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I. World War One- Beginnings and precedents

A. Balance of Power-

1. Ever since the Metternich plan had been enacted, nations had been

jockeying for a position in which they would be invulnerable from attack

from all the other nations—or have a position so much stronger that war was


a) This struggle was abetted by the forging of modern nations with

fast communications and unified presses that could quickly turn the

politics of war into mass politics and mobilize the entire nation rather

than an elite and the army—leading to unheard of levels of economic

participation in warfare

2. Bismarck, as elder statesman of Germany, had realized that there

were exactly five major nations in Europe with first class military power.

Therefore, it was always in Germany’s interest to be a part of the larger half,

than part of the smaller.

a) Kaiser Wilhelm II however, did not see it this way, instead seeing

the massive military of Germany as being a world beater —thus he could

stand to be on the smaller side and still win.

3. German policies at the outset of the war and also directly previously

to it had alienated Britain, The USA and also Japan thus turning what would

have been another little European war into a world -wide conflict of many


B. Age of crisis- from 1905-14 there were a series of political crisis that could

have been used as a pretext for war —however, these were all settled one way or

another short of war.

1. However, in 1914 the feeling in much of Europe was il faut finir, the

waiting for a war must end—and the feeling in Germany was that they would

never be more powerful vs. the brits than they were at the moment—thus

the time to strike was now and no time was to be wasted.

2. On 28th of July, therefore the Germans initiated their Von Schlieffen

Plan and began the war that would redraw the map of Europe.

II. War Elsewhere-

A. Ottoman Empire- Joined the war to gain territory from Russia, the Allies

sought to open a second front on them at GALLIPOLI- 1915- which was fought

largely with colonial forces. Literally used as a distraction to take pressure off the

Russians, the soldiers died by the thousands at battles in Turkey.

1. The battle lasted 9 months and killed 220,000 allies (59%) and

300,000 Turks (60%)

2. And served ONLY as a distraction for the Turks from the actual action,

if the allies had won, they would have given the territory back as soon as

possible. It was literally of no value.

B. ARMENIAN GENOCIDE—The Armenians were a nation within the multi-

ethnic Ottoman empire, however, they were largely Christian in an Islamic nation

that created the basis for an exclusion movement similar to that facing Jews in

Western Europe.

1. Beginning in 1915, the Ottoman Empire arrested the foremost

Armenians, and forced many others from their homes by declaring their

property forfeit to Turks.

2. The Armenians were scapegoated for the utter failure of the Turkish

forces in the early going of WWI, a law code was quickly passed that made

Armenians living in Turkey a second class citizens —thereafter their rights

were steadily eroded as the government accomplished a transfer of their

status from citizens to laborers.

a) Armenians serving in the military were demobilized and sent to

hard labor

3. The Armenians in population centers were marched out of their

homes (which were seized by willing Turkish citizens) and sent to camps

located deep in the desert—the government provided no supplies or facilities

either on the march or after the refugee’s arrival.

a) The camps were run by inmates of Turkish prisons as a

commutation of their sentences.

4. In all, 1-1.5 million Armenians died in the marches or camp s—and the

policy of Genocide extended to other Christian and Minority groups

5. Aftermath- in 1918 The Ottoman government held trials to punish

those who had participated in the genocide, and then closed the book on the

episode—the trials did not pursue the highest ranks that were implicated in

the genocide

a) The Current Turkish government disputes the term ‘genocide’

and admits only 300,000 deaths

b) International outcry was muted by the disastrous ramifications

of the first world war, although the allies used it, briefly, as a rallying

point and propaganda piece

III. Aftermath-

A. Death-

1. Allies:

a) KIA- 5,525,000

b) Wounded-12,831,500

c) Missing- 4,121,000

2. Central Powers:

a) KIA-4,386,000

b) Wounded- 8,388,000

c) Missing-3,629,000

The Russian Revolution and Aftermath of WWI

IV. The Russian Revolution- Russia, had, in 1914 embraced the war just as thoroughly

as the other European allies—and, in an important way, the war came to symbolize

everything to everyone: Liberals looked forward to a more democratic society coming into

being as a result of wartime demands on the empire—Conservatives looked forward to

expansion in the Balkans. Factory owners looked forward to big Government contracts,

workers looked forward to better wages.

A. Unfortunately, the war was an utter disaster almost from the beginning. The

Russian army was under supplied and out matched by the Germans. Dramatic

victories in the south did not convince the public that the losses in the north were

worth it, also a staggeringly high casualty rate (2 million in 1915 alone) left the

public disaffected with the war.

1. Industrialists and workers were both disappointed by the lack of

money to be made on the war, Russia simply did not have the banking and

cash reserves that it needed to effectively fight the economic war that was

more important, in many ways, than that on the battlefield.

a) The lack of industrial production exacerbated the lack of

supplies in the Russian army—in 1915 soldiers were sent to the front

having never fired a rifle in training, nor were they given one. Instead,

they were to find one among the dead.

B. Thinking that he could do a better job than his generals Tsar NICHOLAS II

went to the front in the fall of 1915—this turned out to be a decisive turning point.

1. Upon his departure the control of domestic policy fell to his wife, who

was, well, troubled. She was vehemently absolutist—detesting the very idea

of a parliament, she was also slightly paranoid. Her closest advisor was a

fallen monk and faith healer Grigori RASPUTIN who, everyone else could see,

was milking his connection to the crown for all it was worth.

a) To the Tsarina, however, he was the embodiment of the Russian

people, thus worth more than the ministers and advisors who made up

her husband’s cabinet.

2. This was exactly the wrong time to take a turn to the right, as much of

the political spectrum found itself disaffected from the government —

everyone from conservatives to socialists calling for a totally new

government that made the Russian parliament, the DUMA, the central power

and gave the Tsar a more ceremonial role.

3. This bloc took over the government after several days of rioting in St.

Petersburg in February 28 (March 12) of 1917. The Tsar abdicated on the


C. The PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT- Established the traditional liberal agenda

of increased democracy, equality before the law, freedom of religion and expression,

rights of unions to organize and strike etc.

1. However, the PG did not:

a) Immediately withdraw from the war

b) Redistribute the land from the wealthy land owners to the poor


c) Thus, the vast majority of Russia (peasants) were not assuaged

by the PG and were still discontent.

D. The PETROGRAD SOVIET- Established in the city of Petrograd as a council of

workers, the PS was extremely radical under the leadership of LEON TROTSKY. This

organization issued counter orders to the PG, some of them, such as army order no.

1, much more radical than the PG was willing to countenance.

1. Which actually mattered little anyhow as the peasants were simply

seizing land and using it for their own purposes, sometimes allowing their

former landlords to continue on in their homes, other times burning the lot

of it down.

2. The war began to fall apart as order number one took effect, and no

one volunteered to go into certain death.

3. And the failure of the PG to significantly better the lot in life of the

average citizen meant that they had decreasing support from the people,

until, relatively quickly they reached the point where they were as hated as

was the Tsar and his government.

E. Return of LENIN- In exile since 1905 Lenin was returned to Russia with the

help of the German government in April of 1917. He and his political organization of

radical SOCIAL REVOLUTIONARIES, the BOLSHEVIKS immediately began to work

toward the downfall of the PG, refusing to work with it and ma king the Petrograd

Soviet over into a competitor government.

1. In September a general (lev Kornilov) led an attack against the Soviet

in Petrograd, and was handily defeated. The threat to the ‘people’s

government’ was taken as a legitimization of the practices and policies of the


a) And the PG was doing little to help itself, becoming increasingly

conservative in the face of the Radicalizing soviet.

2. PEACE AND BREAD- was the promise that Lenin used to begin the

revolution, promising the people exactly wha t they desired most. On 23

October (6 November ) 1917, the revolution swept away the PG and left the

Bolsheviks as the only source of authority, which they rapidly extended

throughout much of north western Russia.

a) They then faced an ongoing civil war against the White forces,

those that supported the Tsar and the conservative government

b) They also faced significant dissent from the greens, the

farmer/peasants from whom they were requisitioning huge amounts of

food to placate their urban constituency.

c) The Bolsheviks did allow the peasants to take the land they

already had… one good piece of PR

F. What was Soviet Power?

1. Mensheviks v. Bolsheviks- the political spectrum of revolutionaries

extended from the moderate bourgeoisie who wished for the traditional

liberal platform all the way to the radical Bols. More moderate were the

Mensheviks, however the triumphant propaganda of the Bolsheviks painted

their revolutionary credentials as wishy-washy, compare to the French

revolution and the ascendancy of the radicals.

a) In either event, both groups believed in SOCIAL revolution, that is

a revolution that would obliterate the previously existing social order in

favor of a new, engineered one

2. Lenin and the bols followed the Marxist plan for engineering this new

revolution, that is:

a) That the ideal society would be controlled by the workers and

other generators of wealth.

b) That the church was a parasite

c) The government’s purpose was to manage the economy so as to

provide the most possible wealth to the maximum number of people

3. However Lenin also believed:

a) That a revolution could be made only by a highly disciplined

cadre of revolutionaries in steel link disciple to the party line. Once a

revolutionary bought the party line, anything else he or she believed had

to serve it.

(1) Compare this to the Machiavellian idea that it is good to

appear virtuous while being something else entirely

b) That revolution could be forced on the people, even if they were

not willing to support it. This ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ meant

that the Bolsheviks believed that they knew better how to order the

country than did the people living there

(1) Thus democracy was pointless, elections that did not

support the dictatorship would only show that the people were

unready for democracy…

c) That Russia could skip over the capitalist phase of history as well

as the Socialist phase and go straight to communism, because it was the

most backward capitalist society in the world, thus capitalism had

gained little ground

G. Soviet Government-

1. The Soviet Government set up during the civil war was a touch and go

thing, with many functions being done on the fly by ad hoc committees, but it

eventually settled down into:

a) A Supreme Soviet that, nominally, had power over all the

functions of the government. Delegates were elect ed from the regional


b) A Central Committee that was the highest party organ (pun very

much intended) and thus set out the Bolshevik party line on major issues

confronting the RSFR.

(1) Since the only party in the RSFR was the Bolshevik, the

actual power was held by the unelected Central Committee.

The Supreme Soviet was also composed only of Bolsheviks, but

their real purpose was to be the façade government to the CC.

2. As the red forces gained ground in the civil war, they added more and

more on-the-ground control to their government, creating village soviets,

that answered to regional soviets and so on up to the highest level.

a) Generally speaking, the reds were deeply unpopular amongst the

rural population, thus the worst margins of society were often placed in

control of the village governments—relying on the poor and drunk,

essentially, who then proceeded to rule just as effectively as you would


The Peace that ended the War

V. Recap- When last we left Europe, it was in a shambles: four empires ha d

disappeared: German, Russian, Austro -Hungarian and Ottoman. The ‘winners’ were just as

bloodied as were the losers, and sometimes even more so. Life in Europe, as it had been for

the past millennium or so, was pretty much over and a new and disturbing era had

dawned: one where warfare had gained such efficiency that it might be possible to majorly

redraw the map of Europe

A. Also, the old ideas that had guided rulers and citizens alike seemed to be

discredited: if honor, justice, progress, science and resp ect of the individual had led

to the first world war then what good were they?

1. Thus, citizens of Europe in the ashes would have to find new ideas and

ways of life. Fortunately, for them, there were some readymade in the

philosophy of Nietzsche, Freud and others who showed life as a struggle

between not-necessarily rational actors. Lombroso’s idea of regression

would also raise its head

VI. The Paris Peace Conference- In January of 1919, delegates from 32 countries

gathered in Paris to discuss the peace. This number included neither Germany or Russia.

The majority of power at the conference was wielded by the USA (Woddy Wilson) France

(Clemenceau) the UK (Lloyd George) and Italy (Orlando) collectively known as the ‘BIG


A. Wilson’s Perspective: Wilson called for ‘peace without victory’, that is a peace

that did not excessively punish the Germans nor reward the French and English, he

also advocated a world without secret alliances or restrictions on whom could sail

the seas.

1. Wilson argued, in the vein of preventing future conflicts like the one

they had just lived through, that national groups had the right to self

determination (a blow to AH) and also the establishment of collective

security arrangements through the LEAGUE OF NATIONS which would

mediate any conflicts that arose between member states and present a

unified front to non member states.

2. He also advocated arms control to prevent the militarism that had

lead, in no small part, to the war.

3. This was an easy position for Wilson to sell to his constituency, after

all, the US had suffered comparatively light causalities and had none of the

war fought on their turf.

a) The war cost European nations $180b in direct costs, and $150b

in indirect costs as well as many million lives. Taking such a soft line

would have been political suicide for any other big four leader.

B. Clemenceau’s perspective: felt that the velvet glove that Wilson was offering

Germany would just convince them that there were no repercussions for starting

the war (did they, after all, start the war?) Instead, he advocated the laying of

Germany to waste, thus removing any possibility of a recurrence of war coming

from them.

1. He wanted to fix blame for the war squarely on Germany —with all the

opprobrium that carried, including the fixing of REPARATIONS for the war

and forcing the central powers to pay them.

2. He wanted to adjust the boundaries of Germany to include buffer

zones, and also to divide Germany into several smaller states

3. He wanted to create open, mutual defense pacts that would exclude

Germany and other central powers that would make war in Europe fruitless

in the extreme

VII. The TREATY OF VERSAILLES: the product of a compromise between the two

perspectives addressed here, the treaty was signed into law on 28 June 1919. The strong

line approach weakened and humiliated Germany, but the soft touch prevented its

destruction. Thus we have a stage set for the Second World war.

A. Specifics:

1. Forced the Germans to accept responsibility for the war, and to pay

for it ($33 billion)

2. The German military was limited to 100,000 men, no:

a) Tanks

b) Planes

c) Artillery

d) General Staff

e) Submarines

f) Battleships

3. Germany lost its colonies and ceded European territory to England,

France and Poland

4. The Rhineland was created as a DMZ and occupied by France for 15

years, as was the Saar land.

5. Europe was to be completely reorganized around the principle of self –

determination—that is the creation of separate states out of the wreckage of

the Austrian and Russian Empires.

a) Thus was born/reborn:

(1) Poland

(2) Armenia

(3) Hungary

(4) Latvia

(5) Lithuania

(6) Czechoslovakia

(7) Austria

(8) Lithuania

(9) Estonia

(10) Yugoslavia

(11) Turkey

b) This right of self determination did not, however, extend beyond

Europe. African nations were to remain right where they were, in the

control of European powers. As were most nations in Asia (a young Ho

Chi Minh arrived at the PCC to discuss nationhood for Viet Nam, no

western leader was interested in seeing him)

c) The Middle East was to be rebuilt, also, along the lines of what

was done with the remains of AH and Germany, the only difference was

that the powers of Europe were given ‘mandates’ over the new nations

created, essentially granting them imperial control over them, whereas

the nations created in east and central Europe were given their own


B. The LEAGUE OF NATIONS- was included in the treaty, but was never ratified

by the Americans, thus the only nation capable of enforcing the treaty of Versailles

or of forcing a mediated solution was NOT included in the League.

1. Without the American support, the UK backed down from its hard

stance at the peace conference; leaving France all alone to enforce the terms

of the Treaty of Versailles… a situation doomed to failure.

C. Summary of the Treaty-

1. New Nations: The nations created by the treaty were artificial in the

extreme and were often beset almost immediately by economic or ethnic

problems stemming from their being drawn at a great distance. Although the

conference was very successful at leaving few people in Europe under

foreign domination (~18% pre war – >2% post) it was not perfectly

successful, which left the people who remained under foreign domination

doubly upset.

a) Also, territory was allotted based on limited information and

nearly everyone felt they should have gotten more.

b) Furthermore, the nations that were created were not,

necessarily, economically independent of their previous owners…

leading to hard economic times in hard economic times…

c) As result of the two factors above, dictatorships took over in the

majority of the newly created countries. Making the ‘great war for

Democracy’ a slightly sicker joke.

(1) Royal: Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria

(2) Military: Hungary, Poland

(3) Theocratic: Austria

2. League of Nations: Established an international and secure

framework to settle disputes without recourse to war, however, lacking the

US as a signatory there was little ‘oomph’ in the organization to enforce its

decisions. Put the enforcement of the treaty protocol solely on the French…

who were beat up pretty badly by the war.

a) About the only thing the League did effectively was establish a

mandatory system that leant legitimacy to the newly established

imperial holdings in the Middle east and Asia

3. Isolation of Russia: The soviet powers saw the revolution begun in

their country as a world revolution, and seing that they were excluded from

the Paris Peace Conference, as well as the League, and including the invasion

of Russia after the war, they saw the powers of Europe as a threat.

a) A view that was shared by the European powers after the

Russian communist party created the COMINTERN in March of 1919, or

a group whose purpose was to foment communist revolutions all around

the world.

b) This leads to Russia being isolated from the Western World for

much of the interwar period

c) The Comintern has only very limited success in the west, but

spread communism handily in the east, setting up communist

governments in many central Asian countries and also, notably,

influencing China, Korea and Vietnam towards an eventual communist


(1) Of course, had the western leaders been at all

sympathetic to the pleas of the Asian nationalists during the

PCC, they might well have avoided the spread of Communism

achieved in the interwar period.

VIII. The world, after the world war:

A. Pandemic: As soldiers met on the battlefield they exchanged more than

bullets. The war was also the largest, densest assemblage of people the world had

ever seen. Including people from all over the globe. And their germs.

1. 1919 saw the spread of the H4N2 influenza virus along with an as yet

unidentified secondary infection that led to an asto nishingly high morbidity

rate of 50% ( that is, half of mankind came down with this disease) and a

relatively high mortality rate of 5-10% (that percentage died of the disease)

2. Taken together, this led to anywhere from 20 to 100 million deaths


a) The wide spread is due to the number of cases that occurred with

no direct observation from record keeping Europeans—the lower

number is documented cases, the higher number represents the number

killed if the same percentage died worldwide.

3. This disease, unlike most manifestations of the flu, killed a remarkably

high number of young adults… leading to additional social dislocation in

addition to that already caused by the deaths of young men in WWI

4. Why is the disease forgotten?

a) It killed the people most likely to remember it.

b) It was of short duration, lasting in any particular area for no

more than 9 months, and in most only one month.

c) It struck people already desensitized by the horrors of war.

B. Culture- The war had largely discredited the Victorian belief in progress and

the neat, orderly, arrangement of life, thus the more primitive forces in art and

culture broke out and took precedence over the stately realism of the prewar period

1. Philosophy- The war marked an ascendancy for the forces of

irrationality and struggle. The people who most accurately act as signs of the

time would of course be

a) Freud: All human action and thought are the results of base,

uncontrollable desires that we shelter from the world by masking with

various other activities

b) Nietzsche: Seemed to be spot on about the herd, it would do

anything at all that its prophets asked it to… also, not far off on that

whole ‘world as struggle’ thing, nor that ‘god is dead’ bit, after all the

churches supported the war.

c) Einstein- Argued that classical physics, that dealt with large

objects was really only statistically true. The actual mechanics of the

world were based on the Quantum Physics—which, at its basis, is


(1) Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle: One can measure an

event, but not without influencing that event. True of

electrons, which can be place in space, but not without altering

their speed or have their speed measured but not placed in

space. Never both.

(2) Schrödinger’s cat

2. Literature- The war was a major theme of literature, books like All

quiet on the western front, Storm of Steel, Johnny got his gun were all widely

read by the public and used to form opinions about what modern war was


3. Art- the was also a dominant theme in art, especially in the work of

Otto Dix, Picasso’s cubism movement was, in some ways, a response to the

war, as was the work of Marcel Duchamp, who with the DADAISTS made war

on the western tradition for being so ridiculous and hypocritical.

a) Salvador Dali- probably the most prominent post war artist , his

surrealism attempted to make literal the feelings of disassociation that

resulted from the war.

4. Music- The mixture of European musical traditions with those of

America resulted in a new form of music, Jazz, this was unbelievably cool at

the time: music for and by the people (not symphonies) that had no written

score and was not crappy folk songs people had been singing for the past

three millennia. Took off like a rocket.

5. Mass Culture- The rise of credit and the progress of technology led to

a spread of mass culture—radios, movies and vaudeville all facilitated the

spread of ideas until virtually everyone in a country could have the same


a) Both a good and bad thing, the new forms of culture meant that

the poor of any country would have much more in common with their

countrymen than at any other point in history so far.

b) But dangerous in that it allowed an unprecedented

accumulation of power in the hands of whomever controlled the media.

A power used by all 20th century dictators to speak directly to the people

outside of the normal boundaries of citizen -government relationships.

6. New Gender Rolls- During the war, many women worked outside of

the home for the first time. This led to radical changes in how people viewed

sex—and included a wholesale change of courtship practices and dress

primarily for women.

a) The ‘flapper’

IX. The Interwar years:

A. The Kellogg-Briand pact: signed in 1928 by both the US and France, this pact

outlawed war as a means to solving international problems. One of the stranger

interwar events.

B. Political instability in France and Britain- Workers, who were being crushed

by a postwar RECESSION, were extremely volatile immediately after the war leading

to a series of violent strikes—which led the conservative bourgeoisie in both

countries to elect right wing governments.

1. These governments were successful in crushing the strikes, however

none of them could solve the economic problems that were much larger than

any individual government.

a) The French, for example, relied on German reparations and loans

rather than raising taxes to pay for the massive reconstruction of the

war zone. This proved to be an unstable base for an economy to rest on.

2. These failures led to the election left wing governments starting in

1924—however, any economic reforms that the liberals may have instituted

were thwarted by the dispossessed conservatives

C. Political Instability in Germany- Of course, by nature, if the situation was dire

in England and France, it was much worse in Germany. The post war government,

the WEIMAR REPUBLIC was in deep crisis nearly from the moment that it took

power. It faced revolutionary challenges from both the right and the left and

survived only by playing the two sides off of one another… that said, it only barely


1. For example, in the elections of 1920, only 43% of votes went to

parties that supported the EXISTANCE OF THE GOVERNMENT—the rest of

the polity did not want to change Government policy, but the very form of

government itself.

a) The right, subscribing to the ‘knife in the back’ legend, blamed

the republic of for the loss of WWI and especially for agreeing to the

terms of the treaty of Versailles—which they saw as being degrading

and humiliating.

2. In 1922, Wilhelm Cuno became chancellor, he refused to pay


a) The French responded by invading the Rurh Valley and collecting

reparations in kind—the German workers refused to work, thwarting

the French efforts to collect money

b) However, the lack of economic output led to hyperinflation —

devaluing the Mark to the point where it was virtually worthless.

c) This inflation spread to other European nations, including

France. Which was forced to accept an American brokered deal in

1924—that propped the economies of Europe against the burgeoning

American wealth.

3. This was called the DAWES PLAN, and it worked great until 1929.

X. Rise of Fascism

A. Instability in Italy- the disasters that nearly dragged …


Please respond to the readings and materials for this week in 300 words or so, if you are having a hard time getting started, feel free to respond to the following prompt:

Was the first world war the end of an era? If so, what era ended and what era began? If not, what commonalities do you see between the pre- and post- war world?


***Be sure to support your opinion with reference to the reading from textbook, reading from week’s assignments, and the text or lecture notes, videos.

***Your discussion must have 300 words and must prove that you read the World War I- Chapter 25 from textbook. Your discussion points must come from textbook & lecture notes, videos. That is very important.

Materials for this discussion

Textbook: Nobel, Strauss, et al., Western Civilization: Beyond Boundaries. Vol. 2, 7th ed.

· Must read World War I Lecture note with pdf

· Must Read Chapter 25.

Lecture videos from Professor (Must watch)

· Part 1: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xKauu-h_9WREJDtTXl8h7Ar0vvZKXkgK/view

· Part 2: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HhkMsHyfheg7ge827adepSmeozrmdRLL/view

World War I from Professor (Must watch)

Part 1: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1P4Abuo_h3_tkNrbyoQEJb31kP1vI0CBn/view

Part 2: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HbIUlInrHzB9mcLzGmAczS5ripJ90pow/view

Video from YouTube

How World War I Started: Crash Course World History 209


Who Started World War I: Crash Course World History 210


The Pogues The Band Played Waltzing Matilda Lyrics


Christmas in the Trenches, by John McCutcheon


Fin de’ Siècle Europe and the beginning of the Great War

I. Recap: When we left Europe last:

A. They had pretty much conquered the entire globe through a process

known as IMPERIALISM that established strong, local control over a countries

political and economic systems and exploited that control for the benefit of

the imperializers.

1. This led to widespread suppression of native economy—which was

exploited by the imperializers to provide:

a) Raw materials: Cheap sources of raw materials obtained from

colonies allowed manufactured goods to sell cheaply even though the

workers at home demanded and received higher wages

b) Markets: Selling goods to colonies allowed full employment in

the home company and also created more agricultural workers that

further lowered the cost of doing business in the colony.

2. This also led to the creation of political apparatuses in the colonies

that placed colonial governments above multi-ethnic and multi-confessional

nations that had previously not existed

a) As a tool of colonization, religion and education played a huge

role in inculcating the natives with the appropriate sense of loyalty to

the uber nation and also assuring that the colonial culture became the

dominant culture.

b) The nations were abjectly unable to govern themselves, being

made up of randomly selected groups of people with widely varying

cultures, however, this weakness would not be exposed until the 1960s

B. Europeans were enjoying a period of unrivaled prosperity brought

about by:

1. Easy availability of investment opportunities, money and goods from

the colonial economic ‘ballast’ This led to the rise of a more thoroughly

bourgeoisie society in many nations of Europe where wealth and

respectability became major obsessions of generations of citizens

2. New sources of energy and rapidly expanding industrial technology

efficiency that allowed a wide panoply of new goods to be made and

distributed quickly and cheaply that noticeably raised the standard of living

for even the most poor among the imperial nations.

3. New science that propelled Human understanding into vastly new

fields of understanding and, again, improved the quality of life for most

people noticeably.

II. Ideas in Fin de Siècle Europe- the term itself refers to the end of the century, or

the decadence (1890s-1900’s) this period saw some general trends in Europe and America

that we discuss generally under this term. Remember back in the Middle Ages and I said

that the Renaissance extends almost up to the First World War, well this is the point when

the ‘modern’ era takes over from the renaissance mindset, with large-scale changes in how

people approached life.

A. Progress: The idea of progress obsessed the people of Europe, things were

getting better, noticeably every day. There was more food, better food, more

medicine and better medicine and more technology and better technology almost

daily. These rapid advances led people to believe that the world was reaching some

sort of apex within which Humanity was becoming perfected.

B. Darwin- The progressive spirit drew on Darwin’s theory of the origin of the

species—published in 1859 and gaining a wider and wider audience ever since. The

book made people re-think the ideas of human fate: as Darwin said, “those

individuals with any advantage, however slight, over others, would have the best

chance of surviving and passing on these traits to their offspring” taken as a whole,

then, the human race was therefore improving slowly.

1. Some people took this message to mean that the human race

represented a spectrum of development, arguing that the ‘primitive’ races

were so backward because of their lesser evolution.

a) This was convenient, of course, because these were the same

people whom the nations of Europe were exploiting for their own

economic and political needs—thus, social Darwinism became a self

fulfilling prophecy

b) This also led to a series of anti-miscegenation laws in many

countries that forbade unions that were disadvantageous to the survival

of the species—many countries defined ‘races’ of man and then ranked

them, forbidding marriage that would pollute the higher of the two

2. Furthermore, people felt that the force of natural selection should be

‘helped’ along by a science called EUGENICS. That is, attempting to improve

the Human race by selective breeding. The theory was made scientifically

respectable by Sir Francis Galton, an otherwise inoffensive statistician who

published a work on social statistics in 1869.

a) Led to movements in several countries that tried to improve


(1) USA: Margret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood in

the US in 1916 to provide cheap birth control to poor

(therefore, weak and bad) people so as to avoid having them

overrun the rich (and therefore good and strong) people with

their high birth rates. She built on the popularity of laws

forbidding anyone with a congenital defect like epilepsy or

mental retardation from marrying in several states

(Connecticut first, 1920) And also upon the laws that allowed

states to fore sterilize anyone who stayed in a mental

institution for a length of time (first Indiana 1907)

(2) Germany: Hitler was able to write from Prison that the

American eugenics program was to be envied… ‘nuff said.

(3) Australia—tried to exterminate the aborigines by taking

their children and having them raised by white families.

C. Frederich Nietzsche- German philosopher (1844-1900) whose writing

spoke directly to the modern world being born around him. Famous for saying that

“God is dead and that we have killed him (can you not smell the rotting of god’s

corpse)” This argument advanced the idea that religion, by the 19th century, had lost

its reality to most Europeans, and, as such, we were in danger of slipping into a

dangerous NIHLISM, where there was no value at all.

1. He announced the coming of the Uber mensch, or superman, who has

overcome all history and self to become a truly original and creative human

being, no longer playing in the ashes of the past. This uberman was a totally

new creature, extraordinary in world controlled by a stupid mob.

2. Was nationalistic and argued that the violent struggle between

nations represent the highest form of creativity that a nation can engage in,

in that it purges the nation of the weak and useless like a fire purges steel of


3. Advocated the will to power, that is the idea that everyone has the will

and right to step beyond their position… if they can evict the person

occupying that higher position. This took over the position that morality had

occupied before the untimely death of god.

4. And, lastly, replaced heaven and hell with the eternal recurrence. The

idea that the afterlife was an eternal repeat of your life as you have so far

lived it. This is not a hopeful view designed to make you more likely to

volunteer your time to at the ASPCA.

D. Sigmund Freud- Austrian father of psychology (1856-1939) whose theories

explored the ways in which human nature worked—not as it was supposed to work.

Freud felt that all humans were destined to be unhappy, as we all have dark,

atavistic urges that we must suppress in order to live in society.

1. These urges guaranteed that man could be a happy brute or a neurotic

civilized man.

2. Posited a three part construction of Human nature- an ID, EGO and

SUPEREGO. This made a goodly portion of human being unknowable,

irrational and potentially destructive. No longer were we created in god’s

image, or rational, enlightened factors of our own fate, but instead driven by

twisted urges to behave in ways that defied explanation

3. His student Carl Jung (1875-1961) took things a step farther—arguing

that the unconscious was collective among all humans and populated by

ARCHETYPES that we sought to recreate in the living, day to day world.

Therefore, not only were individuals irrational, but the societies they created

were bound to be irrational and inexplicable since they sought to recreate

the archetypes

E. Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909) – Italian criminologist who discovered and

popularized the idea of DEGENERATION, that is the possibility of backsliding from

all of the wonderful progress that Europeans had been making for the past century,

by comparing the bodies of criminals and also their faces in these creepy multi-

exposure photos that showed common traits among many criminals

1. (If you took a multi exposure pic of criminals executed in MS in 1930,

would it be black or white. SO all black people are criminal?)

a) Large jaws, forward projection of jaw, low sloping foreheads
b) High cheekbones, flattened or upturned nose
c) Handle-shaped ears
d) Large chins, very prominent in appearance
e) Hawk-like noses or fleshy lips
f) Hard shifty eyes, scanty beard or baldness
g) Insensitivity to pain, long arms

2. Taken with the Eugenics movement, this possibility of degeneration

made the struggle to improve human stock seem like a necessity.

F. Common Themes:

1. Anxiety over man’s position

2. Belief in the irrationality of man’s drives and desires

III. Culture in the Fin De Siècle-

A. Art: Romanticism begins to give way to REALISM—that is art that shows life

as it is, not as it is supposed to be. This lead to an art that was sometimes

unpleasant to look at, read or listen to.

1. Because of this, the idea that art needs have no reason for being other

than itself—Ars grata arsis—comes into popularity.

2. The target audience, not the critics, becomes the arbiter of good taste

and propriety—this reliance on uneducated taste leads to several lighting

fast trends in art

3. All art must be original and new, and should not lean on or recreate

earlier ideas or works.

4. Impressionism- Monet and van Gogh, also Munch and Matisse arose in

response to the ultra realism that was practiced by Courbet and Manet

5. Realism foundered in the arts on the rocky shoal of photography-

which created images more real than could be painted.

B. Literature: Realism gains popularity hear as well—leading to an exploration

of the lives of ‘everyday people’ this realism occasionally took the form of

symbolism, where symbols (cf archetypes) could stand in for controversial topics of

the day

1. Also, emphasized language and word play even to the point of their

language being unintelligible (Jas. Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake)

2. Pioneered the stream of consciousness—a psychological idea that

Freud and others argued for, was applied to literature by authors who

removed all mediation between the reader and the character and wrote only

the character’s thoughts and reactions into the book—no narration or

explanation as to what was going on at all.

3. Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke and W. B. Yeats

C. Lively Arts-

1. Theatre- interbred with the novelists, was deeply skeptical and

pessimistic. Presented realist works that explored the lives of everyday

people in everyday situations, and was thus a huge change from the 19th

century style.

2. Opera- Ditto.

3. Dance- Ditto with the addition of folk themes and dances into the

previously existing formal dances

4. Music- challenged 19th century ideals of emotional and progressive

music, instead embraced new and novel instruments, scales and forms of

music that intended to provoke a visceral reaction rather than an intellectual


D. Common factors-

1. The new art favored an elite clique over the populism inherent in

romanticism which was easily understandable

2. The new art challenged the traditions of art (duh) and replaced them

with things that were new for being new’s sake

3. Emotion is more valuable a reaction from a piece than is intellect

IV. Politics in the Fin de Siècle—we are drawing near to the toppling point of the

balance of power set up by Metternich nearly 60 years ago, stresses in Europe and their

colonies had reached a boiling point that would only be relieved by an explosive conflict

that would put all other wars the earth had seen to shame.

A. Resurgence of ANTI SEMITISM- the term is commonly used to denote

prejudice against Jews, however should by definition define prejudice against any of

the people in the Semitic language group. AS had been a facet of European life since

the diaspora in 73 CE. However, the economic uncertainty that accompanied the

boom and bust economic cycle of the late 19th century, the popularity of theories of

race and also of eugenics programs and finally an effective press led to a resurgence

of the practice.

1. Anti Semitism reared its head in many European countries-

a) France: with the Dreyfus affair, 1894, had a promising young

French Capitan accused of treason and sentenced to life in solitary

confinement—largely on the basis of his being Jewish. He was

reinstated in 1906 after the crimes were seen to be the fault of someone

else. However, the discussion served to isolate Jews from mainstream

French society

b) America and Germany—Jews were seen as eugenic risks, who

had to be limited in immigrating.

c) Russia—a series of POGROMS against Jews killed many

thousands with effective government complicity

2. Reaction: The Jews of the nations of Europe lacked an effective voice,

instead attempting to blend into their respective cultures—French, rather

than Jewish. However, THEODORE HERZL (1860 – 1904), raised a

sometimes lone voice to defend the interests of the Jews arguing that the

Jews would never fully incorporate into the European nations, and should

therefore have a separate homeland. This idea was called ZIONISM

a) Unfortunately, although predictably, he couched his argument in

the same racial/eugenic terms that the anti-Semites were marshalling

against the Jews—condemning the current inhabitants of Palestine as


B. Instability- the period saw great instability throughout Europe on a number

of fronts:

1. Violent clashes between workers and business and government-

partially spawned by the socialist movement and fed by the increasing

disparity in how the societal rewards of an increasingly effective capitalism

were divided, the workers often revolted against business—and in so doing

often came into conflict with the governments that were nearly synonymous

with them

2. Conflicts between church and state in France, Germany and Italy

3. Nationalist conflict in England and in the British isles and the AH

4. War then revolution in Russia (1905)

5. The massive upswing of the women’s suffrage movement—especially

in America and England.

a) In America this movement was tied to the antislavery movement

and later equal rights movement—much of the anger in American

women was occasioned by the fact that the 15th amendment gave black

men the right to vote, but not white women, the racist 19th century all

over again.

b) In England the movement was began peacefully, but ended up in

much more violent form led by women such as EMMELINE PARKHURST

who chained herself to the house of commons, smashed store windows

and burnt down the houses of MPs who were anti-suffrage

V. World War One- Beginnings and precedents

A. Balance of Power-

1. Ever since the Metternich plan had been enacted, nations had been

jockeying for a position in which they would be invulnerable from attack

from all the other nations—or have a position so much stronger that war was


a) This struggle was abetted by the forging of modern nations with

fast communications and unified presses that could quickly turn the

politics of war into mass politics and mobilize the entire nation rather

than an elite and the army—leading to unheard of levels of economic

participation in warfare

2. Bismarck, as elder statesman of Germany, had realized that there

were exactly five major nations in Europe with first class military power.

Therefore, it was always in Germany’s interest to be a part of the larger half,

than part of the smaller.

a) Kaiser Wilhelm II however, did not see it this way, instead seeing

the massive military of Germany as being a world beater—thus he could

stand to be on the smaller side and still win.

3. German policies at the outset of the war and also directly previously

to it had alienated Britain, The USA and also Japan thus turning what would

have been another little European war into a world-wide conflict of many


B. Age of crisis- from 1905-14 there were a series of political crisis that could

have been used as a pretext for war—however, these were all settled one way or

another short of war.

1. However, in 1914 the feeling in much of Europe was il faut finir, the

waiting for a war must end—and the feeling in Germany was that they would

never be more powerful vs. the brits than they were at the moment—thus

the time to strike was now and no time was to be wasted.

2. On 28th of July, therefore the Germans initiated their Von Schlieffen

Plan and began the war that would redraw the map of Europe.