Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Causes of WW 1

World War I (WWI) was supposed to be the war to end all wars but unfortunately it wasn't to be. But, I digress; for today I will be explaining the reasons for the bloody conflict. For example, before the war tensions had began to rise when the divided states in what is now Germany banded together and solidified into a nation. The city states and small kingdoms in Italy soon followed suit. Both of these actions were backed by a growing and then a strong sense of nationalism which was based on their belief that collectively they could run things better than the current rulers. These unified nations needed to make a place for themselves in the universe by establishing a power base. Therefore many nations banded together to form alliances and groups. They formed coalitions that carried over to pacts in war. Germany took the two closest countries (Austria-Hungry, and Russia) and made them allies because of their natural distrust of France and in an attempt to cut France off from the rest of Europe. Germany convinced its Austria-Hungarian and Russian partners that France was a potential threat. That paranoid group was called the Three Emperor's League. Next Germany increased its group of "friends" by taking advantage of France's Imperialistic ideas. This was achieved when France occupied Tunisia grabbing more land and resources to fill its needs. Since Tunisia is close to Italy and Italy's government already didn't like France, they were easy to convince that France was a threat. Germany convinced them that they would protect Italy from France should they go to war, but only if it became an ally of Germany. Later on Germany came to put Russia lower in its list of notable super powers. The leader of Germany, Bismark, got replaced by Kaiser William II who was responsible for the exclusion of Russia from the alliances. Seizing its chance, France forged an alliance with the newly neutral Russia. France and Britian finally stopped their rivalry and worked together to expand the alliance: France, Russia and Britain.

But to insure that the army that did go to war would win, both sides developed better arms. For example, on all sides artillery was improved. Another thing worth mentioning is the first use of mustard gas. As a result WWI developed better mines, more powerful grenades, bi-planes for scouting and bombing, bolt-action rifles, the Maxim machine gun, and flares.

There were two crises for control one in Moracco and one in Bosnia. When France wanted Moracco, that meant that not only Germany but its alliances had to go to war, too. Everyone made a compromise to avoid war. However, the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian empire was killed in Bosnia by a Serbian nationalist, who was affliated with an organization called the Black Hand. Directly afterwards Germany as a sign of its grief and friendship said they would back Austria all the way. As a result of this backing Austria felt stronger and decleard war on Serbia. This conflict involved Austria-Hungary, Russia, Germany, Britain and France. It seemed as though they whold western world was at war, hence the name World War I.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Opium Wars

The Opium Wars that occurred in China were the direct result of western nations mainly England and their illegal sale of opium to citizens of China. England and it's people were addicted to tea specifically tea sold in China. In their addiction they went as far as to make it their national drink. Thus most trade was concerned with the procurement of tea leaves. But China in it's ideals of Social Darwinism and eastern supremacy only partook in the action of selective borrowing. Blinded by their isolationist views and partial racism they banned all trade with England concerning China's importation except for raw and refined ores like silver and gold. They also disliked exporting any precious resources except for those they had in excess like tea leaves.
All these tariffs and restrictions prompted European powers to find a cash crop that they had in excess which they knew China didn't have. So like the tea that England couldn't produce and got addicted to, China's people soon became addicted to the opium they couldn't make. This addiction though soon came to surpass England's own problems. Seeing this advantage England took it and continued to export the smokeable version of opium. Left unchecked it consumed China's economy by sucking out the previously procured silver and destroying its policies of banning European made goods. This poor judgement was not because of the China didn't want to stop the opium trade it was mostly because of the sly merchants and the addictive traits of opium that made slaves out of those who encountered it. In the battle to stop the opium trade China was to a degree overzealous. This is displayed by the fact China either deported merchants or killed anyone selling opium on sight and in any case the completely seized and destroyed any merchandise. The Leaders of China did not enforce this however seeing as the trade didn't come in periodic explorer type missions trying to make contact whilst piercing the almost mythical veil of Asia. It was just basic trade to its citizens which made it undetectable except for warehouses and periodic ship searches. So for the street and administrative enforcement the Emperor of China appointed one Lin Tse-Hsua an imperial commissioner. This time he tried to stop it at it's source by sending a letter to the Queen of England unfortunately it was apprehended by "Bourgeoisie" and Parliament officials and never reached her hands. The British finally had had it with the unceasing anti-drug stance of China. The impending confrontation was a result of the differences in trade and yet again like so many times before England seeing itself as the victim and supreme ruler of everything. The straw that broke the camel's back was when a group of merchants and their ship were turned around.

The merchants subsequently complained to Great Britain making England consider the end to be a forceful meeting. After the commissioner told the British that they would never voluntarily halt their practice. The refusal finally lead to the naval and military involvement of Britain or the first Opium War. In the conflict many ports were destroyed and to stop the destruction China surrendered signing the Treaty of Nanjing opening four more ports to European trade and jilting the trade custom duties to favor Britain subsequently this lead to making the Chinese second class citizens in their own country by granting more privileges to Europeans. China brought the second opium war upon themselves by again boarding a English ship and messing with it. Yet again China lost because of England's superior navy and guns. Thus after a nudge in the form of burning down the Imperial Summer Palace, 11 more ports were opened, religions mingled, and drugs were legalized when they finally signed the Treaty of Tianjin.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Flim lesson: "Mountains of the Moon"

The excursion into Africa to locate the source of the Nile River was one of the first to actually deeply penetrate the contienamt. Before European explorers were unable to get past the coast for the sole fact that they were unfamiliar with the terrain. For example the disease of Africa were forgien to the English, like malaria and dysentery as well as large infections that absolutely required amputation. The other hazardous obstacles faced were hostile tribes and dangerous animals. But, once Richard Burton and John Speke found the source for the lake they named it Lake Victoria in honor of their Queen. It remained the name for the fact that because after Europe got in they were part of the Berlin Conference, this split up Africa so the Europeans didn't war over it and they all got equal shares. It also remained the same because that honor given to the explorers is still respected. But to tell you the truth it isn't unheard of mainly because of cultural diffusion and the fact that when people discover or conquer something they leave a part of their nation behind. But, the important thing is how they were able to overcome these hazards and leave this marker of this historic achievement. To answer the previously mentioned question of how could the get in its simple, it was technology. The sole advantage against the indigenous people on their own terrain was something that was first produced in large quantities in China , gunpowder. Although I should give credit to what cemented a firm and healthy hold was the invention of Quinine to cure malaria.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Meiji Restoration of Japan

The Meiji Restoration of Japan before I go on is the not as much the restoration of the the country but the coming of age for the isolationist culture in which they in essence became jaded. First of the important thing is all ways location, location, location in this case their home was made on an archipelago. Some of you might say why is this substantial and what does this mean; well it means that they lived on a chain of islands, this helped in security and their need for isloation as well as the fact that they lived in clans that constanly wared so the islands also helped as natural bounderies. After location history is as important and the rich history of Japan is no different. One must know that Japan at one point wasn't just microchips and videogames, to tell you the truth they were all castles, swords, and myth much like the Greeks but Asian. They lived like middle ages lords with peasents under them whose professions like rice farming were stationary, And their knights were samuri who doned laquered leather armor with ornamental masked helmets weilding varieties of weapons. But this noble aristocracy not only fought but were amazing poets and scholars. The warlords and leaders of these clans were called shoguns which only obeyed the most powerful shoguns. He could only be elected head of the Shogunate by the Emperor who was established by divine rite. So basically its the Asian Great Britian.
Now that you know what Japan was you need to know the in between point from then to now. To start that process off Japan was never actually secluded in truth they were in constant contact with Korea and China. When Europe came in contact with Japan's neighbors, Japan knew the two nations would clash. Finally when Japan met represenatitives the Japanenes pulled a fast one with a little something I like to call selective borrowing by taking only the things they deamed important like rifling then they take something they will never use like a Christian monk and kick them out for a long time. But but the transition happened all at once when the American Commander Matthew Perry sailed into tokyo on steam ships which positively amazed the Japanense. This stunning feat was a wake up call to the Japanense disproving their statis in their "Social Darwinism". The waring shoguns also realized that with this new tech the Americans were way to powerful so they were forced to sign the treaty Perry proposed. Not everyone was happy about this peasents rebeled for taxation called a blood-tax. The lifestyles also changed by dismantling the samuria and shoguns, enforcing elementry education, estaiblishing a national, taxes were no longer accpeated as rice. Also trying the gain a standing in the new world rankings they annexed a lot of land like part of korea, china, and other islands. Unfortunately they didn't do this in moderation and they took on Russia. The Japanense won but held their hand from taking much more then what little they got as to not anger the world powers. But because the were weak in the begining the other world powers took advantage and imposed high trade tariffs on Japan for along time. This went on to WWII and then it so changed to the nation it is today.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Karl Marx and Communism

Karl Marx was one of the most influential writers of all time. He improved upon his own ideals and the previously written works of his friend Engels which was "The Principles of Communism". The ideal of communism that was brought to fruition by Marx's views became and still is the governmental lay out of many different countries. Unfortunately the view of Marx's communism isn't what he originally wanted his form was known as Marxism where everyone would rise up and overthrow the government then all take on trade skills or services that would better the whole after the economy was stabilized the temporary government would step down and everyone would be equal. The beneficial Marxism sadly was perverted into two different forms such as Socialism where government officials would control all production and today "Red" communism like Marxism but with a tyrannical leader and emphasise. But that wasn't his intention.
His intention was to abolish the neo-feudalism of the Industrial Revolution and give power to the polerait and take away from the bouigieusie. What ended up happening mostly were movments ttoward "red" communism.Yet Marx's idea of worldwide Communism to enforce equallity to all is and will for ever be unfifilled.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Karl Marx and the Industrial Revolution

Karl Marx was born Jewish in May 5, 1818 and his nationality was German. Growing up in the Industrial Revolution he thought that exploiting the middle and lower class should be done away with. This meant that all wealth and items would be distributed to everyone according to one's abilities so everyone would have to support the whole and everyone would get equal treatment.

All this would also have to include no prejudice, this idea was also founded by the deep memory that his family had to change religion in order to get jobs. His overall beleif was that the industrial revolution should be abolished. He most likely started to invent communism around the time of losing the editor position of a magizine named Rheinische Zeitung. He didn't like it mainly for the negative reasons such as the exploitation of families and children, the pollution, over-crowding, and hazardous working conditions.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

French Revolution

The base layer for the powder keg known as the French Revolution was the three estates.
One of the three estates was the king and lords who lived extravagantly, was unconnected from the people, their cries for reform were met with being locked out of the national assembly, and they heavily taxed them for food and money. The land owners or lords who paid an extremely small amount of taxes and didn't pay any attention to the people and took their land and took foodstuffs as well. Lastly was the Clergy who owned 10% of the land paid almost no taxes and as the others were they also were indifferent. All this and the fact that the almost unrepresented little people floated the taxes by at least 70% lead to unrest. But, beside that the people were also drafted into service and unable to use game on your lord's land or his machines without paying tribute if not you get imprisoned.
Some of the other explosive unrest was political cartoons such as one in which the King and a Priest symbolizing the 3 estates sitting on top of a emaciated peasant. The caption offers hope and conciliation in the form of saying "One hopes this will end soon" but at the same time it implants the seeds of rebellion. Some others from different countries came to France and saw that any chance for prosperity was crushed by immense taxes and required tribute of 20kg o' wheat and 60kg o' oats to the lords and King. They also saw that because of this they couldn't even provide for their families and were extremely poor. So all and all its a story of giving and getting nothing in return.For example a farmer would make 200 livres while others would make 10s of thousand of livres. Partial salvation came in the form of Rousseau a writer and the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was an idea of thinking where it emphasizes human reason plus freedom and equality for all men. Rousseau wrote a pamphlet called "Man is Born Free". He preaches against Divine Right, and supports from the ground up democracy. The pamphlet was later on banned.