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Forum:A few references regarding modern historical periods

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I am no history buff, but I feel like I may be able to contribute something to help other people like me who are interested but confused by that discussion, focusing on nobs's 5 "ages".

In general, there is nothing surprising in the fact that specific personalities can have a lot of impact on human history. It is human history, and our social structure is usually pyramidal, so anyone close to the top has a good chance of being remembered for their actions and influence. This was particularly true in ancient times, when large heterogeneous (and thus unstable) empires were highly dependent on the charisma of their instigators (Alexander, Caesar, Genghis Khan, etc.). To the best of my knowledge, "eras" or "ages" are not materialized by mysterious walls in spacetime that people cross and then suddenly everything is different. Sometimes there are specific events that do change people's lives (start and end of wars, obviously) but sometimes it is an a posteriori declaration made by historians. Also, history on WikipediaWikipedia uses a lot of Ages and Revolutions that seem mostly impersonal, with a fair bit of overlap, and may or may not be directly related to the discussion (I'm not sure).

According to WikipediaWikipedia, "The age of the Concert is sometimes known as the Age of Metternich ... or as the European Restoration ... in German as the Pentarchie and in Russian as the Vienna System". "It is suggested that it operated in Europe from the end of the Napoleonic Wars (1815) to the early 1820s, while some see it as lasting until the outbreak of the Crimean War, 1853-1856." It was preceded by the Napoleonic eraWikipedia, more or less well defined and attached to a well-known personality, but it was followed (in the Wikipedia article) by the Romantic eraWikipedia, which is a bit of a blurry thing. MetternichWikipedia was in the government of one of the most powerful empires at the time (Austria), so no surprise there, but he died in 1859, years after the end of the era which is not so well defined because a lot of different events factored into it (list on Wikipedia).

The Age of Bismarck is apparently a board game inspired by historical events from 1859 to 1871, and also the title of several books ([1], [2]). Joke aside, according to WikipediaWikipedia, Bismarck's achievements in 1862-71 were "the greatest diplomatic and political achievement by any leader in the last two centuries", resulting in the unification of Germany which became one of the most powerful nations in Europe. "Historians stress that Bismarck's peace-oriented, saturated continental diplomacy was increasingly unpopular, because it consciously reined in any expansionist drives." "Bismarck's successors as Chancellor were much less influential, as power was concentrated in the Emperor's hands." He died in 1898, years after what some recognize as his "age" (1871-1890), but years before WWI which nobs chose as marker. Interestingly, he predictedWikipedia that "one day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans".

The age of WilsonWikipedia was 68 when he died in 1924. Being US president around the end of WWI, and as part of the Big FourWikipedia, he was necessarily a major figure at the time. He was awarded a Nobel Peace prize for his support for the League of NationsWikipedia, but I wasn't able to find a source justifying the use of his name for the Interwar periodWikipedia.

The last two "ages" are more difficult to discuss because they are not old enough for people to be objective about them. I feel mostly neutral, but I'm sure people will disagree with me even on that.

Regarding the Age of ChurchillWikipedia, it is unclear. According to "Allied Strategy in World War II: The Churchill Era, 1942-1943", "This working alliance among the three principal allies was not achieved by a single major compromise but by a constantly shifting set of compromises and adjustments which in the overall view resulted in British military strategy predominating in 1942 and 1943, followed by Russo-American strategy in 1944 and 1945." nobs seems to suggest that Churchill had some unique original vision, but his link also mentions the important role of Jean MonnetWikipedia and hints at the support of Charles de GauleWikipedia to arrive at the alliance proposal. Without the benefit of hindsight that we enjoy today, I can imagine that people back then were not too eager to get into yet another deadly conflict after the first World War. If Canada suddenly decides to invade the US, the rest of the world will be faced with similar choices: ignore, support or fight. All have pros and cons. Many people will die in any case. Country leaders will make their choices and form alliances, with or without support from their people, and only history will tell who was "right". Regarding European unityWikipedia, Churchill "called for a United States of Europe, although he wrote that Britain was with Europe but not of it." ObviouslyWikipedia, "Churchill's legacy continues to stir intense debate amongst writers and historians". As was pointed out, he died in 1965, years before 1972, so I don't know what part of Churchill's legacy is supposed to be replaced by Nixon at this point.

According to this, Senator Bob Dole commented at President NixonWikipedia's funeral (1994): "I believe the second half of the 20th century will be known as the age of Nixon ... this century's greatest architect of peace". But this was a eulogy, not necessarily neutral. There there is also this from "The last line in the book is, “How did Nixonland end? It has not ended yet.” It says something about the book that this felt really compelling as I read it." (the book is Nixonland). Finally, there is this where the author of the book The Age of Nixon says: "In a perfectly straightforward, political sense, the age of Nixon refers to the years of his active political career–from 1946, when he was first elected to Congress, to 1974, when he was forced to resign the presidency in disgrace." and "“the age of Nixon” also has a larger cultural meaning, and in this sense every age in America is, as I say in the book, the age of Nixon". That last one makes things easy, but is very US-centric.

Finally, a few words regarding nobs' statement "It is as if all the competing interests of the world are fused into the body of one man". If we are talking about alliances then the competing interests are fused into the bodies of all the decision-makers. But this is out of necessity, because it is very difficult to have democratic consensus involving the whole population (ask the EU). As for the Austrian Emperor's grand titleWikipedia, well, he was an Emperor; it's not like he was elected separately to each of his titles, or personally conquered every city in his territory.

We rarely hear about all the diplomats and other public and private individuals who work tirelessly to reach difficult compromises in international negotiations, even though we probably owe them more than we think. In a wider perspective, I think the fact that eras or ages can outlast the active time of the individuals who start them is actually an indication that, even though we should recognize what they do, we shouldn't focus too much on them. --Cmonk (talk) 14:31, 19 March 2017 (UTC)