Streetwise Professor

November 11, 2011


Filed under: History,Politics — The Professor @ 10:31 am

Today marks the 93rd anniversary of the end of WWI, the most epochal event of post-ancient history.  It destroyed a world that had been evolving since the collapse of Rome.  The human, physical, political, and civilizational destruction wrought in four years, three months, and two weeks was unprecedented.  Out of the rubble came the malign forces that shaped the subsequent decades, most notably Bolshevism, Fascism, and Naziism.  World War II and the Cold War and all that followed were the direct consequences of The Great War. Its direct and indirect death toll is arguably in the hundreds of millions.

Its effects plague the world to this day.  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has its roots in WWI.  Much of the turmoil in the Middle East can be traced to the precipitous collapse of the Ottoman Empire brought on by the war.

As I’ve written before, during a trip to some battlefields in France last spring, the history of the war itself–the campaigns and battles–is dreary and depressing, beyond my poor powers to convey.  A visit to a cold, clammy, dripping, dark and oppressively claustrophobic fort at Verdun for even a few minutes is a soul-sucking experience; what it was like for the poor poilous who inhabited these tombs day after day is beyond imagining.  The Ossuary there is indescribably depressing.

So yes, on 11/11/11  remember the Americans who fought and suffered at St. Mihel and in the Argonne, and in all the conflicts since.  But it’s also worth a moment to recall how in a complex system things that seem small in the scheme of things–like Serbian nationalism–can change everything profoundly in a historical instant.

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  1. I leave you with this speech, good Professor. Eventually when the ChiComs come to buy up what’s left so they can get their money out of China, and you oppose a certain deal, you’re going to get a talking to like this:

    I imagine Glenn Beck got a talk like this with Boss Murdoch before he was canned from FNC when he dug too deep into Soros.

    And BTW, according to several accounts I’ve read, the Federal Reserve’s founders in late 1913 though 1914 was going to be a very, very good money making year for them.

    Fortunately, there is a God and there is a place called hell.

    Comment by Mr. X — November 11, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

  2. While asking “what if..?” with the advantage of historical hindsight is a spurious game, it is interesting to speculate what would have happened if Germany had emerged the victor in World War I. Let’s see…

    1. The war would have left a stable and confident Germany in the heart of Europe, ensuring future prosperity, and certainly forestalling any political extremism in the country.

    2. The Holocaust would never have happened.

    3. The returning veterans from the war would demand rightful representation in Germany, possibly ensuring a further democratization of Germany.

    4. France, as well as Britain, would have emerged with many of their colonies shorn away and given to Germany, yet this would have meant little to the people living in those territories.

    5. Germany would probably have increased landholdings close to its border, but would have probably followed the model of the Franco-Prussian War in foregoing the occupation of France.

    6. Germany would cultivate an independent Ukraine and Byelorussia, in addition to independent Baltic States, and possibly even Poland, as a bulwark against the new Soviet state.

    6. The Soviet Union would have to contend with a strong, non-fascist Germany pushing against its expansionist dreams, possibly resulting in another war where the Soviet Union would be extinguished, and the various nationalities living under the Russian yoke would have seen independence, and be living as independent nations today, from the Caucasus to the Far East.

    All in all, in hindsight it would seem that the wrong side won in that war.

    Comment by Finnpundit — November 11, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

  3. @Finnpundit: very plausible. And ironically . . . they probably would have if the US had not intervened. Proof that Germany was its own worst enemy. Unrestricted submarine warfare has to go down as one of the most colossal blunders in history.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 11, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

  4. Clearly Finnpundit has read his Grif Nach der Weltmacht. Way to go Finnpundit! Hoch der Kaiser! You guys did starve two million Sovs at Leningrad, ja?

    Comment by Mr. X — November 11, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

  5. You are so right FinnPundit!

    Fortunately, as the Russian economy is teetering on the verge of collapse (just look at that budget and current account deficits, and the collossal government debt Our rebellious servant Vladimir has run up!), We will be able to buy the Russian energy sector for a song, de-fund the Russian government, and once more get the Russian population dropping by a million a year for Our profit and entertainment!

    Good times!

    Comment by a — November 11, 2011 @ 6:19 pm

  6. Is it possible that there is a WWIII ? My reasoning is that big time money problems in yester years often lead to wars. Now it looks less possible due to the existence of mostly democratic governments. But still….what kind of event would be needed these days to trigger a war on a wider scale?

    Comment by Surya — November 11, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

  7. Regarding point 4, it is likely that life for natives in the colonies would have improved with German rule. Germany, like Japan in Korea and Manchuria, invested in its colonies rather than used them purely as a source of exploitation. From wikipedia:

    Unlike the Belgian, British, French and Portuguese colonial masters in central Africa, Germany developed an educational program for Africans that involved elementary, secondary and vocational schools. “Instructor qualifications, curricula, textbooks, teaching materials, all met standards unmatched anywhere in tropical Africa.”[8] In 1924, ten years after the beginning of the First World War and six years into British rule, the visiting American Phelps-Stokes Commission reported: “In regards to schools, the Germans have accomplished marvels. Some time must elapse before education attains the standard it had reached under the Germans.”[8]

    One of the influences of this German development of education in their colony is the word “shule” (from “schule” in German) that means school. Since Germans were the first colonialists to establish a solid educational program in East Africa, the word “shule” has been borrowed into the Swahili language, the lingua franca of East Africa.

    So, if Germany had taken colonies from other Europeans, it would be possible that Africa would be much more developed and educated than it is now (just as Korea is much more developed than, say, formerly-British Burma or formerly-French Vietnam).

    Comment by AP — November 11, 2011 @ 10:48 pm

  8. Yes, Imperial Germans were fine colonialists.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 11, 2011 @ 10:58 pm


    Viva Ron Paul.

    Comment by Mr. X — November 11, 2011 @ 11:16 pm

  10. The best way to honor our war dead is to prevent future unnecessary wars, which should be all of them.

    Comment by Mr. X — November 11, 2011 @ 11:16 pm

  11. @S/O – Compare that to what the Belgians were up to, to put things in perspective. Germans weren’t saints (Japanese weren’t either, in Korea), but overall they seem to have been much less harmful than the others. As I wrote, Germans treated the natives better and actually developed their colonies and invested in the native people through education. So a German victory probably would have helped Africa, in addition to Europe.

    Comment by AP — November 12, 2011 @ 12:12 am

  12. Unlike the Belgian, British, French and Portuguese colonial masters in central Africa, Germany developed an educational program for Africans that involved elementary, secondary and vocational schools.

    Right, but the British developed educational programs in west Africa, e.g. Nigeria. They also did so in some of their Asian colonies. Sounds as though this Wikipedia author doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Which would be something of a surprise.

    Comment by Tim Newman — November 12, 2011 @ 1:32 am

  13. “The best way to honor our war dead is to prevent future unnecessary wars, which should be all of them.”

    Perish the thought! Our assiduous servant George’s excellent adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq have been very profitable for Us! And, like Our assiduous servant Max Boot, We are highly upset that Our servant Barack has failed to extend Our assiduous servant George’s excellent adventure in Iraq for all eternity!

    Comment by a — November 12, 2011 @ 8:18 am

  14. @12 – So it doesn’t seem as if the wikipedia article is innaccurate, then, since as you note Nigeria isn’t in central Africa. AFAIK German Camaroon and Togo were better developed than their French or British counterparts by 1914. Germans, like other Europeans of that time, were racists who assumed that the natives were inferior to them. Nor did the Germans tolerate rebellion, as seen in their mass killing of reberlliousnatiuves in Namibia. However while the western Europeans basically just wanted exploit their colonies to the maximum extent (where, in the case of the Belgian Congo, literally millions were worked to death as virtual slaves on rubber plantations), the Germans seemed to have pursued a policy of trying to turn their colonies into self-sufficient, healthy areas populated by relatively educated, industrious “sub-Germans” loyal to Germany. They opened hospitals and conducted research in tropical diseases (resulting in an increase in the native population), built schools and an educated native class, built railroads. Germany’s remarkable success during World War I in East Africa stems from the good relatiuonship that developed between Germans and the natives they ruled.

    Comment by AP — November 12, 2011 @ 8:42 am

  15. So it doesn’t seem as if the wikipedia article is innaccurate, then, since as you note Nigeria isn’t in central Africa.

    Well, which British colonies in Central Africa is the author referring to? I expect in his mind he is including Namibia in his list of German colonies, which is about as much central African as Nigeria is. The statement is meaningless unless it is obvious which countries he is comparing, and to me he deliberately uses vague terms of reference in order to make a political point which is probably inaccurate.

    However while the western Europeans basically just wanted exploit their colonies to the maximum extent…

    That’s not true either. A point Martin Meredith makes in the excellent The State of Africa is that a lot of Britain’s colonies were captured just because that seemed like the right thing to do, and afterwards they had little or no idea what to do with them. Nigeria remained administered by about 60 people and left to its own devices, by and large. There was certainly no wholesale exploitation on the part of the British government, even if more than a few private companies took advantage. And you’d be hard pushed to say that the French didn’t engage themselves in Algeria as much as the Germans did Namibia, mainly because the French thought it not a colony at all but actually part of France. True, they didn’t give much of a shit about the locals, but that didn’t stop them developing the place. I think they even insisted the locals spoke French.

    They opened hospitals and conducted research in tropical diseases (resulting in an increase in the native population), built schools and an educated native class, built railroads.

    As did the British in Nigeria. It was this educated class, especially amongst the Igbos, who formed the civil service after independence.

    Comment by Tim Newman — November 12, 2011 @ 9:59 am

  16. Algeria wasn’t in subsaharan Africa. The wikipedia article wasn’t about Namibia but about German East Africa. He was comparing it to the nearby British, French, Belgian and Portuguese territories. Which of the points, specifically, do you have a problem with? Do you doubt that the Germans created a better educational system for their natives than any of the others colonial powers did?

    From Nettelbeck, David A history of Arusha School, Tanzania, 1974

    In 1884 and 1885, Carl Peters and agents of the German East Africa Company made treaties with the Tanganyika main-land chiefs, and. in 1887 officials arrived to establish a colonial rule which lasted until 1914. The primary task of these administrators was to maintain law and order and develop communications which would open up the country to trade and commerce.

    Missionaries proceeded the administrators and as education was an inevitable concomitant of evangelization, a system of rudimentary schools was quickly established. In 1900, there were 600 mission schools with 50,000 pupils accounting for 95% of the total school enrolment at the time, and by 1914 these figures had risen to 1000 schools with 150,000 pupils.

    The Germans had no initial plans to establish an education system, but the need arose for them to train a junior and local civil service to staff their administrative machine. The purpose of their schools was thus defined in an official circular of 1903 as:

    a. to enable the native to be used in government administration;

    b. to inculcate a liking for order, cleanliness, diligence and dutifulness and a sound knowledge of German customs and patriotism

    In single-minded fulfilment of these aims, they had established by 1914, 60 three-year village primary schools, 9 two-year central schools and one high school in Tanga providing clerical, industrial and teacher training for up to 500 pupils. The system was secular and strictly vocational but effective, and brought much favourable comment from British administrators who tried to rebuild the civil service in the 1920s.

    The same book states that the educational system broke down when the British took over.

    I assume that the German colony was compared favorably to the British colonies in Uganda and Kenya?

    Comment by AP — November 12, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  17. To add: my impression is that, unlike the Germans, the Brits did not try to train an extensive local African civil service class but imported Indians or Europeans for such tasks, at least in central and eastern Africa. Maybe Nigeria in the west was an exception.

    Comment by AP — November 12, 2011 @ 11:05 am

  18. Do you doubt that the Germans created a better educational system for their natives than any of the others colonial powers did?

    Yes. Sure, you can compare German East Africa with Kenya, and you can even talk in woolly geographical terms, but on balance I have a hard time believing the German colonial education system was any better than that of the British. Especially as the British colonial education system seems to have produced several generations of educated, English-speaking Africans and Asians who have gone on to do rather well for themselves. Even once the British left, the educational legacy remained. Where is the German equivalent?

    Comment by Tim Newman — November 12, 2011 @ 11:37 am

  19. Well Finnpundit, perhaps I shouldn’t have taken a cheap shot at the Finnish siege of Leningrad. I always liked the Finnish rock group Leningrad Cowboys after all.

    Comment by Mr. X — November 12, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

  20. I don’t think America could have stayed out of it. If not unrestricted submarine warfare, Pearl Harbour, other pretexts would have been found. Balance of power and all that.

    Comment by So? — November 12, 2011 @ 7:02 pm

  21. @So?–Pearl Harbor? Zimmerman Telegram maybe. Re balance of power–that is one of the problems w/American intervention: it upset the balance of power.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 12, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

  22. “balance of power–that is one of the problems w/American intervention: it upset the balance of power.”

    Indeed. On the other hand, We agree with Finnpundit and the good Professor that a German sphere of influence streaching from Alsace to the Dneipr would not have upset the balance of power at all.

    And as a bonus, the Russians would have been rendered irrelevant to power calculations to this day!

    Comment by a — November 12, 2011 @ 8:22 pm

  23. The British colonial system existed about 40 years longer than did the German. However the British themselves noted the superiority of the German system after they took the German colonies. I don’t know why you keep bringing up Asia when we are discussing Africa. But, excepting Hong Kong and Singapore (basically city-states/finanicial centers) all of Britain’s former possessions (such as Burma and Malaysia) have faired worse than has Japan’s Korea.

    Comment by AP — November 12, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

  24. The British colonial system existed about 40 years longer than did the German.

    Well, let’s take Nigeria as an example. The British formally took hold of it in 1900 and left in 1960, leaving behind a reasonably well educated portion of the population which went on to form the civil service of the independent country. The German colonies lasted about 35 years, a difference of 25 years. I’m struggling to see this rather short timespan as the reason why we didn’t see subsequent generations of Africans reaping the rewards of a German colonial education in the way them doing just that with a British education.

    But, excepting Hong Kong and Singapore (basically city-states/finanicial centers) all of Britain’s former possessions (such as Burma and Malaysia) have faired worse than has Japan’s Korea.

    Huh? Korea was pretty much a peasant agricultural society when the Japanese occupied it, right up until they got kicked out after WWII. The soldiers who went to fight the Korean War were amazed to find they actually spread human shit on the paddy field, making the whole place stink, and almost everybody was employed working the land. What transformed Korea was the billions upon billions of American dollars, coupled with Japanese industrial expertise, which was poured in after the Korean War ended. Korea’s development had nothing to do with Japanese colonialism, it happened after they’d gone. And sure, Malaysia and Burma didn’t develop much during the colonial period, but you seem to be missing the rather large elephant in the region: India.

    Comment by Tim Newman — November 13, 2011 @ 12:57 am

  25. Your first point – the German system was dismantled by the British and Belgians. In Rwanda the Belgians literally forced the Africans onto plantations where thye were whipped into working for them. So after a few decades of Belgian misrule, how do you expect German influence to be evident there?

    In East Africa the British THEMSELVES were amazed at home well educated the locals were, and complianed that it would take along time to get the locals back to German standards. I don’t understand what your problem is here – you seem to be an Anglophile, yet you also sugrest that the British lied about what they saw in the former German colonies.

    With respect to Korea – from the Economic History website:

    Drawing on the Meiji government’s experience, the colonial state introduced a set of expensive policy measures to modernize Korea. One important project was to improve infrastructure: railway lines were extended, and roads and harbors and communication networks were improved, which rapidly integrated goods and factor markets both nationally and internationally. Another project was a vigorous health campaign: the colonial government improved public hygiene, introduced modern medicine, and built hospitals, significantly accelerating the mortality decline set in motion around 1890, apparently by the introduction of the smallpox vaccination. The mortality transition resulted in a population expanding 1.4% per year during the colonial period. The third project was to revamp education. As modern teaching institutions quickly replaced traditional schools teaching Chinese classics, primary school enrollment ration rose from 1 percent in 1910 to 47 percent in 1943. Finally, the cadastral survey (1910-18) modernized and legalized property rights to land, which boosted not only the efficiency in land use, but also tax revenue from landowners. These modernization efforts generated sizable public deficits, which the colonial government could finance partly by floating bonds in Japan and partly by unilateral transfers from the Japanese government.

    The colonial government implemented industrial policy as well. The Rice Production Development Program (1920-1933), a policy response to the Rice Riots in Japan in 1918, was aimed at increasing rice supply within the Japanese empire. In colonial Korea, the program placed particular emphasis upon reversing the decay in water control. The colonial government provided subsidies for irrigation projects, and set up institutions to lower information, negotiation, and enforcement costs in building new waterways and reservoirs. Improved irrigation made it possible for peasants to grow high yielding rice seed varieties. Completion of a chemical fertilizer factory in 1927 increased the use of fertilizer, further boosting the yields from the new type of rice seeds. Rice prices fell rapidly in the late 1920s and early 1930s in the wake of the world agricultural depression, leading to the suspension of the program in 1933.

    Despite the Rice Program, the structure of the colonial economy has been shifting away from agriculture towards manufacturing ever since the beginning of the colonial rule at a consistent pace. From 1911-40 the share of manufacturing in GDP increased from 6 percent to 28 percent, and the share of agriculture fell from 76 percent to 41 percent. Major causes of the structural change included diffusion of modern manufacturing technology, the world agricultural depression shifting the terms of trade in favor of manufacturing, and Japan’s early recovery from the Great Depression generating an investment boom in the colony. Also Korea’s cheap labor and natural resources and the introduction of controls on output and investment in Japan to mitigate the impact of the Depression helped attract direct investment in the colony. Finally, subjugating party politicians and pushing Japan into the Second World War with the invasion of China in 1937, the Japanese military began to develop northern parts of Korea peninsula as an industrial base producing munitions.

    The institutional modernization, technological diffusion, and the inflow of Japanese capital put an end to the Malthusian degeneration and pushed Korea onto the path of modern economic growth. Both rents and wages stopped falling and started to rise from the early twentieth century. As the population explosion made labor increasingly abundant vis-a-vis land, rents increased more rapidly than wages, suggesting that income distribution became less equal during the colonial period. Per capita output rose faster than one percent per year from 1911-38.

    Per capita grain consumption declined during the colonial period, providing grounds for traditional criticism of the Japanese colonialism exploiting Korea. However, per capita real consumption increased, due to rising non-grain and non-good consumption, and Koreans were also getting better education and living longer. In the late 1920s, life expectancy at birth was 37 years, an estimate several years longer than in China and almost ten years shorter than in Japan. Life expectancy increased to 43 years at the end of the colonial period. Male mean stature was slightly higher than 160 centimeters at the end of the 1920s, a number not significantly different from the Chinese or Japanese height, and appeared to become shorter during the latter half of the colonial period.

    Wikiepdia seems to be a battlground between competing nationalists. An excerpt, though:

    Although the Japanese education system in Korea was detrimental towards the colony’s cultural identity, it helped lay the foundation of future economic growth by improving Korea’s human capital. By 1940, 38 percent of school-age Koreans were attending elementary school. Children of elite families were able to advance to higher education, while others were able to attend technical schools, allowing for “the emergence of a small but important class of well-educated white collar and technical workers… who possessed skills required to run a modern industrial economy.” The Japanese education system ultimately produced hundreds of thousands of educated South Koreans who later became “the core of the postwar political and economic elite.”

    Comment by AP — November 13, 2011 @ 11:17 am

  26. Actually AP, it seems you don’t really know what you are talking about to a great extent.

    The British poured huge sums of investment into their colonies.

    Try reading a little, such as “Empire” by Niall Ferguson (dean of history at Havard)

    The Germans had a terrible reputation in Africa, amongst the Natives, yes the Belgians were worse, but the racial policies pursued by the Nazi party were not actually anything new in German politics.

    SWP, in WW2 the US contribution was vital, in WW1 it was really only of moral value, the US Army was not present in the battles that broke the back of the German Army in France, such as the “Black Day of the German army”.

    If the fighting had lasted into 1919 this might have been different, but the war was won (as Ludendorf stated quite clearly) by the British Imperial forces and the French.

    Comment by Andrew — November 14, 2011 @ 3:58 am

  27. Most British investment in its colonies was in India and South Africa (where it mostly benefited the white settlers); pre-World War I (the point of comparison with Germany) British investment elsewhere in Africa was mostly centered on railroads, to facilitate exploitation. Tim, the beneficial investment in Nigeria mostly occured after World War I, thus it’s not relevant to comparisons between Germany and the western colonial powers.

    Prior to World War ,I was no large-scale effort by the British or other westerners to develop the native Africans; indeed the British brought in Indians and other non-Africans to peform higher level work, rather than prepare significant numbers of natives. In contrast, Germany built up an extensive educational system (they were instrumental in the development and spread of literacy in the native Swahili language, making that language the lingua franca in eastern Africa). The Germans seemed to use more natives, rather than imported outsiders, for administrative positions. They also built hospitals, introduced cash crops and better agricultural methods to native famers (contrast this with the Belgians forcing natives onto rubber planatations for high-mortality slave labor). German investment was such that the Germans actually lost money on its colonies, spending more on them than it got in return. The German strategy was to develop them into prosperous self-sufficient colonies that would eventually generate their own income. It was a long-term approach, and the the colonies were lost before the investment bore fruit.

    That being said, I don’t mean to sugarcoat German colonialism. As I had stated, the Germans, like other Europeans at that time, were racists who believed themselves to be superior. They did not tolerate rebellion by African natives and supressed it brutally when it occured – although in east Africa they followed up with reforms in order to minimize future rebellion. The Germans were better towards the natives in East Africa, where they did not plan to settle ethnic Germans, than in Namibia, which due to its milder climate was seen as an area of eventual German settlement and where the natives were treated more like Australian Aboriginals or North Amercian natives. The Germans were simply, overall, the least bad of the Europeans in Africa (the Belgians being the worst). So, returning to Finnpundits post, overall if the Germans had won and had taken Belgian, British, French African colonies the African natives probably would have been better off.

    Comment by AP — November 14, 2011 @ 9:47 am

  28. And as a bonus, the Russians would have been rendered irrelevant to power calculations to this day!

    What would be so bad about that? Russia brings nothing of value to civilization in the first place. But it does bring quite a lot of misery to the captive peoples within its “Federation”, not to mention its “near abroad”, and other neighbors.

    A great power is a power that can sway others through its superior system of doing things, whether governmental or economic. There is nothing that Russia can bring to the table in that regard. Even the Chinese can point to Confucian values as a justification, but Russia has nothing to offer, except gas, oil and prostitutes, – its three main exports.

    Comment by Finnpundit — November 14, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

  29. Historically Russia produced arguably the world’s best literature, and some of the best theater, music, and art. In Russia there continues to be a respect for European “high culture” to an extent that no longer exists in the West. While Russia’s historical effect on Eastern European peoples has often been quite negative, it has certainly had a civilizing effect to its east and south.

    Comment by AP — November 14, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

  30. All of the glories of Russian literature and music are in the past, and even that was characterized by obsessive narcissism and navel-gazing: all Russians assumed that the “Whither Russia?” question posed in literature of the 1800’s was something that could be universally appreciated. But, as it turned out, it had no relevance to the outside world at all, and the literature is mainly of value for providing interesting psychological portraits of people living in a permanent state of self-induced anxiety.

    Of course, that literary question wound up being answered with a horrifying revolution that ushered a more grotesque society than what had ever been there before. And millions outside of Russia have had to suffer as a result of Russia’s unique “contribution”.

    There is nothing interesting coming out of Russia in terms of the arts now. It is all derivative of what is already being done in the West. Even contemporary Chinese artists are more interesting, and they have to deal with a more repressive officialdom.

    Comment by Finnpundit — November 14, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

  31. Sorry, but Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy are pretty much universally revered as among the top novelists ever, even in the West. And Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, etc. in music. Chekhov and Stanislavsky basically created modern theater. Russia continues to have some of the world’s best theater and ballet. While Stalinist society was grotesque, it still wasn’t as quite as bad as Nazism. Is Nazism a judgment on all the German culture that came before?

    Comment by AP — November 14, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

  32. The examples you cite are goodies, but oldies. Worse, they’re quite irrelevant to the kinds of questions asked by societies today. If Russia’s claim to relevance is based on some classics of yesteryear, then it only serves to point out that Russia has nothing relevant or interesting to contribute today.

    As to that old canard that Stalin was not as bad as Hitler, please keep in mind that the war was started, both, by Germany and the Soviet Union. They were but two sides of the same coin.

    However, Germany has surpassed Russia in one important aspect: a deep introspection of its crimes, and a desire to understand and atone for the sins of the past. This is pretty much absent in Russia today, where the general trend is to whitewash the past, and even pretend that there were some benefits gained from being a part of the Soviet empire.

    Comment by Finnpundit — November 14, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

  33. I think that currently Russia’s theater, ballet and perhaps opera are still quite good and world-class.

    For a comparison of Hitler and Stalin, I suggest you look into some of Yale historian Timothy Snyder’s work (he has been through the most recently released archives). He literally wrote about who was worse [ here]. In terms of sheer numbers, Snyder states:

    “All in all, the Germans deliberately killed about 11 million noncombatants, a figure that rises to more than 12 million if foreseeable deaths from deportation, hunger, and sentences in concentration camps are included. For the Soviets during the Stalin period, the analogous figures are approximately six million and nine million. These figures are of course subject to revision, but it is very unlikely that the consensus will change again as radically as it has since the opening of Eastern European archives in the 1990s.”

    Germany has condemned Nazism much more forcefully than Russia has Stalinism. On the other hand, Russia’s relationship to Stalinism is fundamentally different. The Germans elected the Nazis to power, so they as a people have more responsibility for his crimes. Russians did not elect Stalin, indeed he ruled them through fear. To a certain extent, the Russian people were like hostages. Should hostages apologize and feel bad about the crimes of those who controlled them?

    Cleary, both regimes were the worst in modern European history and both were much worse than whichever regime comes into distant 3rd place (probably either Lenin’s USSR or Robespierre’s France). But Hitler was worse than Stalin.

    Comment by AP — November 15, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

  34. Wrong as usual AP,

    Like I said, try reading.

    The British made large investments in all of their African colonies, including railways, schools, hospitals etc.
    British rule in Africa was mostly through educating the locals, creating an educated middle class, and and educated administrative class, the result of which, when compared with other colonies in the area, was that they were far more likely to remain democracies upon independence.

    Of course there was more investment in India, then again that was where the largest populations occurred.

    BTW, the Indians that went to Africa were almost always there to work in the business/trade sector of the economy.

    Also note, that what happened in North America to the natives occurred (under British rule) in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Imperial center was actually remarkably opposed to mistreatment of the natives by colonists. For example withdrawing troops from New Zealand when it became apparent that the war with the Kingites had degenerated into a colonial land grab (this was the 1860’s)

    Methinks you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of British administration in Africa and India.

    Comment by Andrew — November 16, 2011 @ 2:03 am

  35. Actually Dzerzhinsky thought Stalin was soft AP, things would have been much worse under Lenin if he had not died from Syphilis.
    After all, he built the system that Stalin later used to such effect.

    And yes, Russians relations with Stalin are different, he is still revered in Russia to this day.

    Comment by Andrew — November 16, 2011 @ 2:05 am

  36. Andrew, when you start to be civil I will respond to your posts. Best luck to you.

    Comment by AP — November 16, 2011 @ 6:41 am

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