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Problems 35 – Balfour on Cobden and Progress
If we stand on the shoulders of cannibal giants, it is embarrassing. An inconvenient truth that we need to face up to. We must also ask if there a better way?
Except for those way out of tune with modern life, the answer would mostly be ‘no’.
Arthur Balfour was a late-blooming version of the original Enlightened Aristocrats. He’d have made a good Enlightened Autocrat, had the times been suitable. As things were, he was called ‘Bloody Balfour’ for his repression of Irish Nationalism. Much less well-known is his successful curing of the Irish Land Question by buying out the landlords.
Problems 34: Freedom as Misunderstood by Liberals
How Gorbachev Wrecked the Soviet Union
- Looking at how the man messed up.
- A reminded that the Soviet Union worked well in the 1950s and 1960s.
Notes on Asocialism
- People go wrong by imagining themselves as autonomous individuals who could and should exist independently of the wider society.
- How the New Right took advantage of moral uncertainty following the radical and necessary changes demanded by 1960s radicals and protestors.
- Why the unregulated internet is not an answer.
Problems 33: How Humans Became Citizens
- The past is never the dead past. It lives on in habits that make us human
- The ‘Neolithic Revolution’ happened bit by bit across 3000 years
- The famous Catalhoeyuek was a dead end, with oddities like not keeping cats to deal with the mice that plagued them
- The chariot and a class structure that included born warriors caused a vast expansion of speakers of Indo-European languages. Who probably began in what is now South Russia
- The historic Troy was a minor place. A hybrid of Greek and Hittite culture. Prince Paris was also known by the Greek name Alexander
- The original legend was probably ‘The Tragedy of Priam’ – Greek legends have him survive an earlier sack as a young man
- Even that was not history. Troy was a small place. Its main decline was due to an earthquake. Its people were weak ruin-dwellers when it was later sacked.
Problems 32: The October Revolution, 100 Years On
- A World Without Bolsheviks? by Gwydion M Williams
- What would our world be like if the Bolsheviks had not taken power?
- The Russian Revolution, by Brendan Clifford
- The Tsarist state had broken down. A landlord restoration was being prepared regardless of what Lenin had done.
- The Bolsheviks and Orthodox Christianity by Peter Brooke
- How the Bolsheviks tried variously to suppress, discourage or incorporate Russia’s traditional religion
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Problems 31: Feed-the-Rich Economics.
- How the West was tricked into mistrusting its highly successful Mixed Economy system
- How the Baby Boomers were sold ‘Imaginary Capitalism’ as the answer to their dreams of Freedom
- How it failed overall, but allowed the rich to gain a lot more than their fair share.
- How the Soviet Union made vast economic gains under Stalin. And was doing OK up until the 1970s.
Also available as a PDF, Problems 31 – Feed-the-Rich Economics.
Problems 30: Jews as ‘Collateral Damage’ in the Fall of the British Empire.
Part Two: The 13th Chancellor
- The British government could have contained Hitler without a World War, but acted mainly from selfish power-political calculations.
- The British ruling class were indifferent to the fate of German Jews
- Karl Lueger – Moderate Antisemitism as the root of Christian Democracy
- Why many Italian Jews supported Mussolini’s Fascism
- The ‘Protocols of Zion’ were boosted by Henry Ford and by the London Times
Also available as a PDF, Problems 30 – the 13th Chancellor
- How Modern Genocide was invented by European Imperialism, long before Hitler applied it to European Jews
- How Imperialism mostly accepted Jews as part of the White Master Race, though often viewed as suspicious and unreliable
- How Sea-Empires are very different from other Empires
- Why the British Empire could only dominate the world if Continental Europe kept weakening itself through major wars
- How the British Ruling Class viewed Hitler as both useful and threatening: but more useful up until his annexation of what’s now the Czech Republic.
Also available as a PDF, Problems 29 – Genocide in the British Empire
Problems 28: Asocialism: Part One; The Muon and the Green Great Dragon.
- Why Muons were real, even when no one had believed they should exist. Or could explain why they did exist.
- Why atoms are not really ‘a hole in a hole’.
- Why any native English speaker would know that a ‘green great dragon’ was bad English, but would be unlikely to know why.
- How the question ‘why’ is very different for human matters and for the physical universe.
- How religions came in waves of ideas, and gave us ways to organise our thinking that had not existed before.
- How religions show their human origin, by always supposing that it was a universe made as a dwelling for humans and similar creatures
Also available as a PDF, Problems 28 – The Muon and the Green Great Dragon
Problems 27 – China: Agnes Smedley’s Battle Hymn Against Japan
- Smedley as Stranger In Her Own Land
- Chinese Trotskyism
- The little-known Trotskyist influence on Khrushchev
- Witness at Xian – and Loose Cannon at Xian
- A Failed Sexual Revolution at Yenan
- Singing a Battle Hymn of China
- Persecution by the Ignorant and Powerful
- Death and Unjust Neglect
Also available as a PDF, Problems 27 – Smedley in the Sino-Japanese War
Problems 26 – Smedley: an American Woman Who Loved China’s Red Army
- How Agnes Smedley found a life’s purpose in China
- Her connection with super-spy Richard Sorge
- Her account of the little-known Red Areas in South China
- The surprising neglect of her work by later writers
- How she told a genuinely unknown and potentially damaging story about Mao
- The cowboy scholarship of ‘Wild Swan’ Chang and ‘Doc’ Halliday.
- Her account of the ‘A.B. Group’, an early split within the Red Army
- The Chinese Social Democrats’ efforts to created a functional Third Force
Also available as a PDF, Problems 26 Smedley and China’s Red Army
Problems 25 – China: Blue Ants and Dangerous Reds
- Why a very civilised Frenchmen called the Chinese ‘Blue Ants’.
- How ‘Old China Hands’ in 1950 thought that the new Communist government would be as ineffective as the Kuomintang had been.
- The amazing ignorance about ‘Red China’ found in 1950s USA.
- Blood, Opium and Gunboats: how the West had messed up China before 1949.
- The Amethyst Incident: when Gunboat Diplomacy ended.
Also available as a PDF, Problems 25 China’s ‘Blue Ants’.
Problems 24 – China 1949: Fixing a Broken Society
- The West’s false understanding of ‘Normal Politics’.
- How the Kuomintang failed to develop anything much during their period of rule. How they failed to confront Global Imperialism, and then were very slow to resist Japan’s expansion into Chinese territory.
- An interesting account of the first years after 1949, by a Christian missionary who stayed in China when most Westerners left or were expelled.
- How Edgar Snow was well aware of the crisis after the Great Leap Forward, but noted the unusual weather and did not class it as a famine.
Also available as a PDF, Problems 24 China 1949
Problems 23 – China: Nurturing Red Stars
- Why it become the job of the Chinese Communist Party to complete the necessary nationalist revolution that the Kuomintang had backed away from in 1927.
- The unexpected role of Madam Sun (Soong Ching-ling) in publicising and strengthening Mao Zedong via Edgar Snow’s Red Star Over China.
Also available as a PDF, Problems 23 – Nurturing Red Stars
Problems 22 – China’s Blue Republic, 1912-49. Stalin: Paradoxes of Power.
- China’s ‘Blue Republic’ lasted from 1912 to 1949, and achieved nothing. It achieved nothing because it was trying to erect a copy of the complex political structures of the USA or Western Europe on top of a society that had very different value. And doing it with a false understanding of the intricate political processes that had occurred there.
- Stalin shaped the Soviet Union, which was for a long time regarded as the first and most important example of a working model of socialism.
Also available as a PDF, Problems 22_China’s Blue Republic
Problems 21 – China: Why a sophistocated Empire could not modernise. Including details of the exceptional nature of European developments. And how Japan managed to modernise without uprooting its traditional culture. Also available as a PDF, Problems 21 – Imperial China.
Civilisation Alley. Globalism before European Imperialism, considered as a broad band of advanced cultures from North-West Europe to South India, plus the sophisticated and diverse cultures of East Asia.
Crusaders and Other Barbarians. How Europe was remade between the fall of the Roman Empire and the development of Puritanism.
Why The Ming Sea Voyages Led To Nothing. Chinese vessels reached East Africa a few decades before Columbus and Vasco de Gama. The Chinese ships were much better than anything Europe had until much later. But the whole enterprise was abandoned, which is an historic enigma.
Nation States were NOT invented by the Peace of Westphalia, which merely left Germany in a fragmented state. Nation states existed long before that. The idea came from university Departments of Political Science, and is not supported by any historians I’ve come across.
Petty on English State Capitalism. Writing a much more authentic description than the later work of Adam Smith. How he anticipated the modern world much better than Smith did, including the possibility of Britain becoming a country mostly devoted to industry and commerce, with agriculture margainalised. And was in favour of tax as part of the developing economy, accepting the necessary role of the state.
Sociocide. How Liberalism and North-West European norms became global norms by all sorts of dubious and oppressive methods.
The Diverse Forms of Democracy – much wider than the Western system.
Orwell on Spain and Britain. George Orwell was part of Britain’s 20th century mistake. His vision of socialism would have been an improved British Empire using socialist ideology. He never read much history or economics. He was frequently wrong and sometimes dishonest.
Why the Left lost the Spanish Civil War. Mostly concerned with the popular view that credits George Orwell and POUM and downplays the achievement of the Communist Movement.
British and US Genocide. The standard Anglo view of the two World Wars was used to justify the Second Gulf War. It wasn’t true. Fascism and Hitler flourished for many years with the encouragement of Britain’s National Government. Including details of how mainstream Science Fiction before World War Two was sometime positive or neutral about genocide.