, Southern and Southwestern Asia
|The British did not grant India independence immediately after World War I, as many Indians hoped. Great Britain had no intention of relinquishing this magical subcontinent, and to control rebellions it passed a law in 1919 allowing imprisonment for two years without a jury trial. Hindus and Muslims alike sought independence instead, and formed a peaceful demonstration at Amritsar, which was the capital of the Punjab area. But a panicked British commander instructed his troops to fire on the Hindu and Muslim protesters, killing 400 in what is known as the Amritsar Massacre. Indians nationwide were outraged and demanded independence.||Wahey, it's the patented Schlafly Sop to the Non-White World™, in which everyone's favourite bigoted imbecile tosses a bone to us darkies. And like all deployments of the Schlafly Sop™, this one is shoved awkwardly between sections which have no relation whatsoever to the content of this segment. It does not follow chronologically, geographically, or thematically. Instead, it's just another of those random insertions concocted by Andy to try and look slightly less intolerant and Amerocentric than usual. Here, he tries to explain early twentieth-century India, and manages to call it a "magical subcontinent". What, was 1920s India basically a vast Hogwart's? Did the Rajas and Lords Lieutenant wave wands and cast spells? He doesn't mention why the British clung on to India - for strategic and economic reasons in addition to the self-serving belief that the non-white world needed white rule - but he at least acknowledges the Amritsar Massacre, at which some 400-1500 (depending on who you believe) Indians were killed at a peaceful religious festival due to misinterpreted orders and panic on the part of the British commander, General Dwyer. Strange of Andy to portray Western imperialism in such an unflattering light. Maybe he's actually opposed to imperial activity, in which case we tip our hats to him and await his announcement, on Conservapedia, that he condemns the War on Terror. Or, more likely, he is simply parading corpses to once again snipe at the British - in which case we have two words to say to Andy. "Wounded Knee".|
|The great leader who obtained Indian independence was Mohandas K. Ghandi, known as the Mahatma (“Great Soul”). He urged peaceful civil disobedience to the British, calling on Indians to refuse to pay taxes to Britain and refuse to attend British schools. He also called for a boycott of British manufactures, especially for the cloths that Indian weavers are so famous for. The Indians heeded Ghandi’s leadership and stopped buying British cloth. Ghandi also called for the Indian National Congress to change from an elite or wealthy group into more of a people’s voice that could advocate independence. Ghandi drew upon Christian concepts as well as his native Hinduism.||Ghandi actually gets his own page on Conservapedia (whether that is an honour or a curse is debatable), in which Andy selectively quote-mines the great man in order to portray him as a Fundamentalist Christian and social conservative. Yep. If you don't believe me, read it. Anyway, enough of Andy. Ghandi was indeed a great figure in global history, not least for his peaceful campaigns of civil disobedience against foreign oppression, and also his leadership of a unified Indian independence movement which, regrettably, rapidly fractured into warring factions when independence finally did come. Points off for Andy's snide remark about elitism (evidently Ghandi was part of the "Best of the Public"), and for again trying to Christianise a self-proclaimed devout Hindu.|
|One of Ghandi’s acts of protest was to lead the Salt March in 1930 for 240 miles to the sea, so that Indians could obtain salt from evaporated salt water rather than buy it from (and pay taxes to) Britain. A law required Indians to buy salt from the British government, but Ghandi’s march peacefully disobeyed that law and created much publicity. Ghandi and many of his supporters were eventually arrested for some of their protests.||The Salt Satyagraha was another of Ghandi's highly astute projects. As the climate of India induces a lot of sweating, anyone who lives there needs a high daily intake of salt - a lot more than the inhabitants of temperate climes such as Europe and East Asia. As salt was - as Andy gets right for once - taxed by the British, Ghandi chose to make this everyday susbstance the focus of his campaign. Precisely because everyone needed salt on a daily basis, the Salt March became a social leveller designed to attract people from all social classes, religions, and ethnicities in India - including British Indians - and draw attention to the independence movement. It was a huge success, with the Salt Satyaghara triggering other civil disobedience projects across the Raj, and prompting a heavy-handed British response of mass incarceration which turned even more Indians against the government. Very clever man, Ghandi. Very clever.|
|At one point a British leader agreed to meet with Ghandi, who then attended with the simple Hindu clothing of a single cloth gown. Offended by this, some British demanded an explanation. Ghandi responded that the British official, who was dressed in the customary suit and tie, was wearing enough clothes for both of them!||Is Andy still talking about Ghandi? Alright, the man was a major figure in history, but Andy makes it sound as though he was the only Indian at the time. Just as he did with Isaac Newton, Martin Luther, and various other random figures whose portraits Andy keeps under his pillow at night, he has now spent more time relating disconnected anecdotes about one man than he has about the broad themes and concepts relating to half a century in one of the most populous and politically tumultuous regions of the contemporary world. He could at least have named this anonymous British leader and said why Ghandi wore just a loincloth - as a symbol of the poverty in which so many millions of Indians lived. Come on Andy...|
|Eventually Ghandi’s protest efforts paid off, as the British Parliament enacted the Government of India Act in 1935. This established self-rule at a local level and allowed some democratic elections. Muslims, however, feared majority Hindu rule and requested a separate state for Muslims. The Muslim League endorsed the creation of a new country called “Pakistan” for the predominantly Muslim population of that region. India and Pakistan are fully independent today.||The Government of India Act was indeed a major piece of legislation, and the longest written in British law up to that time. Andy gets a point for referring to early signs of Hindu-Muslim discord, but we're going to take that point away from him for failing to mention anything about India between 1935 and the year he wrote this drivel. There were other Acts, Andy. And this little thing called in-dep-end-ence...|
|China was always independent, but it was not always a unified nation. The Qing dynasty did rule from 1664 to 1912, but it was overthrown by the Revolutionary Alliance, led by a doctor named Sun Yixian who had been living in the United States. Perhaps inspired by what he saw in America, Sun led the Nationalist Party (Guomindang) to become the first leader of the new republic China. Sun quickly turned over power (after only 6 weeks) to Yuan Shiakai, who then ruled as a military dictator.||Ahh, great. Having tossed us a bone, Andy is now free to spew forth a torrent of bullshit about the commies. Points off for implying that the USA played a role in the fall of the Qing regime, and for emphasising Sun Yat-Sen's academic credentials (wasn't he therefore an automatic liberal with "Professor Values", Andy...?)|
|When Yuan died, however, civil war broke out and warlords ruled amid chaos. The opium trade returned, irrigation failed, and World War I added to the general misery. Millions of peasants died due to a famine during the war. Central rule was elusive.||"Central rule was elusive"? War? Widespread deaths among the grubby, unwashed masses? Sounds like a Conservapedian paradise! It should be noted that it's not as though China went from strong, unified state to Hobbesian anarchy overnight. Central government had been decaying for a century and by 1911, few people in China paid much attention to who was sitting in state in the Forbidden Palace. Whether Emperor or peasant, they had little real control outside Beijing as the Empire had been fracturing for decades. Indeed, in Mao's memoirs there is an anecdote about Communist census-takers travelling the remote villages of western China in the 1950s, and on a few occasions encountering whole communities who were unaware that the Chinese Empire had ended some forty years before. The world is a big place, Andy.|
|China sided with the Allies during World War I, and offered some limited assistance. China was hoping to obtain return of land that Germany controlled in China. Instead, the Treaty of Versailles gave that land to Japan. Feeling betrayed, the Chinese angrily demonstrated against that decision with the May Fourth Movement, which Guomindang supported.||This is true; the Kuomintang did side with the Allies but this was largely overshadowed by aggressive Japanese demands that China cede control of industries and railways to Japan - which would have effectively rendered China a Japanese Protectorate. The May Fourth Movement is cited by historians as the first public sign of Chinese cultural conflict between traditionalists (now supported by the Kuomintang) and progressivists (increasingly represented by the communists). Andy could have explained this, but seeing (as was demonstrated in Lecture Two) that Andy seems to get his information on China from illustrations on takeaway menus, it's not surprising that he does such a bad job.|
|Communism began to creep in China, and some abandoned Sun Yixian’s vision of democracy. Mao Zedong, a Marxist, founded the Chinese Communist Party in 1921 in Shanghai. Sun himself then accepted Lenin’s offer of receiving communist military advisors in China.||Andy could have had a great time publicly worshipping a potential new hero - Yuan Shikai, second President of the Chinese Republic. Shikai had been a very successful general who fought the warlords in China's interior, and during his presidency spearheaded a political movement to restore the Imperial court. He even proclaimed himself "Great Emperor of China" and sought a return to traditional Chinese values. But, predictably, he didn't bother to do this research as he was evidently too eager to rush into a frothy-mouthed rant about the Reds.|
|After Sun died in 1925, he was replaced as head of the Nationalist Party by a businessman named Jiang Jieshi who opposed communism and even executed communist leaders in April 1927. That destroyed the Chinese Communist Party, and Jiang became president of the Nationalist Republic of China in 1928. Britain and the United States recognized his government.||What?? Let's unpick this. By "Jiang Jieshi" Andy means "Chiang Kai-Shek", the dominant leader of the Kuomintang Nationalist Party throughout the early twentieth century. Kai-Shek was certainly not a businessman - he was an artillery officer. Forgive me if I'm behind the times, but when I was an artilleryman our regiment didn't advertise in the Yellow Pages and we didn't attend power-brunches at the local Chamber of Commerce. Get it right, Andy, rather than shoehorning in lies about libertarian capitalist government. Note his claim that executing a handful of communist sacrificial lambs "destroyed the Chinese Communist Party". According to this logic, Mao Zedong never existed. Brilliant, Andy. Just brilliant.|
|But gradually the Chinese Communist Party made inroads in China, advocating more land for peasants, speaking out against the practice of foot-binding, and seeking a right for women to divorce. The Party itself divided land that it controlled among peasants. Jiang’s government did not improve peasant life and became less and less democratic.||Is this the same Communist Party that was destroyed in 1927? No wonder Andy fears the commies so much - they have the ability to resurrect. Or they're zombies. Either way, he really shoudl join them as it's clear that no amount of bullets and leaflets will stop the shuffling, shambling hordes of undead Leninists from taking over! But on the plus side, we can combine the music video to Michael Jackson's Thriller with the National Anthem of the USSR. Note Andy's mention - again - of foot-binding (he seems to have a strange preoccupation with it. You know what they say about men with small feet...) and his tacit support for government welfare programmes designed to improve the lot of the average worker. Bravo, Andy! Coming round to socialism after all?|
|A civil war broke out between the Communists and Nationalists in 1930. Mao Zedong’s communist peasants received training in guerilla warfare and fought hard. But Jiang’s army surrounded the Communist army, and in 1934 forced the communists to go on the Long March, which was a 6,000-mile retreat back to northwestern China. Few made it back alive.||
Andy tosses in a famous historical figure without bothering to explain who he was - a trademark Schlaflyism. Born into the petty bourgeoisie in 1893, Mao Zedong briefly fought in the 1911 uprising and later attended university in Peking, graduating as a librarian. During this job he read prolifically on history, political theory and political economy, and joined the Chinese Communist Party in 1927. Quickly being promoted to a commissar (the grim realistic kind, not the fun Warhammer variety), Mao published a number of theories in which he outlined his tweaking of Marxism-Leninism. He was still writing these works, and formulating a cohesive political ideology, when the Kuomintang Purge drove the communists into China's Jinggang Mountains. As one of several political bigwigs in the subsequent guerilla war between Communist and Kuomintang forces, Mao drew heavily upon Stalin's policies and initiated his own political Purges, riddled with the sort of tortures, executions, and scapegoating seen in the Soviet Union. His "Long March" of 1934 was prompted by the Kuomintang's capture of Jiangxi, forcing the Communists to abandon their stronghold and retreat much deeper into the mountains. At the end of this march, Mao had emerged as the dominant political leader in the Communist Movement and was able to consolidate his power as the Kuomintang and Communists formed an uneasy alliance to defend China against Japanese aggression in the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945. At the end of this war, the Kuomintang fled to Taiwan (where they still govern, claiming that they are the legitimate "China", while Mao's communists established control of mainland China.That's a very, very brief version of events, and had Andy bothered to look into events he could have uncovered some anecdotes just ripe for parading as conservative propaganda against the apparent horrors inherent to Marxism, Leninism, Stalinism, and Maoism. But alas, he just couldn't be arsed...
|Meanwhile an aggressive Japan invaded Manchuria, an area of northeast China rich in iron and coal deposits needed by Japanese industry. This Manchurian invasion was the beginning of World War II in Asia. Japan followed this with an invasion of China in 1937 along the Yangtze River. The Chinese civil war stopped temporarily to defend against the Japanese invasion.||Ah, Andy resumes taking pot-shots at his Asian bête noir, the Japanese. The Second Sino-Japanese War is frequently overlooked in the West, despite being - in its way - a conflict as severe to Asia as the (simultaneous) Second World War was to Europe. Japan laid claim to Manchuria as theirs by right of the Paris Peace Conference and alliances made with warlords in the region. In addition, Japan indeed same Manchuria as a useful market for exports which were increasingly harder to sell internationally due to trade tarrifs in the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash, and as a strategic buffer zone against the threat of the industrialising USSR. Following an apparent Chinese terrorist attack on a Japanese railway line in late 1932 (later revealed to have been perpetrated by the Japanese themselves - great opportunity for a 9/11 conspiracy there, Andy), the Japanese invaded Manchuria and established the puppet state of Manchukuo, governed by the last Emperor of China, Puyi. China appealed to the League of Nations but although the League condemned Japan's actions, it had no power and was humiliated when Japan simply left the League as a sign of contempt. By 1937, tensions between China and Japan escalated to the point whereby Japan finally declared open war against the Kuomintang. The bombings of Nanking and Chongqing resulted in fierce international condemnation but, as the West was preparing for the imminent outbreak of war in Europe and the Americans had retreated into isolationism, China received very little assistance (what assistance it did receive, oddly, was from Hitler and Stalin) and Japan suffered no adverse effects. The aformentioned uneasy alliance between the Chinese Communists and Kuomintang Nationalists (and the remaining Chinese warlords) resulted in an effective stalemate as the Japanese seized the Chinese coast but were unable to penetrate into the interior, while the Chinese could hold the interior but were unable to push the Japanese back from the coastal provinces. Although the Chinese won some crushing victories and the Japanese quickly alienated the Chinese through their atrocities, the turning-point did not come until Japan found itself fighting the British and French Empires (with rapid early successes) and the United States, alongside China; which received increasing support from the Soviets. This is an important phase in world history as it established the grounding for modern China, arguably the most powerful country in the world (or at least, it will be soon when we disappear down our own economic plughole), and Andy really ought to have mentioned this here. He certainly doesn't in the Lecture on the Second World War which, predictably, is simply a hymn to Uncle Sam.|
|There were three noteworthy nationalism movements in Southwest Asia in the early 20th century: Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Persia (now Iran). All three are Muslim countries.||Ah, nationalism and Islam. Andy's favourite colour scheme...|
|Turkey was formed in 1923, soon after the break-up of the Ottoman empire at the end of World War I and an invasion of Turkey by the Greeks in 1919. Mustafa Kemal was the leader who deposed the final Ottoman sultan in 1922, and then became the president of Turkey in 1923.||No mention of the Treaty of Sèvres, Turkey's Versailles; nor the Allied occupation of Constantinople which greatly angered the Turks and prompted widespread support for the Nationalists. This stuff isn't secret, Andy...|
|Although Turkey is nearly 100% Muslim, Kemal established secular rule through reliance on a strong military. He abolished Islamic courts and gave women the right to vote and the right to hold government positions. Kemal established a legal system based on that in the West. Today Turkey is the only Muslim country that uses democratic elections, not including the elections in Iraq protected by the United States military.||Great. It's Lecture Five all over again; explaining historical Islam through modern anecdotes. Andy obviously doesn't know Mustafa Kemal's stage name - Atatürk - and implies that the whole of "the West" uses the exact same legal code. Before getting annoyed at Andy's smug reference to the War on Terror in a paragraph on bloody 1920s Turkey, note his implicit condemnation of religious government - even though this sort of regime is exactly what he wants. In his world, secular government is both admirable and abominable. This is especially rich coming from a man whose grading of a certain black bodybuilder's "homework" on the Conservapedia World History Lectures exhorts said parodist to "take a position on one side or the other other, and argue it with vigor".|
|The British attempted to rule Persia (now Iran) after World War I, but the Muslims revolted and Reza Shah Pahlavi rose to power in 1925. In 1935 the name of the country changed from Persia to Iran. The shah enjoyed full power, like a king. He built the infrastructure and allowed greater rights for women than under Islam.||"like a king". The Shah was a king, Andy. And what's this? More praise for government-sponsored civil infrastructure and womens' rights? Someone ring up that fat bastard Rush Limbaugh and that whining witch Ann Coulter. They would be tickled to hear Andy's new position on these conservative red flags...|
|There was less modernization in Saudi Arabia, which was unified beginning in 1902 under the leadership of Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud, who named the country “Saudi Arabia” in 1932. Oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia in the 1920s and 1930s, along with discoveries in Kuwait, Iran and Iraq. Western countries provided the technology for drilling the oil, but there has been continuing conflict with the Western countries ever since over control and access to that oil.||Damn those Saudis! How dare they not provide the West with resources that aren't Western! How DARE they defy Uncle Sam!! This is the same sort of shit as Andy's whiny rant that the USA should have exclusive control over the Panama Canal. Well, at least this time he was able to bitch about geopolitics whithout blaming everything on Jimmy Carter. Which is an improvement.|
Science and Art in the Early 20th Century
|Once World War I ended, there were new achievements in science, technology, literature, music and architecture during the 1920s.||Hey, it's this thing again! Andy last gave us one of these weird little snippets a couple of lectures back, when he tried the novelty of explaining the art, science, and culture of the Industrial Revolution. As you'll recall, it was not only unique - it was also dreadful. Here he's about to do it again! This ought to be a lot of fun...|
|The most notable accomplishment in science was the discovery of quantum mechanics by European physicists. This discovery of subatomic behavior ultimately produced about a dozen Nobel Prizes and is the basis for the entire computer industry today. The leading physicists included Werner Heisenberg, Max Born and Max Planck of Germany, Enrico Fermi of Italy, Niels Bohr of Denmark, Erwin Schrödinger of Austria and Paul Dirac of England. Enrico Fermi, a devout Christian, was extraordinary in both his experimental and theoretical accomplishments. The insight of quantum mechanics was that subatomic particles act more like waves, and are never in a specific place at a specific time until they are observed. Quantum mechanics formed the basis later for the discovery of very small transistors, which today form the integrated circuits in every computer and electronic device.||
This is fantastic, and a rare opportunity to critique these god-awful diatribes according to the purpose for which they were intended - to teach. I wear, at different times, a selection of academic hats which span the Humanities and Social Sciences - but none are from the Natural Sciences. I have little or no idea what physicists do for a living (aside from fighting their way out of the Black Mesa Research Facility), and have absolutely no idea what quantum mechanics actually is. There's no need - we wouldn't expect a political geographer to study quantum mechanics for the same reason we wouldn't expect a theoretical physicist to study cartography. So instead of assessing Andy's material based on information I already possess, this is a golden opportunity to see how well - if it all - this self-anointed "teacher" can explain complex topics to one who has absolutely no idea about them.
We're off to a great start as Andy crowbars in a pointless factoid about an Italian scientist being a devout Christian. As explained in the previous Lecture, the personal beliefs of a natural scientist have no bearing upon their work. The natural world remains the same regardless of the opinions of the researcher. The opinions of social scientists and humanities (humanists? Humanities-ists?) do often colour their perspective of a topic, but this sort of personal subjectivism has no place in the laboratory. Even I know this, and the closest I've ever come to laboratory work is stealing sugar packets from the Chemistry common room. Andy, though, professes to be an expert on science, so he really ought to know better.
So, as for Andy's explanation of quantum mechanics. He doesn't bother to explain what subatomic particles are (I am vaguely aware that atoms have electrons and protons orbiting their nuclei; so his homeschoolers might be vaguely aware too), and instead launches into a discussion of how these objects "act more like waves" without bothering to say what this means. How do they behave like waves, Andy? Do they cross from one atom to another? Are they affected by the moon? Are they wet? This sort of thing needs to be explained. And lest Andy and his acolytes cry "sour grapes" for a social scientist not understanding natural sciences, it can be fairly argued that this material shouldn't be in here. Either get it right and explain it, or leave scientific theories out of a bloody history lecture.Oh, and unless they grow on bushes, transistors weren't "discovered". They were invented. There's a difference.
|Albert Einstein (1879-1955), who never accepted quantum mechanics, proposed a theory of (general) relativity in 1915, which built on work he had done in 1905. He won a well-deserved Nobel Prize, but not for his theory of relativity. Unlike most advances in physics, the theory of relativity was proposed based on mathematical theory rather than observation. The theory rests on two postulates that are difficult to test, and then derives mathematically what the physical consequences should be. Those two postulates are that the speed of light never changes, and that all laws of physics are the same in every (inertial) frame of reference no matter where it is or how fast it is traveling. This theory rejects Newton’s view of gravitation and replaces it with a concept that there is a continuum of space and time, and that large masses (like the sun) bend space in a manner similar to how a finger can depress an area of a balloon. From this proposed bending of space the expression arose that “space is curved.” But experiments later proved that space is flat overall.||Christ. Someone with a background in theoretical physics could unpick this crapestry, but to the homeschooled student, it's awful. Again, if Andy can't explain physics to those who don't understand it - and justify putting this in a history lecture - then he should leave it out. Otherwise it's just mind-numbingly obscure. All I can fathom from this is that Andy likes Einstein (or at least, his version of Einstein) but hates the Theory of Relativity. His attempted explanation of this theory might as well be written in Klingon, and is totally unsuited to the sort of young teenage audience for which it is intended. However I am aware that his last assertion is pure bullshit. As a geographer, I am well aware that space is not flat. We're not cartoon characters, Andy. Space (whether outer space, or "space" in a general Euclidean sense) is three-dimensional, not two-dimensional. I might have picked up the wrong end of the stick here, but if I have, that is just testament to how bad his explanation is.|
|Nothing useful has even been built based on the theory of relativity. Einstein’s work had nothing to do with the development of the atom bomb, contrary to popular opinion. Only one Nobel Prize (in 1993) has ever been given that relates to relativity, and the validity of that particular award is questionable. Many things predicted by the theory of relativity, such as gravitons, have never been found despite much searching for them. Many observed phenomenon, such as the bending of light passing near the sun or the advance of the perihelion in the orbit of Mercury, can be also predicted by Newton’s theory.||Again, we are forced to ask - why is this in a World History lecture? Andy is supposed to be talking about the early twentieth century, not bitching about a scientific theory. Note how Andy references Newton's theory (which one?), but never actually explained what Newton's theories were. He simply penned a moon-faced poem to the man, and left it at that.|
|British Historian Paul Johnson declares the turning point in 20th century to have been when fellow Brit Sir Arthur Eddington, the top English astronomer, ventured out on a boat off Africa in 1919 to observe the bending of starlight around the sun during a total eclipse. The theory of relativity predicts twice the bending of light around massive objects compared to Newton’s theory, and an eclipse is required to darken the sun so that the starlight may be seen in proximity to the sun. Eddington liked publicity and probably dreamed of winning a Nobel Prize, and upon his return to England declared that his observations proven the theory of relativity. That was good enough for reporters and historians, but the Nobel committee was not impressed and declined to give him an award. Recent analysis of Eddington’s work revealed that he was biased in selecting his data, and that overall his data was inconclusive about the theory of relativity.||Paul Johnson? Paul Johnson the right-wing pseudohistorian who makes a living writing the sort of propaganda drivel for the Daily Heil that makes Conservapedia look rather tame in comparison? Paul Johnson, the historian who claims that Clinton's naughty shenanigans were worse than Watergate, who idolises General Franco, and can't go five minutes without whining about how things were so much better in the "Good Old Days" when blacks couldn't vote, women were chained to the sink, and all but a clique of rich white aristocrats lived oppressive and short lives? Yeah, he seems a fair and unbiased observer. So much so that Andy apparently doesn't need to cite him. Oh, and forget major political, economic, social, and cultural events and shifts from 1900-1999. Apparently the only important thing was an astronomer getting in a boat. Andy really has a knife in Arthur Eddington's back (by the way, "Brit" is a bit derogatory. "Briton" is better. Not that nationality matters in science. And Andy wouldn't like being called a "Yank", after all) and seems to have a deep-seated hatred of the Nobel Prize committee. Rather a bizarre target for Mr Schlafly's wrath...|
|Eddington next promoted the theory of relativity to the English-speaking world in his Mathematical Theory of Relativity (1923). As the title suggests, this theory was more a mathematical vision of how the universe should be, rather than what it actually was. When a reporter asked Eddington whether only three people even understood the theory, Eddington supposedly retorted, “Who’s the third?” But Eddington did not fare well after that. He strongly opposed a theory about massive stars known as white dwarfs put forth by Indian physicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, but Eddington was proven wrong and Chandrasekhar later won a Nobel Prize for his work. Eddington finally lost all credibility when he first insisted that a physical constant (the fine structure constant) measured to be close to 1/136 must precisely equal 1/136 to make the math easier, but when later measurements suggested a value closer to 1/137 Eddington insisted that it must precisely equal to 1/137 instead. He was wrong both times. When World War II came to England, Eddington was a conscious objector.||Oh Andy, why not go the whole hog and just write this in the WingDings font? It would be no less confusing and pointless. Uncited quotes, poor explanations (if any), a quick tangent about astrophysics in a f***ing history lecture, and finally a rambling segment which bears more resemblance to a sudoku puzzle than a useful bit of information. All we can extract from this is that Eddington had the rational (therefore, evil) attitude of acknowledging that he didn't know everything, and changing his mind when presented with new evidence. Oh, and there's no such thing as a "conscious objector". It's a "conscientious objector"; someone who refuses to fight in a war due to moral objections. Apparently that's fine for Mahatma Ghandi, but not for Arthur Eddington.|
|Just as “social Darwinism” arose from Darwinism, many seized upon the theory of relativity to apply it in a vague way to morality and social issues. “All things are relative” became popular as atheists and others used relativity to attack Christian values. There remains enormous political support for the theory of relativity that has nothing to do with physics, and Congress continues to spend billions of dollars unsuccessfully searching for particles predicted by the theory of relativity.||
Oh come ON. Andy has got to be kidding here, right? Right? Oh Christ, he's serious. We don't have enough time or energy to write and read a long polemic about how utterly, utterly WRONG Andy is here, so we'll simply ask this - does Andy believe that the idea that different cultures have different morals, only popped into existence after Albert Einstein? So the previous ten Lectures, in which Andy has been talking about different standards in different societies at different periods in history - all of that is bullshit? Well yes it is, but not for this reason. For a man who probably sports public erections every time he thinks about Linguistic Determinism (and there's an ugly mental image), can't he at least consider that the word "relative" has different meanings in different linguistic contexts? He might as well claim that the Theory of Relativity gave rise to families, as "relatives" didn't exist before Einstein. That's the sort of level his logic is operating on.And how tragic it is that the United States Congress is spending money on academic research. Don't those lib'rul heathens realise that taxpayer money must only be spent on imprisoning gays, bombing foreigners, and blocking foreign imports???
|Another scientific controversy in the early 20th century concerned whether there was an origin or initial moment for the universe. Increasingly some physicists insisted in the 1920s was that the universe must have always existed in a “steady state,” and that creation was myth. But in 1927 a Belgian Catholic priest, Georges-Henri Lemaître, proposed that the universe must have begun in an initial massive “explosion” like a creation. He was ridiculed for years, with one prominent physicist making fun of his hypothesis by calling it the “Big Bang.” But in 1929, Edwin Hubble, another devout Christian, discovered evidence supporting the “Big Bang” and now nearly all physicists accept this theory. Research in the 1960s in central New Jersey discovered further support for the Big Bang, for which the Bell Labs scientists received the Nobel Prize.||Is Andy a proponent or opponent of the Big Bang Theory? It's difficult to tell, but this segment makes it sound as though he actually subscribes to the idea. This could be a consequence of Andy the Apostate feeling obliged to defend a fellow Christian (sorry, ignore that - Andy's beliefs bear little or no resemblance to the teachings of Christ), or it could be a result of his sheer inanity and lack of understanding (much more likely), or he could be attempting some sort of fusion of the secular and spiritual by implying that the Big Bang was actually the Genesis creation event (pretty sure that qualifies as a heresy - and Andy excels at those). Why is it important that the research was conducted in central New Jersey? If it had been studied in Iowa, or Zanzibar, or Vladivostok, would it have been unimportant?|
|Other thinkers in the early 1900s included Sigmund Freud (1856–1939). He was the atheistic father of psychoanalysis, emphasizing the supposed importance of one’s unconscious mind and symbolic dreams. He was a professor in Vienna, Austria. In 1938 he fled the Nazis by traveling to England, where he was welcomed and made popular. Freud proposed that the human psyche consists of three parts -- ego, super-ego, and id -- and that defense mechanisms are an attempt by the mind to resolve conflicts between the super-ego and the id. A “Freudian slip” is something mistakenly spoken that supposedly reflects a view of one’s subconscious. Critics of Freud point out that he fabricated some of his data in order to make some of his claims. Late in life, Freud asked his doctor to kill him, which his doctor did.||
Oh GOD, no!!!. What is Freud doing in a section on theoretical physics? And why is this segment written in such a terrible way? It's probably another cut-and-paste job from one of his luckless students. Andy tosses in a few jargon terms but doesn't bother explaining what they are. When I had to study psychoanalysis for one of my chapters, a book handily explained this triad through the metaphor of Star Trek, wherein a common problem involves risking the Enterprise in order to save other people. The id, the animalistic, selfish side, is like Dr McCoy - he looks after Number One before all others. The super ego is Mr Spock - selfless, idealistic, altruistic to the point of danger. These are balanced by the ego as represented by Captain Kirk - who merges the selfish and the selfless to arrive at an action. The three levels of consciousness were explained by Freud himself through the metaphor of an iceberg. The conscious mind, the one we are aware of, is the visible tip. The preconscious is the waterline, which we are sometimes vaguely aware of and sometimes not. Yet these are simply the tip of a vast and unseen subconscious mind, which influences the conscious without our realising it. Rather a good metaphor.Alright, there are a few problems with Freudian approaches, but that doesn't invalidate the whole theory. And as for Andy's criticism of Freud fabricating data, he - rather unsurprisingly - fails to provide a citation AND mistakes Freudian psychoanalysis as a quantitative, data-oriented methodology, when in fact it is a qualitative approach in which each case is unique. It's not surprising to see Andy ending this hatchet-job by simultaneously sniping at medical professionals while smugly holding the self-proclaimed moral high ground on euthanasia. Considering that towards the end of his life, Freud suffered from extremely painful ailments which could not be cured, it seems quite reasonable that a man enduring such unending torture, with no hope at all of recovery. would ask for it to simply be ended. Andy really should consider the context before shouting down at us from his ivory tower.
|The mass production of affordable cars had a tremendous effect on society, influencing everything from teenage life to families moving to the suburbs with the father commuting to work each day. Arrival of the airplane also had an enormous impact, with Charles Lindbergh flying solo for the first time from New York to Paris in 1927. Amelia Earhart was the first woman to cross the Atlantic by solo flight, in 1932.||Why is "technology" in a different segment to "science"? Aren't they in the same field? Anyway, it appears that the only technological developments of the early twentieth century were in transport and popular media. Andy is admittedly right that cheap, mass-produced automobiles triggered some social changes, but reducing it to this cutesy, rosy-eyed view of the 1950s - in a segment on the 1920s - is ridiculous. There were far more significant social push- and pull- factors which influenced the "white flight" from American cities to suburbs, and it was a phenomenon of the 50s and 60s rather than the 20s and 30s. Maybe Andy should stop watching Happy Days and open a book. The aeroplane was also a significant leap forward in transport and trade technology, and by the late 1920s a number of commercial airlines had been established which linked the globe in a web of flight paths and airport terminals which would not be alien to travellers today. No mention, oddly, of Amelia Earhart's mysterious disappearance while attempting the first flight across the Pacific. Modern scholarship concludes that she was probably shot down by the Japanese, who thought - not without reason - that it was a spy mission. We wouldn't expect Andy to acknowledge this research, but he could at least have entertained us all with random factoids...|
|In 1920, KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, became the first commercial radio station, and radio quickly developed into the center of entertainment for families. Use of radio spread most quickly in the United States, where there is freedom of speech, and slowly in other countries where speech is controlled or regulated by the government. Movies caught on in the 1920s in silent form and then, with sound, in the late 1930s. The Wizard of Oz in 1939 was the first color movie.||Ah, so there was more to twentieth-century technology than cars and planes. Thanks for that, Andy. And thanks to those lib'rul lie-entists for providing the visual and audio media without which all those whining, ungrateful Fundafascists would still be forced to propagate their crap through writing. Andy's claim that KDKA was the first commercial radio station is disputed - a number of other stations on the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada claim that honour. Andy also seems to labour under the impression that the United States was - and possibly is - the only country in the world that had (or has) freedom of speech; in spite of his constant bitching about lib'rul suppression of conservatives. Andy ends this section on technology not with a discussion of the Second Industrial Revolution; not with a discussion of the advances in anaesthetics, antiseptic, and other medicinal breakthroughs such as Salversan, Prontosil, and Penicillin discovered by researchers trained in evolutionary biology; but with the bloody Wizard of Oz. Great work, Andy. The achievements of the twentieth century, summarised by a film. Why even bother?|
Literature and Philosophy
|After World War I several novels deplored the apparent meaninglessness of that war, and war in general. In All Quiet on the Western Front (1929), World War I veteran Erich Maria Remarque describes the war in an unflattering way from the perspective of German soldiers. American Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms (1929) was also critical of war.||At least Andy was able to mention classic anti-war literature without reminding us all of how, in spite of the fact that the closest he has been to actual war is walking past a window display for Call of Duty, he is scathingly critical of pacifism.|
|Author and attorney Franz Kafka penned several classic stories illustrating how humans are alienated from a hostile, unintelligible and indifferent modern world. Several of his works became classics after Kafka died, including The Trial (1925) and The Castle (1926). In The Trial, an innocent man finds himself a defendant in a trial that he cannot understand, and he is sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t do. Kafka’s most famous short story was The Metamorphosis (1915), in which someone awakens to realize that he has been transformed into a massive cockroach that has been fatally injured. Throughout Kafka’s works he expressed and sympathized with the feeling of being an outsider, of being someone who is not in the “in group.” Kafka himself lacked religion and suffered from bouts of insanity as he grew older.||And now we see the return of the patented Grocery List of Random Historical Paraphernalia™. It's unlikely that Andy has actually read any Kafka, and instead is getting this information from a catalogue - had he actually read the books, he wouldn't give such pathetic little summaries. It's unclear why he has chosen to focus on Kafka. The man was indeed a prolific and highly skilled writer, but this is the first time Andy has got all starry-eyed about someone who isn't quote-mineable regarding Fundafascism and/or Young Earth Creationism. Perhaps the clue is in Andy's line "the feeling of being an outsider, of being someone who is not in the “in group.”". Feeling lonely, Andy? Cue "Q" from Star Trek: Voyager: "You don't have to exist like this, you know. You could live a perfectly normal life if only you were willing to live a perfectly normal life!"|
|Philosophers increasingly abandoned religion. Frenchman Jean Paul Sartre and the German Karl Jaspers advanced a new philosophy called “existentialism”, which taught that life has no meaning at all. Existentialism was a rebellion against all philosophy, seeking freedom for each person to form whatever value system he likes. An atheist, Sartre’s most famous work was L'âge de raison (The Age of Reason) (1945). Towards the end of his life he expressed sympathy with the terrorists who kidnapped and killed Israelis during the 1972 Olympics, asserting that it was “perfectly scandalous” how the French press criticized the terrorism.||According to Lecture Two, philosophers started to abandon religion back in the days of Socrates and Plato. Then in Lecture Eight, Andy claimed that the abandonment of religion only came about as a consequence of the Enlightenment. Now, he's pointing the Inquisition's finger at the early twentieth century. Points of for not mentioning the impact that the horror and apparent futility of the First World War had upon European philosophies such as Existentialism and Nihilism. Nah, why bother mentioning that? Just misrepresent a philosophy (something which Andy has a 100% success rate at so far), then move straight onto a demolition-job of Sartre and Jaspers before digging up some Jewish corpses in order to whine about the French. Y'know, when faced with impeccable logic such as this, it's hard to form a coherent counter-argument. It's hard to form anything. Except a desire to grab whatever vodka was left over from the Conservapedian version of the USSR and drink ourselves into oblivion. It'd be less painful.|
|Prior work in the 1800s by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was the basis for the existentialism movement in the 1900s. Nietzsche is famous for his statement that “God is dead.” Nietzsche criticized Western democracy, preferring instead rule by elitist groups who could become almost superhuman through effort and courage. Nietzsche himself went insane later in life, but many Germans promoted his ideas after World War I as Germans struggled to find self-esteem.||Ooh, Nietzsche. Note how Andy has actually gone to the trouble of finding the dates for his birth and death - apparently Sartre, Jaspers, Kafka, and all these other figures Andy has been triumphantly parading in front of his students are immortal. This is the second time in this short little segment that he's dusted off the historical straitjacket and accused an intellectual of being insane. Methinks the lady doth protest too much...|
Music and Art
|Americans made one of its rare artistic contributions to the world in the form of jazz, a new style of music developed in New Orleans in the 1920s. It used irregular tempo and rhythms and combined African American music with European traditions. New dance styles also became popular, including the Charleston dance that featured much movement.||Sigh. Andy already embarrassed himself with his abysmal grasp of music and art back in his droning dirge about the Industrial Revolution. Now he's about to socially soil himself once again. This little snippet isn't too bad, but Andy makes it sound as though the only innovations in music and dance across the entire planet in the first half of the twentieth century, were jazz and the Charleston (and implying that before the Charleston, dancing was essentially indistinguishable from playing "statues"). Great music and an even greater dance - but there was more going on than this. And besides, we have to ask why this is getting chucked in here. The meandering tangent about science was pointless, but this is just irritatingly pointless. Either Andy is trying to look clever, or he's turning into a sociologist, or he's run out of things to write about the period c.1914-1939. No prizes for guessing which one of those horses I'm backing.|
|In The Rite of Spring (1913), Russian-born composer Igor Stravinsky broke with traditional views of music by having different musical instruments play in different keys simultaneously.||Oh come on Andy. This is "pointless" with a capital "Ugh". Why is he wittering on about random musical pieces in this Lecture and only one other? Doesn't he know anything about medieval plainchant? Or Renaissance baroque? Or - if we dare to ask - a musical form from the non-Western world (Argh! Foreigners!)? He evidently didn't feel compelled to write about, or even mention, Mozart and Bach in an earlier Lecture. If he's going to wander off into musicology, he could at least mention the big names.|
|Architect Frank Lloyd Wright became world-renowned for his building design, which emphasized functionalism. Architect Walter Gropius of Germany founded the Bauhaus school to expand on Wright’s work. Both felt that new buildings should feature designs that encouraged movement and facilitated the intended use. Wright’s most famous designs are the Guggenheim Museum in upper Manhattan and the Falling Water house in rural Pennsylvania.||So is architecture part of music or of art, Andy? Do enlighten us. At least this is a novelty. He's never mentioned architects before.|
|In paintings, expressionism emerged based on distorted forms and bold colors. Pablo Picasso, the most famous artist of the 20th century, had a style that became known as “cubism”, which modified the images of his subjects to fit geometric shapes. Just as existentialism questioned the meaning of life, an artistic movement called Dadaism (1916-1924) consisted of artwork that emphasized meaningless and arbitrary designs. Later Surrealism produced art that appeared dreamlike.||Yet again, Andy dons his cravat and smoking-jacket, and drags us unwillingly to his local art gallery where he pompously harangues us, in his loudest and most bone-shivering nasal twang, on a topic about which he knows no more than that which can be found on the back of a cornflakes box. Note the return of Andy's insistent subjectivity. Sorry Monet, Pollock, and Warhol - Picasso trumps you all. Apparently. But let's not be too mean to Andy. After all, it's pleasantly refreshing to see him waxing lyrical about innovative art. There we were thinking that Andy would be more at home slipping on his jackboots and SS cap, and scoffing at "Degenerate Art" before fawning over the aesthetic beauty of some ugly painting of stalwart rural Aryans in a traditional setting. Well, that was a pointless and tiresome little segment. Say goodbye to the world of culture, children - we won't be seeing that again in this series. Science, I must gloomily report, does crop up again. How we look forward to that...|
|After World War I, there were no major monarchies left in Europe. Nations turned to democracy, but were not always well-prepared for it. Numerous political parties formed, and in the parliamentary system of democracy common in Europe, coalitions are required among several political parties to form a majority that could rule. It took time for people to adjust to this and make the coalitions work.||Oh thank Christ. Following its latest derailment, the AndyTrack Corporation's flagship locomotive Train of Thought is once again hoisted back onto the tracks in order to clank and clatter its way on through chronology. And we British whine about our rail network - at least we don't have anywhere near as many derailments.
"there were no major monarchies left in Europe." Right. Except for:
|Germany struggled with democracy in its new Weimar Republic. This government was already disliked by the German people for having signed the humiliating Treaty of Versailles. The huge reparations required by that Treaty caused an even bigger problem. Germany simply could not pay.||Whether or not Germany could pay was not the issue. The debate was about whether or not Germany should pay. The country clearly had the ability to pay - the reparations were spread over decades and the final plan was that the Germans would finally finish paying in 1942 - but ability was subordinate to legitimacy. It should be noted that the other ex-Central Powers - Austria and Turkey, along with Bulgaria - only paid token sums as they had lost their empires and it was clear that the new governments in Vienna, Istanbul, and Sofia couldn't pay the debts of their old empires. So the Germans had to pay extra to cover their old allies. Andy is half-right about public sentiment towards the Weimar Republic, the parliamentary system which emerged after the Kaiser ran off to Holland two days before the war ended. Historians, unsurprisingly, disagree about popular perceptions of the Republic; but to take a very, very crude summation, we can say with a limited degree of accuracy that the Weimar government was supported by the middle classes, while the working classes pushed for a communist government and the upper classes paid demobilised soldiers from the war - the Freikorps - to crush the Reds. As I say, that is a very crude summary, but it will do here. Remember that mere days after the Armistice, Germany experienced outbreaks of communism and short-lived workers' and soldiers' soviets in major cities and military bases, until they were crushed by the Freikorps (who had made an unholy alliance with the liberal democrats of the Weimar regime and were funded by an aristocracy which was - surprisingly - glad to see the back of the Kaiser) in a bloody but very short civil war/attempted revolution. Nationalist groups became very popular as different areas of Germany sought to break away or as Germans sought a sense of identity and pride in the face of military defeat; most of these right-wing Nationalists perpetuated the myth of the "Stab in the Back". This claimed that Germany had been on the brink of victory (or at least was holding the line - the Allies never managed to invade Germany), until the dirty lefties in Berlin had betrayed the Kaiser and the army by surrendering to the aggressive imperialists in Paris and London, and the capitalist pigs in Washington. This myth was popular but it was a total lie. As we saw earlier, the Germans did indeed come close to victory in early 1918, but by the last few months of the war the German Army was being pushed back and had all but run out of supplies and reinforcements. But, as we are all so depressingly aware, lies have a lot of power.|
|So Germany began printing money, and lots of it. This made it easier for Germany to pay its reparations, but caused enormous inflation in Germany. People were outraged at the loss in value of their savings, and hardship resulted as the German mark (its currency) became almost worthless. The German people disapproved even more of their own government.||Not exactly. There were various reasons for the hyperinflation in Germany from 1918-1923. Perhaps if Andy had bothered to read the work of his favourite "paedophile", John Maynard Keynes (how brave, Andy. Slandering a dead man), he would know this. Reparations were one factor, but there were others. Gold was one - in 1914, Germany had suspended the sale and purchase of gold, and in an attempt to keep spirits up, refused to pay for the war by raising taxes (Andy must love the Kaiser). Instead, the war was paid for purely through loans from the Reichsbank - and it was a f***ing expensive war. When peace came, the Weimar Republic inherited all of these debts, and the interest on them, and as is so often the case they borrowed in order to pay debts. The mark rapidly fell in purchasing power against the dollar, franc, and pound, prohibiting Germany from purchasing foreign currency in order to pay war debts and reparations while encouraging speculation on the stock markets in the hope of making easy money (yes, the world of currency is and very confusing and very greedy. That's why we're in the shit now. Should have followed Jesus' advice of pooling our resources collectively in a communist economy). So, there were these problems. But Germany still had its industrial base intact, and the Allies feared that Germany would not only weather the financial storm, but pay its reparations and debts before re-establishing German dominance of the continental economy. So in 1921, the British and French insisted that Germany pay its reparations in gold. In order to do this, Germany had to greatly reduce the amount of gold in its reserves. This caused confidence in the currency to fall.
Open your wallet, and get a banknote out. If it's British, it will say "The Bank of England promises to pay on demand the bearer the sum of...". If it's American, it'll say "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private". If you're lucky enough to be holding a banknote from a currency that isn't currently circling the drain, it'll say something vaguely similar. What these statements are are evidence of the original nature of banknotes. Banknotes were designed so that people didn't have to carry gold coins around with them - they could carry a banknote, hand it over to a merchant to buy their Renaissance groceries, and then the merchant could take that note to the bank and extract the equivalent value in gold coins. Over time this particular transaction disappeared, but the value of the piece of paper remained tied to the amount of gold bars actually sitting in armoured vaults in capital cities. This was called the "Gold Standard", and nearly all countries subscribed to it. It essentially meant that a government couldn't print more banknotes than it had gold reserves - this made trade and financial speculation difficult, but it kept up public confidence in the pieces of paper in peoples' purses, as they knew they could take that paper to the bank and - theoretically - get gold. When the war started, Germany had gone off the gold standard in order to print more money and borrow more, and when peace came there wasn't enough gold for Germany to be able to return to the standard. The Allies' demand for gold made things much worse, and the result was that peoples' confidence in the currency dropped. Instead of a baker accepting a 1-mark note for a loaf of bread, he would ask for 2 marks - knowing that the mark was not as valuable as it once was. Hence, inflation.
By late 1922 the German government was under intense political pressure from its population not to keep forking over gold to the Allies. So Berlin stopped the payments. While the British and Americans dithered, the French marched troops into the Ruhr industrial region to extract an equivalent value of resources, such as coal and steel. This was met with mass strikes as the Germans refused to work for the French (it didn't help that the French sent in their black African troops just to piss the Germans off), and Berlin had to support all of these strikers with welfare (by printing even more money) until, a couple of years later, the French realised how hopeless their plan was and pulled out. But Germany's manufacturing capacity had been halted for long enough to really bugger up the economy. And here is where it gets bad.
In 1914, industrial values were "1". Let's say that 1 loaf of bread cost 1 mark - that's the industrial value. By 1918, it was "2". That loaf had doubled in price. By the time the Senegalese marched into the Ruhr, the industrial value was somewhere around 100. By the time the French had been there just a few months, the value was over 10,000. That was in March 1923. By April 1923, the value was around 1 million. Through the early summer it got worse and worse and worse until, by the last week of July 1923, that loaf of bread which had cost 1 mark back in August 1914, now cost over ONE BILLION marks. As noted above, public confidence in the currency fell so quickly that in the last week of June 1923, a cup of coffee could double in price between sips. People had to take baskets and barrows of banknotes when they went shopping, and a very popular cartoon replicated in posters and newspapers across the country showed starving people drowning in a sea of worthless money. The hyperinflation was so bad that:
|An international committee funded by the United States and England intervened to try to save German’s economy. The Dawes Plan, named after American financier Charles G. Dawes, implemented in 1924 the committee’s recommendations that Germany begin paying 1,000,000,000 gold marks in the first year and increasing to 2,500,000,000 by 1928. It also called for a loan of 800,000,000 marks ($200 million) to Germany. The Dawes Plan ignored the original reparations set by the Treaty of Versailles. By 1929 the Dawes Plan was considered a big success and financial controls over Germany were relaxed. Germany factories were producing again at prewar levels and inflation was no longer a big problem.||This is demonstrably not true. The Dawes Plan wasn't a case of "Uncle Sam to the Rescue!"™, with or without John Bull hanging on to his coat-tails. Considering that Germany scrapped its worthless currency in favour of the new Rentenmark in July 1923, and the Dawes Plan didn't come into effect until August 1924 (as Andy actually says), it was nearly a year after the German government had already solved its own problem (but not the problems of all those people who had lost their life savings). In addition to specifying actual amounts of reparations (figures had not been included in the Treaty of Versailles), the Dawes Plan ended France's occupation of the Ruhr and reorganised the Reichsbank under Allied supervision. Perhaps most importantly, the Dawes Plan made arrangements for vast loans from America to Germany in order to pay the debts. This is confusing but critically important, so we'll investigate it. At the Paris Peace Conference (as identified earlier), Woodrow Wilson was hostile to the idea of German reparations. In his view, it would only embitter and anger the Germans by forcing them - and their unborn children - to pay for a war which wasn't only their fault. But Britain and France, who had come close to bankrupting themselves to pay for the war and post-war reconstruction, didn't see why they should have to pay for what they saw as German aggression, and wanted to financially cripple Germany to prevent it from being the economic hegemon it had been before 1914. So reparations made it into the Treaty. But America also feared that this crippling would harm the European economy, so under the Dawes Plan America gave out big loans. Money flowed from America to Germany. This then flowed from Germany to Britain and France as reparations. The money then returned to America from Britain and France, as the two nations paid off the wartime loans they had borrowed from the US government. It worked rather well and kept everyone happy, but the whole system was reliant on America being willing to make loans. As Gustav Streseman, German Chancellor, said in 1929; "We are dancing upon a volcano". If America stopped lending, everyone would be deep in the shit. And on Wall Street in October 1929, that is precisely what happened.|
|World leaders made a silly attempt to agree to peace in the future. In 1925, the French and German prime ministers signed a treaty stating that the two countries would never go to war against each other again. Gustav Stresemann was the German prime minister and Aristide Briand was the French prime minister. Germany agreed to honor the current borders of France and Belgium, and as a result was admitted to the League of Nations.||Andy's favourite word returns. What precisely was "silly", Andy? The Locarno Treaties in particular, or the idea of world peace more broadly? If the former, then Andy has a piss-poor knowledge of reality. If the latter, then he's a warmongering bastard. It's a shame you Americans no longer have the Draft Board. Can't you reinstitute it just for Andy? Conscript him and send him off to Afghanistan? Please? Anyway, the Locarno Treaties were a series of diplomatic initiatives between the old Allies and Central Powers, spearheaded by Germany and France, to prevent war. The Treaties were very successful at improving relations in Europe, encouraging trade and international communication throughout 1924-1930. Indeed the only country which frowned upon the Locarno Treaties was the USSR, who worried that the increasing co-operation among the Europeans would lead to the Soviet Union becoming even more isolated internationally. The Treaties had the blessing of the League of Nations, the approval of the Europeans and Americans, and were in all ways a resounding success - until the global climate changed with the Wall Street Crash. How is this "silly", Andy? What precisely is "silly" about a successful initiative to encourage trade, richen the economy, and save lives?|
|In 1928 Briand then signed a similar agreement with Frank Kellogg, the Secretary of State for the United States. This Kellogg-Briand Pact prohibited war, and was signed by almost every country. But it was silly because it could not be enforced. It would take a war to make a country comply with it!||
In fairness to this militaristic prick, the claim he makes here was actually a claim from the late 1920s. The Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, signed by all of the empires and their dominions, and the free nations of the world, prohibited the use of war as a means to resolve international disputes, except in matters of self-defence. It is still in effect today, and provided the foundation for our modern international relations concepts such as "crimes against peace" and the idea that military action in violation of international law (**cough*IraqWar**cough**) is to be condemned by the global community. While the vast majority of governments embraced the Pact, there were criticisms. And guess where they came from? Not merely the United States Senate, but Republican Senators (namely John Blaine) who whined that it infringed upon America's right to engage in military action uniltaerally. That's right, comrades. The complaints about the Kellogg-Briand Pact came from Republican Party politicians who believed that the right to play with tanks and battleships was more important than f***ing world peace.So, Andy ends interwar diplomacy here. No mention of the 1921 Washington Naval Treaty or the 1930 Treaty of London, which bound all signatories to reduce their naval fleets in a further attempt to prevent war. No mention of the 1922 Treaty of Rapallo, whereby Germany provided Russia with military expertise in exchange for using Russian land to test German heavy weapons prohibited by Versailles. No mention of South America, Africa, Oceania, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, where wars and revolutions continued to break out between opposing political factions, states, and states versus the Western empires (the Morroccan Rif War and the Third Anglo-Afghan War springs to mind). Great work, Andy.
The Great Depression
|The complex political alliances that led to World War I were replaced by a complex set of financial relations after World War I. The Great War was very, very expensive and there were many debts to pay off after the war. But in order for Britain and France to pay their debts to the United States, Germany had to pay reparations to Britain and France. In order for Germany to be able to reparations, it had to receive loans from American banks and also benefit from a strong global market. Meanwhile, colonies were already beginning to struggle due to a decreased demand in raw materials by industrialized nations, which had learned to make more with less. Any economic downturn in a major country could have set off a financial chain reaction that would be hurtful to all. In 1928 American lenders did begin pulling money out of Europe to invest in the more successful American stock market, and that was an early warning sign of potential trouble.||Ahh, the Great Depression. I remember a couple of years ago, I was sitting on the train reading a book entitled "The Great Depression" and when the woman opposite me got up for her station, she slipped me a business card for The Samaritans, a UK suicide hotline. I kid you not. So, let's see what Andy has to say about this. His description is crude, but vaguely acceptable. One of the most significant legacies of the Locarno Treaties was that international commerce and finance became much more intertwined (not so "silly" now, eh Andy?). He remarkably gets the cycle of USA-Germany-Britain and France-USA-Germany-etc money right. The man surprises us sometimes.|
|The American economy had been booming during the “Roaring Twenties” (1920s). Everything looked good. In 1920, the politically conservative President Warren Harding was elected president. He favored limited government so that free enterprise could thrive, and his economic policies benefited the nation and the world for a decade.||The Roaring Twenties were one of those periodic boom-times which characterise the peak-trough cycle of capitalism. Andy could have discussed how booms and slumps are inevitable under capitalism regardless of who is in charge, but instead plumps for singing the praises of one of the most obscure US Presidents in history. Really, Andy? Two sentences about Warren Harding? Thomas Jefferson didn't even get one!|
|But President Harding died from an illness in 1923. He was succeeded by his Vice President Calvin Coolidge, who was conservative but not as much as Harding. When Coolidge declined to run for reelection in 1928, Republican Herbert Hoover took office. In his first year in office, on “Black Thursday” Oct. 24, 1929, the stock market in New York crashed. Stock prices plummeted and many lost everything. This was the beginning the Great Depression in the United States, which then pulled down the economies in European nations also.||Andy seems to think that the man in the Oval Office has total control of the global economy. He doesn't. Not Obama, not Bush, not Coolidge, not William Henry Harrison. The capitalist system is a big, ugly beast which is mostly independent of state control - since the late 1400s it has brought us periods of unimaginable wealth and prosperity, but this comes at the price of periods of recession and decay. The Roaring Twenties could not last, and the Wall Street Crash was arguably inevitable. The Crash of 1929 is one of the most important yet complex issues in twentieth-century history, and crucial because it gives us a framework on what to try (and what not to try) to get us out of the latest financial shitheap onto which the capitalist beast has buffeted us.|
|Economists debate the possible causes of the Great Depression to this day. There is no consensus in favor of one single cause. There is no apparent reason why a drop in stock market value alone would cause a massive depression. Only those owning the stocks that fell in value were immediately hurt. But many had bought stock “on margin,” which means on a mere promise to pay. When their stocks fell in value, those buyers could not pay their obligations on stock they had already purchased. That means the losses were felt far beyond the stock owners, and were felt by many others in the economy, including banks. Laws changed afterwards to guard against this ripple effect. The stock market crash hurt public confidence, and people stopped buying things. It was a vicious cycle.||Shut up, Andy. You couldn't explain quantum mechanics and now you can't explain fiscal economics. At least he rejects a monocausal explanation, but writes such a confusing paragraph that it should be discarded. Monetary fiscalism is a sticky subject but it is vital to understanding the way the world works, and the causes and consequences of both the Wall Street Crash and the current global recession we are in now. And before you think that the economy is a dull and unimportant thing compared to science or religion, remember history demonstrates that when the economy is very bad, people start voting for right-wing shits who start pointing fingers.
The 1920s was a period of economic boom, and during the Roaring Twenties, speculation was rampant. By speculation, we simply mean buying shares on the stock market. Imagine you are an American in the late 1920s. You see all these companies making huge profits and you want a piece of the action. You read in the newspapers about these people who play the stock market and make more money in a single day than you earn in a whole year. So, you buy shares in a company. The CEOs use your money to expand their business and increase profits, and as their profits go up, so does the value of your shares. You could sell those shares and make a tidy profit, but if you hang onto them, the company might do even better and you will get a lot more money. Throughout the late 1920s share values just climbed higher and higher, and people clung onto their shares while buying more. Speculation wasn't restricted to today's greasy, greedy investment wankers with their sushi power-lunches and million-pound bonuses (utter c**ts - we should erect guillotines in Wall Street and the City of London); everyone was doing it. Farmers, clerks, shop assistants, sailors, policemen, housewives, teachers - everyone wanted to buy shares, and nowhere was this more true than in America. Share prices rose higher and higher and this increased public confidence in shares - if the price was going up, then that company must be doing well. But this hid an ugly truth.
Like the German currency in 1923, American shares were losing relation to their actual value. This was mainly due to an increasing gap between supply and demand, causing overproduction and underconsumption. Let's take a real example from the period - cars. In the early 1920s, few Americans owned cars. But as companies prospered, mass-manufactured, cheap cars were snapped up in the Roaring Twenties, and everyone wanted shares in Ford and General Motors so they could get a piece of this action. But by the late 1920s, this had started to slow down. Everyone who could afford a car had already bought one - the companies were still making cars, but couldn't sell them as the market was saturated. Similarly, the shares were still high-value and highly sought-after, but they did not reflect a company that was doing well - they reflected a company that had become stagnant. Supply was still high, but demand had dropped. This happened in other industries too, notably construction, shipbuilding, and chemicals. Goods were being manufactured at astonishing levels (thus pushing up the price of shares, because the companies looked good manufacturing that amount), but there's only so much that people can buy. Even though the share prices continued to rise, sales were dropping and shares lost their connection with reality. So, companies increased their share prices deliberately in order to encourage more speculation; more people buying more shares at inflated prices. Millions of people invested their money in shares, and this was unsafe. The bankers and CEOs knew the boom wouldn't last, but like all such bastards, they just wanted to rake in as much money as possible before the bubble burst. And burst it did.
By early September 1929 share values had reached a plateau. On 3rd September the Dow Jones - a mathematical number based on the success rate of top US companies - reached a peak of 381; signifying that shares were so ridiculously high that a crash was imminent. Stockbrokers at the New York Stock Exchange immediately began buying and selling "on margin". This meant that brokers borrowed money from each other, and banks, in order to make quick profits before paying back the loans. It's similar to a high-interest loan; you borrow money to make a quick profit, and it's great if you can pay it off - but if not, you're buggered. Stockbrokers knew that a crash was imminent, so they adopted this high-risk strategy in order to make a few extra dollars in the last hours of the boom, knowing full well that they wouldn't have to clean up the mess when the crash eventually did come. On October 11th 1929 ("Black Thursday"), the first sign of a crash occured - share prices in US Steel fell 11% in one afternoon. That wasn't especially bad on its own, as the banks got together and bought shares in US Steel at above-value prices - this temporarily restored the Dow Jones value, and temporarily restored confidence in the markets. It all might have ended here. But this 11% drop, and the banks' purchase of inflated shares, was reported in the newspapers. People read in the papers and on the ticker-tapes that stock values had dropped and shares were being sold, so they thought this was the best time to sell in order to make maximum profits. When the New York Stock Exchange opened on Monday, mass selling ensued and because so many people were trying to sell their shares all at once, the market became utterly saturated. With that many shares available, their value plummetted. It was basically a domino-effect. Again, imagine you're that 1920s American. You have invested money in shares, and you're wondering when is the best time to sell. You read in the papers that stockbrokers and bankers have started selling. You overhear a work colleague saying that they're about to sell. You talk to friends and family who are also thinking about selling. So you sell your shares, tell others, and this prompts other people to sell their shares... Before long, a million people are on the phone to stockbrokers demanding to sell their shares, and because supply (of shares) is so high and demand so low, the shares become worthless. You thought you could sell your shares for big profits, but in reality they have no value and all your money is lost. And not just for private citizens. What was much worse was that shares owned by companies became worthless, so whole companies suddenly found that they had lost millions of dollars.The next step was inevitable. It happened after the South Sea Bubble in the 1720s, after the Railway Boom in the 1840s, after the collapse of the Panama Canal Company in the 1890s, and after the Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis in 2007. A rush on the banks. In early October 1929 Americans rushed to withdraw their savings from banks before those savings went down the plughole, and when so many people withdraw their money, the bank fails. In November 1929 the first bank went bust, confidence in the banks fell, and the domino-effect sped up. Surviving banks were fearful of losing more money, so refused to lend to businesses. Companies, having lost millions of dollars and now unable to sell their products, started laying off workers. These workers couldn't buy products, so more workers were laid off, and pretty soon America was firmly in the shit. Purchases of foreign imports fell, creating an economic crisis overseas. American banks stopped lending the money that Germany needed to pay off its reparations - money that the British and French were angrily demanding now that global trade had all but ground to a halt. Unemployment reached dizzying heights and the Republican government did sweet sod-all. The Great Depression had arrived.
|Perhaps it was an overreaction by government that really caused the Great Depression. Economists criticize the Hawley-Smoot Tariff of 1930, which imposed high trade barriers on imports to protect American manufacturers, as a huge mistake. Foreigners retaliated by refusing to buy American products, and factories, banks and stores closed in increasing numbers. Unemployment that was only 5 million in 1930 skyrocketed to 13 million in 1932. The Great Depression had hit.||Ah, thanks Andy. So the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression weren't the result of capitalist greed; they were the consequence of lib'rul Big Government. Oh, and us dirty foreigners. What a genius. It's true that academics debate the precise causes and phases of the Crash, but Andy only just told us that monocausal explanations are insufficient - now he's trotting out his favourite monocausal thesis for all of the world's apparent ills. It is true that the events on Wall Street had a global impact, but Andy neglects to mention that the US also raised tarrifs to protect against foreign imports - it wasn't simply a case of us dirty ferriners conspiring against Uncle Sam. Also note that Andy blames government, when America was under Republican administration at the time. Nice oversight there, Andy.|
|The effects of the Great Depression were clearer than its cause. Weaker American banks meant weaker European banks. Leaders were voted out of office worldwide. In the United States, voters replaced Republican Herbert Hoover with Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who instituted the “New Deal” by which government assisted farms and business and created public projects to generate jobs. The program was unsuccessful in pulling the country out of the depression, and probably delayed economic recovery.||Ahh, now he's kicking the corpse of Franklin Roosevelt. Andy slags off anyone whose policies he doesn't like - he did this with Emperor Diocletian back in Lecture Four, and now he's doing the exact same thing. But just as Diocletian's reforms helped the Roman Empire survive the Crisis of the Third Century, Roosevelt's reforms helped America survive the Great Depression. Let's examine some statistics. When Roosevelt took office, unemployment in America was over 25%. By the time the US entered the Second World War, unemployment had been reduced to 13%. Roosevelt arrived to find America's Gross National Product a mere $68 billion. He left a GNP of $113 billion. American exports quadrupled. These statistics are not ideal - Roosevelt didn't fix the problem, he only eased it. That attracts criticism, from the same sorts of people who blame Obama for not fixing an economy that was broken when he inherited it. But easing a situation is better than the Republican solution - do nothing. Andy can bitch and moan all he wants about government welfare, but he doesn't seem to realise that these were actual people. Not statistics, not foils for right-wing propaganda; but real human beings like you and me. And him. The Depression was hardest, as it always is, on those at the bottom of the ladder - the working classes, the farmers, and of course, African Americans and Native Americans. Had it not been for the New Deal, a lot more people would have starved. And perhaps the New Deal would have worked more efficiently if Roosevelt hadn't had to deal with a House and a Senate packed with piss-brained Republicans who foamed at the mouth at the first mention of "welfare" and tried to block his every proposition. The New Deal was not a resounding success - it did have flaws and failures. But a partial success is better than no success at all. It'd be interesting to know what this shit-for-brains man would write on Conservapedia if he suddenly lost all his money, couldn't pay his mortgage, had the bailiffs round at the house, and had to stand in line to get his dinner from a soup kitchen. Maybe he'll get a chance to find out. History has repeated itself and America is now back in the shit again - and so are all of us. And all thanks to greedy bastards in investment banks and right-wing tossers in governments.|
|Island countries like Great Britain and Japan were hit hardest because they depended most on trade rather than farming. Voters replaced the liberal Labour Party in Britain with conservatives in 1931, but tariffs and taxes increased anyway. In Japan, its silk export industry collapsed and it struggled to pay for fuel. It turned to a stronger military to acquire what it needed.||Oh, geographical determinism! We haven't seen this for a while. Had Andy bothered to actually open a book, he would see that Britain suffered less than America as British exports could still be shipped to the Empire, while Japan was affected even less so. Really, what is Andy's problem with books? Are his dainty little hands so uncalloused that he is frightened of getting a paper cut? Or is this flaccid little man so puny and weak he can't even lift a book off a shelf? RationalWiki Mystery: Does Andrew Schlafly lack Machismo?|
|For Scandinavia and Latin America, the depression meant more government control. The governments in the socialistic Scandinavian countries increased their aid to citizens and protected retirement funds. In Latin America, government increased planning and asserted more independence from the U.S. and Europe.||Ah yes, socialism. We were wondering when Andy would trot this out. Don't those Swedes and Columbians sound positively evil? Increasing aid to their citizens? Protecting the vulnerable? Asserting independence? What do these governments think they're doing?! Government doesn't exist to help people, it's supposed to oppress!!|
|France was not hurt as badly due to its strong farming economy. But a coalition of communists, socialists and moderates formed the Popular Front to enact laws to help workers, including pay increases and a maximum 40-hour work week. Inflation took away any gains for workers by decreasing the real value of their earnings, and unemployment remained high.||Andy is actually right on this. Of all the European nations, France suffered least due to its reliance on agriculture and its extraction of funds from Germany. A bit more covert bitching about such nightmarish horrors as minimum wage and labour laws crudely masks Andy's failure to mention the European country hit worst by the Depression - Germany. When America stopped loaning money under the Dawes Plan but Germany still had to pay reparations, the fragile and newly-recovered German economy was hit very, very hard. Unemployment reached apocalyptic heights, inflation returned, anger at the French and British picked up, and a lot of Germans began to sympathise with an odd moustachioed chap in Munich who promised both nationalism and socialism for the humiliated and impoverished country...