Friday, August 25, 2017

Sept.25: The Forces of Evil.

Part 1 of 2 parts on the causes of war since the late nineteenth century.

The fears about the rise of German industry proved correct. It was soon serious competition for British and French business. And it also maintained a pretty effective army. War became likely - not a war because one side was evil, but because both sides were motivated by profit to be made from trade all over the world, not just at home. The British embarked on a massive fleet building campaign. So did Germany. The British reached 1914 with the biggest fleet in history.

By the 1890s, Britain was also changing its mind about getting rid of Canada. In a war with Germany, it would need all the troops it could get. So, suddenly, there developed a surge of worship of the Empire and the Queen. It was really a one-way love affair since few British felt any closeness to Canada. Certainly, they would not have gone to war to defend it from the U.S. But the Canadian attachment to Britain was strong, and it was encouraged by lots of Union Jacks, visits from the aristocracy.....

This really took off as Britain neared a war with the Dutch settlers of South Africa. It was a typical imperial war to plunder a nation. South Africa had huge quantities of gold and diamonds - all controlled by the Dutch settlers (Boers) who were plundering it from the native population. It would be so much better if English billionaires controlled all that wealth.

Britain asked Canada to send troops.

That was an odd request. Colonies were not required to fight wars for Britain. Certainly, South Africa was no possible threat to Britain or Canada. The British army was expected just to roll over the small, Boer population. But wealthy Canadians immediately stepped forward. Of course. Their trade and their profit depended on the good will of Britain (just as it now depends on the U.S.)
Lord Strathcona paid the entire cost of a cavalry regiment, a thousand men and their horses and equipment (now the Lord Strathcona Light Horse).  Ordinary Canadians, the ones, I suppose, whose descendants now buy magazines about the home life of the  Royal Family, were wildly in support.

But why did the British want help for such a minor opponent?

They wanted to establish a precedent that anyone who went to war with Britain was going to war with the whole empire - Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India....  In my childhood language of the Montreal street gangs "You fight me, you fight my gang."

And so 270 Canadians died.

It was much worse for the Boers and the natve Africans. Something over 90,000 of them died died - most of those were civilians, whole families in concentration camps. Many thousands of those deaths were in camps operated by Canadian soldiers. But we won't talk about that. We'll do what school  history books do - remember how nice it was of Lord Strathcona to be such a philanthropist.

Another thing that would have a profoud effect on World War 1 was the American civil war. It had shown that the railway was now a requirement in w ar. It made possible a massive and swift movement of troops to catch an enemy off balance. Europe plunged into that as a requirement for its armies.

But the times tables were massively complex, so complex it was impossible to stop or change once started. And that could provoke a war rather than preventing it.

And by 1900 at the latest, everybody was preparing for a big war - a war that was really all about profits, and which country's very wealthy would make them.
Many school history books tell us that the war began in 1914 because a student shot the archduke of Austria and his wife. That's not quite true.

The assassination was taken to mean that some country, not named, was about to start a war. That set off a storm of nations calling up their armies and sending them to defensive points by those dreadfully awkward and unchangeable schedules. And once any nation began that mobilizing, everybody had to follow. Nor could they risk the formidable and slow process of backing off. That's why the war started.

The war was guaranteed to come with those rigid schedules. But even that wasn't the real reason it started.

It started with the eagerness for wealth no matter what the cost to millions of people. The war was something to satisfy the wealthy. That would be illustrated just after the war ended in 1918,

By 1918 a revolution had broken out in Russia against the Czar (a monarchy that was hopelessly greedy and incompetent, and well past is 'best before date' .)  But the revolution was a threat - no, not to any country - it was a threat to capitalism. And in those days as today, the world's major capitalists were the ones to decide  when a war was necessary. And it was certainly necessary against a country that challenged capitalism.

That's why Britain, Canada and others sent armies to Russia in 1919 to fight the communists. (But most school books don't mention that.) And that is what took us to World War 2.

Oh, and what did the U.S. do in World War 1? It made lots of money out of lending money to Britain and selling it war material. But for the most part it had been occupied with building its own empre in South America and - in major expansions - The Phillipines and the annexation of Hawaii.

And why would the U.S. build its major naval base way out in the middle of the Pacific? That was awfully far away from the U.S. for a defensive base. Along with The Phillipines, that base was aimed at building an empire in Asia. The US had begun its hunger to get rich out of China.

It didn't care about Britain, so it waited  until 1917 to join the war. I'm not sure why it joined. But it may well have been hoping to pick up the crumbs of the weakening British and French empires - especially in the Middle East.

The UN condemnation of racism in the U.S. is not simply a reminder of its misbehaviour. Racism is steadily leading to a downfall of the U.S.

And it's a situation the whole world will be facing at a far, far higher level very soon as the number of refugees skyrockets due to war and climate change.

 Racism is going to run wild.

The reality is we are all the same race. And we had better get used to that very soon. As a sobering start, get a DNA test. I did, and learned that one, at least, of my ancestors was a west Asian barbarian.

For almost forty years, I taught students of just about every 'race' on earth. If there was some profound difference between them, I missed it.
Most of our news media have been less than helpful in reporting on the North Korea crisis. The reality is that the U.S. has been deliberately looking to provoke a war with North Korea for decades. But we never read about that - just about how those 'evil' North Koreans are threatening us.

Our level of ignorance of that was reflected by the note of panic in a column by Norbert Cunningham of irving press. - "..Wow, a North Korean nuclear bomb could reach northern New Brunswick.."

That, to say the least, is nonsense. And even if it could, who would bother bombing northern New Brunswick?
Isn't it awful the way those little, poor countries are always attacking the U.S.?

The reality is that American big business is still hot on ruling the whole world. This was the theme of Project for the New American Century - which you can find on google. That group led straight to George Bush and the invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria.
I'm an historian. I know that much of the history we learn in school is not true. It's propaganda to produce unthinking 'patriots' who will kill when they're told to.
The following has a good deal of truth to it. But I think it is too easy on the role of the very wealthy in controlling the president.

And remember - the U.S. will try to suck Canada into taking part in it unending wars. And think what would happen to Canada if the U.S. did conquer the world? (we'd be part of the conquered world.)
Tearing down statues is fine. But it does nothing to help African-Americans who have been abused by Whites for centuries.
The following deals with the most dangerous development of our time - and the failure of almost all governments to deal with it.

We, like the U.S., have serious problems in financing education, health care, living wage - dealing with climate change. adequate housing.... But we can't deal with them because the wealthiest of our capitalists won't allow us. They want more money for their own, glutted selves. And there's more money for them in continuing to destroy the environment, to kill people in countries with resources the very wealthy want to  own, and to make more and more increasingly destructive weapons because the war industry stuffs their wallets even more.
We are heading straight into wars that will end only when all of us are dead.

Think of that the next time your chamber of commerce kisses up to its real boss with a  salute to his 'philanthropy'.
The irving press hasn't noticed it, but the most popular politician - by far - in the U.S. is the mildly socialist Bernie Sanders. (No. he's not a communist. A socialist is not a communist. In fact, very, very few people know what a communist is.
 Russia was NOT communist. China was NOT. So let's either find out what that word means, or stop using it. And I would happily debate any billionaire of your choice on that topic.)

Sanders wants to tax the very wealthy, to put controls on big business, to provide Americans with essential services like education and health care----(OOOOh, how dangerous!)

Is there a chance he could be president? Not likely. The billionaires will, as usual, buy the election as they have bought most of the news media, by financing their political friends who understand that billionaires need money more than the rest of us need food, education, or even life itself. If you want to find evil in this world, that's who to look for.
Capitalism in itself is not evil. Unless it becomes greed. Love is not evil.  Unless it becomes rape.

The U.S., Canada, Britain, China, Russia are all controlled by capitalists with the wealth and power to buy governments. That is combined with destructive power never before seen in history. And we are into war without end.

We need governments that represent us - not billionaires. New Brunswickers might think of that when they next vote for a provincial government. (And no, I am not suggesting they should vote Conservative.)
Check your Moncton Times and Transcript for news that is "up to the minute..and..breaking" (How do they do that "up to the minute stuff"  with a paper that goes to press many hours before it's sold?) It also has an "exclusive" story about  how a local elementary school has had to relabel its washrooms 'boys' and 'girls' instead of 'gender neutral'. (Hold me back.)

This is a newspaper deliberately designed to keep readers in ignorance. And guess who owns it.


  1. The assassination of the Archduke and his wife became the excuse for The Great War. However, there was still a good chance it could have been prevented but for Raoul Villain's cold blooded murder of Jean Jaur├Ęs (for which he was acquitted!).

  2. As for WWII, I consider myself a bit of a history nut, but I was not aware of the Battles of Khalkhin Gol (Soviet-Japanse "war") in the 5 months preceding the "start" of WWII and that the Soviets basically kicked butt.

    As for the Japanese surrender in August, 1945 was not just precipitated by the 2 atomic bombs but also the entry of the Soviet Union into the fight against Japan in Aug./45. (I had never realised that the Soviet Union and Japan were not at war throughout almost all of WWII).

    1. Oh, yes. The Soviet's were going through the Japanese army like a knife through butter. That's a major reason the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs They knew the Japanese were ready to surrender. But they wanted to hurry it up.
      The story that an invasion of Japan by U.S. troops would have cost the U.S. heavy casualties is absurd. Japan had no capacity of any sort for defence. As well, the nuclear bombings were a warning to the Soviets as much as to the Japanese.
      The Japanese army was also very, very stretched with large numbers fighting the Chinese, the British in India, and the U.S. in the Pacific. They had no army of any size left in Japan.

      The resistance of the Soviet Union in World War 2 was phenomenal. In WW1, the Germans had walked all over them.
      The Soviets were also infinitely superior in production of weapons in WW2 - and in Quality of many of their weapons. Soviet tanks could match and outmatch the best the Germans had (And, through most of the war, the German tanks were superior to most of the British and American ones.)
      I also came across some dreadful statistics. The death rate for each nation - both civilians and soldiers - ran about 1% of the total population. (The Soviet rate was much higher.) But as a marker for wars to come, the death rate for North Korea in the Korean War was a phenomenal 30% of the whole population. And it could have been much worse. Word has come out recently that Truman was intending to nuke North Korea.