Wednesday, May 20, 2009

FRIDAY TRIP IS ON: Details below

You made $400. Congratulations
We each need $10 plus lunch money.
I'll treat those of you without funds to lunch and/or trip money. Let me know.
Please don't choose not to come due to lack of funds.

Bus leaves at 9 am. I need you guys to be outside the Main office by 8:45.
Our tour starts at 10:30am.

We come back by 2:15pm (I had it moved up from 1:30pm due to the overwhelming academic demands of the museum tour...)

What else? Leftovers are in my classroom. Stop by anytime and I'll pack the rest for the trip.

If I'm missing anything else, e-mail me at

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Personally, I feel kind of ambiguous about Gorbachev. I think that the book didn't go into enough detail about him to really pass a judgement, yet I also noted a certain tilt to his actions. When the book mentioned that Gorbachev was a political manuevering genius, I would say that it was understating things. Considering that Gorbachev was allowing free criticism of Soviet policies (thus inciting discontent and possibly revolt as people realize how many share their opinions), it is impressive how long he held power for. Neither the old gaurd nor the revolutionists who wanted to do away with Communism were happy with his policies. Gorbachev walked a middle ground that really just made everyone angry with him, yet he managed to hold power long enough to dismantle communism. Whether or not that was his intention, his uncanny ability to keep all parties hoping for change while playing to his own agenda served him well.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Harvard University’s Project on Cold War Studies website

THis is Harvard University’s Project on Cold War Studies website.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Compare the contrast the Soviet regime with the Italian and German regimes.

Compare the contrast the Soviet regime with the Italian and German regimes.

I think it's pretty funny to look at the Soviet, Italian, and German dictatorships without checking myself for pro-democracy indoctrination and go "wow, they had tons in common, they were all so evil! I wonder why they didn't get along!?" But, with that aside, while the Soviet, German, and Italian regimes all had their similarities (attempt at total control), they were greatly different. In Soviet Russia, totalitarian dictatorship was a means to an end, an unhappy stepping stone on the way to proletariat (or peasant, whatever it was in Russia) self-governance and popular control of national industry. In both Germany and Italy totalitarianism was the end. Both regimes accepted (in their minds) that, in order to live to the fullest, the popular "sheep" had to be dominated by a few wolves, and thus decided on totalitarianism till the bitter end. Even there, however, the German and Italian regimes had inherent differences because, as Fascist governments, they were based intensely on nationalism. And since the manifestation of nationalism is radically different from country to country, the regimes themselves stood for different things.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Compare the political responses to the Great Depression in the U.S., Britain, France and Germany.

Both the United States and Britain stuck to the system of parliamentary representation and democracy and even France went along with the idea of republic. In all three countries, socialist idea advanced rapidly, and indeed socialists led the countries for a period of time. In the end, however, they were all sticking to their basic structure of the political system. In Germany, on the other hand, people were desperate of a leader who would order and "solve" the problems for them. They were so desperate that they were willing to sacrifice some liberty and other "isms."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Anna Akhmatova, Requiem

Requiem was a banned cycle of poems written at the time of Stalin's Great Terror, during the endless months she spent waiting outside the St. Petersburg prison for news of her son's fate.

I threw myself at the hangman's feet,

You are my son, my horror.

Everything's mixed up for me forever,

And who is a man and who a beast

Will never now be clear ...

That was when the ones who smiled

Were the dead, glad to be at rest.

And like a useless appendage, Leningrad

Swung from its prisons.

The late Dante would have
created a tenth circle of hell

—Anna Akhmatova, Requiem, 1937

More information:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Why didn't liberalism take root in Russia between 1815 and 1917?

It was almost impossible for Russia to have any type of liberal movement because of the tsar and multiple communist movements taking place. The government was very extreme and most “liberal” movements or strikes were forced to be eliminated. Russia did at one point (I think that this was when Alexander I was tsar) seem to try and blend both autocracy and liberalism, but obviously this didn’t work as the Dumas were overpowered. The government just didn’t work for a liberal movement even though one tried to take place.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Could WWI have been avoided?

I think WWI could only have been avoided in the sense that everything in history could have been avoided if the humans involved had been able to better control their various animalistic/emotional urges. The problem with the events leading up to WWI is that a lot of the friction between nations was not just coming from the individual dislike of each of the rulers, but the nationalistic disdain that involved every member of each society. As competition in the industrialized west got harsher and the race for empire became more desperate, the both the effects of this economic scramble and the feelings of the investors, capitalists, and politicians involved trickled down to the masses. The pride in country, etc etc etc that founded a "we're on top" mantra (in the case of the English), a "we should be on top" (in the case of the Germans) and a "They may be on top but we're posh" (in the case of the French)was something easily manipulated by politicans as a way to further their empire. I think WWI was unavoidable as the culmination of all those national frictions.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

What if the U.S. had not entered the war?

Simple. If the U.S. had not entered the war then WWI would have dragged on for a couple more years until finally either Britian or Germany was starved out and could no longer support itself for war. The destruction would have even more terrible and the casualties still more astronomical. It is possible that the influenza pandemic would have caused even more trouble with the soldiers had they still been fighting trench warfare in 1919. I also feel that if the U.S. never entered the war that Germany would have succeeded in taking Paris (since the Brits and French had grown so weak) and woulod therefore have won the war. As it was the German Army was only 37 miles to Paris at the moment the Americans joined the War. With a German victory the Versailles Treaty would have been completely in their favor and they would gain numerous territory across the globe as well as demand extremely unreasonable indemnities of the Allies (exactly the opposite of what the Allies did to Germany in the actual Versailles Treaty) All-in-all, without American support the Brits and the French would have fallen to the German/Central Alliance and suffered the exact way the Germans did when they didn't win.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Could WWI have been avoided?

I do not think that WWI could have been prevented. Europe had a bit of a war mentality, so naturally a war would have started and at the time there was so much going on (a lot of new technology, odd alliances…), so it was a matter of time before a war started. I think that the assassination of Ferdinand set off the time bomb and was a good excuse to start war and it just happened to be in 1914. I think it could have started earlier, but there wasn't really enough reason.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Why did the U.S. not enter the war?

One main reason that the United States took so long to enter the war was that it really wasn't clear which side we belonged on. A significant percentage of the population were first or second generation immigrants, and therefore still felt some sort of loyalty to their country of origin. So opinions on the war varied-of course those of German descent or origin were often in sympathy with Germany's plight. Those of Irish descent or origin were usually anti-British...but not necessarily pro-German. American idealism sided more with the British and French, but they had allied with the Russians. There was also a wave of pro-English feeling throughout the country at the time, and the U.S. had been producing war material for the Allies. The United States took so long to enter the war because the population was not clearly for one side or the other. The U.S. did not get involved until it was clear which side we belonged.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Why did political and territorial domination of colonial areas become necessary for the European powers?

Wow. I think that after reading Cote's view on this I can only hope to back it up since he really did answer the question well. I think that the main reason had to have been for expansion of certain countries and people. Populations were growing and as Cote said it wasn't just a two or three person game anymore. Everywhere in Europe many more than just a few countries were flourishing. Seeing as taking over colonial territories was relatively cheap in comparison to the other options, it's no wonder that it became a habit for these countries. They needed to expand their land, their economy, and their people. And the difference between that imperialism and the imperialism of the earlier centuries was that religion was no longer the motivation for colonization. This was about the race for power and success.

Russia, Japan, and China

What occurred during the Russo-Japanese War was basically just a prelude to how each country was to behave politically for the next century. First off Russia. I feel really bad for Russia during this section. I mean their government is already on extremely weak foundations and this war just hits them like a Richter topping earthquake. This war led partially to the end of the tsarist rule and the revolutions of 1905 and 1917. The russians were pissed off at their incapable leader who lost to non-Europeans.. of all the catastrophes! Its one thing to lose a war, its another to be flat out destroyed and its another to be flat out destroyed by an "inferior" race. It was pretty much a fork stuck in russia, they're done. It had just the opposite effect on Japan, however. For the first time in history a European power was defeated by a un-European nation. They felt unstoppable and after their great victory with the Portsmouth treaty its understandable. The only thing about Japan is that after the destruction of Russia their attention became much more focused on China (Manchuria). Even though I feel bad for Russia I have to admit that China had it worse. Their land was being chopped away in chunks, they had random foreign businesses inside their country that they could gain no profit from, their Summer Palace was burned to the ground, and on top of all that their country was run amuck with bandits and convicts. China was pissed and upset as Japan just kept prodding and prodding.... the terrible actions that occurred in Manchuria in the years prior to WWII were the result of this frustration and excited jabbing.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Why did political and territorial domination of colonial areas become necessary for the European powers?

For a few reasons. The high standards of living acquired over the years by the West, especially during the industrial growth of the 19th century, made many people want more things. . . more tasteful, popular, and expensive things. It was during the second half of the 19th century that workers were drinking coffee and tea in the morning, a sure sign of class raise. This 19th century rise was accompanied by another rise in population, not to mention more child-conscious parents. This high class style of thinking was felt in different ways throughout all of Europe. To put it metaphorically:

The 19th and early 20th century world was a garden of growing flowers. For a while there had just been two or three flowers getting all the sunlight, Britain, France and the Dutch. Now the flower of Germany had grown and it's stem was big and strong; it wanted the sunlight just like all the other flowers. As I said before, the leaves on these flowers were hungrier and more numerous, and only the flowers that got the most light from the colonial sun got to grow tall enough to become one of the Great Flowers, a title of significant honor and repute throughout the garden. Aside from Germany, Japan's Flower was growing taller, ever since the American Rain Storm, which had once been in the sky shining on Britain, had fell down on it and helped it bloom. The garden was growing higher and wider than it had ever grown before, because every plant needed cheap and ethnically inferior sunlight to quench the maw of its leaves.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

How did Europeans define civilization? Do you agree? Do you have an alternative definition?

On this subject I really feel like I must agree with what Sam is saying as well as the comment Hanjae gave. I think that because the Europeans were ahead of the curve compared other countries in terms of the "modern" society, they used this idea to set the standard for what a true civilization actually was. This of course seems and was unfair to other countries such as Japan and many others, so no I definetely do not agree with how they defined civilization. If I were to give my input on what I think civilization is, I think that the best definition I could give would be generally any group or community of people who are characterized by the customs and settlements that involve and relate them. This may seem sort of general but I think that is the important thing to remember; that maybe the Europeans overcomplicated what they thought civilization was and it should be defined in a much more simpler and general way.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How did Europeans define civilization? Do you agree? Do you have an alternative definition?

Europeans considered only those cultures that were similar to theirs to be "civilized". European countries, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia were the only ones who received "civilized" status in the eyes of Europe. I disagree with their definition. European civilization is not the only form of civilization, and Europeans did not alot any respect for other cultures. The Japanese, for example, had a highly organized and structured society. However, Europeans considered countries like Japan to be "backward". In my opinion, civilization is better defined as any kind of structured society.

Monday, February 9, 2009

What if the 1848 Revolutions succeeded?

Well we all know that France was the first to revolt, (no surprise) and had the revolt been successful we would have no model to base modern dictators off of, that is Napolean III being classified as the first modern dictator. With out N.III France would have made a weal attempt at a liberal and democratic government and upon their success the rest of Europe would have fought harder for their independence with the nationalist spirit raging. France would have ultimitely failed and recolted again, whether the Parisians were revolting against the rest of France or vice versa it most likely would be happening in succession for the next several years until a strong leader or dictator socialist came around. If France had succeeded it most likely would have granted help to the Balkans and the Romania/Serbia/Moravia areas and they might have won their independence, not just autonomy which is periodically revoked and regained. If they had won their total independence then there would have been no nationalist to kill the Archduke of Austria and no WWI. If Germany had succeeded then also there would have been less complaining from the Volksgeistists about how Germany was a scattered collection of people thanks to the Treaty of Westphalia and the other treaties and there would have been no nationalist movement under Kaiser Wilhelm because that would have already been achieved presumably, so the Germans would not have been so hot to attack and conquer if there still was a WWI. There also would have been a great power vacuum becasue Prussia would have been strengthened by all the German states if Frederick would have accepted the Frankfurt assemblies offer, but then there would have been one great last war where Austria rose against Prussia only to be utterly crushed once and for all and to become a satelite to Prussia.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What kinds of comparisons can you draw between secessionists in North America and nationalists in Europe?

The secessionists in North America and the nationalists in Europe actually shared quite a few desires and motivations. But for the fact that we (as US citizens) view the South's secession from the Union with a nationalistic surprise, the South's movement for independence is no different from the various entities of Germany in 1848, trying to make it their own way in Europe. Around the time of the civil war, the United States as a nation state (the one we all love dearly today) did not exist as strongly as the individual political, economical, and cultural interests of the various states. The South had a system of life that was very different from the North because of the virtually free labor-based plantations. As the North continued to gain diversity from the various immigrants, the South had very few free workers, since none could hope to compete with slave labor. The South developed the independent cultural identity that fired up all the nationalistic urges in Europe, and they acted on those interests by seceding from the Union.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What if the Frankfurt Assembly had succeeded?

If the Frankfurt Assembly had succeeded then Germany would have formed a democratic, liberal, self-governing, and federally unified "empire". Friderick William IV would've been named the first emperor of Germany, which would have been a territorial combination of the smaller states plus Prussia. There are a couple extreme scenarios for the effect of this accomplishment. The first is, of course, is the antagonistical view. In this view all of friedericks worst fears would have been realized: Because he imposed himself by force on the lesser states they will gain a feeling of nationalism/ revolution and revolt against him, Austria may declare war on the newly formed state in the hopes of taking over, and/or he may have been disowned from the Hohenzollern because of his willingness to accept a position of a constitutionally limited and revolutionary representative position. These would lead to anarchy, the collapse of the empire, and possibly even the end of the hopes for a unified germany. On the other hand, however, is a brighter outlook. The Frankfurt Assembly tag-teaming with emperor William could have led to a peaceful and very liberal conscientious regime. Maybe a success story comparable to that of America, in which all the different nationalities could be treated as equally and justly. All would depend on the actions of the radicals.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Was the 1848 revolution in Paris a proletarian revolution?

Marx himself and Marxist historians argue the 1848 revolution in Paris was a proletarian revolution. Was it? Was there a working class movement in France in 1848?

I would say that the 1848 revolution in France was definitely a proletarian revolution, but it was not the global proletarian coup de etat or the working classes easy take-over of centralized management. The 1848 revolution was, after all, a class war to an extent, and when the working men and women take up arms against their bourgeoisie oppressors, I would certainly say that there is a proletarian uprising. As to a working class movement, there were definitely elements within the rebellious factions that were fighting/rioting with a pro-working class agenda, but I think that in the end, any working class movement was mainly in the minds of the rank and file of the revolution. As always, it was primarily the laborers that did the fighting but the professionals and intellectuals that did most of the deliberating afterwards. The initial radicalism of the revolution got watered down after the overly-romantic period wore off, and once again the business of actually writing a constitution that provides liberty, justice, and happiness proved to be a little difficult.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stinky History

Stinky History

Towards the end of the article on the trade war we apparently declared on the French cheese that I love but can't really afford anymore.

: “ …However Roquefort got its start, the people of ROQUEFORT-SUR-SOULZON( a village of 600 souls in a remote part of southern France) have been making it for a long time. They were granted a monopoly on producing the cheese by King Charles VI in 1411. In 1666, the parliament in Toulouse granted Roquefort a "controlled designation of origin," which made it illegal for other communities to claim they were producing it… A decree from the prime minister in 2001 reviewed in excruciating detail how Roquefort must be produced to retain its distinction, including boundaries for the ewes' grazing grounds…”

Apparently even Napoleon let them be probably because “... A piece of Parmesan or Roquefort cheese closed his meals. ...” (Napoleon from the Tuileries to St. Helena: Personal Recollections by Louis √Čtienne Saint Denis, 1922

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Assess the Chartist movement: good/bad; effective/ineffective etc.

I am amazed by tha fact that over 3 million people signed one petition. It's also impressive how much the Chartists managed to not get themselves killed, hung, or massacred. I can see where they're coming from now. I used to think things like socialism were ridiculous, but now that I know about the life these people led, I would probably be one of the first to sign that list. So yes, I do believe their cause was justified and I'm starting to feel very lucky to live in America where everyone can vote and the government is happy to pass new laws when they are wanted. ALthough their cause was justified, as the book pointed out, they were going down the wrong road, the Chartists couldn;t get anything done because the few people in Parliament were protecting their private interests, not the interests of the people. It was when they started fighting fire with fire that they got stuff done. The labor unions proved more effective than government action, but I think government action was a nobler way to go than violence or revolution.

One thing I noticed, as did the book: England always looked for Perliamentary reform to adjust the government, whereas France looked toward revolution each time it wanted change. This must be because there were two different govs. Imagine what this must've meant for success as a country; a fluid, changable government is a vital necessity if you want to get ahead as a nation.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Peterloo Massacres and Six Acts

What happened, was after the wars had ended England faced a depression along with reactionist policies. The Corn Laws raised farm tariffs sky high to ward off too much importation of agricultural products to Britain during the "Flood". This made consumers angry. They organized in a field in Manchester and were shot at for the same reason that people get shot whenever they gather and are shot at, fear. This Peterloo "massacre" (as these events are often called) provoked the Six Acts which took away a number of the constitutional freedoms of the U.S. like the right of search and seizure, freedom to gather, and freedom of speech. These were all reactions to the flood of revolution throughout Europe at the time; governments were terrified of a mini-French revolution occurring on their turf. They were busy putting up "dikes" to stop the "flood". (the dutch were okay though, they had been doing this for years and were already well prepared)

What was so "revolutionary" about the Industrial Revolution?

Today, we measure a country's progress and value to the world economy in general in part by its level of industrialization, because in today's world it is very difficult for a nation to ensure the quality of life for its citizens that an industrialized country can provide. The Industrial Revolution itself was not revolutionary in the sense of BAM! Modern Progress! but more in the sense that it was a breaking out (albeit over time) from the older, accepted modes of production to the mechanized version which moved the world further down the path of consumptive leisure (meaning that we spend our leisure time using things others produce as opposed to finding something free to do), which is a necessary part of a capitalistic world. The dramatic change occurred when the world moved away from domestic production to making things with machines. Which, considering the moral dilemmas managers must have faced (or at least been presented with by established institutions), was pretty revolutionary.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Here is a comment I decided to make into a post:

I would like to make it clear that in my opinion, nationalism, used in a strictly national and military sense, has NOT been around for that long. It was only Louis XIV who created a national army for France. He was around in the 17th century, just two hundred years before Napoleon. It was a new thing that had not been going on until then. Before that people fought out of duty, fear, anger, pride, or to protect themselves, and of course to make money. When it comes to the spread of patriotism, there was no printing press before 1439. There were no salons, no reading cultures, no ideas spreading like wild fire, other than perhaps religious ones since the church was so well established and interconnected. It was a very isolated and personal existence as the majority of lives were agriculturally based.

As to nationalism as a whole, if there was any nationalism it was probably not national, but, manor-, town-, city-, state- or city-state-wide. You see Europe, had only come along as an Entity around the 13 or 1400s and the individual nations of Europe began forming as united political bodies from about then on. It seemed that as these nations grew stronger and more populated so too did the wars they fought; growing larger and more complex as nations ganged up on one another. People were much more concerned about heaven than they were about their nation during the middle ages. The New Monarchies that made these rough political boundaries into a Spain, a Britain, and a France. You can't really get fired up about nationalism until you have a nation to get fired up about.

Granted, Germany, around the time of Napoleon was not really a "nation" per se, but it wanted to be one, and it talked about being one, and it did so in the hopes that it would be it's own nation, and it fought for that image.

The city of Concord today has as much population as some of the major cities in the 16th and 17th centuries. The city of New York had as many people as some nations. People and their ideas have been spread out for a while.

I think that living in a small world today we forget how big the world used to be and how young we really are as a civilized race or even as a species.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What was so "revolutionary" about the "Industrial Revolution"?

Well for one, it got the people to revolve around the cities. I think that the Industrial Revolution was just as revolutionary as the French Revolution. Both took place in Europe and both involved bad conditions for poor peopleI think it was (like these young lads) more like an "Industrial Spiral" since there were still farmers and home industries just less and added a number of new factories. I think the Industrial Revolution was caused by the American and French Revolutions. The increased unity in Britain and an unsettled population sparked new ideas. I guess a revolution is just a major change or readjustment, kind of like the scientific revolution, the greatest spiritual adjustment in history.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What was so "revolutionary" about the "Industrial Revolution"?

The effects of the Industrial Revolution are still felt immensely in today's society. Perhaps the most revolutionary change in social structure that occured during the rev. was the growth of cities. In Britain by 1850, what had previously been a predominantly rural population had now grown and moved to cities, resulting in 31 cities with over 50,000 people. This urbanization soon spread with industrialism. Life changed dramatically for many-small farmers could no longer make a living doing what they were doing. Many had little choice but to move to the cities. There were many things "revolutionary" about the Industrial Revolution...industrialism itself was extremely revolutionary...urbanization is just a major one.

why england not france?

from what i have read, France was simply not in shape to handle an industrial revolution. While Napoleon ruled, nobody cared too much about the technology and new methods of business that had been jumping around. people in France were more concerned about their driven ruler whom I'm sure kept the male population down while having such an enormous army. England on the other hand wasn't run by one man either. they had been quietly building strength for a while as Napoleon drew all the attention. England was also run by more of the industrial folk. they had history in business and now they had the means of government to support their ideas. They used government power to support the movement and pave a road that was easy to walk for the people in the working world. The last reason i think England was in a better position then France was simply because of their foreign affairs. England has always been a power over seas in foreign territories and when Napoleon drew all the attention into Europe, England was able to claim land like it was new. Not to mention their exceptional navy could protect it with ease.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Napoleon's Empire V. Earlier Universal Monarchy bids (late)

Think back to Spain and France's earlier attempts at a universal monarchy. How do they compare to Napoleon's Grand Empire?

I think the key difference between the earlier bids for European supremacy and Napoleon's empire are in the fact that much of Napoleon's empire consisted of allied states that were not completely under the French heel. Granted, Napoleon could force all the countries within the empire (not counting Russia as a part of the empire) to act/not act, but much of the states that Napoleon had conquered were still allowed some semblance of self-government. I think a large reason that Napoleon was so able to control such a portion of Europe (i.e. most of it) was because he left this illusion of some self-government. It may have been the state of politics in his age, but for whatever the reason, strong political figures in many countries (tied, in essence, to whatever bit of Volksgeist the country had) were left with some power. I believe that this "delegation" of power, versus the earlier attempts at total control/domination, made Napoleon's empire more stable. The way I see it, the larger the area controlled, the greater the diversity of the population. With population diversity comes a differentiation of desires, and it is desires the deviate from the intentions of authority that cause problems. Napoleon was able to spread his control out across leaders who identified with their countries, where the earlier French and Habsburg reaches did not.

Page 434: "Industrialism vs. capitalism" Do you agree with Palmer's analysis? What does his analysis imply about the "Cold War"

The communistic approach to industry doesn't work very well. It is from capitalism that industry arose and thrived in, so of course it is capitalism that industry works best in, nothing has changed in industrialism's opinion of life in capitalism, a fish does not suddenly decide that he can no longer live in the sea, hop onto land and live a long, happy, and fulfilled life. In my opinion industrialism in communism was like a fish out of water. One of the biggest reasons industrialism worked so well was because of the competition. Who in the heck wanted to work in the horrible conditions of factory unless that was the only way to make a better happier life for themselves and to get what they desired. It is for themselves that people work hardest. Even in modern day America, it is the image of a wealthy, successful, and easy living human that drives so many people to work hard. Communism, as practiced during the cold war, severely omitted opportunity in its rule book, although it tried to replace this with terror, censorship (or lies, but there were lies in America as well) and a cult of personality, but the truth of the matter is, happy workers make good workers. I don't hate to quote Machiavelli (but I know that everyone else does) yet the U.S.S.R. is a perfect example of how the ways that governments do act is the same way that Machiavelli described, whether successful or not. People "will offer you their blood, property, life and children . . . when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you." The point I'm trying to make (and perhaps the same point that Machiavelli was trying to make) is that people as a whole are, when it comes down to the wire, are going to act more for self-benefit than for the benefit of others. This is, as a whole, not counting individuals. Stalin used terror to get people to work in the dismal factories, and combined fear with a forced (and false) love. Without self-worth OR RELIGION people seemed to lose that certain vibrancy, no wonder so many were trying to leave! It was slave labor, people want to be working for themselves and for their families who they are deeply and emotionally connected with.
With capitaism if people want money (even with small wages) they work, but they do not have to work so there is less restriction; although they are probably not going to quit their jobs they still can, for as we all know there is not much of a life without any money in society. In communism you have to work and you don't get anywhere and you can't control whether what your working for (which is in this case your nation) is getting anywhere. In communism if you decide to work (and you always decide whether at gun point or not) you see no results because you can only control yourself while working to improve an entire nation. In capitalism if you decide to work you make money and you have the opportunity to use it (however little it may be) in whichever way you choose; you improve yourself but you also improve your nation. In capitalism if you don't work you live on the street or out in the woods; you'll probably die but it's not definite. In communism if you don't work you get executed, not probably, you're dead. Not to mention in communism you have no religion and you see (or hear about) tens of innocent people killed everyday. This provides for some extreme depression because everything is beyond your control, and humans were not meant to live beyond there own control! It was a lack of opportunity in communism, plus terror, and atheism that made its members not work as hard as the workers in capitalism. Yet perhaps more important was the fact that Russia was in tatters and had to start from scratch after the revolution whereas the west had a relatively strong head start and had not much loss of security since it didn't have to change its whole system of government. The fact that Russians had nothing to lose caused them to agree to anything that would get them fed. This did not mean that they were any less unhappy about there dismal conditions, its obvious they were unhappy, that's why they fled to the west, that's why they didn't produce as much (although the American head start and money proved more decisive than happiness), and that's why when they fought they were more afraid of their home than the enemy, they were happy to live under enemy capture if they got fed. It is the same reason why free trade works better than mercantilism, it is natural, and communism is not natural, in the wild an animal's number one goal in life is to keep on living and bettering themselves, number two is others, and many times they act on the behalf of others to feel good about themselves. But when you are acting on the behalf of a government that is killing your friends and family, you do not feel very good about yourself. At least God is perfect, Stalin was as far from God as any idol could be and wouldn;t allow people to worship God. A life under communist Russia proved quite meaningless except for endless slave devotion to the painting of some evil old man. But my main point is opportunity, communists lacked the opportunity of a better life, they lost the fundamental pursuit of happiness. That is why they had to cover themselves up so much, people do not want to work in a factory to better an already extremely wealthy government in one store when they can work across the street for cash they can keep and get something for their efforts. People only volunteer for a reward other than cash, like knowledge or experience and unhappy people are less enthusiastic to help others. Communism is based on helping others and Russian communism made people unhappy. On top of that it put unhappy people in an unhappy place and expected great results. Looks like their expectations were a bit high.

Why in England and not in France?

The industrialization started in ENgland first for several reasons.
First of all, England's parliamentary gov. was in the hand of merchants and land owners. Therefore, these profit-chasing people were able to back their object with laws such as the enclosure act. Also, the social structure of England, which had a large middle class that had enough purchsing power, was more apt to the industrializing than that of France. England's naval dominance, as well as its ever-expanding colonies and markets further encouraged merchants to take more experimental measures... oh no fire drill

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Comparing France and Spain to Napoleon in respect to Universal Monarchy

The monarchs of France and Spain focused too much on simply uniting people for the sake of uniting them. Napoleon seperated himself from the average monarch by having one of the most successful military careers of all time. If your nation is able to march an army across Europe then the people will be proud of that and proud to be a French person. This feeling of nationalism was what was missing from previous attempts of universal monarchy.

Napoleon: Enlightened or not?

It's hard to answer this question since others have already said pretty much what I wanted to but I guess I will just try to further explain why Napoleon was in fact enlightened. One must put into perspective what it was like to be him. He felt like he could do great things for his country, all of Europe, and what lead to his demise, himself. He wasn't all for himself and that is apparent in the reforms that he constituted throughout France and Europe. However, Napoleon was ambitious for himself and saw that he could do great things. That is where his fault came in. He just went too far in his idea of basically taking over Europe. People weren't going to let that happen. Now, when one looks at the good things that he did do there can be much enlightenment to be seen. Napoleon abolished feudalism in France, something that no other despot could do or even tried to do. He promoted religious toleration with great success. Most importantly, he abolished slavery in France. if this can't be seen as enlightened I don't know what can. As seen in the last DBQ that was done about slavery, many of the people opposed to slavery were enlightened scholars. Napoleon held these values as well. There is no question that Bonaparte went too far in his dream of expansion, but to say that he wasn't enlightened is just plain ridiculous.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Napolean as an Enlightened Despot

I think Napolean was an enlightened despot especially due to his government reforms. He established constitutional monarchies in his HRE territories, and he himself set up reforms and a constitution that let the people think they had the power with the voting they could do. He got rid of any kind of bias in the legal systems against classes. Everything was now "jobs open to talent" and the aristocracy now had no special priveledges. The declaration of the Rights of Man was incorporated in Napolean's reforms and people were equal no matter how well off you were. Slavery was abolished in the French colonies, evidence of his enlightened principles of humanity and equality. As a despot he naturally wanted to help mankind, and therefore he liberated other people on his conquering campaigns to free them to enlightened principles as well. IF he hadn't been an egomaniac and overstretched his armies and campaigns he probably could have successfully kept france together and held his salelite territories. All in all his principles were good and he did progress France to an enlightened state that was more sensitive to the rights and equality of man. Even though it was a bloody part of French History, the Revolution and the Napoleanic period was one of the best things that happened to France to put in on an even playing field republic wise with Britain.

Think back to Spain’s and France’s earlier efforts to establish a universal monarchy. Compare them to Napoleon’s Grand Empire.

Well, obviously neither Spain nor France under the Sun King came as close as Napoleon did to attaining universal monarchy. But, I think one of the big problems for anybody that tries to take over all of Europe is England. Not only did the Brits resist all three of these attempts but also (though just barely) the attempts of Hitler during the 20th century. It's almost as if the Island of Britain is just as strong as the island of Europe (well. . . if Asia weren't there at least, even still Europe is a peninsula). I've been thinking about this for the past couple of weeks. This little fighter has remained undefeated throughout history where invasion is concerned. Perhaps the sea is more a barrier than we'd like to imagine. Wasn't one of the reasons for Constantinople's strength was the fact that it was surronded on three sides by water and by one on desert. It's the same deal with the U.S; if we weren't stronger than Mexico, Canada, or the Indians we might've had a lot more trouble maintaining our independence. I mean look at D-Day even with that gigantic operation we barely made it though. The sea is an excellent shooting range for "sitting ducks" like ships and disboarding soldiers. Not to mention the problem of the British Navy which was the best Navy of the world in its day. Considering the Brits were surrounded by water it's no wonder they behaved so effectively in it. It's been hard throughout history for a foreign power to maintain control over a colony that hates it. "you'd have to put a redcoat behind every tree" in the case of the American War for Independence. People (as a whole) aren't things you can just get, they will never all agree to an unwanted rule for long, especially when they have armed forces, unity, and a developed civilization. Infact, perhaps it is the human trait of wanting to be free that prevented universal monarchy from coming to pass. One of the biggest reasons, other than the superiority of the French army, for Napoleon's successful take over of The Continent was the fact that people welcomed the revolutionary ways he brought with him. They were getting something they wanted too (kind of). Had Napoleon been simply a foreign brute like Atilla the Hun or something he probably wouldn't have been so succesful because brute force only lasts for so long and once it's gone a leader has nothing to protect him other than his people's opinion of him. Had Louis and Charles been more well liked (and had had larger more unified armies) perhaps they would have gotten farther in their conquests than they did.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


So I know this isn't exactly a post topic but a comment Rob posted on one of my earlier posts got me thinking. I want to see what everyone thinks about this. Feel free to disagree its an open ended thing. Could Napoleon be blamed for WWII? I know there were many other factors than Hitler involved in WWII so this is mainly going to be focused on the European theatre. Here's what I think. Napoleon tried to unify Europe. He tried to make it all the same, same metric system, same republic, same flag, same customs, same dress, in other words a uniform europe was a better Europe. This is where Nationalism came into play. The different nations began to see the beauty of their old and independent cultures. Thus Germany became more "unified" as the peoples felt a more patriotic emotion towards their homeland. This nationalistic view would be passed on for a few generations until the man we all know as Adolf Hitler was born. He was raised with this pride and loyalty to his beloved nation. When he was a teen he saw the devastation of WWI and when his fellow german brothers needed someone to blame for their pain and suffering, Hitler, as we all know, blamed those foreigners, the "not true germans", the Jews... the story continues on from there. But all I'm saying is that if Hitler had not been raised with such a dedication to his country would he have been compelled to do all he did?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Napoleon: Enlightened or not?

OK, so this is a new post as well as a response to Sam's post and the comments people made on it.
If we define a enlightened despot as a ruler who has absolute power, but also rules with the ideas of the Enlightenment, then Napoleon was enlightened. He applied many of the Enlightenment's ideas while he ruled France. As Elise has already pointed out, he ended feudalism in France, going a step beyond enlightened despots such as Catherine and Frederick the Great. Napoleon supported scientific research and thought it was "the essential, rational foundation of modern knowledge" (pg. 410). Religious toleration was also a part of Napoleon's empire. Perhaps the greatest indicator of Napoleon's enlightenment is his belief that all men are created equal and want the same things. This is exhibited in his "careers open to talent" policy. If I remember correctly, we decided as a class that Joseph II of Austria was our most enlightened despot. He and Napoleon seem to have reformed the same things in their respective countries i.e. abolishing feudalism and religious toleration. To me, it seems that Napoleon's greatest mistake was the fact that he overreached himself. His ideas were good ones, but as Sam has already said, he tried to apply them everywhere using his military. Had he limited himself to France, he would have stayed in power much longer. Our book states that Napoleon: "carried over the rationalist and universalist outlook of the Age of Enlightenment" (pg. 406), "spoke endlessly of the enlightenment of the age" (pg. 410), and "may be thought of as the last and most eminent of the enlightened despots" (pg. 389).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Lasting Legacies

The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire left many lasting legacies. It showed how the new Republic enabled a nation to exercise power more effectively than the traditional monarchy. Also it gave the modern world new methods of political organization and authoritarian rule. But most importantly, it left the legacy of nationalism. Without the Frenchman's national loyalty and patriotism Napoleon's army would not have been nearly as successful. Not only that but it proved to all the other nations what can be accomplished when a military force has something they're willing to die for... as opposed to the uneagerness of an army with nothing to fight for. Nationalism is something that the U.S. has always had since the formation of our beloved country but keep in mind that in the German melting pot of different cultures and provinces they had no idea of a love for the state. Thanks to the French Revolution, however, they gained a love for their country that became extremely apparent in WWII and that continues to this day.

Napoleon: Enlightened or not?

There is no doubt that Napoleon was an intelligent man. He was an excellent military leader. Napoleon's fall was that his entire empire was based on military supremacy. As Hanjae said, some countries agreed to French rule for short-term benefit, but the people's loyalty belonged to their own countries, not to Napoleon and the French. Napoleon didn't realize that he couldn't simply use force to keep his empire together. In my opinion Napoleon was not enlightened. His greatest strength was his military, but quite frankly he didn't have very much else going for him.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Rest of Europe vs. France

Coalition after coalition fails and it takes until page 422 (Section 51) for the rest of Europe to get their act together and form a coalition to “restore the balance of power.” (review Section 17 if you don’t remember “balance of power) Besides the invasion of Russia, what else do you think contributed to the formation of this coalition.

From the start, the Napoleonic Empire had a potential to be fragile for its dominance was mostly due to its military power alone. Coalitions, however, kept failing because each state had conflicts among them and was willing to make peace with France for short-term benefits.
The grievances, however, remained and the enforced Continental System mounted the already increasing hostility to the French Empire. Also, ironically, the enlightened ideas that Napoleon had spread boosted the development of nationalism and romanticism.
Therefore, the states were readier than ever to work together by the time Napoleon invaded Russia. Once Napoleon's Grand Army was gone, they finally merged together to defeat the French.