I.1 The Thirty Years’ War, 1618-1648: The Disintegration of Germany
The Holy Roman Empire was the economic centre in Europe in the Middle Ages. Most of the people spoke German, but religion was more important than language. The Empire was divided in terms of religion. It’s possible that there were even more Protestants than Catholics in the Empire. Because the trade shifted to the Atlantic-coast and the Lutherans were culturally isolated, the Empire was in severe decline.
I.1.1 Background of the Thirty Years’ War
First of all, because of The Peace of Augsburg in 1555, which said that each state could choose his own religion, the Lutherans were making gains, something the Catholics didn’t like. Besides that both the Catholics and Lutherans didn’t like the growing Calvinism. The Catholics turned to Spain while the Protestants were negotiating with the Dutch Republic, England and France for help.
Secondly the Spanish Habsburgs wanted to crush the Dutch, so that they could create a strong borderline in central Europe. In third place, the Austrian Habsburgs couldn’t wait to crush Protestantism in Germany and thereafter create a strong German national state. France was even more scared of the plans of the Austrian Habsburgs than the plans of the Spanish Habsburgs.
As you can see, the war was a mishmash of clashes, and therefore complex:
- a German civil war between Protestants and Catholics’
- a German civil war over sovereignty between the Emperor and German princes;
- an international war with France against the Habsburgs, the Spanish against the Dutch and the Swedes and Danish who helped the Protestants in Germany;
- personal ambitions, call them soldiers of fortune, fighting for themselves.
I.1.2 The Four Phases of the War
The Bohemian Phase (1618-1625): the Bohemians wanted to keep their Protestant liberties, so they got rid of the Holy Roman Emperor, Matthias. Frederick V got elected by the Bohemian people, but the new Emperor Ferdinand crushed the Bohemians in the Battle of the White Mountains. Result: victory for the Catholics, Protestantism crushed away in Bohemia and Spain gained control over the Rhineland.
The Danish Phase (1625-1629): the King of Denmark, a Protestant supported by the Dutch, English and Richelieu, got attacked in the name of the Emperor by Albert of Wallenstein’s personal army. Result: Denmark lost, Counter Reformation goes further and further.
The Swedish Phase (1630-1635): The King of Sweden, the Protestant Gustavus Adolphus, was alarmed by the victories of Catholicism and went to war with his modern army. He made big victories in Germany, but got killed. At the same moment the Swedish-allied Saxons signed a peace agreement with the Catholics and the Swedes were isolated in Germany. It looked like the end of the war, but both France and Spain didn’t want any peace in the Empire.
The Swedish-French Phase (1635-1648): the last phase of the war wasn’t that much a civil war, but more an international struggle on German ground. German states got involved with both French and Swedes, but developed a feeling of national resentment against foreign invasions.
I.1.3 The Peace of Westphalia, 1648
There were a lot of outcomes of the Peace of Westphalia. The Peace of Augsburg was revised with the addition of Calvinism; the Dutch Republic and Switzerland got recognized as independent states; all the 300 German states became sovereign; Germany lost a third of its population. This meant the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire.
The Peace of Westphalia was the first modern diplomatic congress, thereby indicating a new political order in central Europe. This new political order was based upon the concept of a sovereign state. Europe was understood as a continent with a large number of sovereignties with their own laws, rules, interests, shifting balance of power, etc.
I.2 Britain: The Civil War
At the beginning of the 17th century England pulled back from the continent. It had no role in the Thirty Years War nor in the Treaty of Westphalia. Simply because England was involved in religious and civil war, fought between the Puritans and the Anglicans and between the Parliament forces and the forces of the king. The wars were relatively calm, but the conflicts between England and Catholic Ireland were fierce and savage.
I.2.1 England in the Seventeenth Century
England made great achievements in the 17th century. It had about 5 million English-speaking inhabitants. Furthermore groups had emigrated to the American colonies, the West Indies and Northern Ireland. Big names of that time were Shakespeare, Milton and Francis Bacon. Although England was inferior to Holland in shipping, it had a larger and more versatile economy and a more productive homeland.
I.2.2 Background to the Civil War: Parliament and the Stuart Kings
Stuart James I had a major conflict with the Parliament for several reasons:
- he believed in royal absolutism;
- he supported the Anglican Archbishop Laud that asked religious conformity at the time that the Parliament was Puritan;
- his Scottish origin;
- his pedantic ways;
- his constant need of money for the war with Spain and his spending-money-habit.
The English Parliament was unified without any provincial units such as in the Netherlands. The House of Lords was dominated by aristocratic landowners, the House of Commons by nobility plus representatives of the merchants and the cities. Still the Parliament was generally unanimous in social interest and wealth.
Charles I Stuart decided to govern without Parliament in 1629. This would probably succeeded, if there weren’t some major problems. First of all his reforms in Ireland were blocked by English landlords. Secondly his support to the High Anglicans antagonized the Puritans. At last his idea of a tax for the navy, the ‘Ship Money Act’, to be paid by every Englishmen, made everyone angry. The Parliament was not willing to pay for the navy unless it could decide how to use the navy.
This crisis in England came to a peak in 1637 when the Scots rebelled against the establishment of the Anglican Church in Scotland. Charles needed an army to fight the Scots, so he had to call in the Parliament. They didn’t want to help him, so Charles made new elections for the Parliament.
The same persons were elected and they became rebellious against the king under the lead of John Hampden, John Pym, Oliver Cromwell and Puritans who were supported by merchants. This Parliament would be active till after the civil war and was therefore called the Long Parliament. They fought an open war with the Royalists.
I.2.3 The Emergence of Cromwell
Olivier Cromwell made a new regiment in the army, the Ironsides, based on extreme Calvinism for morale, discipline and the will to fight. He defeated Charles I and killed him to prevent counter-revolutions. Colonel Pride drove out opponents of the execution in the Parliament, which was called Pride’s Purge.
Cromwell declared England a republic or Commonwealth. There was religious violence in the Commonwealth. Scotland was pro-royalist again after the execution of the king (the Stuarts were a Scottish monarchy) and rebelled against Cromwell, but were crushed. The Puritan and Protestant fury moves now to Catholic Ireland. All rights of the Catholics are repealed and the population is forced to servitude the English nobles. Cromwell introduces in 1651 the ‘Act of Navigation’ which leads to several English-Dutch wars (conquest of New Amsterdam) and a war with Spain (conquest of Jamaica).
Beside the victories abroad, Cromwell’s domestic politics weren’t going that well. He could never overrule the conservatives, and even his own supporters divided over radical issues. The Levellers over universal manhood suffrage, a written constitution and equality of representation in the Parliament; the Diggers, who rejected the idea of private property; the Fifth Monarchy Men, a group that believed that the end of the world was coming; and the Quakers, who opposed violence and upset social conventions.
In 1653 Cromwell abolished the Parliament and ruled as Lord Protector. England was so placed under a Puritan military rule. He died in 1658 and was succeeded by Charles II, the son of the killed Charles I, because his son was unable to maintain the Protectorate. Royalty was restored. Political consciousness of lower classes ceased and democratic ideas were repudiated as ‘leveling’.
I.3 Britain: The Triumph of Parliament
I.3.1 The Restoration, 1660-1688: The Later Stuarts
Not only the monarchy, but also the Church of England and the Parliament were restored. Charles II was careful not to provoke the Parliament and vice versa the Parliament made a new legislation, including the abolishment of feudal payments to the king and sharing the governing of England. Puritans and other dissenters were disenfranchised.
The Englishmen and their Parliament were anti-Catholic, instead of the European continent that wanted to return to Catholicism. However, Charles II admired the French king Louis XIV. Charles suggested help against the Dutch Republic, all in exchange for money. The Parliament reacts with the Test Act: all public officials have to prove that they’re Anglican.
A large group of the Parliament, the Whigs, sought to prevent James Stuart from becoming King since he was a Catholic. The Whigs were mainly the higher nobles and the middle class of London. The Parliamentary allies of the king, the Tories, were loyal to king and Church.
I.3.2 The Revolution of 1688
However, James II becomes King of England in 1685. He ignores the Test Act and gave the good positions back to the Catholics and dissenters. Even the Tories lost their confidence in the monarchy. The situation is getting worse as James II baptize his first son Catholic. The English felt the threat of a Catholic throne again. Both Whigs and Tories chose the Protestant Mary, daughter of James I, as the new queen.
She was married to the Dutch William of Orange, a thoroughly Protestant and opponent to Louis XIV. William invaded England, James fled, and was defeat at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland, 1690. James II fled to Louis XIV, who continued to support the Stuarts as rulers of France. The results were the following:
Bill of Rights (1689): the king couldn’t suspend any law, no army without Parliament’s permission and nobody could be arrested without a legal process;
Toleration Act (1689): religious freedom for dissenters;
Act of Settlement (1701): the King of England can’t be a Catholic;
Toleration Act (1707): establishment of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, with the Scots keeping their legal system and religion;
(Catholic) Ireland was feared by the English and therefore they had no political rights, couldn’t buy land, the international trade was stopped and so on.
Two reasons can be given why the Glorious Revolution was called “glorious”:
The rule of the gentlemen of England was within the limits of political liberty;
It stood for the principles of parliamentary government, the rule of law, and the right of revolt against tyranny.
I.4 The France of Louis XIV, 1643-1715: The Triumph of Absolutism
I.4.1 French Civilization in the Seventeenth Century
Louis XIV’s France owed it ascendancy to the quantity and quality of its people. With 19 million inhabitants, the self-sufficient nation France was twice as big as England and even triple Spain. It had the biggest navy of that time. The fertile soil gave a lot of wealth. This wealth was unevenly distributed: millions lived in poverty, while the haut culture (gentry, officials, bureaucrats and grand seigneurs) lived in luxury.
The French had a dominant culture. French paintings and architecture were an example for the rest of Europe, as well as their military defenses and mechanical engineering. Even more famous was the French literature, philosophy and science: Moliere (satirical comedies), La Fointaine (fables), and Descartes (mathematics and philosophy).
Louis XIV realized the importance of the cultural dominance in the international community, so he supported artists and writers. The official movement was called classicism that emphasized order, harmony, and the ancient times.
I.4.2 The Development of Absolutism in France
Traditionally, France had a tradition of political freedom in the feudal sense: the Estates General and the Provincial States with control over taxation. In addition, there were different courts around the country with together some 300 different legal systems. A patchwork quilt as Germany, you could say. In France, the medieval local freedom was identified with disorder.
After the Peace of Westphalia, a rebellion broke out among the nobles (the Fronde). The rebellion was against the power of Cardinal Mazarin, regent for the young Louis XIV. The nobles demanded an assembly of the Estates General. Meanwhile, unemployed soldiers made the countryside unsafe, and the nobles ask Spain for help. Remember that France was at war with Spain at that time, so the nobles lost all the support of the bourgeoisie. And their hope of victory.
In 1661, Louis XIV announced that he would be king. He turned out to be a good ruler, as he was able to see and stick to definite lines of policy and he was very methodical and industrious in his daily habits. He also had a tremendous need for self-admiration. Louis XIV claimed the sovereignty of the state: “L’état, c’est moi” (the state, is me). That’s the core of absolutism. He proclaimed that royal power was absolute, but not arbitrary. He served the will of God. Absolutism became the prevailing form of government on the continent.
I.4.3 Government and Administration
army: the most important step that Louis XIV took, was that he secured his control over the army. Until then, armies had been private armies under independence colonels with their own interests. Under Louis XIV all armed men fought for him alone. This brought peace and order in France and increased the combat power against other states. It created the first organized war ministry.
Palace of Versailles: Louis XIV overwhelmed the Frenchmen with his new palace of worldly splendor, the Palace of Versailles. In his personal life he added a lot of unprecedented ceremonial splendor.
advisers: the Sun King used its own Councils of State, using “intendants”, and ignored the Estates General. These intendants were in every district and took care of the tax collection, recruitment of combatants, supervision of the local nobles, negotiating with the cities and so on. Many cases were honestly treated by those local bureaucrats.
I.4.4 Economic and Financial Policies: Colbert
Funding the state had always been the weakest point of the French monarchy. The king couldn’t raise taxes for the nobles, so the taxes for the peasantry became higher and higher. Louis XIV tried everything to earn money: raising the rates, devaluation of the currency, and sales of posts and functions in court and army. He even abolished the privileges of the cities, to sell these privileges again to the cities afterwards. Disastrous consequences for the morale, as a result. The fundamental weakness of absolutism –the inability to tax the rich– corrupted society and politics.
On both financial and economic fields there was the famous minister Colbert, who tried to make France completely self-sufficient by the strict application of mercantilism. He succeeded to create a great free trade area, called the Five Great Farms. For the purpose of trade he created the Commercial Code, replacing local customary law with business practices and regulation. He provided road and canals, worked on standardization of units and quality, helped establishing colonies (French East India Company) and helped building up the navy. Everything to increase the revenue of the state.
I.4.5 Religion: The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, 1685
Louis XIV started with religious tolerance. Little by little he began to hate heretics. He saw religious unity as a necessary given for the strength and dignity of France. He suppressed Jansenism, a left-wing Catholic off-shoot, he began with the systematic conversion of Huguenots, and revoked the Edict of Nantes: the prosecution of heretics started. Hundreds of thousands Huguenots fled the country. Their loss hurt the commercial and industrial classes.
To conclude: the reign of Louis XIV brought significant benefits for France’s middle and lower classes. Colbert’s approach to the economy was indeed an obstacle for the free private enterprise, but did enlarge the French economy. Although France remained a state full of jurisdictions and privileges, it still was the best and largest monarchy on the continent. Louis XIV remained popular until the wars became a too heavy burden.
I.5. Three Aging Empires
Mid 17th century, three old empires are in decline in Eastern Europe: the Holy Roman Empire, the Republic of Poland, and the Ottoman Empire. Newer, stronger powers are rising to replace them: Prussia, Austria, and Russia.
I.5.1 The Holy Roman Empire after 1648
After the Peace of Westphalia, the Holy Roman Empire had no income, no army, and not longer a functioning administration. It covered roughly all German speaking areas, except the Baltic coast, the Dutch Republic and Swiss.
The German reconstruction was difficult after the Thirty Years War and the Protestant Reformation. There was a weak bourgeoisie and a lack of colonies. Besides, it was divided in 300 sovereign states and 200 “free knights”, knights without land.
Each state was anxious to maintain their “German liberties”, freedom from control by the emperor. France was happy with this, since they saw a unification of the German states as a threat.
I.5.2 The Republic of Poland about 1650
Poland had a huge area, stretching from present-day Poland to Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. They had a chosen king and was therefore called a republic. This gave also expression to the constitutional freedoms that the states had acquired. The population of Poland was heterogeneous: peasants in the east, ruled by Polish and Lithuanian gentry, Germans and Jews (gradually forced to live in the ghettos) in the cities and the Polish themselves in the countryside. There was a huge difference between the peoples. There was no middle class, so there was gentry and the peasants were almost serfs.
Aristocrats, 8% of the population, held sufficient power to prevent either absolutism or a parliamentary government. Royal elections were centers of foreign interference and bribery. Under most conditions the people were too split up to accept a Polish king. Therefore almost always a foreigner as king, who had no army, no law courts, no officials, and no income. The nobles were highly cultured and cosmopolitan. Some aristocrats had their own army and foreign policy. The push against the Polish border became stronger and stronger. Talks about the partitioning of Poland started.
I.5.3 The Ottoman Empire about 1650
The Ottoman Empire was larger, stronger, and better organized than the other two empires. The empire was based on a high degree of military knowledge. Long before the Europeans had a standing state army, the Turks had already their army with janissaries. Within the empire were many subject peoples, but there was no assimilation (only in Albania). The law was religious, but only applied to Muslims. Non-Muslims were left to solve their problems in their own religious groups, thus tolerance of non-Muslims subjects. Around 1663, Turkey began to modernize and the janissaries went on the warpath. The Ottoman threat was felt all over Europe, especially for Austria.
I.6. The Formation of an Austrian Monarchy
I.6.1 The Recovery and Growth of Habsburg Power, 1648-1740
Although the outcome of the Peace of Westphalia was disastrous for the Austrian Habsburgs, it managed to ensure successful transition towards the construction of an own empire. They possessed a large part of today’s Austria, including Slovenia, the Kingdom of Bohemia (Czech Republic and Silesia), and the Kingdom of Hungary (including Transylvania and Croatia). The Austrian Habsburg dynasty was the only thing that kept these areas together.
In the first half of the 16th century, Hungary was the scene of constant fighting between Turks and Habsburgs. The struggle flared up again in 1663, but the large Christian army made the Sultan accept a twenty-year truce. At the end of that twenty-year period, Louis XIV of France incited the Turks to continue their attacks.
In 1683 the Turkish army stood before the gates of Vienna. A Christian army, composed of Polish, Austrian, and German troops and financed by Pope Pius XI, finally managed to oust the Turks. Prince Eugene of Savoy made military reforms in the Austrian army and achieved great successes on the battlefield. After he conquered the lost Hungarian territories, he began to point on the Spanish Succession War. This didn’t brought the Spanish crown, but nevertheless the Southern Netherlands, Milan, and Naples. He focused again on the Turks: the new border was made at Belgrade.
I.6.2 The Austrian Monarchy by 1740
Despite the Belgian and Italian possessions, the Austrian Monarchy still had a strong German influence. Italians, Czechs, Hungarians and Croatians were commonly seen at the Viennese court. An international, cosmopolitan aristocracy of landowners, who felt more connected that the peasantry in the empire.
The landowners had complete control. There were just a few cities that could provide resistance, the peasant population was enslaved. Thus the Austrian monarchy stayed a collection of territories, only held together by name. Each country kept its own laws, Diet and political affairs.
The empire could only exist if the crowns were always inherited by the same person. Archduke Charles VI announced the Pragmatic Sanction: every diet and all Habsburg archdukes had to agree that the Habsburg territories were indivisible with only one line of heirs. Charles VI made also all major foreign powers such a guarantee.
I.7 The Formation of Prussia
It’s striking to see how small states were capable to play a significant role in European relations of the 17th century. They had a well-trained, equipped, and disciplined army, which was used very efficiently. Sweden and Prussia are two examples of such states.
I.7.1 Sweden’s Short-Lived Empire
With some good rulers as Gustavus Adolphus (1611-1632), Christina (1632-1654), and Charles XII (1697-1718), and a modern army, Sweden built a great empire. Through the Peace of Westphalia, and a few wars with Poland, Sweden gained control over almost the entire Baltic coast. Thus, Sweden made a lot of territorial victories. King of Sweden, Charles XII, defeated the Danes, Poles, and Russians, and refused to make a peace agreement. He continued with fighting deep in Eastern Europe, and was eventually defeated by the Russians. Sweden retained only Finland and a few, small German states.
I.7.2 The Territorial Growth of Brandenburg-Prussia
Prussia started dominating Eastern Europe, and was famous for its small, but very effective army. It was ruled by Hohenzollerns of Brandenburg. Modern Prussia began to emerge when the Elector of Brandenburg inherited the duchy of Prussia, and some other areas.
In the middle of the Thirty Years War, Frederick William got different positions in the Prussian politics. He realized that a relatively small open area should be defended by using a capable army that could play a significant role in maintaining the balance of power. He became known as the Great Elector and designed the modern Prussia.
I.7.3 The Prussian Military State
The uniqueness of Prussia was the difference between the size of the army and the amount of resources on which the army was based. Prussia was not the one that founded a standing state army. Most governments saw the army of Louis XIV as an example: try to keep the army away from nobles’ influence, and under control of the government. But the Prussian army was unique. The army developed a life of its own and was almost independent of the life of the state. When Prussia fell for Napoleon in 1806, the spirit and morale of the Prussian army maintained. Even in 1918, when the Hohenzollern Empire collapsed, the Prussian army traditions continued in the Weimar Republic.
The economy grew more through government sponsorship than the entrepreneurial spirit of businessmen. Technical skills were imported from the West. The government helped to develop various industries, like Colbert did in France. The army had a profound effect on the social class structure and the development of Prussia. These developments were mainly driven by King Frederick William I (1713-1740). He admired the army and enlarged it from 40,000 men to 83,000. A fifth of the Berliner population served the army. Frederick II succeeded him, and became known as Frederick the Great. Charles VI of Austria just died and his daughter Maria Theresa succeeded him. All of Europe covered themselves under the Pragmatic Sanction, but Frederick II conquered Silesia. With this conquest, the population doubled and valuable industries were added. Prussia became a superpower, with an army of 200,000 at a population of 600,000.
I.8 The “Westernizing” of Russia
Like Austria and Prussia, Russia copied a lot of ideas, technical expertise and administrative systems, to be a modern 18th century state. The old tsardom of Muscovy became the modern Russia in the second half of the 17th and the first half of the 18th century. Especially under Peter the Great (1628-1725) Russia began to Europeanize. From the 12th to the 17th century, Russia had been far behind in developments compared to the rest of Europe. Three reasons why:
Russia was sentenced to the Greek Orthodox branch of Christianity, therefore, the influence of Constantinople, not Rome, was dominant;
The invasion of the Mongols held Russia under Asian dominance;
The Russian geography, particularly the lack of ice-free ports, impeded the relations with the West.
Russia had parallels with Prussia. Both states:
had large, flat, hard defensible land masses;
had a condition which mainly consisted in maintaining the army;
developed an autocracy;
couldn’t develop without the knowledge from the West;
lacked to establish a middle class that had any political significance.
Yet Prussia was more European than Russia, since they were Protestant and had universities. The Europeanization of Russia can be better compared to that of Japan. Both countries focused on gaining scientific, technical, and military knowledge from the West to defend their own territory.
I.8.1 Russia before Peter the Great
There were a lot of different peoples in Russia. The Great Russians of Muscovy, Tartars of the Volga regions, Cossacks between the Volga and the Black Sea, Byelorussians south and west of Moscow, with Ukrainians under Polish rule. In 1650, the Swedes controlled the Baltic Coast, and the Turks the Black Sea.
Russia had little contact with Europe. The most trade routes went from north to south. England had some trading companies through Archangel on the White Sea before the 17th century. Russian culture was essentially crude. Religion played a big role, but lacked charitable or educational institutions.
The first tsar, Ivan IV “The Terrible” (tsar from 1533 to 1584), called Moscow the Third Rome. Russia entered a period that was known as the Time of Troubles in which nobles asserted their power. A result was the start of the Romanov Dynasty, who were able to suppress the Duma and create an autocracy. Peasants became hereditary serfs, fully chattels, able to be bought and sold. The Russian Orthodox Church separated into an upper class church and peasant sects like the fanatic and ignorant Old Believers.
I.8.2 Peter the Great: Foreign Affairs and Territorial Expansion
The Russia in which Peter the Great became the ruler was already a bit Europeanized. Without him it would have been a slower process. As a younger, Peter the Great was already fascinated by the West. He spent some time working, talking and observing in England and Holland. Later, in Russia, he recruited 1000 foreign experts for service in Russia, and many experts followed later. He wanted to create a powerful army and state. Partly defensive, partly expansionist, since he believed that Russia needed warm water ports.
While Poland was in anarchy, Peter managed to conquest the cities of Kiev and Smolensk. He discovered that his army wasn’t that good, when he lost both battles against the Turks and the Swedes. He rebuilt his army with western advisers and weaponry. This time he defeated Charles XII of Sweden, and thus won the Baltic coast, “its window on the West.”
He built the new Russian capital city of St. Petersburg and forced the nobles to live there. Moscow, the center of opposition to his Europeanizing ideals, was left behind.
I.8.3 Internal Changes under Peter the Great
On economical field, Peter the Great raised money by multiplying taxes, mainly on the peasantry, and by making serfdom more universal. Commercial companies were formed, provided with governmental capital and serfs, because he encouraged mercantilism.
On governmental field, he created a new administrative system. The rule of hereditarily succession, the Duma and the national assembly were abolished, and replaced by a “senate” controlled by the tsar himself. He also appointed the Procurator of the Holy Synod, who controlled the Church. All aristocrats had to serve in the army or civil administration. People had the opportunity to rise in rank by talent. These changes made de population unwilling to serve the country. The empire was sometimes called a state without a people.
Peter the Great, a secular, was also working on a social revolution against the “old Russia”. He required schooling and insisted on manners.
I.8.4 The Results of Peter’s Revolution
Peter’s revolution evoked much resistance. His son Alexis proclaimed that he, after his father’s dead, would restore the old Russia. Peter the Great commanded to kill Alexis. After his own death, it was clear that his reforms could take a beating. Autocracy, bureaucracy, and slavery were rooted in the country. The elite regarded themselves as Western Europeans, although the peasantry didn’t see anything of the modernization. Undeniably, Russia was pulled up out of its isolation by Peter the Great and became one of the major players in the European politics.
II.1 The American Revolution
II.1.1 Background to the Revolution
The British government was dissatisfied with the attitude of the Americans during and after the Seven Years’ War. The British funded the forces that drove the French away from America. And when the native Americans showed up, the American war effort was again very limited. The Americans were in fact exempted from state taxes. The Parliament wanted to correct this privilege. The Revenue Act (also known as the Sugar Act) of 1764, and the Stamp Act of 1765, were introduced but quickly withdrew after major resistance in America.
The Americans argued that the Parliament was not empowered to impose taxes, because the Americans weren’t represented in Parliament. Britain responded that the Parliament was not only representing Great Britain, but the whole empire. The Americans continued to oppose colonial taxation and the Parliament didn’t adopt drastic measures, until the introduction of the Regulating Act in 1773.
By this act, the British East India Company lost its political power in India. As compensation, the Parliament granted the company – at that moment in possession of a huge surplus of Chinese tea – the exclusive right to sell tea through their own agents in the local market of America. American brokers were thus eliminated. The result was a boycott of British tea that culminated in the Boston Tea Party, where a large shipment of tea was thrown in the waters of the harbor. The British government responded disproportionately with the closure of the port of Boston.
Meanwhile, there was the issue of the Quebec Act. Parliament allowed the defeated Canadian French to follow their own civil law and Catholic religion, and defined the boundaries of Quebec very generous: it included the current states of today’s northern United States. This was very disturbing for the Americans, not only because of the territorial impact but certainly because this Act didn’t mention the representatives of the northern provinces.
The meaning of sovereignty and the central authority of Parliament was clear. It was more than just taxation. The Americans were less and less willing to subordinate their interests to those of the British Empire, now their political freedom was threatened.
II.1.2 The War of American Independence
Several colonies sent delegates to a continental congress in Philadelphia, where they proclaimed a boycott of British goods. Hostilities broke out in 1775, with a second continental congress as result. This congress brought an army, led by George Washington.
The congress doubted to completely sever its ties with Britain, but the radicals gained popularity. In 1776, Thomas Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense identified the American independence with the cause of freedom for all mankind. In congress, Thomas Jefferson worked with a few others to justify America’s separation, with a prominent place to the claims of the universal rights of man. This declaration was passed by the congress on July 4, 1776.
The War of American Independence broke out as part of the wider European struggle for imperial power. The French paid about 90% of the weaponry used by the Americans to crush the British in the Battle of Saratoga (1778). After the American victory, the French recognized America. An alliance was formed between the two, and France declared war on Great Britain. Spain and The Netherlands also became involved with the war. It were ultimately the French that forced the British to recognize the American independence. Great Britain retained Canada in the peace treaty of 1783.
II.1.3 Significance of the Revolution
The American revolution:
was an indirect cause of the French Revolution, which in turn began a wave of European revolutions;
revealed the weakness of the colonial system;
became an example for nationalism for subject peoples;
showed the practicability of enlightenment ideas (constitutionalism, federalism, limited government).
And finally, perhaps more important than anything else, the United States has developed in European eyes as a miracle, a sort of ideal image of a country of new beginnings and endless possibilities, unfettered by the burden of the past.
II.2 The Formation of the French Imperial System
Military subjugation was the base of the impact on Europe by Napoleonic France. The period from 1792 to 1814 wasn’t a world war, but a series of short wars. Great Britain was the only state that remained at the war and only in 1813 there was full cooperation between European states against Napoleon. The period is complicated by the continuation of past subjects: Russian pressure on Poland and Turkey, Prussia’s push for German leadership, Britain’s economic growth, and Austrian dreams of territorial expansion. Every state had his own aims and goals, and therefore willing to fight Napoleon as to ally with him.
II.2.1 The Dissolution of the First and Second Coalitions, 1792-1802
The First Coalition (1792) is formed by Austria, Prussia and Great Britain. They were jealous rivals who cooperated only in seizing Poland. The First Coalition got broken by France in 1795. Austria, Prussia, and Spain made all separate peace with France. Great Britain withdraws from the continent, Prussia concludes its own peace with France and is recognized as protector of the Holy Roman Empire.
Royalist Spain concludes independently peace with revolutionary France, although Spain is still ruled by the Bourbons. Apparently the traditional Spanish-British conflict is predominant.
The remaining Austrians got defeated in northern Italy by Napoleon in 1797. The capitulation follows with the Treaty of Campo Formio, in which Austria loses the Austrian Habsburgs and the Cisalpine. After this treaty only the British and the French are at state of war. This is particularly a maritime conflict.
The Second Coalition, between Austria, Great Britain and Russia, dissolved because the Russians feared that a British victory in Egypt would block their Middle East concerns.
II.2.2 Peace Interim, 1802-1803
The peace of 1802 allowed Napoleon to try to crush the Haitian revolt and build a sugar empire in America. He gained control over Helvetic Republic (Switzerland) and created the North Italian Cisalpine Republic. By helping to break up the Holy Roman Empire, he enlarged the states of Bavaria, Baden, Württemberg and Prussia, which were all French now.
II.2.3 Formation of the Third Coalition in 1805
In 1803 it’s again war between France and Britain. The British navy forcing to retreat from Haiti, Haitian guerrilla tactics and yellow fever, Napoleon sold Louisiana to the United States.
One year later he crowned himself as Emperor. In the meanwhile Francis II created the Austrian Empire, his attempts to regain control over the Holy Roman Empire were meaningless.
Austria, Russia and Great Britain formed the Third Coalition. Russia wanted to control Poland. Liberals from Germany saw the Russian despot, Alexander I Romanov, as their protector against France. Self-righteous and a bit moralistic he saw himself as Napoleon’s rival. The leaders of European states saw him rather as a Russian imperialist or a Jacobin. He contributed to western thought with his idea of international collective security and the notion of indivisibility of peace. He wanted a society with rights secured by international agreement and organization.
II.2.4 The Third Coalition, 1805-1807: The Peace of Tilsit
The British fleet, commanded by Lord Nelson, defeated the combined Franco-Spanish fleet at Cape Trafalgar in 1805. This victory assured the British naval supremacy for more than a century, but Napoleon was free on the continent.
Napoleon moves on and fight against the Austro-Russian army at Austerlitz. He took Venice and began building a new fleet to challenge Britain. He became protector of German states in the Confederation of the Rhine. Prussia, upset by this event, declared war on France. Austria lost both Battle of Jena and Battle of Auerstadt. The Russians at their turn got defeated at Friedland. Alexander I Romanoc recognized France’s dominance and even allied with him in the Peace of Tilsit.
II.2.5 The Continental System and the War in Spain
In Berlin in 1806, Napoleon dictated to all his allies and satellite states to ban all trade between the continent and the British, the Continental System. Russia also joined the blockade, after it signed the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807. Napoleon convinced the neutral states to do the same or he would attack the state that refused. Portugal refused, so Napoleon made his brother Joseph Bonaparte king of Spain. The upset Spanish people began guerrilla warfare against France and were aided by Britain. The war dragged on for five years. Because of the French losses, anti-French movements were rising in Germany and Austria.
II.2.6 The Austrian War of Liberation, 1809
Austria declares again war on France, and was again defeated. Because the German princes didn’t support the Austrian Habsburgs, the Austrians lost a fourth time against Napoleon. Napoleon made another one upset, namely Russia, by refusing to back Russian interests in the Balkans, and by creating the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. Napoleon used parts of Austrian Poland for this Grand Duchy. Talleyrand, the foreign minister of Napoleon, betrayed Napoleon by telling the Russian emperor that he had to wait, because Napoleon was overreaching himself.
II.2.7 Napoleon at His Peak, 1809-1811
After the war, Clemens von Metternich became rising in Austria, and he would dominate European politics until 1848. He didn’t saw France, but Russia as the long-term problem and thus tried to make an alliance with France. That alliance was possible because Napoleon married the Austrian Marie Louise, the daughter of Metternich. Their son was entitled as King of Rome.
II.3 The Grand Empire: Spread of the Revolution
II.3.1 The Organization of Napoleonic Empire
The French Empire influenced the whole continent except the Balkans, where Alexander I tried to expand his power. Political-geographical the French Empire consisted of:
The Empire: France plus annexed territories such as the Austrian Netherlands;
The Grand Empire: vassals;
The allied states: Prussia, Austria, Russia, Denmark and Sweden.
Napoleon also promoted his family. His older brother Joseph became King of Naples and then King of Spain; Caroline was Queen of Naples; Jerome was King of Westphalia.
II.3.2 Napoleon and the Spread of the Revolution
In all the French vassals the same course of events tended to repeat itself:
Military conquest and occupation;
Establishment of an indigenous satellite-government;
Extensive reform reorganization like the French model.
Napoleon considered himself as liberal and enlightened. With the in his words universally applicable Civil Code he promoted rational, constitutional government and the rule of law. He aimed at the creation of a society of legally equal individuals. So he ended the manorial system and gave full citizenship rights to citizens. Medieval accounting systems were replaced by the metric system and oligarchies were abolished.
The Catholic Church lost its position mostly anywhere by limiting its courts, ending tithes and confiscating property. Tolerance was de law. Everywhere were Jews, Catholics, Protestants or atheist with equal rights. Also in Spain, where this was actually negative for him.
Those reforms were supported by progressive nobles, commercial men and professional men. There was hardly any repression associated with these reforms. Southern Germany, the Rhineland and northern Italy were affected: they had a strong urban middle class with anti-clerical tendencies. But Napoleon gained much support. Napoleon brought the benefits of the French Revolution without its fatal disorder.
II.4 The Continental System: Britain and Europe
The Continental System was more than a great project to crush Britain. It would replace the national economies to an integrated economy for the whole continent. An unification and mastery over all Europe. But the system failed, moreover, it caused everywhere resistance against Napoleon.
II.4.1 British Blockade and Napoleon’s Continental System
Great Britain started a blockade of Europe, aiming to destroy French imports and shipping and thereby weakening the French position in the world markets. With the Industrial Revolution Great Britain could produce cheaply and had almost a total trade monopoly.
In Napoleon’s Berlin Decree he prohibited all allied and neutral states the importation of British goods to the Continent. Britain reacted with its Order in Council, which meant that all goods bound for Europe must pass through Britain. Napoleon, on his turn, replied with the Milan Decree: any neutral ship complying with British orders would be seized. The United States, the only major trading neutral, had to choose sides. They went to war with Britain in 1812, since the British were violating the U.S. rights.
II.4.2 The Failure of the Continental System
Napoleon’s idea of the System that would unify Europe, didn’t strongly affect any state in Europe. The European states continued to demand for example sugar and tobacco, goods that only the British good provide. Since overland transportation was limited, European trade depended on coastal shipping. This meant that the continental states were antagonized by the French tariff policies. Ports were out of use, shippers bankrupt, people furious. What Britain lost in European trade, was twice recouped in Latin America.
II.5 The Overthrow of Napoleon: The Congress of Vienna
At the end of 1811, peace reigned over Europe. Nationalistic anti-French sentiments are all over the continent, but only in Spain and on the Balkan between Russia and the Ottoman Empire its war. Alexander I of Russia isn’t happy with the Austro-French connection and the creation of a Polish state. The Russian landowners trade with Britain and Russia pulled out of the Continental System. He also abolished the alliance with France in 1810. In reaction, Napoleon gathers a huge army in Prussia to invade Russia.
II.5.1 The Russian Campaign and the War of Liberation
Two years later, in 1812, is France ready for the invasion of Russia. He started with 700,000 men, expecting a short war. The Russians used their old scorched earth tactics, which Peter the Great successfully had used in the Swedish operation. The Russians pulled further and further back, whereby the French supply lines were getting longer and longer.
In the Battle of Borodino, Napoleon can barely defeat the Russians. He pulls up to Moscow, but Alexander I refuses to negotiate. With the incoming winter, Napoleon withdraws his troops. Mostly all of the army dies in the Russian winter. Prussia and Austria switched over and began helping the Russians. Anti-French riots broke out in Italy and the British Wellington advanced in Spain. Napoleon raised a new army, which was defeated immediately at Leipzig in the Battle of Nations. Even though an alliance of English capitalism, Eastern European feudalism, Spanish Catholicism, and German nationalism came together to defeat Napoleon, the coalition was dissolving.
II.5.2 The Restoration of the Bourbons
As the allies come closer to the French border, they begin to quarrel against each other. Russia wants Sweden’s Crown Prince Bernadotte on the French throne, so that France becomes a satellite of Russia. Austria prefers Napoleon, or rather his son, since he is half-Austrian and dependent on Austria. Prussia can’t choose between the Russians and the Austrians, while the British wanted a freed Belgium, and the Bourbons restored in France.
At the moment that Napoleon rejected negotiations, the British Castlereagh forms finally a solid Quadruple Alliance (1914) in the Treaty of Chaumont, in which Great Britain, Prussia, Russia and Austria are united against the French. Three weeks later the alliance enters Paris, and Napoleon –under pressure of his own people- cedes his power. Minister of Foreign Policy, Talleyrand, pushes Louis XVIII as the natural king. The achievements of the Revolution were persevered. Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba.
II.5.3 The Settlement before the Vienna Congress
In the Treaty of Paris was decided that:
France was given its 1792, pre-war boundaries;
France didn’t get any indemnity or reparations;
Napoleon was exiled to Elba.
The great powers of Europe agreed to hold an international congress at Vienna, after they defeated Napoleon, to discuss other questions. However, Russia and Great Britain refused to discuss some particular issues: Russia kept Finland, Georgia and Azerbaijan, and didn’t want to discuss the conflict between them and Turkey; Great Britain refused to discuss the freedom of the sea. All the colonial empires were decreasing, except for Great Britain’s colonial empire. Great Britain entered their century of world leadership.
II.5.4 The Congress of Vienna, 1814-1815
In September 1814 the four triumphant Great Powers met in Vienna for the Congress of Vienna. The Great Powers all had a representative at Vienna: Castlereagh (Great Britain), Metternich (Austria), Alexander I (Russia) and Hardenburg (Prussia). Talleyrand represented France. They wanted to protect France by stable buffer states:
The Dutch Republic, which no longer existed since 1795, was revived as the Kingdom of the Netherlands and included the Southern Netherlands;
Genoa and Sardinia merged into the Kingdom of Piedmont;
Prussia gained Alsace and most of the left bank of the Rhine;
Austria was made overlord of the Po valley, including Venice, Milan and Florence;
The Papal power in Rome and the smaller states and duchies in Italy were restored;
Germany stayed a conglomeration: three kingdoms, 39 states, plus Austria and Prussia, made up the Confederation of the Rhine;
Russia got Poland. Prussia was given 2/5 of Saxony as compromise;
The Congress of Vienna recognizes the abolishment of the Holy Roman Empire and the consolidation of the German states of Baden, Württemberg and Bavaria.
II.5.5 The Polish-Saxon Question
The Russian tsar Alexander I wanted to undo the partitions of Poland, so that he could install a constitutional monarchy with himself as monarch. Prussia supports him, as Russia allows a Prussian annexation of Saxony. This problem is called the Polish-Saxon issue in which Great Britain and Austria began to fear the Russian force majeure. The two countries concluded a secret alliance with France in which they declare war on Prussia and Russia, when they don’t abandon their plans. The secret agreement leaks out, whereupon Alexander offers a compromise: a reduced Poland with the tsar as king and only a small part of Saxony that gets annexed by Prussia, the rest can stay independent. Herewith both Great Britain and France agree.
II.5.6 The Hundred Days and Their Aftermath
Napoleon was able to escape from Elba and returned to a divided France. In France, there were protests against the ‘white terror’, émigrés who took revenge. Napoleon quickly gained control of the army, but was finally and at last defeated at the Battle of Waterloo, June 1815. He got exiled to St. Helena. The vengeful allies now made a second Treaty of Paris, this time with indemnities and an army of occupation.
The result of these Hundred Days was that the Quadruple Alliance was strengthened. Alexander I produced his Holy Alliance with Christian principles. All the four Great Powers signed it. The Congress of Vienna brought a huge diplomatic settlement. It made a minimum of French resentment; it ended 200 years of colonial rivalries; it simplified the problem of Poland and the dualism of Prussian and Austrian authority in Germany. Democrats and nationals were disappointed. The Congress of Vienna restored the balance of power and the European state system. Peace in Europe for exactly a century.
III.1 The Dike and the Flood: International
After the Congress of Vienna, the Holy Alliance met regularly in a series of congresses to discuss international political developments.
III.1.1 The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, 1818
The first congress was in Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen). The occupation army in France was withdrawn. Britain, Prussia, Russia and Austria supported the power of Louis XVIII in this way.
Tsar Alexander is emerging as an internationalist and suggested a permanent European union, with international military forces to protect recognized states against violence. Especially the Brits refused to make such a engagement, in view of reserving the right of independent judgment of foreign policy.
They agreed to suppress the slave trade, but since only Britain had the possibility to abolish slave trade, nobody wanted to give them the right to act. As result, slave trade continued.
III.1.2 Revolution in Southern Europe: The Congress of Troppau, 1820
Revolutionary demonstrations in Southern Europe (Spain and Naples) led to the downfall of corrupt governments. Metternich and Alexander responded with the “Protocol of Troppau”, in which recognized the idea of collective security. France nor Britain signed, but Russia, Prussia, and Austria sent an Austrian army to Naples and restored the power.
III.1.3 Spain and the Near East: The Congress of Verona, 1822
Thousands of Neapolitan revolutionaries fled the brutal violence in Italy and went to Spain, where revolution soon broke out. Hoping for Russian support, Ypsilanti, a Russian Greek, wanted to expel the Turks out of Rumania and establish a Greek state. Alexander refused to support the Greeks, who were defeated by the Turks. France send an army to Spain, and the small force of revolutionaries was quickly crushed.
III.1.4 Latin American Independence
After the War of 1812, the United States annexed Spanish Florida. The Portuguese royal family fled to Brazil, to escape Napoleon. Brazil remained an independent kingdom under the Portuguese crown after the royalties were back in Portugal. In 1889 Brazil gets independency.
In Spanish America, the highest and most powerful posts are in the hands of born Spaniards. This causes resentment among the wealthier middle class. The trade with Britain is booming under the Continental System, and eventually this causes revolts in the Spanish colonies. These revolts don’t have a broad support, since most of the indigenous population is living under the poverty line.
Born in the Spanish colonies, but trained in Europe where they met liberalism, both Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín supported the revolts. Many of these revolts began against Joseph Bonaparte, but became serious when concessions were refused by reactionary Ferdinand VII. San Martín liberated Argentina and Chile, Bolívar on his turn Columbia and Venezuela. Together they freed Peru. In Mexico, a mass rising of indigenous Americans and mestizos (combined indigenous Americans and European ancestry) by Father Hidalgo. The middle and upper class put the revolts down and continued the independence struggle by themselves.
Tsar Alexander I wanted a joint intervention in Spanish America. The British refused, because the trade with an independent country was much more favourable than a colonial authority. Without the British fleet, Europe couldn’t intervene. Great Britain proposes then the brand new United States of America to alliance to protect the South American countries. U.S. President Monroe ignores this and he establishes The Monroe Doctrine: any interference in South America by European countries will be seen as an act of aggression against the U.S.
III.1.5 The End of the Congress System
The Congress System represented the old status-quo, which wasn’t suitable for the new situation. The members states supported their own interests rather than the ideal of cooperation. The Congress System was ended.
III.1.6 Russia: The Decembrist Revolt, 1825
Tsar Alexander I died in 1825. There were two possible successors, his two brothers. The liberal one, Constantine, had the support of the army and made a brief rebellion in support. Theses so called Decembrists (they fought in December) were crushed. The other brother, Nicholas I, took the power and ruled autocratically for thirty years. The uprising was the first open breach between the Russian government and the liberals.
III.2 Backgrounds: The Idea of the Nation State
Before 1860, the two most prominent nation states were France in Britain. The main political organizations were large empires, consisting of many different peoples and ruled by dynasties and bureaucracies, and small states, comprising fragments of a nation.
Since 1860 or 1870, a nation-state system has prevailed, which encourages small and large peoples of the world to think of themselves as nations with sovereignty and independence. Nationalism did unite people into larger unites and broke large into smaller.
The nation state is a state in which:
the political authority rests upon and represents its inhabitants
there are a people (same language, sense of community, belief in common descent or history and future, common religion, etc.), not just a mishmash of different peoples
The governments from the 19th century increased political participation of the people and created representative institutions. They unified pre-existing states, which caused different wars.
III.2.1 The Crimean War, 1854-1856
The Crimean War was one of a long series of Russo-Turkish wars. Claiming that they wanted to protect the Christians in the Ottoman Empire, Russia took Bessarabia and wanted to conquer Wallachia and Moldavia, nowadays Romania and Moldova. However, France had interests in the Middle East (long term trade, political relations and plans for a Suez Canal). Britain and Cavour (prime minister of Sardinia) also backed the Ottoman Empire. Sardinia joined because Cavour wanted to highlight the Italian nationalism.
In a brief but intense fight in the Crimea, Britain successfully blocked Russia. Austria mobilized and forced the Russians to withdraw from the Danubian provinces. Nicholas II, the new Russian emperor, agreed to peace terms after another brutal, undecided war.
In the Peace of Paris (1856) the great powers agreed to maintain the integrity of the Ottoman Empire. Russia was driven back, Romania and Serbia were recognized as autonomous provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Both Danube River and Black Sea were internationalized. All seemed peaceful, but the scheme of Vienna was in trouble: Austria and Russia were weakened.
III.3 Cavour and the Italian War of 1859: The Unification of Italy
III.3.1 Italian Nationalism: The Program of Cavour
Italy consisted of a dozen medium-sized states, whose governments are generally well satisfied with their individual independence. However, among the population there was a widespread dislike of the incumbent rulers. The desire for a liberal national state grew. The realization of this dream was not possible without foreign support for the expulsion of Austria.
The prime minister of Piedmont, Cavour, was a liberal constitutional monarchist, who followed a strong anti-church “realpolitik”. He involved Piedmont in the Crimean War with the intention to use the support of Napoleon III in a war against the Austrians. He signed a secret agreement with Napoleon III. He provoked a war with Austria in 1859.
Napoleon III won two battles, but maneuvered himself into a difficult position. The Prussians wanted no expansion of French influence in Italy. They began to mobilize around the Rhine and in riots broke out in Italy.
III.3.2 The Completion of Italian Unity
The papal territories and the kingdom of Naples-Sicily were not yet part of Italy in 1860. The Piedmontese Garibaldi landed with an army on sicily and soon crossed over to the mainland where he was joined by local revolutionaries. The weak and corrupt regime of Naples-Sicily collapsed in no time.
Garibaldi wanted Rome now, but Cavour was quicker. Plebiscites in Naples, Sicily, and the Papal States confirmed linkage to Piedmont. In 1861 the parliament established the Kingdom of Italy. Italy was complete after the addition of Venice in 1866, and the annexation of Rome in 1870.
III.3.3 Persistent Problems after Unification
Not everything was settled after the unification. Intransigent nationalists tried to revolt in areas with a partly Italian population, such as Trentino, Trieste, several Dalmatian islands, Savoy, and Nice. The occupation of Rome increased the gap between church and state. Finally, there were strong regional differences between North and South. And the parliamentary democracy wasn’t a democracy. Only three percent of the population had voting rights and parliament was certainly not free of corruption. Revolutionary agitation continued, with a shift towards Marxism, anarchism, and syndicalism. But Italy was unified.
III.4 The Founding of a German Empire and the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary
The German people became more nationalistic, even though France and Russia had kept Germany divided and weak.
III.4.1 The German States after 1848
The old states were restored after the revolution of 1848. Germany made a big economic change: the coal and iron production overtook the French production and the German cities were growing, linked by telegraph and railroad.
III.4.2 Prussia in the 1860s: Bismarck
Prussia had always been the smallest of the great powers. The population had grown from 11 to 18 million since 1815, but the army had stayed the same size. Otto von Bismarck, a Junker intellectual, became Chancellor of Prussia in 1862. He is an example of realpolitik (politics based on practical considerations, not on ideological ideas), and he distrusted socialism and liberalism. Through this realpolitik and the Prussian army, Bismarck wanted to unify Germany.
III.4.3 Bismarck’s Wars: The Creation of the North German Confederation, 1867
The Danes were also busy with their process of national consolidation, and annexed Schlesswig in 1863. Bismarck makes an alliance with Austria against Denmark. Prussia took Schlesswig and Austria took Holstein, but Bismarck wanted Holstein too. He began to isolate Austria: he got the support of Russia (they were angry at Austria over the Crimea), promised Venice to Italy, Britain followed a policy of nonintervention, and the French were too busy in Mexico. In order to weaken Austria, Bismarck pretended himself as a democrat by proposing to reform the German Confederation with the introduction of universal male suffrage.
Bismarck accused the Austrians of aggression and invaded Holstein: the Seven Weeks War. Prussia was not only in war with Austria, but also with the smaller German states. But trained with an unprecedented precision, armed with the new needle gun, and moving rapidly by the railroads, the Prussian army proved its superiority. As a result, Bismarck made the North German Confederation, a union of 21 states.
III.4.4 The Franco-Prussian War
The German states in the south were still independent an disunited. In France, there was criticism of the failed foreign policy in Mexico. Some advisers of Napoleon III supposed that a war against Prussia would bring popularity.
Meanwhile, a revolution broke out in Spain. The Spaniards invited Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern, the nephew of Bismarck, to be the constitutional monarch in Spain. The Hohenzollern-family refused three times, but Bismarck got Spain to make a fourth offer, which was accepted. France was upset and send a ambassador to change Leopold Hohenzollern’s mind. He politely refused to be the new monarch. Bismarck was disappointed.
Both sides demanded war and Napoleon III declared war in 1870. The British were upset with France, the Italians took advantage of the situation to invade Rome and Russia wanted some influence at the Black Sea. Prussia was supported by the south German states. France had no allies. Again the war was short. An uprising in Paris declared the Third Republic. The Parisians fought four months longs against the siege of the capital, before surrendering. Napoleon III was captured.
III.4.5 The German Empire, 1871
After the victory, German leaders and their representatives met in Versailles. Since the departure of Louis XVI in 1789, the castle and gardens of Versailles were not more than an empty monument to a vanished society. On January 18, 1871, in the best room of the palace, where once the Sun King had spoken to his submissive German princes, Bismarck declared the German Empire. The Prussian policy of economic modernization and political conservatism remained in the German Empire.
In May 1871, the French had to sign the Treaty of Frankfurt, wherein Bismarck demanded reparations of 5 billion gold francs and the adding of Alsace and Lorrain to the German Empire. For the next 45 years, France was looking for revanche.
The German Empire was now the main European state. The liberals forgave Bismarck. The local monarchs kept their titles in the new state, but the Prussians had the real power. Each state kept his own constitution, laws and government, but the emperor had control over the foreign and military policy. In effect the German Empire ministered as a mechanism to enlarge the role of Prussia in world affairs.
III.4.6 The Habsburg Empire after 1848
Austria was weakened: they lost Italy in their unification, they lost the war against Prussia, the North German Confederation was established, the Prussian influence grew during the Franco-Prussian war and the unification of Germany was by Prussia, not by Austria.
III.4.7 The Compromise of 1867
The compromise of 1867 was between the Germans of Austria-Bohemia and the Magyars of Hungary. The two nations bound together, both held their own constitution and parliament, with the right to treat Slavic peoples as they wished. They also wouldn’t intervene in the affairs of the other. The ministries of finance, war and foreign affairs were shared. Both states were seen as nations, while there were many different peoples living.
III.5 The United States: The American Civil War
Like in Europe, foundations of powerful nation states grew in Japan and the United States in the 60s of the 19th century.
III.5.1 Growth of the United States
The history of the United States in the 19th century reflected those of the European world. The abnormal feature of the U.S. was the rapid growth, both in terms of territory and population.
By 1860, the U.S. surpassed Britain with 31 million inhabitants and became almost as big as France. The growth was due to both high birth rate and the arrival of immigrants, mainly from Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany. The potentially large social problem of immigrant groups, each with their own cultural needs, was relatively easy solved. English was the official language, used in compulsory schools, courts, and government, but the immigrants were free to have their own churches, newspapers, associations, and language. In this diversity there were some typical American lifestyles: republicanism, autonomy, individual liberty, and free enterprise. A new nationality was consolidated.
III.5.2 The Estrangement of North and South
Another process was ongoing at the same time, that was splitting up the young nation. The North and South of the U.S. were grown apart. The South was the world’s largest cotton producer and would therefore need a free trade regime, so cheap factories could enter. The North developed into an industrial area that had a particular need for protection through high tariffs against stiff competition from the British.
More fundamentally was the social status of the worker. As the demand for cotton grew, the more the South had to depend on slavery. While slavery was abolished worldwide, it was almost impossible for the Southern ruling class to abandon their lucrative system in 1830. The explorers going west were more or less balanced between the North and the South. The Southerners searched land for new plantations west of the Mississippi, and the Northerners wanted to establish new towns. But when the newly formed state of California forbade slavery in 1848, the balance was disturbed. The public opinion in the North called for uncompromising abolishment of slavery.
Because of this, and because the North had grew larger than the South in terms of population, the separatist movement in the South was growing. The movement didn’t differ much from national movements of European nations that opposed the domination of a great empire. The Northerners, however, refused to concede that a state could withdraw from the Union.
In 1860, Republican Abraham Lincoln became president on a program of free Western lands for small farmers, a higher tariff, transcontinental railroad building, and economic development on national scale. Lincoln’s party supported the abolishment of slavery. Then, when Southern leaders proclaimed their separation and established the Confederate States of America, Lincoln gave the army the order to protect the American territory. The Civil War had started.
European governments and the ruling classes were sympathetic towards the South, but they never recognized the Confederacy. The working classes supported the as revolutionary and democratic regarded North. France and Britain did like the division of the U.S., since they would get an additional free trading partner.
The North won the war and the Union was restored, with the U.S. as a national state composed of a people. Separation was impossible. The new force of the central government was particularly felt in the South. Slavery was abolished throughout the country in 1865, without any compensation of the owners. This was, apart from modern Communism, the destruction of individual property. Rights of black Americans prevailed over property rights.
III.5.3 After the Civil War: Reconstruction, Industrial Growth
The assassination of Lincoln by a Southern fanatic patriot made radical Republicans believe that the South had to be thoroughly reformed. Northerners of all kinds entered the defeated South. They came as representatives of the government, political or economic adventurers, but many were certainly driven by humanitarian motives for helping the unfortunate former slaves. This period, called the “Reconstruction”, is comparable to the most extreme phase of the French Revolution, when radicals were forced to introduce freedom and equality. The Southern whites resisted violently, and regained their power in the 1870s.
The war provided a strong impetus to the economic development in the North and that impetus continued even after the Civil War. Aided by favorable legislation, the agriculture, industry, and financial community grew. Industrialists and bankers, no longer held in check by Southern slaveholders, dominated the national politics completely.
The result was a society where it all depended on money, and the covetousness, corruption, fraud, and personal enrichment that comes along. But at the same time industrial activity and cities grew, even the first mass market in the world was created. The American Civil War had resulted in economic and political consolidation of a large nation-state, politically liberal and democratic in terms of economics and the free enterprise.
III.6 The Modern “Civilized World”
III.6.1 Materialistic and Non-materialistic Ideals
Europe and “European” countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand considered themselves as the “civilized world” and the rest of the world “backward”. Proud Europeans believed that their civilization was the deserved result of centuries of progress and that they were the vanguard of humanity in many areas.
Their ideals were partly materialistic (higher living standards, better nutrition, comfortable housing, and better infrastructure) and partly not, because it was also about knowledge of the nature (as opposed to superstition) and geography. The ideals had a strong moral component. Isaac Taylor published his Ultimate Civilization in 1860, in which he enumerated the “relics of barbarism”: polygamy, infanticide, legalized prostitution, bloody games, torture, and slavery. They all didn’t appear any more in Europe, but elsewhere.
In later times, some sociologists developed pure quantitative indices that show the level of development of a society. Thus, in 1914 the mortality rate in Europe was 19 (per 1,000 inhabitants per year), and 40 in “backward” countries. Similar comparisons can be made with respect to infant mortality, life expectancy, illiteracy, and labor.
The essence of civilized life is undoubtedly located in the less tangible, the way people use their minds, in how they behave toward others, how they deal with the circumstances, and how they plan their lives. People have different opinions about these matters according to their cultural background or ideology, while talking about the quantitative criteria everybody generally agrees.
III.6.2 The “Zones” of Civilization
In fact, there were two descriptions of Europe’s civilization. There was an inner ring where the wealth of Europe was concentrated: roughly a imaginary line that connected Glasgow, Stockholm, Gdansk, Trieste, Florence, and Barcelona, and also the north east of the United States. In this area was a parliamentary, constitutional form of government and liberal, humanitarian, socialist, and other reform movements were entrenched.
The outer ring comprised most of Ireland, Italy, and the Iberian Peninsula and all east of Germany, Bohemia, and Austria. Similarly, Latin America and the south of the U.S. belonged to the outer ring. It was an agricultural area with relatively low productivity, that exported agrarian products to the inner ring. The outer ring borrowed from the inner ring: capital, social, political philosophy, and technical specialists. The youth of the outer ring was sent to inner ring universities.
The Non European world was the third zoen: Africa and Asia (excluding the Westernized Japan), which was regarded as backward and was destined to depend on Europe in 1870.
III.7 The World Economy of the Nineteenth Century
III.7.1 The “New Industrial Revolution”
After 1870 the Industrial Revolution went faster. Energy still leaned heavily on the now much-improved steam engine, but electricity was coming. The invention of the diesel motor gave the world the car, the plane, and the submarine.
Chemistry brought many new products such as fertilizers, artificial flavors, strong explosives, and synthetic fibers. Electricity brought light, the telephone, telegraphy (Marconi), film, and radio. Medicines improved.
Until 1870 Britain and Belgium were the only truly industrialized countries, but France, Italy, Russia, Japan, and especially Germany and the United States grew fast. In 1914, Germany passed Britain in steel, and the United States doubled Germany. The United States surpassed European nations in coal and steel production, manufacturing, farm mechanization, and pioneering mass production.
III.7.2 Free Trade and the European “Balance of Payments”
Great Britain abolished the Corn Laws and switched to a systematic trade liberalization policy in 1846. Other countries followed quickly. Until 1914 there was an internationally oriented free economic activity.
The European “inner ring” imported for about $2 billion annually more than they exported. This trade deficit was than offset by a surplus in the services balances, like shipping, insurance, and interest.
III.7.3 The Export of European Capital
The emigration of millions of Europeans to the New World brought valued trading partners. Export of capital meant that an older and richer country used their capital for investments abroad. Western Europeans bought shares of foreign companies, or established their own business abroad. Most of this capital was provided by the wealthy Western European manufacturer, trader, or banker.
The British were the largest capital exporters. By 1914, the owned $20 billion in foreign investments, a quarter of the total British wealth. These huge sums flowed initially to North and South America and also to the less wealthy European regions. Since 1890 there were also increasing investments in Asia and Africa. Railways, ports, mines, plantations, and factories were build throughout the world.
III.7.4 An International Money System: The Gold Standard
Europe adopted the British gold standard in the 1870s. It resulted in high economic stability until 1914. Prices steadily fell until gold discoveries increased the supply in the 1890s. Debtors, including businessmen and farmers, were hurt, but creditors, the working class, and financiers, were helped. The new financial centre of the world was London. It’s bankers financed the French reparations in 1815 and they even loaned money to Russia during the Crimean War. English “acceptance houses” paid English merchants for goods. They collected through international banking channels. “England was the bankers’ banker, the insurers’ insurer.”
III.7.5 A World Market: Unity, Competition – and Insecurity
More than ever there was an economy in which each region had its own role in a global specialization. A real world was created. Goods, services, money, capital, and people acted like there were no borders. Prices of goods were globally uniform. Everyone felt the discipline of the market, and nobody could escape competition. The downside of all this was that no one was assured to sell its goods.
The creation of this integrated system of world trade was the great triumph of unbridled capitalism in the 19th century. But the network was an unstable system. A decline in cereal prices in the mid west from the United States could force corn farmers in Argentina or East Prussia to accept unprofitable prices. Factory owners faced brutal competition. Workers suffered if business was slow or machinery was cheaper.
Cycles of booms and depression began, with a long slide from 1873 to 1893. The economy was based on expansion and credit, and a collapse of confidence was deadly. Governments, to ensure against insecurities, used protective tariffs, social insurance, and welfare to an increasing degree. Laissez faire capitalism collapsed as unions and the socialist movement both grew.
III.7.6 Changes in Organization: Big Business
Small businesses were replaced by huge corporations. Industrial capitalism led to finance capitalism, and expensive machinery required more complex corporations. Corporations were concentrated in department stores.
Horizontal integration meant buying out competitors as a means of reducing competition and protecting themselves against market fluctuations. Vertical integration was characteristic. In steel, corporations bought out iron and coal mines and began producing steel, including both raw steel and manufactures. Huge corporations had great power but reduced fluctuations and increased stability.
III.8 The Americas
The disintegration of the Spanish and Portuguese empires in the first quarter of the 19th century led to instability in the regions. Brazil remained a monarchy until 1889. In many other areas were small impotent republics, who constantly fought with each other.
III.8.1 The United States and Mexico
When Mexico became independent it was much larger. North American land seekers soon reached the Mexican borders, where they established their own republic, Texas. The United States annexed Texas. Mexico declared war on the U.S., but lost the war, lost Texaco, and lost the Californian coast. Many Americans justified the conquest, arguing that the U.S. were much better equipped to civilize the area.
Next Mexico came in problem with Mexico, they borrowed money at high interest from Great Britain, France, and Spain. When Mexico repudiated the loans, a force was sent to force payment. Napoleon III had a secret agenda and the two others withdrew. The U.S. protested against Napoleon, and he withdrew in 1865. So the U.S. was both a protector and a robber for their neighbors. As the United States strengthened, the Monroe Doctrine was an effective barrier against European territorial ambitions.
While foreign victims of the American Civil War didn’t get any compensation, the U.S. demanded compensation from Mexico to American citizens, that had lost money due Mexican political complications. It was one of the principles of 19th century international law that “civilized” states were not interfering with each other’s internal affairs. But they had the right to intervene in so-called “backward” countries. And in the US points of view, Mexico was a “backward” country.
III.8.2 United States Imperialism in the 1890s
The imperialism of the U.S. experienced a high turn at the end of the 19th century. President Cleveland forced the British to accept international arbitration in a border dispute between Venezuela and British Guyana. He also used a revolt among the Panamanians against Colombia to make Panama a protectorate, so the US could build the Panama Canal.
In Cuba and Puerto Rico, the last remnants of the Spanish empire, rebellions flared up. The US sympathized with the insurgents, partly due the strategic position of the islands. The explosion of an American warship in the port of Havana was the reason for the Spanish-American War of 1898. The United States overcome, annexed Puerto Rico and made Cuba a protectorate.
President Theodore Roosevelt declared that the Monroe Doctrine might lead to an international police power. The US was to intervene in South America and the Caribbean constantly.
Hawaii is probably the most typical example of American imperialism. The native ruler accepted an American protectorate in 1875. American capital and management entered, partly to establish sugar and pineapple industries. The naval base Pearl Harbor was also established. Hawaii was annexed in 1959.
III.9 The Partition of Africa
For centuries, the Europeans only knew the coasts of the Dark Continent, “Gold Coast”, “Ivory Coast”, and “Slave Coast”. The population lived mainly in tribal villages or as nomads, although there were some cities: Timbuktu, Zimbabwe. There were more than thousand different languages, and apart from a handful of Muslims, they all had traditional African religions. There had been great kingdoms, which were known by trained storytellers. The kingdoms were perished as a result of tribal wars.
III.9.1 The Opening of Africa
H.M. Stanley traveled through Africa, and he realized the imperialistic future of Africa. King Leopold of Belgium and some financiers founded the International Congo Association (1878) to exploit the region. He concluded over 500 treaties with native chiefs. The Berlin Congress of 1885 called for open trade, protection of native rights, and no slavery, but there was no way to enforce these things. The people of Congo were brutally used to have maximum profits. Nowhere was imperialism so worse as in Congo.
III.9.2 Friction and Rivalry between the Powers
By 1900 all of Africa was claimed, except for Liberia and Ethiopia. Local chiefs had almost no power or rights. The Europeans ruled through these chiefs. The Africans lacked money or possessions, so the main problem was labor. The result was forced labor: semi-slavery or by levying a money tax or reducing native lands to the point that survival required work. Native societies were westernized with chiefs, Christian priests, and clerks. Many went to western universities. African nationalism had its genesis in these young people, that started to think on the university about the ongoing processes in their native country.
IV.1 The International Anarchy
There were never such big armies in Europe during peacetime. Besides, the German industrial revolution had an enormous production of goods as result and the German people felt the hegemony. After Bismarck, the peace diplomacy came to an end.
IV.1.1 Rival Alliances: Triple Alliance versus Triple Entente
Germany began building a fleet in 1896. Britain felt threatened, since the empire is based on its maritime power. England tried initially to create an opening to Germany, but the emperor rejected all the British advances. A few wanted war, all the states assumed there would come one.
The Triple Alliance consist of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. They made a pledge of military assistance when one of the members gets attacked by an enemy.
The Triple Entente was a less clear agreement between France, Russia and Britain. France made a deal with Russia in 1894 and they recognized the British presence in Egypt. Britain recognized the French power in Morocco. It was an entente cordiale, only a close understanding, no specific alliance. In the Anglo-Russian convention (1907), the British recognized Russian influence in Persia. The Russians recognized southern and eastern influence of the British in Persia.
IV.2.2 The Crises Morocco and the Balkans
Germany tested the Triple Entente in the first and second Morocco Crises (1905 and 1911), but this had the opposite effect: at the Conference of Algericas the British and French were driven closer together. The Germans claimed to seek Moroccan independence, but all they wanted was more African colonies.
Serbs, Bosnians, Croats, and Slovenes spoke almost the same language, but had great differences in alphabet and religion. Serbia wanted to unify those four countries, which were part of Austria.
In 1908, the Young Turks wanted to save the Ottoman Empire and Russia wanted to restore its damaged prestige. Russia and Austria made a deal: Austria would annex Bosnia and would help opening the Straits to Russian warships. Austria took Bosnia, to anger of Serbia, but didn’t helped Russia.
Two years later, in 1911, Italy declared war with success war on the Ottoman Empire. Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia attacked the Ottomans in the First Balkan War. They all annexed parts, but Bulgaria was too greedy. Serbia, Greece, Romania and the Turks fought against Bulgaria in the Second Balkan War. Albania was established as an independent country by the Great Powers, since everybody wanted to annex mountainous, mainly Muslim region. Serbia was again frustrated and Russia again humiliated.
IV.3.3 The Sarajevo Crisis and the Outbreak of War
In 1914, a Bosnian-Serb nationalist assassinated the moderate Archduke Francis Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Austria was determined to crush the Slav nationalistic movement. Germany gave the Austrians a “blank check” of support. Serbia turned to Russians, and the French gave a blank check to the Russians. Germany attacked France through Belgium, counting on absence of British support to the French. Britain did declare war.
Why did the war broke out? The system of Alliances had divided the continent into two hostile camps. Each member was concerned about its own plausibility towards its allies:
France feared the increasing German superiority;
Germany feared encirclement by Russia and France;
Both Austria and Russia acted recklessly, since they felt they had much to gain and little to lose.
Besides, Germany had an internal crisis with the growing power of the Social Democrats (anti-war and anti-military), while the power was in hands of the obstinate Junkers.
The international economy showed the vulnerability of the states, as they relied on the import and export to other states. The international interdependency had a struggle against the uprising nationalism.
IV.2 The Armed Stalemate
The First World War was the first truly total war. A war “to end all wars” shocked the world in its scope and brutality. There was a stalemate at the Italian and Western front, the trench war. The progress in agricultural and industrial fields had allowed to equip mass armies. This was a new industrialized war. The central powers fought against the Allied forces:
Central Powers: Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottomans and Bulgaria;
Allied Powers: France, Russia, England, Belgium, Serbia and Greece.
IV.2.1 The War on Land, 1914-1916
Europe expected a short war, but World War I lasted four years of terrible losses. Germany attacked the allies with a lot of divisions, but met the Allies with almost the same strength. The Germans were slowed down and stopped at the Battle of the Marne. The Western front fell into silence and became a trench war, Russia lost at the Eastern front.
Russia made more success in the second year of the war. They made several successes against Austria and were supplied by the allies. The third year had two great battles of attrition: Verdun (started by Germany) and the Somme (started by Britain). Artillery made big losses, but no real gains. Poison gas made its entrance at Verdun, the tank at Somme.
IV.2.2 The War at Sea
Because the land armies failed, the fighting powers focused on the sea. Under international law it was during wartime still possible to import “non-contraband”-goods, like food. Therefore the Allies tried to blockade the whole sea to block all goods. Germany countered by using submarines, which caused a warzone around Britain in 1915.
A few months later, the Lusitania, filled with American citizens and contraband-goods, sinks. The U.S. President warns Germany and they reduce their submarine operations. The Battle of Jutland (1916) was the only major sea battle. The German retreated, but with less loss than the Britons.
IV.2.3 Diplomatic Maneuvers and Secret Agreements
The Ottoman Empire, a traditional rival of Russia, joined Germany. Bulgaria, with sentiments against Serbia, joined the Central Powers. In 1915, Italy bargained with both sides. The Allies made plans to divide the Ottoman spoils between themselves:
Armenia and the Bosporus for Russia;
Iraq for Great Britain;
Syria for France.
Germany sent the Zimmerman Note to Mexico to gain their support if the United States ever came involved with the war. They also promised independence to the subject nationalities in the enemy states, like the Poles and Ukrainians. The main aim of Germany remained expansion of their territory.
The Allies helped the Slavic and Arab forces fighting for independence, and Lord Balfour promised a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Japan entered the war to gain German colonies in the Pacific and moved further into both Manchuria and North China. The Turks forced Armenians from their homeland to prevent a nationalistic uprising, supported by the Russians. The “forgotten genocide”.
The U.S. President Woodrow Wilson suggested mediation, since they were divided about which side to choose, but both sides rejected. He was re-elected on the slogan “He kept us out of war,” and maintained neutral and supported “peace without victory.”
IV.3 The Collapse of Russia and the Intervention of the United States
IV.3.1 The Withdrawal of Russia: Revolution and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
The Tsar lost the loyalty of the people through the failure in war and absent to help the people. Troops mutinied during war, and Nicholas II abdicated. The Provisional Government, consisting of liberal nobles and middle class intellectuals, took the lead. They continued the war and were talking about democracy. Large parts of the population got inspired by Marxist ideas. Germany allowed to bring Lenin and his Bolsheviks back to Russia.
The Bolsheviks, who were now in power in Russia, retreated from the war in March, 1918, when the Peace of Brest-Litovsk was signed. Russia lost a lot of its western territories like the Baltic coast, Poland, Finland, and the Ukraine. For Germany, the treaty was very positive, since it ended the two-front war and it gave additional supplies from the former Russian territories, for example. Germany was ready for a major new offensive against the Allies. Could the United States help the Allies?
IV.3.2 The United States and the War
The United States had been divided, but began to support the Allies, especially after the Russian Revolution. Germany suspected US help, but calculated that it would be too late for the Allies. The loss of the Lusitania, the Zimmerman Note and the action of German agents in the US made the US enter the war in April, 1917. They began with severe losses, but after new tactics against the German submarines and the use of convoys, they made successes.
French troop mutinied and the Battle of Caporetto in northern Italy brought use losses to the Allies. US mobilizes the whole country for war.
IV.3.3 The Final Phase of the War
The Allies made one Allied force, led by Marshall Foch. The US troops arrived by June, 1918. The German people were looking for peace, but the high staff was looking for one last try. The German attack was stopped in the Second Battle of the Marne. The Allies launched a counter-attack with fresh US divisions. Germany began to negotiate, and the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. Four years of severe losses, more than ten million deaths and twenty million wounded, were brought to an end.
IV.4 The Collapse of the Austrian and German Empires
Austria-Hungary: falls immediately apart. Austria and Hungary become separate states, and the new states of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia are established. Romania is enlarged.
Germany: Ludendorff calls for new, democratic, parliamentary organized elections in the German Reichstag. Germany becomes a constitutional monarchy. However, the Socialists demanded that the emperor abdicated. This created the Weimar Republic. In March, 1918, the Spanish flu broke out among the US troops. It became the world’s most worst pandemic ever, twenty-two million people died and over one billion became sick.
IV.5 The Economic, Social, and Cultural Impact of the War
IV.5.1 Effects on Capitalism: Government-Regulated Economies
The war stimulated the impact of the state on the economy. The “planned economy” was everywhere by 1916: economies were run by boards and commissions designed to coordinate the war effort. Competition was wasteful, profits non-patriotic and private enterprise too slow. The government controlled finances, raw material, labor and prices. Everyone was a part of the war effort. Women were hired by factories and so effected the emancipation of women.
The European exports were at a low level, while the US trade was tripled. Foreign trade was controlled. Europe also needed to loan from the United States. For the first time, the US became a creditor nation. It marks the beginning of the end of the European hegemony, and thus the start of the American century. Germany had to become self-sufficient, with tight controls administered by Rathenau, an industrialist who organized the war effort of Germany. Britain showed incredible outputs of war goods with their efficiency.
IV.5.2 Inflation, Industrial Changes, Control of Ideas
Taxes weren’t enough, so governments started printing money, forcing credit and sold bonds. The result was inflation. The middle class savers suffered the most. Inflation and debts caused a lower living standard. While Europe was out of action, the rest of the world –and especially the US, Japan, Brazil, Argentina and India– increased industrialization. Propaganda and censorship were used on a high scale. Both sides blamed the other. Socialism began to rise under the people.
IV.5.3 Cultural Pessimism
There was also pessimism in the cultural scene. War poets like Wilfred Owen described the horrors of the war, Freud wrote about the death instinct of human beings, Spengler wrote “Der Untergang des Abendlands” and the art of dada and surrealism was created after the war.
IV.6 The Peace of Paris, 1919
Five peace treaties were signed in 1919. Each named after a suburb of Paris: Treaty of Saint-Germain (about Austria), Treaty of Trianon (about Hungary), Treaty of Neuilly (about Bulgaria), Treaty of Sevres (about the Ottoman Empire), and the Treaty of Versailles (about Germany). 27 states were present, four dominated: the United States, France, Italy and Great Britain. Russia was absent and China was disappointed.
IV.6.1 The Fourteen Points and the Treaty of Versailles
Everyone agreed that the United States ended the war, so President Wilson was the person to lead civilization out of its wasteland. He made Fourteen Points:
an end to secret treaties and diplomacy;
freedom of the seas, in peace- and wartime;
removal of trade barriers;
reduction in arms;
adjustment of colonial problems;
evacuation of occupied territory;
self-determination of nationalities, redrawing boundaries along national lines;
an international political organization to end wars (League of Nations);
(the other points are particularly about several states).
These Fourteen Points marked the beginning of the major movements of the 20th century: democracy, liberalism and nationalism. Wilson believed that the war should end with a new kind of treaty, a treaty settled in mutual confidence.
However, Britain insisted on their naval power and France wanted reparations. Germany expected the Fourteen Points with reparations. Almost 30 states met, but the decisions were made by the Big Four: Wilson (United States), George (Great Britain), Clemenceau (France) and Orlando (Italy). Wilson demanded a League of Nations, but the result was a compromise of idealism.
There were some provisions of the Treaty of Versailles:
Germany must be weakened, said the French. Alsace and Lorraine were returned, the Rhineland was demilitarized and occupied;
all Polish, Polish-German and the Silesia territory was given to Poland, plus the “Polish Corridor”, Danzig became an international city;
Sudeten Germans and Austrians desired to be a part of Germany, but Anschluss (unity between Austria and Germany) was prohibited. Bohemia became a part of Czechoslovakia;
Germany’s colonies became “mandates” to the victors;
the German army and fleet had to be seized;
extreme high reparations were demanded (as justification, Germany was blamed for the war in Article 231).
In only three months the treaty was concluded, since the Russians were not invited, the Germans were not allowed a hearing, and Wilson made concessions to preserve his League of Nations. Germany refused to sign the treaty until they were threatened. The other treaties were as quickly as the one of Versailles, and created a new eastern Europe with the victors picking up territory. New independent states were: Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland. Romania and Greece were enlarged, the Ottoman Empire disappeared, replaced by Turkey and by the mandates Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq.
IV.6.2 The Significance of the Paris Peace Settlement
The right of national self-determination was the main principle of the settlement, although populations were inter-mixed and most of the new nations had minority problems. The treaty was too weak to destroy Germany’s power, but too severe to conciliate the German. The new German Republic was loaded with the guilt of the treaty. The United States angered France with rejecting the Treaty of Versailles. The division of the Allies made German rejection of the treaty easier, especially with the rising fear for the Bolsheviks. Also, the treaty was a victory for democracy, but it didn’t gave a solution to the problems of nationalism and industrialism, neither for economic and international stability.
IV.7 The Revolution of 1917
IV.7.1 End of the Tsardom: The Revolution of March 1917
The tsarist regime, that lacked the support of a large part of its population, was again unable to withstand the test of a war. The workers and peasants allowed themselves to march to the battlefield, but without any conviction or national enthusiasm. The middle classes supported the government, as did the provincial zemstvos, and the business life in St. Petersburg by mobilizing agriculture and industry, but the government was suspicious of these individuals initiatives. It accentuated the failure of the tsarist bureaucracy.
The monk Rasputin played a mysterious and controversial role in the even to Russians concepts bizarre court life of that time. He had very strong influence, especially on tsarina Alexandra. He managed to reduce the visits of smart people to the tsar. Reactionaries who wanted to abolish liberalistic and constitutionalist ideas, where in power in court.
So did the war revive all the differences in basic political issues. The zemstvos demanded to convene the Duma, that was suspended in 1915. When the Duma came together, even the conservative were radical in their dissatisfaction with the incompetence of the government. In 1916 Rasputin got killed. The tsar sent the whole Duma home. Now even the moderates and liberals had no other way than make a coup.
On March 8, 1917, food riots broke out among the works of St. Petersburg (Petrograd). These riots quickly escalated into a political uprising. The troops of the tsar refused to take their weapons against the insurgents and there was a lot of mutiny. Two authorities arose in the city: one consisted of a committee of the Duma and was rather moderate, constitutionalist, and reasonable legal. The other one was the Petrograd Soviet, a revolutionary council of workers along the lines of 1905. Their role was similar to that of the Paris Commune of 1792. All Socialist revolutionaries, Mensheviks, and Bolsheviks tried to get control of the Soviet.
The Duma committee installed a provisional government headed by prince Lvov. The Social revolutionary Kerensky took also place in the government. Nicholas II, who was at the front, tried to return to Petrograd. When this failed, he resigned and Russia became a republic.
IV.7.2 The Bolshevik Revolution: November 1917
The provisional government planned elections for a constituent assembly in late 1917. They also tried to continue the war, but the army was totally defeated and demoralized. The Petrograd Soviet called for an immediate end of the war.
Lenin and his Bolsheviks came back from Switzerland to Petrograd in this advancing revolution, and worked with the Soviet against the provisional government. In an attempt to gain more support, prince Lvov was replaced by Kerensky as head of the provisional government. They failed, and Kerensky faced growing criticism from both radicals and reactionaries. The ever-worsening food situation made the factory workers in the cities attracted to extremism.
Lenin and the Bolsheviks used this chaos. Lenin concentrated his program on four basic points:
redistribution of land among peasants;
transfer of factories and mines to working committees;
recognition of the Soviets as the supreme power instead of the provisional government.
To be quicker than Kerensky and the Constituent Assembly, the Bolsheviks convened a pan-Russian Congress of Soviets, “All power to the Soviets” Lenin shouted. Time to seize the power for Lenin. With support from the majority of the Central Committee, the Bolshevik Party took over telephone centers, railway stations, and power plants in Petrograd. The Congress of Soviets declared the provisional government out of function and appointed a Council of People’s Commissars with Lenin at its head instead.
The first two resolutions that the Congress took were related to the negotiation of a democratic peace, and the immediate abolition of all landed property, without any compensation for the owners. The millions of acres that were expropriated were the indispensable basis of support from the farmers for the new regime. After these initial steps to consolidate the revolution, the Constituent Assembly had to be removed. The Assembly was dissolved after a surrounding of armed sailors. The dictatorship of the proletariat was a fact.
IV.7.3 The New Regime: The Civil War, 1918-1922
It’s Spring, 1918, when the Communists (the Bolsheviks now call themselves like that) signs the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany. But there was no real pace. Russia became entangled in a civil war immediately. Tsarist reactionaries, liberals, zemstvos, constitutional democrats, Mensheviks, and Social revolutionaries were supported by the Western Allies and were against the Soviets. The Communists created two institutions that could provide protection for the revolutionary achievements. First there was the political police, the Cheka (later known as the KGB), and shortly after that Trotsky began with the creation of the Red Army.
The social policy was a mixture of ideological principles and opportunity in first instance, also mentioned as “war communism”. Large industrial enterprises were nationalized, small enterprises became self-rule. Farmers were often forced to deliveries to solve the food problem. This drove many farmers towards the anti-Communists. There was not only opposition from the farmers. In all the corners of Russia came resistance. From former military officers and landowners to 45,000 from the Austro-Hungarian army defected Czechs, now with the Allies against the Bolsheviks. The Western Allies thought that Bolshevism could be easily suppressed. An ambitious plan suggested to drop American and especially Japanese troops at Vladivostok, which would move across Siberia to join the Czechs.
The civil war lasted until 1920. It was a confused tangle of fighting between the motivated, determined, highly skilled, and Trotsky trained Red Army and anti-Bolshevik forces. The counter-revolutionary White Army achieved different successes, but these victories were often followed by a “white terror”, a process in which old landlords regained their old rights. This drove the farmers back in the arms of the Communists. By 1922 the Communists were firmly in power in an area roughly the same as the tsarist empire. Peace was a fact and the regime stood.
However, during the civil war the Red Terror broke out. Everyone, mostly slightest suspected, that supported the opposition was faded away. This involved the literal extermination of all opponents. Thousands were killed or sentenced to death. Rebellious sailors, who opposed the domination of the Bolsheviks, were regarded as “bourgeois” and were mercilessly shot. As usual, this revolution took much of her own children.
The Terror, which would remain for a long time, was successful in the sense that the new regime gained a strong foundation. The Socialists in Western Europe reacted with horror to the Communist cruelty and perverse variant of Russian Marxism. Lenin and his followers, however, could now start building their socialist utopia.
IV.8 The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
IV.8.1 Government: The Nationalities and Federalism
After the civil war it was possible to establish the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the USSR, with initially four republics. This number would grow to fifteen after the Second World War. There was an enormous dominance of Slavic regions: the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Belarus. The basic idea of the Union was a mix of national and international recognition of each nationality by granting autonomy to national groups that were hold together by one union. Any republic could secede, what didn’t happen until 1991, and any republic could join, what never happened voluntarily.
The federal principle of the USSR was intended as an answer to the problem of nationalism. The tsardom had tried to solve it through systematic Russification. The Communists did it completely different. 50 different nationalities were recognized within the USSR-borders. Each received cultural autonomy: language, private schools, traditional costumes, and folk customs. Depending on their seize and their importance they got their own level of autonomy. Thus arose Soviet republics, autonomous republics, autonomous regions, and cultural districts.
The Russian Soviet republic dominated all others in practice. Political and economic rights of the nationalities were severely limited by the concentrated power in Moscow. The claim that each participating republic was sovereign and could conduct its own foreign policy didn’t last at all.
IV.8.2 Government: State and Party
The Soviet Union adopted the principle of parallelism in theory, in regard to the government. State and party operate beside each other, which was fiction through the strong interdependence. It looked like a democracy. However, beside the state, the Communist Party ruled at all levels and in all corners. The Central Committee of the party was at the top and included the Politburo. The most influential figure was the secretary general, a function that Stalin modeled. The power and authority of the party was unlimited and was not exposed to any external control. The discipline was strictly enforced with the secret police.
The numbers of party-members grew over the decades to about 19 million in the 80s. There was a strict uniformity to maintain unity. The base of the party was formed by small things. In every factory, mine, school, village, and et cetera, was a cell of the party. Party members were at all levels of the governments and in all parts of society. The party decided for the state what to do.
In the early years of the USSR the party functioned as a strong, highly disciplined group. Those who joined were willing to work hard, to propagate the party line, and go anywhere where they were sent. The Communists increased being an interest group, with significant material privileges, even for their children.
The monolithic party formed a united front to the outsiders. Decisions were always made by them. In general, the party didn’t favor and even oppressed originality, boldness, risk, and freedom of thought. The seeds for the subsequent stagnation were already planted.
IV.8.3 The New Economic Policy, 1921-1927
The First World War, the revolution, the civil war, and the terror, had made the country a big mess in eight years. Lenin concluded that a socialization of the economy would be an overkill and withdrew. He propagated a temporary compromise with capitalism, the New Economic Policy (NEP). Under NEP (1921-1927) the state retained control over all basic industries, but there was space for private entrepreneurship as a means to trade between urban and rural areas.
Farmers were allowed to sell their products freely. The NEP strongly favored the kulak, the large farmer. Other peasants became “proletarians”, employed servants. A new wealthy commercial class was also created. Although the NEP repaired the worst damage, it brought no real progress: the gross national product of 1928 was similar to that of 1913.
IV.8.4 Social and Cultural Changes after the Revolution
The revolution was more than a reconstruction of state and economy for the real Communists. They desired a new classless society and wanted to destruct all the traditional hierarchies based on gender, class, or wealth. This meant a great improvement of women’s rights, like the right to vote and to abortion. The participation of girls as well as boys from workings class families at schools increased.
There was also an innovations in the art in the 20s. Revolutionary writers and avant-garde theater arose. The then new technique of film was developing, often with political issues as subject. Eisenstein’s Potemkin (1925) is still considered as one of the most innovative films in the history of cinema. At the end of the 20s it was done with the experimental art. “Social realism” became the new style and fell under the strict control of the Communists.
IV.8.5 Stalin and Trotsky
At the age of 54, Lenin died in 1924. A struggle for leadership of the party began. There were heated debates about Lenin’s intentions. He warned for Joseph Stalin, but Stalin took slowly all the power behind the scenes.
Trotsky argued however over the principles, nature, and future of the movement. He thought that the NEP with its tolerance of the bourgeoisie seized Communism. He unfolded his theory of “permanent revolution”, a relentless hunt for the proletarian goals of all fronts and in all parts of the world. He became the champion of the world revolution. Furthermore he advocated for a much stronger collectivization of agriculture and a much more systematic approach on economy.
The party didn’t follow Trotsky. 95% voted for Stalin at the party congress in 1927. Trotski was banned from the USSR, and lived in Turkey, France, and Mexico. He published and opposed constantly against “Stalinism”, a monstrous betrayal of Marxism-Leninism in his view. In 1940 he was murdered under mysterious circumstances in Mexico.
V.1 The German Republic and the Spirit of Locarno
In 1918, the Social Democrats were in control in Germany. Those tamed Marxists were hated by both reactionaries of the right (Junkers, businessmen, army) and revolutionary Marxists on the left (Spartacists). The middle group was, together with the Social Democrats, the Catholic Center Party and were anti-Lenin Bolsheviks. The Spartacists rebellion of January 1919 scared the center parties, and the Social Democrats suppressed the revolt with demobilized army officers and voluntary vigilantes from the army.
Quickly after the beaten down uprising, there were selections for a constituent assembly. The Social Democrats became again the largest party, but didn’t had the majority to rule and so formed a central coalition. They produced a constitution providing for the democratic Weimar Republic. A right wing coup, a Putsch, was attempted immediately. A strike, where Berlin workers turned off public utilities, ended the coup. Still, the Weimar Republic wasn’t sufficiently in control to oppress private armed bands, led by antidemocratic agitators. Adolf Hitler was one of these agitators.
Universal suffrage, proportional representation, and the initiative, referendum, and recall were provided by the Weimar Republic. Nevertheless, no revolution happened. No industries were nationalized, no property seized, no agrarian reform undertaken. The Junkers and the old bureaucracy remained.
V.1.1 The German Democracy and Versailles
The Germans saw the Treaty of Versailles as a Diktat, a vengeful, dictated peace. Neither the new borders nor the reparations were accepted.
France feared a recovered Germany, so they wanted the Rhineland or the guarantee of the frontier by the United States and Britain. However, the United States rejected both treaties, since they desired a strong Germany as a good customer. The League of Nations, of which the US wasn’t a member, offered little hope for the French. In 1921 the Reparations Commission set the astronomical sum of $35 billion (Germany paid recently the last dollar, Fall, 2010).
Germany turned to the USSR, with result: the Treaty of Rapallo in 1922. Germany would send officers and technicians to the Red Army, while the USSR imported manufactured goods from Germany.
V.1.2 Reparations, the German Inflation of 1923, Recovery
France, blocked from collecting reparations, sent troops to occupy the Ruhr valley. Germany resisted by passive resistance and general strikes. Those workers were benefited by newly printed money. A catastrophic inflation was the result. In the end a dollar was equal to more than 4 trillion paper marks.
The inflation had positive effect after it ended: Germany could make a new, fresh start. In 1924, Dawes, a banker from the United States, began the Dawes Plan whereby the French would leave the Ruhr valley, reparations would be cut, and Germany would borrow money from the US. With these loans, Germany could pay their debts to France and Britain, which in turn would be able to make their payments to the US.
V.1.3 The Spirit of Locarno
From 1924 to 1929, there was international calm. Three moderate leaders from Britain, France and Germany helped reduce pressures and signed the Licarno treaties: Germany recognized the borders of France, Belgium, Poland and Czechoslovakia. In addition, they also promised that they would only expand its territory through diplomacy. France and Britain promised each other mutual assistance in case of German aggression, and France promised to back Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania in the same case. Germany joined the League of Nations in 1926, and two years later 65 nations signed the Pact of Paris, which condemned the recourse to war in international affairs.
V.2 Italian Fascism
V.2.1 Mussolini and the Fascist Seizure of Power
The widely shared opinion that democracy was advancing in the 20s was not really disturbed by the failures in “backward” countries such as Russia, Turkey, and China. The first touch was made by Mussolini’s coup in Italy in 1922. Italy had known a liberal parliamentary government since 1861.
Benito Mussolini (1883), son of a blacksmith, was a truculent left socialist revolutionary in his youth time. During the First World War he turned to nationalism and he supported the conquest of Austria. In 1919 he organized his first armed gang, or “fascio di combattimento”.
The Italian military wasn’t very glorious in the First World War, however, they lost 600,000 Italians. The sacrifices led to little Allied recognition, to the Italians disappointment. They gained South Tirol and territories on the Dalmatian coast, but not any mandates of former German or Turkish territory. Italy suffered after the First World War as well from great war debts, acute depression, and unemployment. Social unrest broke out in both rural and urban areas.
The Communists fanned the flames of discontent and had clashes with the Fascists (The “Blackshirts”) more often. The government and parliament did almost nothing to stop the violence. The Italians lost faith in them. At the 1921 elections, Mussolini’s Fascist movement got only 7% of the seats in parliament, but supporters of the Fascists remained growing. Mussolini began to establish himself as the upholder of order and property. The propertied classes began to support the Fascist movement financially. Opponents of the Fascists were beaten or even murdered. Meanwhile, Mussolini, republican and anticlerical, declared loyalty to king and church.
In October 1922, the “March on Rome” took place. While Mussolini was safely in Milan, his Blackshirts marched to the Italian capital. When the king didn’t permit the government to declare a state of emergency, the whole government resigned. Mussolini was appointed as prime minister. He was initially the head of a coalition government, that had unlimited powers for one year to restore order and reform the country. Before that year was over, Mussolini had made such legislation, that he couldn’t lose the 1924 elections.
The prominent socialist Matteotti was murdered after he spoke about the Fascist intimidation and fraud. There was a loud cal for Mussolini’s resignation, but the opposite happened. Mussolini consolidated his dictatorship and he placed the press under censorship and abolished labor unions. All political parties except the Fascist were abolished.
V.2.2 The Fascist State
The world was rather slow in understanding Fascism. Mussolini preached the need for the vigorous action of a strong leader (“Il Duce”) as an alternative to democracy. Instead of liberalism, capitalism, or Marxism, he insisted on national solidarity and strong state intervention in the economy. His corporative system divided the economy into 22 sectors, each of which a corporation was founded. Fascists representatives decided over employment, prices, and industrial policies in every corporatio. This was called the corporative state. The Fascists called this kind of organization an improvement on the democratic system, because there was an end to the anarchy and class struggle. Nonetheless, the corporative state didn’t end the social unrest, but the totalitarian regime did it with a ban on strikes, the abolition of trade unions, and other repressive measures.
Mussolini started a program of public works, self-sufficiency, expansion of agricultural land, and a switchover to hydroelectric power. The existing social structures, extremes of wealth and poverty, remained unaffected. Fascism brought a certain degree of economic and security and prosperity, at the expense of individual freedoms.
In other countries Fascism was seen as a possible alternative to the democratic, parliamentary form of government. Communists, socialist, and progressive liberals opposed it furiously, but the more conservative groups and rich people did like it. Especially in the, often highly nationalistic, Eastern European countries, and also in Spain, Portugal, and France there were many admirers of the fascist and corporative model.
V.3 Totalitarianism: Germany’s Third Reich
V.3.1 The Rise of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was born in Austria in 1889, as the son of a customs officer. His parents deceased when he was teenager. He left high school without a diploma, and tried in vain to enter the academy of arts in Vienna. He had many low-paid jobs. His period in Vienna strongly influenced his social vision. Hitler disliked the Habsburg court with its aristocratic entourage, the cosmopolitan atmosphere wherein Marxism could flourish, and the fully assimilated Jews that were very successful in business.
In 1913 he moved to Munich. When the First World War broke out he enlisted in the army. He only became corporal, but received important awards. Like Mussolini, Hitler experienced war as something exciting, noble, and liberating.
After the war he remained in military service in Munich. The Communist threat in Bavaria attracted many anti-socialist, anti-republican, and anti-democratic elements. At the behest of the army, Hitler became a member of a splinter party from which he became the leader soon. In 1920 it took the name National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP).
During the first five years of the Weimar Republic, the communist agitation continued. But the threat of a right-wing coup was much larger. The extreme right had the necessary sympathy of the people and had armed gangs like the Brownshirts or Storm Troopers (Sturmabteilung).
Late 1923, during the French occupation of the Ruhr area, Hitler and his Brownshirts unleashed the “beer hall Putsch”. The police suppressed the disorder and Hitler was sentenced to five years imprisonment. He was only one year in jail, but in that year he wrote Mein Kampf, a turbid stream of personal memories, racism, nationalism, theory of history, and political commentary. Partly because his trial, Hitler was a political figure of national important and his book sold well.
In the years 1924-1929, when Germany went through a remarkable economic recovery, National Socialism lost much of its attraction. The Great Depression changed this radically. Germany had serious financial problems due to the loss of U.S. credits and unemployment rose to 6 million. The middle class, not even recovered from the 1923 hyperinflation, was hit hard again and lost all their confidence and hope. Support for the Communists grew. The Depression also fanned the German rejection of the Treaty of Versailles.
Hitler had breeding ground in this climate in a country which had little democratic tradition. He portrayed the Weimar Republic as an un-German by the victors imposed artificial system. He called for real democracy where the people would unite behind a decisive leader. The Germans had to rely only on themselves. He preached socialism and condemned the war profits, land speculation, interest slavery, and above all Jews.
The support for the Nazi’s grew at the elections of 1928, 1930, and 1932. But at the election of 1934 the Nazi’s lost some members and the Communists made a solid victory. Hitler seemed to have peaked. But he got support from conservative side: the old aristocracy, senior army officers, and captains of industry, who thought they could use him.
After some political intrigue Hitler was quite legally appointed as chancellor of the German Republic. He led a coalition cabinet with the nationalists. Hitler made new elections, which he manipulated with the fire in the Reichstag and his intimidating Brownshirts. Nevertheless, he got only 44% of the votes, so he still needed the nationalists. However, he granted unrestricted dictatorial powers because the serious situation in the country. The Nazi revolution was a fact.
V.3.2 The Nazi State
Hitler called Germany the Third Reich, after the Holy Roman Empire and Bismarck’s Second Reich. It exist remain one thousand years. He called himself “Fuhrer”, the embodiment of the absolute sovereignty of the German people.
Almost immediately, he introduced his “racial laws” in reference to Jews, who were expelled from politics, civil service, and other professions. Anti-Semitism adopted more and more brutal forms. The Kristallnacht of November 9, 1938, marked the start of an unprecedented genocide. In that night the SS destroyed thousands of Jewish shops, synagogues, and factories, and sent 30,000 Jews to concentration camps. Jews who tried to flee the Holocaust discovered that they weren’t always welcome in Europe or the U.S.
The new totalitarian state order became increasingly visible in monolithic structures. The old federal Germany was replaced by a German unity state, with only the Nazi Party permitted. Purification took place in the party. A system of the political police (Gestapo), people’s courts, and concentration camps suppressed all expression of divergent ideas. The Protestant and Catholic churches were “coordinated” with the regime, which meant that criticism was forbidden and that international contacts were strongly discouraged. The Hitler Jugend, schools, and universities were used for indoctrination.
Labor unions were also “coordinated” with the government. Strikes were prohibited. The “leadership principle” was introduced in companies: autocratic bosses under tight government supervision. The economy was injected by public works, reforestation programs, reclamation of wetlands, construction of highways, and above all a rearmament program.
While the companies stayed private, the state took control over the economy. The goal was absolute autarky, self-sufficiency, and independence from foreign trade. For substitution of materials the Germans developed chemical synthetic rubber, plastics, and synthetic fibers. A network of bilateral trade with mainly Eastern European countries was set up. Germany was transformed into a giant disciplined war machine in a few years.
V.3.3 Totalitarianism: Some Origins and Consequences
The totalitarian state is a many-sided thing. The first appearance was the Soviet regime which assumed a pseudo-democratic constitution. It respected individual human rights and condemned racism. Over time, these things proved unsustainable. A personality cult was growing around Stalin. Opponents disappeared in the Siberian labor camps, or worse.
The totalitarian state – not to be confused with a dictatorship – showed up after the First World War. But she was undeniably a result of a long historical process. Since the Middle Ages, the stage gained more power gradually: jurisdiction, standing state armies, taxation, economic policies, training and education of the youth, and welfare. The 20th century totalitarian state developed it to the extreme.
The 20th century dictators relied heavily on a philosophy that the society was a kind of living organism, in which an individual was no more than a cell. Because cells have no chance of survival outside the body, it had little use for individuals to have their own opinions. Valid ideas were only those of the state as a whole. The Enlightenment concepts of reason, natural law, and human rights disappeared.
Totalitarian regimes tried to influence the thoughts of people. Propaganda was one of the main tasks of the government, and they had an absolute monopoly on information. The government was capable to shape and manipulate the public opinion and rewrite history. The truth was equalized with the ideas, desires, and self-interest of those in power. People under totalitarian regimes were in practice less able to form an independent opinion.
The issue of racism also played a role in Nazi Germany. It can be seen as extreme exaggeration, or degeneration, of nationalism and national solidarity. Anti-Semitism was not a new phenomenon, but the Nazis took advantage of the situation that the Jews were fully integrated in high positions in the government and industry. They were therefore important competitors and no always popular. Something the propaganda could use to disguise the lack of results in addressing the real problems in society.
A key claim of totalitarian regimes was that they “solved” the class struggle. The common enemy (Communism or Fascism) was the mean to get all classes of society shoulder to shoulder. Dictators could blame the enemy easily and dismiss domestic critics as conspiracy. Dictatorships liked to suggest that a war between rich and poor countries could solve all social problems. And finally there was the glorification of violence. Lenin had shown that he could seize power with a small, well-organized group.
Gangs of uniformed brutes were very practical in the process of seizure power and fear the citizens. The youth movements learned young men to value their bodies and young women were taught to produce large families. With this flourishing body culture, the mind got rotten. People were relegated to animals: they bred the desired ones and killed the inferior.
V.3.4 The Spread of Dictatorship
In 1938, only 10 of the 27 European countries were democratic: North West Europe, Czechoslovakia, Finland, and Switzerland. Everywhere else the democratic institutions collapsed under the pressure of reactionary forces, fear of Bolshevism, a low developmental rate of the population, and dissatisfaction on the economic situation.
The new dictatorial and authoritarian regimes often relied on a combination of a strong man and military power. They also took fascist ideas. Salazar in Portugal, Dollfuss in Austria, and Franco in Spain are examples of this. All authoritarian regimes suppressed individual liberties, banned opposition parties, and rid themselves of parliament. Many, including Hungary, Romania, and Poland, adopted an anti-Semitic legislation.
The acceptance and glorification of violence caused that in National Socialist and Fascist spheres war was seen as a noble cause and love and peace was a sign of decadence. This, with the habit to blame foreigners for domestic problems, made war inevitable. The Second World War started in 1939.
V.4 The Weakness of the Democracies: Again to War
V.4.1 The Pacifism and Disunity of the West
Western pacifism and their acceptance of German claims encouraged dictators. One of the main reasons of the pacifism were the war losses: 1,4 million Frenchmen died. While French fascism was rising, France secured itself behind its border fortress. British fears lead the British pm to appeasement towards Hitler. The United States followed a policy of isolation, no involvement in Europe – despite President Roosevelt condemned aggression. Due resentment of anti-Bolshevik feelings, desire to have the 1914-borders, and fear for a German attack, the USSR called for collective security against Hitler. The European nations didn’t respond.
V.4.2 The March of Nazi and Fascist Aggression
Hitler could easily use the weakness that the Western states showed with their fears. Germany pulled out of the League of Nations in 1993, and one year later it annexed Austria (the forbidden Anschluss). Not the Western powers, but Mussolini stopped Hitler. When Hitler started openly building an army, the West did nothing. In 1938 he made an alliance with Mussolini and the way was open for the Anschluss. Italy didn’t gain colonies at Versailles, but saw a chance to attack Ethiopia in 1935 and enlarge their East African colonies. Economic sanctions were imposed by the League, but the members refused to include oil or to close the Suez Canal to Italian shipping.
V.4.3 The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939
Another crisis broke out in Spain (1931), when the new Republican government begun reforms which angered the Catholic Church and nationalists. The Popular Front (left-winged politicians united in one party) won the 1936 elections. This victory led to a right-winged revolt under conservative General Francisco Franco. France and Britain refused to help the Popular Front, only Russia sent aid, joined by individuals from the US (3,500) and Western Europe. The fascist states Germany and Italy supported Franco with troops and arms. As a result of the cooperation, the two countries began the Rome-Berlin Anti-Comintern Axis. Japan attacked China in 1937 and made the Axis powers a threesome.
V.4.4 The Munich Crisis: Climax of Appeasement
By annexing Czechoslovakia, Hitler added three million dissatisfied Sudeten Germans. The annexed country was a strategic keystone and was allied with France, the USSR, Yugoslavia and Romania. It had strong army, good munitions and good fortification. Due this event, the British began negotiating. The crisis seemed to threaten war when Hitler announced a conference in Munich with Italy, France and Britain, thus without the USSR. Nazi Germany’s terms were accepted and the Czechoslovaks forced to agree. Chamberlain returned to Britain with his famous words “it’s peace in our time.”
V.4.5 End of Appeasement
Appeasement was a vain hope when Hitler seized Memel, claimed the Polish Corridor and the port of Danzig, while Mussolini was ready to attack Albania. Britain guaranteed the Polish to support them, and attempt to ally with the USSR. However, the Soviets saw the western actions as a ploy to bring a German-Soviet war. They started negotiations, which resulted in the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. Poland was invaded and divided one week later. World War II had begun.
V.5 The Years of Axis Triumph
V.5.1 Nazi Europe, 1939-1940: Poland and the Fall of France
The Second World War opened with a one-month Blitzkrieg. The USSR took eastern Poland and the Baltic states. The Soviets invaded Finland (with success), whereby the Soviets were expelled from the League. Denmark and Norway were the next to fall for the Wehrmacht. The Netherlands and Belgium followed, and Germany was ready to invade France. The French signed an armistice on June 22, with northern France occupied by the Germans and Vichy France under collaborationist forces. Italy did also attack France, and later on Greece and parts of north Africa. With West Europe in his hands, Hitler created a “New Order” in style of Napoleon to coordinate and exploit resources, industry, and labor.
V.5.2 The Battle of Britain and American Aid
After the defeat of almost whole Western Europe, Britain remained the only one at war with Hitler. The Brits sought US help. Interventionists wanted to destroy fascism, but isolationism stayed strong.
Franklin D. Roosevelt amended the Neutrality Acts allowing the US to become “the great arsenal of democracy” to secure the freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear (Four Freedoms). The US began to build a large army with conscription, occupied the British bases in the Caribbean in exchange for some overage destroyers, and secured the bases Greenland and Iceland. Germany launched an attack on Great Britain –the Battle of Britain- but faced the strong Royal Air Force. Although Britain was disrupted, the country carried on.
V.5.3 The Nazi Invasion of Russia: The Russian Front, 1941-1942
At the same time, Germany was upset over the Soviet turns in both Baltic and Balkans. Hitler made alliances with Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, and tried to take over the Ukraine. The Soviets brought obstinate defense, while Hitler also had to help Mussolini in Greece. This delayed the war on the Eastern front and therewithal, winter was coming soon. In the delay the USSR could defeat the Nazi’s in a counterattack. Hitler made another attack in 1942, taking the Crimea and moving towards Stalingrad, while Moscow and Leningrad were also under fire. Again, the Soviets used the “scorched earth” tactics, as they did against Napoleon Bonaparte. Russians had a high morale to fight the Germans, since Hitler called them Untermenschen. The USSR defeated the Nazi’s on the Eastern front.
V.5.4 1942, the Year of Allied Dismay: Russia, North Africa, the Pacific
Italy also needed help in North Africa, so Rommel was sent to the desert. He launched an attack on the Suez Canal in 1942. Britain had crushed the Italians in Ethiopia, Somaliland and Libya, but Rommel’s army pushed the British back. Meanwhile, Japan had launched its attack on the Allies with attacks at US basis Pearl Harbor and the Philippines, and the annexation of British, French, and Dutch colonies. This all as a result of the US embargo on oil and scrap metal to Japan. In the Atlantic, a lot of boats sunk by attacks from the German U-boats. The year 1942 was the year of Allied dismay.
V.6 The Western-Soviet Victory
V.6.1 Plans and Preparations, 1942-1943
By 1942, 26 nations were forming the Grand Alliance, who declared war against the Axis. Britain and the United States combined their forces and strategy under the Chiefs of Staff. The Far East was given second priority. The Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway destroyed the Japanese hope, but a severe, bloody struggle remained. Stalin called for a real “second front” to relieve the pressure on the Soviet troops. While the US was preparing an invasion at the home front, Stalin had to wait until 1944 for a “real” second front.
V.6.2 The Turning of the Tide, 1942-1943: Stalingrad, North Africa, Sicily
The Allies did start a second front, but not the one that Stalin hoped for: an air war. The US was still mobilizing and shipped its goods to their Atlantic bases. The German u-boats were time after time victorious. The Allies responded with Jeep Carriers and the use of sonar to defeat the submarines.
The US launched an assault on Vichy French North Africa, but abstained to ask DeGaulle, the Free French leader, for help. Germany took over Vichy France. The British, under Montgomery, stopped Rommel at the Battle of El Alamein and moved westward. The Americans, under Eisenhower, moved eastwards. Aided by US trucks, machinery and war supplies, the Soviets defeated the Germans at Stalingrad. German and Italian troops were stuck in Tunisia in 1943 and Western troops could easily capture Sicily and invade southern Italy. Mussolini was overthrown and the new established Italian government joined the Allies.
V.6.3 The Allied Offensive in Europe, 1944-1945
Germany started to prepare Festung Europa for the expected Allied invasion. The US wanted a cross-Channel invasion, but Churchill opposed and the invasion of Europe delayed until June 6th, 1944: D-Day. 10,000 planes, 400 ships, and 150,000 men invaded the coast of Normandy, France. A few months later, Allied forces crossed the German border. Hitler started his counterattack in the Ardennes Forest, the Battle of the Bulge, in December, 1944. It didn’t work out. The Rhine was crossed in march, even though Germany used their V-2. Dresden was bombed in a “revenge” bombing, killing perhaps 100,000. The Soviets pushed Germany back till Poland, and was briefly stopped. The rising of the Warsaw resistance fighters was growing, hoping on Soviet support. The Germans crushed the resistance. Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary were then liberated. The US forces had stopped at the Elbe to allow the Soviets to capture Berlin. On May 8, two weeks after Hitler’s suicide, Germany surrendered.
V.6.4 The Holocaust
After the war, the horrors of fascist Germany became clear: the whole village of Lidice, Czechoslovakia, was executed; the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Dachau, Treblinka, Buchenwald, where 6 million Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Russians, and other minorities were killed in Hitler’s “Final Solution”.
V.6.5 The Last Phase of the War in the Pacific: 1944-1945
The war in the Pacific consisted of a series of amphibious assaults on islands (Guadalcanal, Tarawa), “island hopping”. In early 1945 the US marines captured the island of Iwo Jima. Okinawa and the end of the war were in sight, but they had to face Japanese kamikazes. Japan was shattered after air raids, but the Allies didn’t believe that Japanese were ready to negotiate and wanted unconditional surrender: they vanished Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs. The bombings killed over 160,000. At Yalta and Potsdam, the USSR declared war on Japan and attacks Manchuria. Japan surrenders in September, 1945. The Second World War took at least 45 million lives. Two-thirds were civilians.
VI.1 The Foundations of the Peace
The peace conditions developed gradually, initially on a number of conferences of the Allies during the war. In the years after the war they were recorded in a series of agreements with the defeated.
Already in 1941, when the United States weren’t at war yet, Roosevelt and Churchill created the Atlantic Charter in Newfoundland. In 1943 there was another meeting in Casablanca, where unconditional surrender was set as goal. Cairo and Tehran (Stalin present for the first time) followed, and finally the Yalta Conference in February, 1945. The series ended July, 1945, in Potsdam.
The Atlantic Charter breathed the spirit of Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points: recovery of sovereignty and self-governance, equitable access to the world and the world’s resources, cooperation between nations to improve living standards and economic security, freedom from fear and arbitrariness, and renunciation of violence and aggressions in international politics.
In Tehran, the Big Three discussed the post-war international order and the occupation and demilitarization of Germany. It was especially Churchill wanted to make agreements on these subjects, because he feared the excessive influence of the Soviet Union (SU). However, Roosevelt wanted to delay these decisions. He saw a revival of the old-fashioned balance of power politics. In early 1945, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin made agreements at Yalta on Poland and Eastern Europe, the future of Germany, the war in Asia, and the United Nations.
The most disagreements were about Poland and Eastern Europe. Stalin already installed a “friendly” government in Poland. Roosevelt and Churchill wanted democratic institutions and free elections in all liberated countries. The democratic institutions were there in theory, but in practice there were never free elections in Poland and Eastern Europe. It was agreed that the east and west borders of Poland would move 150 kilometres to the west, and that Germany was divided in four regions (France joined). After these occupation zones were divided, there would be discussed how much the German had to pay for reparations. Everybody was satisfied with the creation of the United Nations, that would try to ensure peace and security in the future. The organization offered also the smaller states to play a role, and the Great Powers could make important discussions in the Security Council.
Regarding the war in East Asia, Stalin promised to join against Japan after the German capitulation. As compensation he demanded the areas that were lost in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-1905, with addition of the Kurile Islands, which had never been Russian.
At the Potsdam Conference, July, 1945, the Big Three met again. But the composition was totally different. Roosevelt died in April and was replaced by Truman. Churchill was replaced by Atlee, whose Labour Party had won the British elections. Simultaneously, the disagreement between the Western Allies and the Soviets grew larger. Nevertheless, the leaders agreed on the German disarmament, the denazification, demilitarization, the prosecution of war criminals, and reparations.
German East Prussia was given to the USSR. Millions of Germans were driven from their homes in Poland and the Sudetenland and resettled in the new Germany. The Western Allies concluded peace with Japan in 1951, the USSR made a separate peace five years later. No final agreement was ever concluded on Germany.
VI.2 The Cold War: The Opening Decade, 1945-1955
Of all the issues that faced humankind from the second half of the 20th century, there were three were the most urgent: science, the organization of industrial society, and national sovereignty.
The problem of science was symbolized by the atomic bomb. It was realized that a Third World War could mean the end of humankind. Scientists insisted that science was neutral and that the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were examples of abusing scientific knowledge.
Regarding the organization of industrial society, there were clearly two models: communism (USSR, planned economy), and capitalism (US, free market economy). The Soviet system mainly suffered by the lack of political and economic freedom, which stifled the initiative of people. The capitalist system faces drawback in recurring economic crises.
Although the world became more and more interdependence, it was by no means homogeneous. No nation wanted to abolish their own values and way of living, no nation wanted to be subjected to another nation or an international problem. All states wanted to hold their national sovereignty.
In 1945, the United Nations were established to avoid war in the future. It provided a General Assembly, where all member states have an equal vote, and the Security Council, where the five Great Powers (US, USSR, Great Britain, France, and China) occupy a permanent seat and veto rights. In the beginning of the UN there were only 51 members, but membership expands (up to 192 in 2010). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but it didn’t specified how it should be introduced in practice. Additionally, no state wanted to subordinate its sovereignty to an international organ. Therefore, the UN did not succeeded in their planned role. Tensions between East and West grew, the two superpowers the United States and the Soviet Union went their own way.
Only in smaller conflicts the UN made successes. The General Assembly was more like a forum where each country could express their social grievances.
VI.2.1 The Cold War: Origins and Nature
After World War II, only the United States and the Soviet Union had some force. The US, with a country fully intact, began a economy stronger than ever. The SU had made huge losses, both human and material, but with its army of 4 million, and the control over Central and East Europe it also became a superpower. These two Great Powers overshadowed all other states. Balancing was difficult, as they saw all the actions of the other as aggression or provocation. The deepening diplomatic, geopolitical, and ideological gap between the two became known as the Cold War.
Although Stalin’s plans and intentions never came fully to the surface, it was clear that he saw great potential in the Soviet grip on the acquired areas to promote communism. The areas liberated through the Red Army were equipped with “friendly” governments by the Soviets. The occupation meant that they had the full control over the political, social, and economic institutions of these countries. US President Truman saw it as a task for the Americans to restrain this communist expansion urge. All the Western powers wanted democratic societies. However, they had no hold on Stalin, who justified the communist expansion as the need for security of the SU. The actions of the Soviets proved that it was not about security, but all about expansionism (Manchuria, North Korea, Iran, former Italian colonies in Africa, Dardanelles, etc.). Against this Soviet expansionism, the US started its containment policy.
The mutual distrust continued to grow. As a result, an American proposal to establish an international authority to control the use of nuclear energy was vetoed by the SU. Now Great Britain, fearing the isolationism politics of the US, also became a nuclear power. With the first successful nuclear bomb test of the SU, the nuclear arms race had started.
When the British could no longer afford to finance the anti-communist forces in Greece and Turkey, the US President Truman immediately helped. The Truman Doctrine (“the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures”) and the Marshall Plan announced to help the Western European economies recover, and were the main weapons against the communist expansion. Internally, the US took also measures. The National Security Council and the CIA were established.
The Soviets, in turn, called the Americans capitalists and imperialists. They felt surrounded and threatened by the US presence in Greece, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, and the Middle East. They responded with the reestablishment of the Comintern, now the Cominform, and the replacement of governments by communists regimes in Central and Eastern Europe.
VI.2.2 Germany: The Berlin Blockade and the Airlift of 1948-1949
Germany was the key to the reconstruction of Europe. The Allies, with each his own zone, had agreed on a joint policy. The Americans came to the conclusion that European recovery was best served by an economic reconstruction of Germany. The Soviets, in contract, were determined to use German resources in rehabilitation of their country, dragging large amounts of food and even complete factory inventories to the Soviet Union.
In the west, 1947, the US, Britain, and France merged their three zones into one administrative entity. In the east, the Soviets established a communist regime. In June 1948, the Western powers introduce the new Deutsche Mark. The Soviet Union replied with a road and rail blockade of Berlin. The Western allies organized a massive airlift to supply their troops and 3 million people in West Berlin.
Meanwhile, the formation of governments was going on. In 1948 the Federal Republic of Germany with is capital Bonn was established, one month later the German Democratic Republic with its capital East Berlin.
VI.2.3 The Atlantic Alliance
The United States, Canada, and ten European nations formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949. It was for an indefinite time and with a broad scope. An armed attack against one or more members, would be considered as a attack against all members. 300,000 NATO troops were stationed in West Germany, since that was the most vulnerable region of Europe. Because of the force majeure of Russian troops, the strategy of the NATO was also based on superiority in the skies. The Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and the NATO were the three main answers on the potential Soviet threat.
The Marshall Plan provided a quickly recovering of Western Europe, so that they could arm themselves. While the West considered these activities as purely defensive, the Soviets saw aggression and hostility. Russia answered in 1949 with the Comecon, an economic cooperation between communist states, and the Warsaw Pact in 1955, a military cooperation with the Central and East European states.
The Truman Doctrine could be considered as a success. The Soviets left for example Iran and Turkey. Communist agitation in the West did not lead to big results, and Yugoslavia under Tito had gone entirely its own communist way. The Soviet threat had diminished, but did not disappear. There was a stalemate in Europe, a division between east and west. This division shifted to Asia.
VI.2.4 The Revival of Japan
The communists under Mao Zedong defeated the nationalists in China. The occupation of Japan by the Americans, from 1945 to 1952, was used to establish parliamentary institutions and to revive the economy. While the Japanese was left in his pride, but his sovereignty was taken. The Japanese constitution rejected war “forever”, the military had a strictly defensive task. The social and economic reforms were in practice less radical than originally meant.
The conservative majority placed heavy emphasis on economic reconstruction and growth. Like Western Europe, Japan recovered rapidly. US aid, self-discipline, a social pattern of respect and loyalty, and close cooperation between government and industry promoted social harmony, research, and thus economic growth. The economy grew 10% each year since the 50s. There was a shortage of manpower, but this problem disappeared soon since Japan became the leading nation in automation and technological innovation.
VI.2.5 Containment in Asia: The Korean War
After the Japanese capitulation, Korea was divided with the Soviets in the north and the Americans in the south. Discussions about a unified Korea failed. As a result North Korea became communistic, South Korea became a US “friendly” state.
After the settlement of Kim Il Sung in North Korea and the elections in South Korea, both SU and US took their occupation army home.
Meanwhile, the SU and the People’s Republic of China (PRC, communist) signed a mutual defence treaty, as they saw the economic recovery of Japan as a threat. The small Republic of China (Nationalist China, “Taiwan”) had a permanent seat in the Security Council, instead of the enormous People’s Republic. Because of this the SU boycotted the meetings of the Security Council. So when North Korea invaded the south, the SU couldn’t veto against any countermeasures for North Korea of the Security Council. Although the Soviets were also surprised by the invasion, the Americans were sure that the SU was responsible for this action. UN troops led by MacArthur were sent to Korea.
In the summer of 1950, the UN troops were driven back. But MacArthur fought back, almost till the Chinese border. This was too much for Mao, and he sent a large Chinese voluntary army to the battlefield. In no time the UN troops were back at the Korean border, the 38th parallel. In July, 1953, a truce was signed. The 38th parallel became a demilitarized buffer zone.
Each North-Korea, South-Korea, and China lost over a million in the war. The US spent $15,- billion in this war, 54,000 US troops were killed. The war was seen in America as an example of containment. For Europe, the US steadfastness was reassuring. In the communistic world and non-communistic Asian states, it was seen as the stop of American capitalists imperialism in Asia. Nevertheless, the Korean War marked the beginning of an era of prominent US presence in Asia. The war had political consequences in Europe. In 1954, West Germany was allowed to build an state army, albeit under the command of NATO. West Germany joined the NATO one year later.
The Korean War hastened a peace treaty with Japan. In 1951, Japan signed peace with 50 countries, except for the Soviet Union that still occupied the Kurile Islands. The US retained some military privileges in Japan, but ended the occupation one year later. They also made a few security treaties with Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
VI.3 Western Europe: Political Reconstruction
Also in politics, Western Europe needed major reconstructions. Except for Spain and Portugal, who retained their pre-war dictatorship, the parliamentary democracy was restored everywhere. Those restorations were however accompanied by complications. Beside a new spirit wandered through Europe. Especially wartime resistance movements called for a federal union of Europe to prevent future wars.
After the first elections, which confirmed this spirit of reform, politics turned back to old patterns. The idea of the welfare state stayed very important and politics became more pragmatic and less ideological. The Socials Democrats accepted capitalism, but they believed that they were the only to manage that system. Strong Communist parties complicated the matter in France and Italy. The Christian Democrats dominated the politics in West Germany, France, and Italy for a long time.
VI.3.1 Great Britain: Labour and Conservative
In the 1945 elections the Labour Party won the First absolute majority in its history. Great Britain became the example of parliamentary socialism and the modern welfare state under prime minister Atlee. Nationalization of the central bank, coal mining, energy companies, and the industry meant that the country had a mixed economy. Other important measures that Labour made were the coverage of social security, a comprehensive national health care, and a sharp increase in the rates of income tax and inheritance tax.
The Labour government was replaced by the Conservatives in 1951 to 1964. They turned back some nationalization processes, but didn’t change the welfare state. That became a problem, because the economy wasn’t going that well. The liquidation of foreign investments to pay for the war, the loss of export markets, and a decline in the surplus on the services balance had a strong negative effect on the balance of payments. A modest prosperity could still generate through financial aid from the U.S., but the British didn’t succeed in modernizing their obsolete capital goods and infrastructure. Conservatives and Labour blamed each other for the malaise, but both didn’t solve the problems. The economy became further behind at the end of the 60s, when the inflation grew and trade unions began strikes.
In the meantime, Britain is facing continuing troubles in Northern Ireland where the Catholic minority felt politically and economically discriminated. The first open violence occurred in 1969, sparked by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Protestant extremists. The conflict would cost more than 3,000 lives.
VI.3.2 The French Republic: Fourth and Fifth
After the liberation, Resistance hero Charles de Gaulle became provisional president. Elections for a Constituent Assembly gave a majority for the Communists, Socialists, and progressive Catholics, who formed a provisional government. The political left made a systematic cleansing of collaborators, even though the degree of guilt was often difficult to establish. The debate about collaboration remained in the French political agenda for a long time.
The Fourth Republic differed little with the Third in government instruments: a ceremonial president, a prime minister, and a government that took off accountability to an all-powerful National Assembly. De Gaulle, who foresaw the chaos of the Third Republic, resigned out of protest. When the Communists encouraged strikes in 1947, they were put out of the government. The Socialists and Catholics went further together in a series of unstable cabinets. From time to time De Gaulle appeared on the political stage with his “Rassemblement du Peuple Francais”, which he positioned above the parties.
Despite the political instability, the Fourth Republic succeeded to implement new economic legislation and social security. Until the mid sixties the French production tripled and the country took important steps towards integration in the European market.
The colonials problems toppled the Fourth Republic. From 1946 to 1954 French troops fought in vain against the independence movements in Indochina. After the French withdrawal from Asia, the Algerian war started. The Europeans in Algeria and the High Command of the French army were adamantly against a French withdrawal and commited a coup in 1958 in Algiers. A civil war seems possible. One man could clarify the matter: De Gaulle. In June of that year the National Assembly appointed him prime minister with unlimited powers during six months to prepare a new constitution.
In autumn 1958 the new constitution of the Fifth Republic was approved in a referendum. The presidency was the strongest institution with authority on foreign affairs and defense. The president could appoint the prime minister and dissolve the National Assembly as well. The political instability had disappeared as De Gaulle took office. He solved the Algerian crisis by making Algeria gradually independent. In 1962 Algeria became independent. The loss of a colony was softened by peace, economic prosperity, and stable governments. France became a big military power in the world again, with nuclear weapons.
The old democracy with its emphasis on parliamentary debate took place for a more direct plebiscite. The old parties were impotent, the government consisted of technocrats and presided the uncrowned monarch De Gaulle. In the late 60s skepticism about De Gaulle grew. In May 1968, students and workers started a revolt. De Gaulle survived because of his army. After he was reelected, the revolt seemed to be forgotten. But after he lost a referendum on constitutional reforms, he resigned. The contribution of De Gaulle to France is undoubtedly the political stability of the Fifth Republic.
VI.3.3 The Federal Republic of Germany
In 1945-1946, Nuremberg was the scene of the International Military Tribunal, where Nazi leaders and organizations came up for trial because of crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Despite the high moral level and administrative judicial scrutiny, there was criticism on the process. Nevertheless, the Nuremberg trials contributed to setting down internationally accepted standards of civilized behavior.
“Denazification” took place in German society. However, it was hard to exclude all those who had been members of a Nazi organization from public office. The worst criminals were brought to justice, but the issue of compensation to survivors or relatives of victims was only settled at the end of the 20th century.
The divided Germany was the theater of the Cold War. While the DDR was a satellite of the Soviet Union, the BDR rapidly developed into a prosperous parliamentary democracy, capitalistic, but with generous social services. The social market economy pioneered the raising of capital and labor, which unions became social partners in an expanding economy.
In the BDR, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Social Democrats became the major parties. CDU ruled uninterrupted from 1949 to 1969, the first 14 years under Adenaurer. It was under his strong leadership that the Wirtschaftswunder took place and that the country regained its full sovereignty. West Germany integrated politically, economically, and military completely in Western Europe.
The Social Democrats, who renounced the Marxist ideology in 1959, gained more support in the German society. In 1965 they joined a grand coalition of Christian Democrats and Liberals. Willy Brandt was Minister of Foreign Affairs in this coalition and he launched his “Ostpolitik” in which he tried to build bridges towards the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Brandt concluded treaties with the Russians and the Poles. He also acknowledged the DDR and he promoted trade relations between the two Germanies. He resigned in 1974 due to a spy scandal. His successor Schmidt put forth Brandt’s policies. Within ten years after the Second World War the BDR became a major economic and politic power in the NATO. The ardently desired reunification with the DDR was still unlikely.
VI.3.4 The Italian Republic
After twenty years of repression, the political parties came back to life after the fall of Mussolini in 1943. The new Italian Republic had a constitution with a ceremonial president, a Cabinet government and supreme legislative assembly. The Christian Democrats were the dominant party and took permanently part of the government coalition. Their social-economic program consisted of a free market economy with some regulation and the Catholic social doctrine regarding labor. The second largest party in Italy, the Communists, were put out of the cabinet after the encouraged strikes in 1947. They achieved approximately 30% of the votes, but a Communist involvement in the government was a taboo for the Christian Democrats.
Over time, the Christian Democratic Party formed coalitions with small center parties, a juggernaut that was mainly on retaining power. The participation of the Socialists in the government made little difference in the sixties. After the Communists loosened their ties with Moscow en renounced their attacks on the church, their support grew even bigger. They became the architects of “Euro-Communism”, that wanted to pursue its goals by parliamentary means. They condemned the Russian actions in Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968) and even supported Italy’s membership of NATO. But even when they got 35% of the votes in the mid 70s, the Christian Democrats refused any cooperation.
The unstable political climate didn’t prevent the Italians to come to an unprecendented economic growth and prosperity. In a short time the country transformed from a predominantly agrarian society to one of the leading industrial nations of the world. Only the underdeveloped south remained a problem.
VI.4 The Communist World: The USSR and Eastern Europe
VI.4.1 Stalinism in the Postwar Years
When Stalin died in 1953, he left a country behind that he had changed extremely. Russia had strongly industrialized, had won the war against Germany, expanded its territory and satellite states, and emerged as a nuclear power. However, he human cost of this transformation were enormous.
Famine, caused by the collectivization of agriculture, and the purges under Stalin’s regime killed 20 million people. The Stalinist terror was ongoing during the Second World War. There were forced relocations of Crimean Tatars and Volga Germans to Siberia, and mass deportations of Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians. War prisoners were send to labor camps. The repression became nationalistic and xenophobic. Anti-Semitism grew.
VI.4.2 Khrushchev: The Abortive Effort at Reform
It was decided that there should be a collective leadership. A coup secret police head Beria failed, and Nikita Khrushchev emerge as the new leader. He recognized the need for change, even though he was an old faithful to Stalin and the party. He allowed more cultural and intellectual freedom, and restricted the power of the secret police. The crimes of the Stalin era were openly discussed. It looked like an thaw in the USSR, Khrushchev’s “thaw”.
Yet the that in Soviet society was never systematic. Boris Pasternak was not allowed to receive his Nobel Prize in 1958. Decentralization was pursued in economics. Factory managers gained greater autonomy and could be rewarded for efficiency and profitability. But still, the focus was on heavy industry and defense: the hydrogen bomb, exploring space, and intercontinental missiles. Obviously at the expense of the Russian people. Quantity was more important than quality.
Khrushchev clearly failed in some areas. Agriculture was the weakest sector since the collectivization. Expansion of the area failed. Furthermore, he did little to reform the bureaucratic system of state and party. The party itself opposed. The “apparatchiks” saw their privileges threatened. He overreached himself in the Cuban missile crisis. All these things contributed to Khrushchev’s fall in 1964. He was succeeded by Leonid I. Brezhnev.
VI.4.3 Eastern Europe: The Decades of Dictatorship
After the Second World War, 11 states had a communist regime. The Baltic states were already part of the USSR in 1940. Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria were liberated by the Red Army and got “friendly” governments. The Soviet occupied part of Germany became the DDR, a Soviet satellite as well. Yugoslavia and Albania were liberated by their own (communist) partisans and had a much looser relationship with the Soviet Union. Finland managed to stay out of Soviet hands by a strict neutrality policy. Austria received independence as neutral state after ten years of Allied occupation.
VI.4.4 Consolidation of Communist Control
The Soviet occupation made it for exiled communist leaders possible to return to their country and participate in the government. Opponents were eliminated. The free elections that Stalin promised, were a joke.
The new regimes expropriated the landowners and divided the land among millions of small farmers. The economy was brought under the control of the state and opponents were silenced. Members of the opposition, including religious leaders, fled to the West or were put in prison. From 1949, even members of the Communist party were no longer safe. Eastern Europe became as well the scene of Stalinist purges.
The new “people’s democracies” started with the collectivization of agriculture. Some countries went very far, like Bulgaria, some hardly began, like Poland. Agriculture remained the weakest link in the economy. There was lot of investment in heavy industry. Their economies were complementary to the Russian. The collaboration advantaged the USSR. With the Warsaw Pact, the Russians stationed troop throughout Eastern Europe.
The Yugoslav leader Tito had both internally and externally his own policy. He regularly took a stand against Moscow and associated himself with a group of neutralist countries in Asia and Africa.
VI.4.5 Ferment and Repression in East Germany, Poland, and Hungary, 1953-1956
Resistance occurred in many eastern European countries after Stalin’s death. Riots in East Berlin were quickly suppressed in 1953. But Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin, and Tito’s recognition of “different roads to socialism” opened a Pandora’s box.
By Communist leaders initiated riots broke out in Poland and Hungary in 1956. The Polish Communist leader Wladyslaw Gomulka softened political and economic coercion. He improved the relations with the Catholic Church as well. The reforms, which also limited the power of the police, lasted only a short time.
In Hungary, the uprising went dramatically. The previously ousted reformist Communist Imre Nagy returned and began to soften the ties with Moscow immediately. The alarmed Soviets replaced him with the more subservient János Kádar and sent tanks and artillery to beat the “counter revolution”. Nagy was imprisoned and murdered. 200,000 Hungarians fled to the West. The Russian tanks had destroyed any illusion of a more liberal direction of Stalin’s successors.
VI.5 The Communist World: Mao Zedong and the People’s Republic of China
VI.5.1 The Civil War
The civil war that raged intermittently since 1927 and was “suspended” in 1937, broke out after the Japanese defeat in 1945. The Nationalists of Chiang Kai-shek and the Communists under Mao Zedong challenged each other over the sovereignty of Manchuria. Despite considerable U.S. support, the nationalist lost support throughout China. In the fall of 1949, Chiang had to retreat to Taiwan, where he established the Republic of China. On October 1st, Mao proclaimed the People’s Republic of China.
VI.5.2 Mao: The New Regime
Until his death in 1976, Mao Zedong was the undisputed leader of the party that created modern China. He ruled party and people with an iron help, with the help of periodic cleansing. He was, at all costs, determined to industrialize and modernize his country. He leaned heavily on the experience of the Soviet Union. His party controlled the government at all levels and the information was manipulated. It was a reign of terror of 50 years which cost the lives of millions.
He mobilized the entire nation to rebuild the economy and transform the country into an industrial superpower. The first Five Year Plan focused mainly on heavy industry. Agriculture was less successful due droughts and flooding.
The desired development went too slow, so Mao launched the Great Leap Forward in 1957. The small cooperatives in rural areas were converted into larger “people’s communes”. Community kitchens, kindergartens, and schools made it possible for women to work in factories. It became a disaster. Mao underestimated the resistance of the peasantry. This resistance and some bizarre experiments brought a famine, who killed probably 30 million people. Eventually, the toughest measures were suspended and some farmers could produce little for themselves.
Nevertheless, the industrial factor made big progresses. By 1960, China reached the top ten in the world in terms of industrial output. The country started using high technology: in 1967 it tested the hydrogen, and in 1970 the first Chinese space satellites were circling around planet earth.
Life in China changed. Road, rail, and air transport made the country more unified. Hygiene and health had high priority. There was progress on combating illiteracy. Some steps were made to use one national language. Emancipation of women was facilitated by a number of legislative measures. The Chinese Revolution undoubtedly changed the habits and character of a huge population, albeit at high cost.
In 1966, the country was stirred by Mao’s Cultural Revolution. He called to a large-scale purging of the highest officials of government and party, and removed all bureaucrats who lacked the social revolution. For this purpose, he mobilized millions of young people, the Red Guards, who harassed and humiliated government officials, teachers, and professors. Particularly intellectuals had to pay.
The army intervened with Mao’s consent when it threatened to be to harmful. A period of great turbulence followed. Managers, teachers, students, and party officials were forced to go to the countryside to experience farm life, merely because Mao proclaimed the virtues of farmland. The result was that the economic and the educational system stalled completely. Within the party thousands of officials were purged.
After 1971, Mao pulled back in a self-imposed isolation. When the Great Helmsman died in 1976, the whole country mourned. His theory was published in the little Red Book, which is widely studied and often cited. Mao had given China self-respect, confidence, industrialization, unity, and respect, but he was with his radical experiments and uncontrolled violence one of the most brutal dictators ever.
VI.5.3 Foreign Affairs
The rise of China undermined the ideological leadership of the Soviet Union. This meant that the relations between both countries were initially cool. The Chinese got military, financial, and technical assistance from the Russians in the 50s, but the Korean War brought them closer together.
The People’s Republic conducted usually an aggressive foreign policy. The occupation of Tiber and the border conflicts with India are clear examples. In the 60s the relationship with the USSR became more strained. In 1972 it came even close to an armed border conflict in Manchuria. They reduced their troops in 1980.
Relations with the United States were greatly troubled by the US refusal to replace China for Taiwan in the United Nations and in the Security Council. Relations were normalized when China could enter the Security Council in 1971 and President Nixon visited China the following year. Mao’s successors were more peaceful.
VI.6 Confrontation and Détente, 1955-1975
Peaceful coexistence seemed possible after the death of Stalin. In 1955, the Cold War had stabilized. The Korean War was over and the Iron Curtain in Europe that diminished the threat between NATO and Warsaw Pact. Nevertheless, the US continued their containment policy under Eisenhower. Tension rose again when the Soviets demanded the departure of Western powers in Berlin. Eisenhower refused, and the crisis ebbed away. In 1960, Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev publicized the proof of US reconnaissance flights over Soviet territory. The relations that were improved, crumbled again.
The US Cold War policy existed both of the acceptance of Soviet hegemony in the east, and of the “Eisenhower Doctrine”, which offered protection against communism to every government. The Americans believed that anxiety was always and everywhere a consequence of Soviet interference. This premise sometimes prevented the US from understanding the complex local causes of regional conflicts.
With the launched space satellites Sputnik and Explorer 1, and the development of intercontinental nuclear missiles, a new kind of arms race, based on mutual deterrence instead of massive retaliation, had started. It was the French De Gaulle who, fearing Europe as a nuclear battlefield, called Western Europe for a more independent attitude. He withdrew from the integrated NATO military command in 1966.
VI.6.1 The Kennedy Years, 1961-1963
The most serious, direct Soviet-American confrontations occurred during the brief presidency of John F. Kennedy. He took steps to US hegemony by improving the military, space missions, and development aid.
In Cuba, 1961, Kennedy had inherited an explosive situation. Fidel Castro was driven into Soviets arms by Eisenhower’s embargo. Shortly after Kennedy’s inauguration, the by CIA planned and sponsored invasion in the Bay of Pigs failed. In the same year, the Soviets demanded again the departure of Western troops in Berlin and again an US President rejected. While the crisis diminished, the Soviets began building the Berlin Wall.
VI.6.2 The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962
Partly to prevent a second US invasion, Krushchev stationed soldiers and technicians in Cuba to build a missile base. Kennedy and his advisers, who feared a nuclear war, didn’t rush. They agreed to a blockade of the island, hoping to prevent further deliveries of weapons and other goods. Krushchev returned two cargo ships. In exchange for US promises not to invade Cuba, he agreed with the removal of the missiles. The eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation was over. Despite the fact that he made the Americans remove their missiles in Turkey, Krushchev lost face and had to resigned as party leader in 1964. Meanwhile, both US and SU expanded their nuclear arsenals.
VI.6.3 The United States and the Vietnam War
By the struggle against communistic expansion the US became entangled in increasingly violent hostilities in Southeast Asia. After the partition of Vietnam in 1955, an independent republic was established in the south, while in the north the communists under Ho Chi Minh formed a government. A guerrilla war between communist resistance fighters, the Vietcong, and governments forces quickly developed in South Vietnam. The guerrillas were supported by North Vietnam, while that country was backed by the SU and China.
South Vietnam was supported by the US, and this support was growing and growing. In 1964, after the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin, Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson ordered air strikes against North Vietnam. He obtained permission from Congress to “take all necessary measures” to defend the US and its ally South Vietnam. In 1969, more than half a million American soldiers were stationed in Vietnam, but they couldn’t succeed in their fight against the North Vietnamese.
Meanwhile in Europe, there was a growing criticism of the US presence in Southeast Asia. The US itself was the scene of anti-war demonstrations. Some opponents argued whether it was the US its responsibility to contain communist aggression around the world.
The war became an obsession for Johnson, but when it became clear that victory had become very unlikely, he decided to stop the massive bombings. Peace talks were underway in Paris. Johnson’s successor Richard Nixon promised “Vietnamization” of the war and began withdrawing troops. When the talks stalled and the North Vietnamese troops captured more terrain, Nixon resumed the bombing.
While the demonstrations in the US were growing bigger and bigger, secretary of state Henry Kissinger started secret talks with North Vietnam. This led to a cease-fire in January 1973. Three months later all US troops left Vietnam, a communist victory. The hostilities between North and South Vietnam continued. The countries were unified under communist rule in 1975. Cambodia and Laos did also get a communist regimes.
The costs of the war were extremely high. Nearly 1,3 million Vietnamese and 60,000 Americans died in the war. Congress passed a new legislation, because the war created a mistrust of presidential power. The images of the atrocities and the demoralization of many veterans caused a scar in the American history. Technological superiority wasn’t trained against opponents who were highly motivated for their revolutionary nationalist goal.
In 1975, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, led by the communist Pol Pot, came to power. They subjected the country to a devastating terror in which over 2 million Cambodians were killed. When Pol Pot also proved to be more pro-Chine than Vietnamese liked, Vietnam invaded the country The Cambodian regime fell in 1979.
VI.6.4 Brezhnev: The “Prague Spring”
Krushchev’ successor Leonid I. Brezhnev continued the arms race with the US, but avoided direct confrontations. In early 1968, the reformist Dubcek, who wanted to abolish the one party rule, came to power in Czechoslovakia.
Brezhnev suppressed this “Prague Spring” with a force of 250,000 men. He stated in his “Brezhnev Doctrine” that every communist country has the right to protect itself against internal and external forces that want a restoration of a capitalist regime.
The US wished not to interfere in this issue and reconfirmed that Eastern Europe belonged to the Soviet sphere of influence. However, Western Europe, including communist parties, strongly condemned the brutal Russian intervention.
VI.6.5 Brezhnev and Nixon
Nixon and Kissinger pursued a policy of systematic détente in the post Cold War. This policy arose from a review of the political realities in the world, whereby the emergence of superpower China played an important role. After the US withdrew its objections against the People’s Republic of China in the UN Security Council instead of Taiwan, Nixon made an unexpected visit to Beijing in 1972.
The US opening to China increased the pressure on the Soviets to pursue détente. The US offered access to Western technology, credit, and cereals. The relaxation was mainly embodied in the so-called SALT I treaty, based on mutual reduction of strategic arms. The main contribution of this treaty to the world, was that it diminished the fear of a unilateral attack and offered the prospect for further talks.
It also brought the opportunity to settle or phase some unresolved issues of World War II. In 1977, 35 countries, including the 16 NATO members and 7 countries of the Warsaw Pact, signed the Helsinki accords. They promised to pursue peace, economic and cultural cooperation, and to protect human rights. The concession on human rights was for the Soviets a small price since they got economic and other benefits of détente. The accords were undoubtedly the high point of Cold War détente.
VII.1 Anti-Imperialist Movements in Asia
VII.1.1 Resentments in Asia
Asian nations had always been unhappy with the position they were forced by the European expansion. In both 'real' in the name of the colonies as independent countries, the monopoly privileges and special rights of Europeans are increasingly condemned as "imperialism". Imperialism meant for Asians:
exploiting their resources and their labor by the Europeans;
forced to learn a European language (fear for the survival of their ancient cultures);
joining in wars that Europeans had begun - the racial superiority and the consciousness that all whites showcased.
More and more often the self-conscious Asians began to revolt against the imperialistic system that humiliated them and made them second-class citizens in their own societies. To make this possible, they often used Western science, technology and organizational skills to attack their oppressors.
In the first decade of the 20th century there were anti imperialistic revolts in Persia (1906), the Ottoman Empire (the Young Turks, 1908) and in China (overthrow of Qing dynasty, 1911). In all three cases the people rebelled against the own old monarch, who was blamed for being secondary to the Western imperialists, so that the country could be modernized to European democratic standards.
VII.1.2 First World War and the Russian Revolution
The First Wold War in some way affected all the people of Asia. The Ottoman Empire associated itself with the Germans and China associated itself with the Allies. Iran tried to remain neutral, but became a battlefield for the British, Turkish, and Russian troops. The war was an economic boost to the Dutch, French and British colonies. The production of food, oil and other commodities sharply increased because of the war. India started to develop its own steel industry.
Because of the upcoming economies the colonial powers were forced to make concessions when it came to self-government. India, the Dutch East Indies and French Indochina created an advisory body, partly elected, partly appointed, consisting of both native and Europeans.
The Russian Revolution contributed to the unrest in Asia. According to the Marxist-Leninist ideology imperialism was the last phase of capitalistic economies. Nationalism and the independence movement in Asia got an anti-capitalistic signature. The Bolsheviks saw a chance to broaden their chances for a world revolution. Apart from a handful Asian radical in Moscow, the Bolsheviks didn’t succeed. They’ve failed, mainly because of the strength of nationalism in the Asian countries. Nationalism in Asia was more important than any other ‘ism’, including socialism.
VII.1.3 The Turkish and Persian Revolutions
After the end of the world, all problems weren’t solved in Turkey. A Greek invasion of the Anatolian peninsula in 1921 was supported by the West. The Turkish people were considered to be barbaric and incompetent. Also the Italians and French set foot on the Turkish shores. Within two years they were evicted by the troops of Musthapha Kemal, who was helped by the Russians. Kemal hereby secured the Anatolian peninsula and the surroundings of Istanbul.
The leadership of Kemal meant a chain revolution. The sultanate was thrown over, the Turkish republic was established (1923), and the sovereignty of the Turkish people was called. Also the modern state with universal suffrage was called, plus a parliament and a strong president. 1,4 million Greeks, who had present for 4000 years, were traded for 400.000 Turks who lived in Northern Greece. This meant a lot of suffering for Greece, but the Turkish population became homogenous.
The Islamic world got to know a novelty; an absolutely separation of state and church. Islamic laws were replaced by new legislation, based on Swiss law. Polygamy was banned and Mustapha Kemal asked the women of Turkey to drop the veils. Furthermore, the Western alphabet and surnames were introduced. Thus Kemal became Ataturk.
In 1933 a five year plan was adopted. This plan foresaw the establishment of industries, development of mines and the construction of infrastructure works. A modern Turkey was in the making. In Persia a similar change was happening. A much less drastic revolution, but it was Reza Khan who committed a coup in 1921. In 1925 he became shah. Old licences and agreements (oil) were cancelled and renegotiated. This gave the Persians greater control over their mineral resources. Next foreign concessionaires were given. In 1935 the country was renamed Iran.
VII.1.4 The National Movement in India: Gandhi and Nehru
Gandhi was the leader of a new movement for Indian independence, using non-violence and passive resistance, civil disobedience, and boycotts. He severely hurt British exports. The British maintained that the religious divisions in India would bring anarchy with independence. Many moderates agreed and wanted cooperation. Others, including Jawaharlal Nehru, were affected by Marxism and saw the USSR as a model for development. The British gradually drifted to increased Indian participation and reform.
The Dutch East Indies was much quieter until after World War II. Only the efforts of the Dutch had created a nation from such a diversity of peoples, now opposition to the Dutch gave a sense of unity and cohesion.
VII.1.5 The Chinese Revolution: The Three People’s Principles
The Chinese revolution of 1911 brought a military dictator (Yüan Shih-kai) to power in Beijing, with Sun Yat-sen forming his Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) in the south. Yuan died in 1916 and Dr Sun was proclaimed president of a rival government in Canton. Much of China came under the rule of provincial war-lords.
Sun was influenced by Western liberal theories. His Three People’s Principals stressed the idea of democracy, nationalism, and livelihood. Economic exploitation should be ended, but the breakdown of individual liberty was needed for cohesion. He sympathized Lenin, but was no Marxist. He felt eliminating foreign imperialism would en capitalistic land ownership. He wanted to develop industry, so China needed foreign loans and experts. Sun went to Versailles to attack the “treaty system” of extra-territoriality and Western privilege. He also wanted to have the territories that Germany gave to Japan. His failure led to widespread demonstrations in 1919. This heightened the anti-foreign consciousness in China. Sun now turned to the USSR, which sent military equipment, army instructors, and party organizers.
VII.1.6 China: Nationalists and Communists
The Guomindang launched a political and military offensive, planned by Russian advisers and supported by the Chinese Communists. Their leader was Chiang Kai-shek, who succeeded Sun after his death in 1925. By 1928 Chiang had take Peking and transferred the capital to Nanking. He gained at least the support of provincial warlords. Western nations pledged to end extra-territoriality and to surrender tariff control.
Chiang was mainly supported by wealthy, conservative elements. But now he broke with the Communists. He pruged the left, executing many. Mao Zedong and Chu Teh now formed a Red Army in the mountains. The Guomindang became conservative and opposed reforms. Mao, meanwhile, fed on popular discontent arid drew support from peasants by systematically expropriating large estates for distribution. The Guomindang launched an attack on Mao with an German equipped army. With the attack of Japan in 1937, Chiang reluctantly agreed to a “united front” against Japanese aggression.
VII.1.7 Japan: Militarism and Aggression
Japan didn’t like Chinese rising nationalism. It had taken German concessions in China. During the war it had replaced Europe as a source of cheap textiles. It needed raw materials and markets to survive. However, the Chinese nationalists wanted high tariffs to develop their own industry. During the 20s, Japan had become a civilian, liberal, Western-orientated country. But the Diet was really weak since the power in hands of a strong military with economic power. Japan had strong nationalism, and saw the West as decadent and urged expansion. Japanese policy became aggressive when nationalist political power grew after 1927.
Japanese army units began seizing Chinese arsenals and seizing territory in 1931. Angered at a Chinese boycott of Japanese goods, Japan landed 70,000 troops at Shangai and declared Manchurian independence as Manchukuo, a puppet state in 1932. The Chinese appealed to the League of Nations. The League condemned the action and Japan withdrew from the League. The great powers saw no threat to their interests since the world was too preoccupied with the problem of the Great Depression.
VII.2 Western Europe: Economic Reconstruction
The Second World War had ruined the economies of Europe. Moreover, Europe was not able to trade with their traditional overseas market through transport and trade issues after the war. In the meantime the colonies in South America, Africa, and Asia built their own industries and trade contacts with the United States. The Europeans used their expertise and work force in the struggle to rebuild their countries. They didn’t want to be saved by one of the two superpowers. They wanted to find their own way out of this trouble.
VII.2.1 The Marshall Plan and European Recovery
The US economy had seen a massive expansion grew during the Second World War. Despite predictions of a postwar depression, the economy continued to grow steadfastly in the 50s and 60s. The Western European countries arrived almost to their pre-war level in 1947, but a poor harvest threatened the economic growth. Partly caused by French and Italian Communist parties, which proclaimed strikes, social unrest grew. The US began to worry about the political stability in Western Europe.
In June 1947, the American Secretary of State George C. Marshall lanced a plan to coordinate the economic aid to Europe. He called it a plan against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos. He offered the aid also to the Soviet Union and its allies, to underline the apolitical character.
The Russians refused, but the Western European countries seized it with both hands. The Office for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) in Paris worked closely with the American in identifying projects, coordination of planning, and allocating funds. The results surpassed expectations. Western Europe improved their production capacity and infrastructure in a short time. The cooperation and trade between went better, partly through the elimination of import tariffs. The Marshall Plan led to a significant acceleration of economic recovery. Despite the fact that the US actually helped competitors, the Plan was as well good for the US, because it repaired markets for American products.
VII.2.2 Economic Growth in Western Europe
In West Germany, the Marshall Plan, the introduction of the Deutsche Mark, and the Korean War, which caused a huge U.S. demand on the world market, all caused the Wirtschaftswunder, or economic miracle, an amazing economic recovery and expansion. West Germany was already Western Europe’s leading industrial nation. The miracle took also place in other countries. From 1948 to 1974 the growth rate of Western European economies were at an unprecedented high level.
This prosperity was based on a foundation of the capitalist free market economy, supplemented with a certain level of economic planning, government intervention, and social services. In the 50s and 60s the policy of governments was led by the theories of Keynes. Using budgetary, fiscal, and monetary instruments they tried an anti-cyclical economic policy with continuing economic growth and full employment as goals. This led to nationalization of certain sectors of the economy in some countries, but throughout the private sector remained the largest.
The continuing growth eventually caused a serious shortage of manpower. There was an enormous flow of foreign workers from Turkey and almost all other countries around the Mediterranean Sea to the Western European countries. Immigrants came from the former colonies: Indians, Pakistanis, and West Indians came to Great Britain, to France Algerians, and to the Netherlands mainly Indonesians. The arrival of these groups, which assimilated very difficulty, was a test for the flexibility and tolerance of western European societies.
The postwar period brought a strong growth of the welfare state as well. Social goals as the right to suitable employment, unemployment benefits, social security in old age, free or subsidized health care, and the redistribution of wealth and income had a high priority for all governments. In the 70s the realization dawned that all those rights had become excessive and they became a hindrance for further economic growth and competitiveness.
VII.3 Reshaping the Global Economy
Already during the Second World War, the Americans and Brits developed initiatives to renew the world economy. The U.S. organized an international conference at Bretton Woods in 1944. The 44 participating countries agreed to reduce trade barriers and to pursue exchange rate stability after the war. Attempts to create a World Trade Organization failed, but a large number of bilateral trade agreements were converted into a General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1948. The GATT provided a regulation to prevent trade discrimination, a complaint platform and a platform for continuing negotiations on lowering tariffs and eliminating other trade barriers. The World Trade Organization (WTO), the successor of the GATT, was created in 1997. During the first postwar decades the Soviet Union and its satellites didn’t join the “world economy” that was dominated by North America, Western Europe, and Japan.
VII.3.1 Currency Stability: Toward the “Gold-Dollar” Standard
With the monetary chaos of the two World Wars in mind, the Bretton Woods conference initially aimed to restore the pre-1914 gold standard, which had fixed exchange rates and all currencies could be converted to gold. Exchange rate stability proved to be difficult to achieve. Finally, in 1958, a system was established whereby all currencies could be exchanged for the dollar, and the dollar became convertible to gold. In 1971 it became impossible for the Americans to hold the dollar’s convertibility into gold. In its place came a system of floating currencies with fluctuating exchange rates.
During this period two major international financial institutions were created. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) provided short-term loans to governments with temporary balance of payments problems. The World Bank maintained long-term loans for the development of infrastructure and economy of countries.
VII.3.2 European Integration: From the Common Market to the European Community
A realization that the future of Western Europe was served with unity grew, as the Western European economies were expanding. In 1949, parliamentarians from ten countries met in Strasbourg for the creation of the Council of Europe. However, the Council never became a major political power since the British felt nothing for any supranational authority.
The European integration started on the economic field. The formation of the Benelux (Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg) as customs union was the first step, followed soon by initiatives from the French director Jean Monnet. He realized that economic goals were most likely to succeed. He designed the plan for the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1952, involving West Germany, France, Italy, and the Benelux. These six countries abolished not only the mutual duties and quotas on steel and coal, but provided the full decision on production to a new high authority as well.
The ECSC paved the way for economic integration. On March 25, 1957, the same six countries signed the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community (EEC), also called Common Market, with headquarters located in Brussels. The ultimate goal was full economic and political integration. Internal tariffs were abolished, socio-economic policy was harmonized, and there was free movement of capital and labor. A separate treaty provided mutual cooperation on peaceful nuclear energy. The EEC was a great success, both in terms of economic prosperity and pace of integration. The mutual trade grew twice as fast as those of the outside world.
In 1967 the ECSC and EEC consolidated in the European Community (EC) with institutions as the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of Ministers. In 1979 the European Parliament was directly elected. Its legislative powers were limited. Important decisions were taken by the Council of Ministers. Great Britain remained outside the Common Market. A limited customs union with seven countries (the European Free Trade Association, EFTA) had little success. Great Britain tried to join in 1963, but this was blocked by De Gaulle. After he resigned, Britain joined.
The development towards political integration went much slower. De Gaulle rejected any political or supra-national authority of the Community. Nevertheless the countries started to converge steadily. Besides the military cooperation within NATO, the friendship between France and Germany was crucial for the joint operation.
The EC clearly helped in the restoration of Europe in world politics. Europe accounted for 20 to 25% of the world trade. London, Frankfurt, and Paris became again important financial centers. The European steel production exceeded those of the U.S. in 1971, and the EC was the world’s largest exporter of dairy products. Western Europe and Japan became competitors of North America.
VII.3.3 End of the Gold-Dollar Standard, 1971
The shifts in world trade had a strong negative influence on the America trade balance. The shortage led to more and more dollar assets (“Eurodollars”) were outside the US. Many thought that the dollar had lost its value, because of this weakened economic position. President Nixon decided to suspend the convertibility of the dollar and let it float, which caused depreciation of the currency.
This meant that all the major currencies were “floating” and besides the dollar, the German Mark and the Japanese Yen were key currencies. Exchange rate stability was now a matter of international consultation, rapid exchange of information, and rapid response to impending crises. However, it also meant that national economic policies and the national currency had become vulnerable to the global financial system.
VII.4 The Emergence of Independent Nations in South Asia
VII.4.1 The End of British Rule
The end of British rule in India in 1947 led to an eruption of ethnic and religious conflicts in the region. The Nationalist Congress Party led by Gandhi faced Nehru and the Muslim League. The Muslims wanted their own Islamic state and the Congress Party, dominated by Hindus, wanted a secular India with freedom of religion.
Their positions were irreconcilable. To end the impasse Britain decided on partition: India (80% Hindus, 20% Muslim) and Pakistan (entirely Muslim). Pakistan consisted of West Pakistan (present day Pakistan) and East Pakistan (Bangladesh). Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Burma (Myanmar) got also their independence. The hasty and not very sophisticated division of the subcontinent ended in a tragedy. Riots broke out in many places. Approximately one million people died. It also led to mass expulsions of 17 million Hindus and Muslims. The nonviolence preaching Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu extremist in 1948.
From 1947 to 1964 India was ruled by the moderate socialist Nehru. He led the country to a British-like democracy with a mixed economy. He faced tremendous challenges such as poverty, a rapidly growing population, and diversity in ethnicity, religion, and language. Nevertheless, he made the foundations for the impressive economic growth of India in the 60s.
Kashmir, with a massive Muslim population, was a source of controversy since India’s and Pakistan’s independence. There were wars in 1948 and from 1965 to 1966. India supported Bangladesh in their struggle to become independent from Pakistan. On international level, Nehru had a policy of neutrality, but he strongly condemned the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
VII.4.2 Nehru’s Successors
After Nehru’s death in 1964 and the death of his successor, Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi succeeded her father. She became a strong-willed, opportunistic, and populist leader. Corruption increased during her administration. When it seemed that she would lose the 1975 elections, she called a state of emergency and arrested hundreds of political opponents. She was deposed by parliament, but returned as prime minister after the 1980 elections. She was assassinated in 1984. The Congress Party appointed her son Rajiv as successor. He was barely interested in politics and this led in 1989 to the loss of the Congress Party.
During the same period there was a strong revival of Hinduism. It threatened the secular state of India. In particular, the right wing Indian People’s Party exploited this movement resulting in a campaign of hatred and violence against the Muslims in India.
Rajiv Gandhi was also assassinated. The Congress Party got so much sympathy votes that they could start a new government with their leader Rao. He put heavy emphasis on curbing corruption and bureaucracy and het wanted to liberalize the economy. Unstable coalition governments followed Rao. These governments had however a firm position against Pakistan, that also became a nuclear power like India.
VII.4.3 Fifty Years of Independence
In 1997, after half a century of independence, India was still a country of great contradictions. A large, educated, and ambitious middle class emerged. The old caste system did still exist, but a member of the lowest caste was elected as president in 1997. The population had tripled to more than one billion, but 40% lived below the poverty line. The country still belonged to the Third World, despite the significant technological progress and economic growth.
The position of women in the Indian society was bad as well. The fact that in India, and also in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka women were president, did not affect the discrimination against women.
The Congress Party was most in power since the independency of India. They formed a stable state where democracy, legal security, freedom, and an effective judicial functioned. The negative side contains bribery, corruption, and the neglect of hundreds of millions poor people, the invisible majority. The ethnic and religious tensions persisted as well.
VII.4.4 The Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Pakistan fell into a military dictatorship, despite the fact that conditions for a parliamentary democracy were present. Pakistan remained an agrarian society and one of the most poorest countries in Asia.
The territorial arrangement devised by the British failed. When East Pakistan declared its independence as Bangladesh in 1971, the Pakistani army suppressed the rebellion with brute force. India forced Pakistan to recognize their independence. Bangladesh remained a poor country, often affected by natural and man-made misery.
The military administration in Pakistan continued, with sometimes an civilian administration. The civilian president Bhutto was assassinated in 1977 and was succeeded by another military dictatorship. Bhutto’s daughter, Benazir, became the first female prime ministers of a great Islamic country. But again, she was succeeded by an military government.
Muslim extremism was growing and growing. In 1997, the government undermined the democratic institutions. This caused political chaos and huge financial problems. A humiliating defeat against India in Kashmir and the continuing economic rebound made it easy to commit a coup for general Musharraf in 1999.
VII.5 The Emergence of Independent Nations in Southeast Asia
VII.5.1 The Union of Burma (Myanmar)
Burma followed its own course of isolation and repression after its independence in 1948. The nationalist leader Aung San would be the first prime minister, but was assassinated. The socialist government had a strong anti-capitalist character, but faced soon armed rebellions of ethnic minorities supported by China. These rebels caused that the army played an increasingly important role alongside the civil authorities.
In 1962, commander Ne Win took the power. He established a military dictatorship that would last until 1998. In that year he had to resign under pressure from the miserable economic situation and the growing ethnic violence.
Meanwhile, an opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi developed in the 80s. This Oxford-educated woman was a threat to the soldiers, who formed a junta and placed her under house arrest. Mass demonstrations followed and in the free elections of 1990 she got 90% of the votes. The military declared the elections invalid immediately.
Malaysia became independent in 1957, after tensions between the Muslim majority and the Chinese and Indian minorities, and Communist tensions were brought under control. The island state of Singapore separated in 1965.
In 1969 the ethnic violence flared again in Malaysia. By letting minorities participate in the government, tensions reduced. Since then the country advanced in high tech, foreign investments, and made a spectacular economic growth.
The British gave their empire away in a relatively short period. Most newly independent states joined a Commonwealth of States. This would become an association of more than 50 states, talking on matters of mutual interest.
After the Japanese withdrew, the Indonesian Nationalist leader Sukarno proclaimed Indonesia independent. Until 1949 The Netherlands fought unsuccessfully the nationalist movement. Sukarno operated in the beginning as democrat with a parliamentary, constitutional program. But in 1959 he dissolved the Constitutional Assembly, and chose himself as “president for life”. Under guise of a guided democracy he continued as a populist dictator.
Sukarno became a major spokesman for the Asian and African developing countries. He condemned Western imperialism and capitalist exploitation, preached non-interference, and neutrality in the Cold War. He also sought rapprochement towards the USSR and China. But when the Indonesian Communist Party began to grow and army officers attempted a coup, the relatively unknown general Suharto seized power. He suppressed the rebellion and dismissed Sukarno. What followed was a horrific massacre of hundreds of thousands of militant Muslims (alleged) Communists. Many ethnic Chinese were victims as well.
Suharto remained in power for 32 years. His anti-communist credentials brought him great support from the West and accounted for foreign investment. The economy grew impressively. Eventually, Suharto was involved with corruption. Inadequate supervision of the financial structure of the country led to risky loans. In 1997-1998 the country was hit by an economic recession. This crisis led to widespread riots and demonstrations. Suharto was forced to resign.
After his resignation the press was free again, political parties appeared on stage, and new elections were held. This led to the arrival of the moderate Muslim leader Wahid as president. As a concession to the opposition, Megawati Soekarnoputi, the daughter of Sukarno, became vice-president. She succeeded Wahid, who had to resign because of a scandal.
VII.5.5 The Independence Movement in Indochina
The French offered autonomy to the states of Indochina after the Second World War. Cambodia and Laos accepted this, but Vietnam demanded full independence. A war from 1946 to 1954 followed between French forces and the Communist-led Vietnamese Ho Chi Minh fighters. The French, who claimed to fight to eradicate communism in the world, received financial support from Eisenhower.
The war was a big attack on the French morale and resources. At a conference in Geneva in the spring of 1954, France recognized the Vietnamese independence. France did also accept the independence of Laos and Cambodia. Vietnam was temporarily divided into a northern and a southern sector. North nor South was satisfied with this border and a civil war started. The US became deeply involved in this war.
VII.5.6 The Americans and the Philippines
The Spanish-American War broke out in 1898 after a revolt against the Spanish rule in the Philippines. The Philippine rebels joined the Americans against the Spaniards. But when Spain gave the Philippines to the US, the rebels fought against the American oppression. The US promised independence in 1934. Independency finally came in 1946.
The country was ravaged by many governments that couldn’t create any reforms. A Communist guerrilla movement revolted. The in 1965 appointed dictator Marcos was supported by the Americans due to his anti-communist stance. Under his extremely corrupt regime the Philippines slipped further and further away.
Opposition leader Aquino was assassinated in 1983. His widow Corazón Aquino won the presidential elections three years later. Marcos was forced into exile. Aquino managed to restore the democracy and civil rights. She gradually performed reforms. In the early 90s the US moved their military bases in the country. Another piece of imperialism that now belonged to history.
VII.6 Changing Latin America
The majority of independent Latin American states struggled with their colonial past, even in 1945. Their unilaterally developed economies were strongly dependent on the outside world. But there was also a political and social heritage. South and Central America had a great racial diversity. Argentina was predominantly European due immigration, but half of the Bolivian population was indigenous Indians. Brazil was a melting pot of Europeans and Indians, to which the slave trade add a huge African influence. The population of Latin America grew strongly: in the second half of the 20th century it tripled to over 500 million.
VII.6.1 The Colonial Experience and the Wars for Independence
Three centuries of Spanish colonial rule had a lasting influence on the continent. A small elite of Spanish nobles had put the indigenous population of Mexico and Peru to work on plantations and in mines. They got support of the Catholic Church. When the Indians got European diseases, the Europeans took slaves from Africa to Latin America. Originally sparsely populated areas were now full of slaves.
For centuries, the wealth of the continent flowed to Spain. The church played an important role. A Creole elite was growing in Latin America and wanted to expel the European domination. From 1808 to 1826 they fought wars of independence. A strong military class developed in the new republics. Many dictators emerged in these new republics.
The hole in commercial sense that the Spanish and Portuguese left behind, was immediately filled by the British with their cheap manufactured goods. British investments developed a better infrastructure. The economic penetration of Great Britain and later the US represented a new form of colonialism, that didn’t require the conquest of territories.
VII.6.2 The Colossus to the North
The independence of the fragmented and politically unstable Latin America remained unchallenged because of the Monroe Doctrine, that forbid any outside interference. In addition, President Theodore Roosevelt declared that the US would actively intervene if necessary.
The Americans replaced the British as the main investor in Latin America after the First World War. Still, the continent was behind in industrial development. The poor masses didn’t have a strong consumers demand. The export of agricultural and mining products became increasingly at the mercy of world prices.
VII.6.3 Economic Growth and Its Problems
Latin America was hit hard by the Great Depression when commodity prices plummeted. The Second World War stimulated to advance the region’s own industrialization. Partly through North American support, the Latin American economies grew fast. Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile joined the NICs (Newly Industrialized Countries). However, this industrialization took place behind high tariff walls and state-subsidized or controlled companies. The purchasing power of the population remained an obstacle to sell the products. The economic expansion benefitted mainly the elites.
Moreover, the governments of the larger countries borrowed from Western banks and international funds. This led to a crisis in the financial world when they could no longer fulfill their obligations. The loans were mainly used to maintain large military and civil services and much less for schools, roads, and other public services. Several countries faced inflation. In the 90s most countries followed a free market economy and prudent financial policy.
In the social field were major problems as well. Many poor unemployed rural workers migrated to the cities, which thus became busier and dirtier. The privileged classes had housed their wealth safely abroad. In the 60s there was a movement in the Catholic Church that tried to help the impoverished people. These people had lost their fate in the political leaders.
VII.6.4 End of Yankee Imperialism?
During the 1930s, the US seemed to stop their policy of interventions. Yet, after the Second World War, American troops entered Guatemala (1954), the Dominican Republic (1965-66), Grenada (1983), and Panama (1989). In 1948, the US was the initiator of the Organization of American States (OAS). 35 states joined the OAS. It was a platform for regulating disputes. In 1999 the US gave the Panama Canal to Panama. There was also a belief that the Western hemisphere had to work together. The US, Canada, and Mexico created the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. From the 1990s immigrants from Mexico, the Caribbean, and other parts of Latin America entered the north.
VII.6.5 The Political Systems and Conflicts in Latin American Societies Mexico and Brazil at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century
The Advance of Latin American Democracy
In the 20th century, Latin America has been the scene of weak constitutional governments and military dictatorships, civil wars, and social revolutions, coups, and countercoups, ethnic tensions, and labor unrest. There were also episodes of populist dictators who received strong support as Peron in Argentina (1946-1955).
In their anti-Communist Cold War, the Americans generally supported the right-winged groups. They thus contributed to the instability. Left governments were replaced by right-winged governments through the US. Brutal suppression of political opponents was normal. Argentina’s “Dirty War” against everything that was let-winged cost over 30,000 lives. In 1970, the democratically elected socialist president Allende of Chile was killed and replaced by the brutal dictator Pinochet.
In 1959, a small group of leftist guerrillas led by Fidel Castro overthrew the repressive reign of Batista in Cuba. When Castro confiscated US property, the US answered with a trade embargo. This drove the Cubans in the arms of the Soviet Union. Cuba became the first Marxist state in America. Castro ruled as a dictator. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba lost its economic aid.
As mentioned, the constitutional democracies in Latin America were vulnerable to military coups, but also to the violence of major drug gangs (Colombia). In the 1960s all Latin American countries were democracies, but were replaced by military dictatorships in the 1970s. In the 1980s the trend switched to democracies again. In the 1990s there were democracies, but were subjected to erosion. Best example was the election of the populist Chavez in Venezuela in 1998.
Latin American countries had a very diverse economic position. The integration to the world economy brought no prosperity to the masses in 2000. Severe financial crises such as in Mexico (1994) and Brazil (2000) led to angry protests of a new generation of activists, the anti-globalists. They condemned the world economy as an instrument to benefit the richer nations and classes.
VII.7 The African Revolution
Africa can be divided in North Africa, from Mauritania and Morocco to Egypt, which is predominantly Muslim and Arabic and belongs in composition, culture, geography, and history to the Mediterranean region or the Middle East, and sub-Saharan African, a mix of Muslims, Christians, and believers in traditional African belief. There are many ethnic groups in the continent.
Except for Egypt, Liberia, and Ethiopia, Africa was by 1945 still ruled by Europe. But newly independent states emerged. Africa’s borders were hastily drawn by European imperialists, so the countries contained many ethnic and linguistic groups. The countries were no nations. People were separated by boundaries. Imperialism left Africa underdeveloped, a continent that was independent to the world market and with little experience in self-government.
VII.7.1 French North Africa
Libya got independent in 1951 and Britain had taken steps to end their privileged position in Egypt. This aroused nationalists in French North Africa: Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Morocco and Tunisia were no colonies, but protectorates. Both countries got their independence in 1956.
The Moroccan sultan reigned as a constitutional monarch but strengthened the monarchy’s power. Tunisia became a republic, ruled by Habib Bourguiba. He implemented democratic reforms, but insisted on being president for life. Algeria was a fully controlled colony. After the Second World War the nationalists wanted full independence. Many Europeans had settled in Algeria. They feared their political and economic privileges. In 1954, the National Liberation Front (FLN) launched a guerrilla war against France. The French-Algerian War lasted 7,5 years. In 1962 Algeria became independent. The FLN ruled the country under a military-dominated one party regime for the next 30 years. Unemployment and homelessness led the country to riots in 1988.
To enhance relations with other Arab nations, Algeria allowed Islamic fundamentalists to teach on schools. The extremist Islamic Liberation Front formed. In 1991, the Islamic party won the elections, but the army destroyed the votes. The armed movement of Islamic extremism started a terror. The army answered with their own terror. A cease-fire was made in 2000 and the government offered amnesty to the rebels.
VII.7.2 End of British Rule in West Africa
Nationalist movements emerged in West Africa as well after the Second World War. Initially Britain tried to suppress them, but decided to change policy in the 1950s. Britain quickly gave independence to their colonies. African economies were less industrialized and therefore highly dependent on international development and the fluctuating price of items in the world.
The Gold Coast (Ghana) gained as first independence. The British offered military resistance to the nationalist Kwame Nkrumah. They allowed self-government in 1951. Nkrumah overwhelmingly won the first elections and became prime minister. They gained full independence in 1957, and became a republic in 1960. Nkrumah gained more power by banning opposition parties, switched to autocratic rule and called himself president for life. Ghana shows a pattern that applies to all of Africa: a charismatic nationalist leader who leads the struggle for independence becomes a dictator when the independence is obtained, and his party is the basis for a one-party government.
Nkrumah was anti-western, conducted a policy of non-alignment in the Cold War, and sought a leading role in pan-African movement. He developed close ties with the USSR and the People’s Republic of China. He introduced a policy of African socialism, which meant that the economy was under state control. Little was left of the equality that traditional socialism wanted, since the power and wealth were for the elite. Ghana’s economy was predominantly wealthy at the time it became independent, but reduced in the 1960s.
In 1966, Nkrumah was deposed by military leaders. A series of military coups followed. In 1979 lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings seized power. With financial help of the World Bank the economy began to grow. He introduced a liberal political regime in the 1990s. He resigned according to the terms of the new constitution. John Agyekum Kufuor was his successor.
England had established its power in Nigeria with conquests and treaties, but it was indirectly ruled through local traditional leaders, but Nigerians were of no important role. Nigerians who were educated in the West increased the pressure on self-government. Nigeria became independent in 1960. The nationalist leader Nnandi Azikewe became president.
To deal with the ethnic diversity, the country was divided into three geographical areas and 21 federal states. With a constitution, a democratic system, a federal structure, political parties, and human rights guarantees, Nigeria seemed an example for other African countries. This was ended by regional and ethnic tensions, civil war, and military coups. Civil war broke out because the northern region dominated the government. The educated and economically developed Christian Ibo people in the south saw themselves excluded from a proper political role. Ibo leaders committed a coup, followed by a counter-coup whereby Ibo’s were killed brutally. Many Ibo’s fled eastwards, where they proclaimed the state of Biafra. The war took 2,5 years.
After the war, the government started a policy of reconciliation and reintegrated the Ibo in the society. There were many coups, the army remained in power. In 1979, general Olusegnu Abusanjo switched to a civil government, but Nigeria became a military state again in 1985.
Nigeria had a prosperous economy based on their oil reserves. However, the oil wealth was not enough to stimulate the whole economy, and besides there was corruption. Drought and population growth had made the country dependent on food imports, leading to inflation and debt.
When the military allowed election in 1993, opposition leader Moshood Abiola won the election. But the army declared the results invalid and imprisoned Abiola. His deth led to protests and brought a restoration of civil government. Despite democratic promises the corruption and poverty continued. However, Nigeria’s oil and size gave an important position to Nigeria in Africa.
VII.7.4 End of British Rule in East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda
Kenya got its independence in 1963. Many European settlers fled the country. One year later, in 1964, Kenya became a republic under prime minister Kenyatta. He was a dictator with a single-party system and implemented ethnic cleansing.
Tanzania was a union of two areas: Tanganyika, a part of the former German mandated territory and Zanzibar, a protectorate of Britain. A nationalist leader got in power as in almost every African country.
Uganda became independent in 1962. Milton Obote became prime minister. He removed the ceremonial king of Buganda four year later. Idi Amin committed a coup and Amin shocked the world with brutal executions, massacres and torture.
VII.7.5 South Africa
The British gave independence to most colonies in the 1960s. The power was often given to the black majority, like in Zambia, Malawi, and Botswana. But in some colonies the white men maintained their power. The white minority fought fifteen years for their independence in Zimbabwe. In 1980 Zimbabwe became finally independent with a black majority in power.
VII.7.6 The Union of South Africa
The whites in South Africa were a far greater community than elsewhere in Africa, although they were still a minority. Their number was large enough to establish a social and cultural outpost of European civilization. They feared to lose their dominant status. About half the whites, the Afrikaners, were descendents of Dutch or English immigrants. These two groups didn’t get along. In 1948, the Nationalist Party which was dominated by Afrikaners, came to power. They wanted to maintain the racial segregation. This is policy is called apartheid. This regime of apartheid was internationally condemned.
Opponents of the regime were imprisoned for life, like Nelson Mandela, the leader of the African National Congress. This Congress campaigned for racial equality through demonstrations, strikes, and armed conflict. By 1970 many whites were against the regime and the UN imposed sanctions. The US economic sanctions gave extra strength. In 1990, Nelson Mandela came out of prison. A year later, the government retracted all apartheid laws. Mandela won the first democratic, non-racial elections in 1994. The country has still many problems and inequalities, but the big battle was over.
VII.7.7 The French Sub-Saharan Empire
France gave the other colonies easily independence since the bloody conflict in Algeria. It started when they gave the African colonies a representation in the French National Assembly, but the real power remained centralized in Paris. In the 1950s the colonies demanded independency. The colonies were allowed to choose and they all chose independence. Many did hold close ties to France for economic aid and cultural cooperation. France intervened more than once with military power in the Cental African Republic, Chad, and Ivory Coast.
VII.7.8 The Belgian Congo: From Mobutu’s Zaire to the Democratic Republic of Congo
VII.7.9 Burundi and Rwanda
Belgium withdrew from Congo in 1960. Patrice Lumumba became prime minister, but he was murdered. Belgian and American politicians were suspected to the one that commanded the murder. Colonel Joseph Désiré Mobutu controlled the country by 1965. His dictatorship would last for thirty years, and he called the country Zaire. Laurent Kabila came to power in 1997 and switched from Zaire to “Democratic Republic of Congo”, which was still a dictatorship. Belgium had two mandated territories as well. It were former German territories. Burundi and Rwanda became independent in 1962. There was a huge conflict between the Hutu and the Tutsi.
VII.7.10 End of the Portuguese Colonial Empire
There was a struggle for power between Soviets together with Cubans against the United States and South Africa. The “People’s Republic of Angola” was established in 1976 after the leftist forces had won. But an anti-communist rebel army continued fighting. They were supported by the US. The war dragged on into the nineties. Mozambique, as well a “People’s Republic”, had to deal with right-wing violence for 16 years. Both countries replaced Marxism for democracy in the early 1990s.
VII.7.11 Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Sudan
Ethiopia was the last African country that was colonized. Mussolini conquered the country in 1936. Emperor Haile Selassie returned after the Second World War, but was overthrown by a Soviet coup. Eritrea, a part of Ethiopia, became independent in 2000.
Somalia became independent in 1960. It was made a Soviet-backed dictatorship after a military coup. When Somalia attacked Ethiopia in 1977, the Soviets supported Ethiopia. Sides changes completely when the West started to support Somalia. Since the fall of the dictatorship in 1990, Somalia is in total anarchy.
Sudan got its independence in 1956. There was a bloody civil war between the Christians, who lived mostly in the south, and the Muslims, who lived mainly in the northern part of the country. The government was Muslim as well. This civil war and famine caused a huge amount of casualties and refugees.
Liberia was a dictatorship under general Doe, and civil wars characterized Sierra Leone.
VII.7.12 The African Revolution
53 countries became independent. Some talked of a “négritude”, a black self-consciousness. 32 countries were democratic by 1999.
VII.8 The Developing World
The quick and complete dismantling of the colonial system was a bit unexpected. Imperialism was accompanied by exploitation, cruelty, and humiliation. But paradoxically, it was as well good for scientific, intellectual, and humanitarian achievements of the West. Independence brought a sense of dignity, but that certainly didn’t mean automatically freedom, autonomy, human rights, and better living conditions.
VII.8.1 The Development Experience
After the Second World War, industrialized countries assisted developing countries with money and technical aid. Many local leaders thought to accelerate this process by central planning, nationalization, and government intervention. The 60s were the development decade. This program consisted of dams, irrigation projects, hydroelectric power generation, and education. The first results were encouraging. But the poorest countries failed to maintain their share in the global economy. Developed countries grew faster and the gap between rich and poor widened.
There were demands for a “new international economic order”. These demands were especially from “nonaligned states”, states that were more critical about the West than about the Soviet Union. The recession of 1974 caused a decline in development funds. Quite a few developing countries yielded due debts.
After five decades of development aid, the income per capita had hardly increased in the poorest countries. Bureaucracy and corruption was almost an universal phenomenon in the governments of developing countries. Millions of people fled the countryside to try their luck in the cities – with no success. They had to live in slums.
VII.8.2 Changing Worlds and Persistent Problems
43 developing countries ended the 80s with a lower income per capita than with which they began. One billion people lived in poverty around 2000. However, there were great differences among developing countries.
China industrialized rapidly. The East Asian “tigers” and a number of countries in Latin America grew and modernized as well. They were the “newly industrialized countries”. At the other side there are the least developed countries, the “Fourth World”, including a number of states beneath the Sahara, but also Bangladesh and Haiti.
The countries that developed quickly, had all a market economy and a government that supported education, transport, and infrastructure. In many countries the presence of a impotent government was the barrier to growth and progress. The uneven distribution of wealth was an additional problem, both socially and economically.
VII.8.3 Reappraising Development
There was a lively debate about the nature and use of development aid in the last years of the 20th century. The main international institutions, the World Bank and the IMF, recognized that a change of policy was needed. From “growth and development” to “poverty reduction”. The World Bank had financed for years bridges, roads, dams, and power plants. This had let to a lot of useless and extravagant projects.
The money went traditionally to the governments, but it was now clear that lower administrations and village communities had to play a bigger role. The focus should be on literacy, life expectancy, health, and status of women and children, not only on the growth per capita. Donor countries forgave the debts of the poorest countries. The IMF was severely criticized because its focus was on economic targets with little regard for social and political consequences.
Another issue was the ongoing global economic integration. For the most radical critics the global trading system and international financial markets meant only increasing poverty, heightened social inequalities, environmental degradation, and the domination of everyday human life by multinationals. The o.pposite point of view was that free trade and information would improve the fate of the poor. It seemed that the world of computers and the Internet widened the gap again. It raised new questions on how to reduce this gap.
VII.9 Collapse and Recovery of the Global Economy: The 1970s and 1980s
The 25 years of spectacular economic growth in Western economies came to an end in 1974. The OPEC reduced its production, quadrupled oil prices. It became clear that Western nations had become dependent on cheap oil. Trade deficits and a sharp increase in inflation were the result.
The initial panic ebbed away, but there was a second oil crisis in 1979 when Iran stopped to export its oil. Western powers sent warships to the Persian Gulf to secure the supply of oil. Alternatives as natural gas and nuclear power were used. Oil plays still a very important role in international politics.
VII.9.1 The Recession: Stagnation and Inflation
The recession that started in 1974 was the worst since 1930. In the 24 non-Communist industrial countries, unemployment doubled between ’75 and ’83 to 32 million people. The combination of stagnation and inflation (“stagflation”) created a problem that the governments couldn’t handle with their traditional Keynesian tools. The dilemma was that reducing inflation would be accompanied by high interest rates and thus decreasing the willingness to invests, while investments are needed to create jobs.
The British Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990) and the U.S.
President Reagan (1981-1989) led the campaign against the welfare state, which they found expensive, wasteful, bureaucratic, and paternalistic. They encouraged the free enterprise with tax cuts, deregulation, and limiting the power of the unions. These ideas of the 'supply-siders' stressed especially the growth in production that eventually would benefit everybody. A gradual return of prosperity, particularly in the U.S. since 1982, reinforced
confidence in the free market economy. The welfare state didn’t disappear.
VII.9.2 Economic and Political Change in Western Europe
Particularly Britain was hit hard by the recession of the 70s. British voters chose the Conservatives in 1979.Thatcher immediately cut deeply into government spending. She focused on investment, productivity, and growth. Inflation was contained. Unemployment rate grew, so she had to face political issues. Her salvation was the Falkland crisis which made her very popular. Thatcher was chosen again. Britain was successful: highest economic growth of Europe, and a strong currency. It took until 1997 for a new Labour government.
France had made a shift to the political left. The strict, elitist government of the 70s was very unpopular. The Socialists won the next elections in 1981. Labor reforms were immediately made, and all major banks and some large industrial companies were nationalized. Mitterand and his government conducted a Keynesian stimulus. Through the high wages the economic growth lagged behind. After two years, policy changed radically. A policy of modernization made his appearance. Mitterand was forced to govern with a conservative prime minister. He was succeeded in 1995 by the Conservative Jacques Chirac. Both didn’t solve the problem of (youth) unemployment.
Moderate socialists were almost in power in Western European countries in the 70s and 80s. They were usually a paragon of pragmatism. As well in Germany. Helmut Schmidt was able to bring inflation under control. But unemployment remained high. In 1982 the Christian Democrats turned back into the government. Helmut Kohl was chancellor for 16 years. Labour productivity increased and the economy started to grow again, but the high labor costs limited the German competitiveness in global markets. In 1982 there was no prospect of German reunification.
VII.9.3 The American Economy
The United States recovered faster and more completely from the recession than Europe. When inflation was curbed in the early 80s, the economy started to grow with deregulation and restructuring of business. Unemployment fell to 6%. Nevertheless, there were indeed problems. A strong dollar made U.S. exports expensive. There was also concern about the balance of payment deficits, defense spending, the growing national debt and budget deficits.
When the Americans worked to the systematic devaluation of their currency, it depreciated by 50% in three years time. This resulted in so many foreign investment in the US, that those investments surpassed US investment in the rest of the world. By far the US was still the largest economy in the world.
Partly due to a slowdown in growth, the Democrat Clinton in 1992
to defeat incumbent President Bush in the presidential election. Actually, the economy in 1991 began an extraordinary growth that the rest of the decade would continue. Productivity growth, economic growth, technological innovation, and competitiveness of the U.S. were phenomenal in the 90s.
VII.9.4 The Financial World
The deregulation of financial markets in the 80s, had a both tremendous growth and a sharply rising volatility in this sector as a result. A strong recovery followed the crash on the stock of October 1987.
The US, Europe, and Japan tried to find ways to function the global economy more flexible due to the sense of interdependence. There were regular meetings between the leaders of the “Big Seven” (US, West Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Canada, and Japan) and their central bankers. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) brought together the 24 leading industrial countries. In the GATT rounds was negotiated about the reduction of duties. However, developing countries remained somewhat on the sidelines.
VII.9.5 The Enlarged European Community: Problems and Opportunities
In 1973 Britain, Denmark and Ireland joined the European Community. Greece followed in 1981, Spain and Portugal in 1986. With the memberships of Austria, Finland and Sweden in 1995, the European Community had 15 members. The enlargement brought wsome problems, particularly in agriculture, where the interests of UK food importers and exporters like France and Italy varied considerably.
The countries weren’t that enthusiastic about political integration. Although the governments began to meet on regular basis, the first elections for a European parliament, which also had little power, only came in 1979. The role of the parliament would be limited. Nevertheless, the European Community is an important institution, ready for further growth.
VII.9.6 Toward a “Single Europe”: The European Union
The “Third Industrial Revolution” started in the 70s, marked by the introduction of the computer. Efficient processing and storage of data were the keys to success in the post-industrial era. For a time, Western Europe lagged behind the US and Japan. They spoke of “Euro-pessimism”.
Kohl and Mitterand gave the European Community a new life. They decided to establish common product standards and liberalization of capital movements. The next step was the creation of a Europe without borders, with a single currency and a central bank. All these arrangements were confirmed by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1991. All national parliaments ratified it. The European Community became the European Union (EU). The EU, with 345 million inhabitants became the largest trading economy in the world.
IX.1 The Cold War Rekindled
After Nixon’s resignation because of the Watergate scandal in 1974, his vice-president Gerald Ford succeeded him. In 1977, the Democrat Jimmy Carter won the elections. Carter made human rights the spearhead of his foreign policy, to the anger of the Soviets. While the US and SU continued to strengthen their military and nuclear forces, they also continued their talks on limiting strategic arms.
However, before the US Senate could ratify the SALT II treaty, Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in order to help the left-winger regime. Cartel sharply condemned the Russian intervention and warned that an attempt to gain more influence in the Middle East, would be considered as an attack on vital American interests. There were no more talks about SALT II, and the US launched an embargo on the sale of grain and high-quality technology to Eastern Europe. America’s allies in Western Europe didn’t join the economic sanctions. Eventually, Afghanistan became the “Soviet Vietnam”, in which they withdrew in 1989.
IX.1.1 The Reagan Years: From Revived Cold War to New Détente
The Soviets increased their military potential and achieved nuclear parity, which causes great economic sacrifices. Republican Ronal Reagan, who succeeded Carter in 1981, responded with a substantial increase in US defense spending. He called the SU an “evil empire”. Moreover, he had a confrontational attitude towards communism. For example, he supported the Muslim guerrillas in Afghanistan with weapons, and supported the by authorities suppressed Solidarity trade union by economic sanctions.
In Latin America, the US armed opponents of the Marxist regime in Nicaragua, and they supported anti-communist governments in other states. Reagan and his advisers didn’t mind that they caused new, repressive, authoritarian regimes. In Libya, the Reagan administration showed that it was even prepared for military action. American bombers attacked military installations in retaliation for Libyan-sponsored terrorists activities. In the Persian Gulf, the US supported Iraq in the war against Iran, to protect the US oil tankers.
IX.1.2 Nuclear Arms Control
Since 1945, no nuclear weapon was used, but the ultimate threat of a nuclear conflict hung over every crisis. Their destructive power was already so large, that they couldn’t be used without incalculable damage. Experts emphasize that nuclear arms were weapons not designed to be used but only to deter.
Concern about nuclear proliferation meant that the two superpowers agreed on a non-proliferation treaty, which was adopted in the UN in 1968. Countries who wanted to be a nuclear power (India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, …) simply ignored the treaty. The fear that some states, which blatantly violated international law, or terrorist organizations would have nuclear weapons was not eliminated by the treaty. A problem was that it is relatively easy to build nuclear power plants.
Regarding missile systems, both superpowers had achieved a balance at the end of the 70s. This balance of power was rather a “balance of deterrence” based on mutually assured destruction (MAD). The overkill of destruction was immense. After SALT I, both sides proceeded to develop weapons not covered by the treaty. The Americans got their cruise missiles and the Soviets their supersonic bombers. Both sides had around 25,000 nuclear weapons at the end of the 80s.
Because it was so dangerous, the US and SU decided to create a direct communication channel between the White House and the Kremlin. This hotline was avoid an “accidentally” nuclear war, due miscommunication, human error or a technical problem. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the changes in Russia it became possible to make arms reductions. Nowadays, the possible proliferation of nuclear weapons remains a constant threat to world security.
IX.2 China After Mao
After Mao’s dead in 1976 a small group of utter radicals like Mao’s widow and the so called gang of four attempted to seize power. Deng Xiaoping avoided the coup. He always refused to be the leader of the country or the government, but everyone knew who was in charge.
IX.2.1 Deng’s Reforms
China started a reform program of modernization and economic growth 1978. Capitalism was introduced slowly by Western science and technology with emphasis on consumer goods. But in the late 1980s the reforms and rapid economic growth caused inflation. In 1988, Deng began to cut. The reforms were especially successful in rural areas. Economy was no longer linked to ideology. Material lead was the most important: the idea of a strong and rich China.
IX.2.2 The “Democracy Movement”
In April 1989 there were huge protest marches on Tiananmen Square. The Chinese people, especially students, demanded democracy. Deng was suspicious, since the West had abused the Chinese openness earlier, and reacted fiercely. A repression followed. Deng died in 1997. Jian Zemin succeeds him. He was more moderate and continued the modernizations of Deng.
IX.2.3 Population Growth in China
The enormous country of China had a huge population growth. The Chinese government introduced the one child policy: each family could have but one child.
IX.3 The Crisis in the Soviet Union
The transformation process in Eastern Europe, which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, began in 1985. In that year, the Politburo decided to appoint Mikhail S. Gorbachev as leader.
Gorbachev wanted to convince his party and country that fundamental economic restructuring was needed. He launched the perestroika, implying a drastic adjustment of the centrally planned command economy. His proposals consisted of decentralization, increased autonomy for managers, and the termination of the stifling influence of the bureaucracy. He operated cautiously, but came into conflict with the vested interests of the entrenched bureaucrats.
Gorbachev also sought political changes, so that his economic restructuring would be successful. He called for glasnost (openness), which he mainly linked to the economic reforms. Glasnost meant the right to criticize the current economic system and the right to advocate for change. Soon the glasnost hit over to other areas of Soviet society. Glasnost led to significant liberalization of the SU, which meant the end of totalitarian control of political, cultural, and intellectual life. Even the KGB came under public and legislative scrutiny. The atmosphere was more relaxed.
The reforms also led to the curtailing power of the Communist party. In 1988 Gorbachev managed to introduce constitutional reforms. These changes created a series of profound political changes. Congress created an presidency like American and French models. Gorbachev’s goal has always been to save the communist system through reforms. But he the old guard didn’t want the innovations, and the growing group of democratic reformers thought that the reforms were going to slow.
In the various Soviet republics, the call for greater freedoms grew. Long suppressed ethnic tensions began to rise. Finally, all republics demanded for independence.
Meanwhile, Gorbachev continued its program of gradual reform in the economic sphere. Individuals were encouraged to start their own business or to establish cooperatives. Foreign capital and joint ventures between Soviet and foreign companies were welcomed. Many reforms weren’t established, or were frustrated by bureaucrats. There were limited economic reforms.
IX.3.1 Gorbachev and the West
In the area of foreign policy, Gorbachev succeeded to change the image of the Soviet Union as a military threat and a fighter for a communistic world revolution. He withdrew troops and weapons from Eastern Europe and Afghanistan, and signed agreements with the US on reduction of nuclear arsenals. A real sense of détente was the result. This was essential for his economic policy, since the military spending had become unbearable for the Soviet economy.
Under Gorbachev, the talks on limiting strategic arms were started again. He saw détente not as an alternative route to communist world domination, but as a necessity to avoid a nuclear catastrophe. There were four meetings between Reagan and Gorbachev in a period of 2,5 years.
The third on this series (December 1987) brought a breakthrough: all medium-long range missiles in Europe were removed. Besides, the Soviets were prepared to destroy four times as many missiles as the Americans. Gorbachev and Reagan’s successor George H. W. Bush (Bush Sr.) could officially agree that the Cold War had ended.
IX.4 The Collapse of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe
The détente had arrived in Eastern Europe before Gorbachev opened the SU for Western loans and investments. Despite the fact that conservative Stalinist parties were in power in the 70s and 80s, the tires were narrowed. The Eastern Europeans discussed the stagnant central planned economies. But only Hungary had made a cautious start in decentralization and free market. Many countries were burdened by million dollar debts at Western banks.
IX.4.1 Poland: The Solidarity Movement
In the 70s and 80s, Poland demands for economic reform and political liberalization. In 1970, the reform-minded Gierek starts an ambitious program of economic development, financed by loans from the West. To pay the debts, Poland increased its export at the expense of domestic consumption. An increase in food prices led to widespread strikes. The independent trade union “Solidarity”, led by Lech Wałęsa, was established and claimed 10 million members and was supported by the Catholic Church. The Soviets replaced Gierek by General Jaruzelski. He banned Solidarity and arrested its leaders. Dissatisfaction grew and even the Communist Party in Poland wanted to reform.
After Gorbachev’s appointment it was clear that the Soviets wouldn’t intervene anymore in Poland. The first elections were held since 40 years. Solidarity made a major victory and made a coalition government with the communists as minority. The new government started the free market economy immediately.
IX.4.2 Hungary: Reform into Revolution
After the brutally crushed uprising in 1956, Hungary was ruled with an iron fist by János Kádár for 32 years. He did permit a degree of private entrepreneurship, but this reform was too small to achieve expansion of the economy. In 1988, the Party replaced Kádár and reformed themselves into a social democratic party. In the same year there were free elections. The new Hungary played a big role in changing the DDR (German Democratic Republic). In September 1989, Hungary opened its borders with Austria. Hundreds of thousands East Germans took refuge in West Germany via Hungary and Austria.
IX.4.3 The German Democratic Republic: Revolution and Reunification
The leader of East Germany, Erich Honecker, vehemently opposed to any reform. When the Hungarians opened the border with Austria, 350,000 people “emigrated” to West Germany. Violent demonstrations against the regime increased. Gorbachev told Honecker that he wouldn’t send Soviet troops to East Germany. After a huge demonstration in Leipzig, the party forced Honecker to resign.
On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall “fell”. The people, who lived poorly for years, could see into the luxurious lifestyle that the party bosses had led. Moreover, the economy was far more worse than the party had always told. It was the downfall of the party. Reformers took over, the old guard was arrested on charges of corruption and embezzlement.
Now the DDR was no longer communist, the call for unification became louder. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl took the initiative. Reunification needed approval of the four Allied powers of World War II. After some hesitation on French and English sides, West Germany had built up enough credit to obtain permission from the Allies. On October 3, 1990, the two Germanies were united into the Federal Republic of Germany and would have Berlin as its capital in a few years. The initial euphoria over the reunion gave way to disillusionment. The upgrading and absorbing of the total rotten East German economy showed a much bigger problem than anticipated.
IX.4.4 Czechoslovakia: “’89 is ’68 Upside Down”
The Stalinists were in power in Czechoslovakia since the suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968. They disapproved Gorbachev’s reforms and smothered all opposition. Yet the number of dissidents grew rapidly. Charter ’77, a movement of intellectuals, formed the core of the struggle against the dictatorship.
A huge demonstration in Prague in November 1989 and the threat of a general strike ensured that the government and party leaders resigned. A reform-minded communist took over and created free elections. Vaclav Havel, a tireless fighter and writer against the dictatorship, became provisional president. Without blood, the “velvet revolution” made an end to 41 years of communist dictatorship.
Czechoslovakia, of all Eastern European countries the strongest democratic tradition, immediately reformed to a pluralist democracy and a free market economy: the civil society where Havel, now elected president, had fought for years. Slovak politicians increasingly agitated for independence of Slovakia. In January 1993, a peaceful settlement was achieved, after which the Czech Republic and Slovakia went separate ways.
IX.4.5 Bulgaria’s Palace Revolution, Bloodshed in Romania
Bulgaria had always been the best behaving communist state for the Soviets. The revolution took place as a coup within the party, where reformers responded to massive discontent among the population. In a country that had scarcely known freedom, the big question was whether the converted communists would cooperate with the opposition in a democratic system.
Romania was led by the megalomaniac Nicolae Ceauşescu, who ruled both party as government as a genuine dictator. Some kind of private security service played an important role. With the help of his entourage he built a personality cult. His ambition was to convert the agrarian country into a modern industrialized society, whatever the human cost. Any opposition was immediately suppressed. In his foreign policy, Ceauşescu had a rather independent way. He didn’t join the ’68 invasion of Czechoslovakia, and he supported Israel in the fight against the Arabs.
In December, 1989, soldiers of the army refused to shoot at the demonstrators in Timisoara. Ceauşescu’s security forces took over and killed hundreds. New demonstrations in the capital of Bucharest occurred as a result. There was a long struggle between security forces at one side, and the regular army and demonstrators at the other. The army won and the fled Ceauşescu and his wife were arrested and executed.
IX.5 The Collapse of the Soviet Union
In 1991, the revolution took place, almost without bloodshed. It ended three quarters of communism in the Soviet Union. Gorbachev was pinched between the conservative forces in the party and the reformers who advocated for radical changes in constitutional and economic structures.
IX.5.1 The “Creeping Coup d’État”
Gorbachev tried to avoid a clash between the two sides. He appointed some men of the old guard in his government, his ally and foreign minister Shevardnadze resigned. In January 1991, Soviet troops entered Lithuania to fight against demonstrators without Gorbachev’s permission.
Reformers had an increasing concern at what they called a “creeping coup”. Gorbachev seemed to be an obstacle for further changes. The reformers sought refuge at former Politburo-member Boris Yeltsin, who was fallen in disgrace in the Politburo after criticism en incompetence of many party officials. Yeltsin became the populist figurehead of the reform movement.
Yeltsin sought and found his power in parliament. As chairman he had position from where he could constantly criticize Gorbachev. Taking advantage of Gorbachev’s constitutional concessions , he was the first ever free elected President of the Russian Republic in June 1991. Yeltsin demanded immediate independence for the three Baltic states and self-government for Russia and the other republics.
Gorbachev, still looking for the preservation of the Union, began negotiations with the governors of the 15 republics. This led to an “union treaty”, in which the Baltic states and Georgia didn’t participate.
IX.5.2 The Failed August Coup
The day before the union treaty would be signed, a group of 8 men – all appointed by Gorbachev – committed a coup. When he refused to contribute the group replaced the vice president on Gorbachev’s place. Meanwhile, Yeltsin gathered support for Gorbachev in the Russian parliament. An attack on Moscow didn’t occur. The soldiers and even some parts of the KGB refused to shoot at the people. After several days of sporadic street fighting, the coup proved to be a failure.
While Gorbachev still believed in a return with political reform in the Soviet Union, Yeltsin started an entirely different direction. He suspended the activities of the Communist party throughout whole Russia and took their property. The Soviet Congress of People’s Deputies took similar action and then abolished themselves. This dissolution of the party-state regime was the revolution.
All that remained was a federal council of the presidents of the republics, of which Gorbachev continued to be chairman. The independence of the three Baltic states was immediately recognized, but other republics also demanded independence. Eventually the union was dissolved and 12 states continued in a loose association called the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The USSR disappeared from the map. Russia took its place in de Security Council.
Gorbachev declared that his main task was over. Nevertheless, he is seen as one of the great reformers in history. His tragedy was that, after he undermined communism, he didn’t see that it was necessary that all the old structures should be destructed. So he remained a threat to the incumbent power, and simultaneously he was a barrier to further innovation.
X.1 After Communism
Marxist-Leninist party dictatorship does still exist in China, North Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba. In Europe, the last communist regimes, Yugoslavia and Albania, disappeared in respectively 1989 and 1991. In Western Europe, the communists only formed socialist parties. Marxism and proletarian internationalism had lost much of their appeal. The revolutions in Eastern Europe seemed to mark the international triumph of Western political liberalism andthe free market economy.
The road to democracy and a free market economy was not easy. The former Soviet republics and the Central and Eastern European states had a difficult transition period. Many bureaucrats and managers of the old order knew how to use their knowledge and networks to benefit financially from the privatization of state enterprises. In addition, the social democracy gained many votes in these regions, so there were constantly discussions about the free market economy and the influence of the government.
X.1.1 Russia after 1991
On January 1, 1992, the Russian Federation, with 21 “federated republics” was born. With 150 million inhabitants and a surface twice as big as that of the US, it was still a superpower. The most urgent problem was its nuclear arsenal. Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus gave their nuclear weapons to Russia. Other important problems were separatist movements, which in the case of Chechnya became a bloody war, and the 25 million Russians in other parts were often considered and treated as less desirable foreigners.
President Yeltsin’s main concern was the economy. In the years between 1992 and 1995, the production continuously declined, the ruble lost much of its value, and the standard of living declined. Large loans from the US, the World Bank, and IMF didn’t avail at all. State companies were privatized en came for less money in the hands of oligarchs, a small group of mafia-style entrepreneurs.
Communists and nationalists strongly opposed Yeltsin’ austerity policy. When the latter dissolved Parliament and subscribed new elections, parliamentarians refused to leave the building. Only after the building was shot on fire by tanks, they gave their consent. Yeltsin’s new constitution gave him expanded executive powers, but the State Duma (the new parliament) elections brought a victory for the communists and nationalists. Yeltsin and his administration were forced to give up many of the reforms and to implement wage and price controls.
Meanwhile, the situation in Chechnya is getting worse when militant guerrillas proclaim independence. Late 1994, Yeltsin ordered a sudden invasion of Chechnya. It led to a tragedy. When the bad prepared army didn’t achieve any success, the command decided to bomb the capital Grozny. In April 1996, Yeltsin commits his mistake and withdraws the army. More than 20,00 Chechen – in fact Russians – lost their lives.
Despite this failure, and despite the stagnating economy, Yeltsin was reelected in 1996. The economic situation was such that the country could no longer afford its payments. A bankrupt was avoided with the help of the IMF and Western banks. It didn’t benefit the political stability. One government followed the other, until Yeltsin appointed Vladimir Putin as prime minister in August 1999.
In the fall of 1999, Moscow frightened by a series of mysterious explosions, that killed hundreds. Putin immediately blamed Chechen terrorists and decided to heavy bombardments on Chechen cities, to the dismay of virtually the entire world. 200,000 fled, thousands of Chechen died. Grozny was completely destroyed. Domestically, Putin’s decisiveness increased his popularity. In the spring of 2000 he was easily reelected.
X.1.2 The Resurgence of Nationalism: The Breakup of Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia, with its patchwork of ethnic groups and religious differences, was held together by former resistance hero Tito after World War II. He established a communist federal republic. The separatist movements that Tito had always managed to keep low, came back to the surface after his death in 1980.
With the demise of communism in 1989, four of the six republics, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Macedonia, chose for independence. Serbs, led by former communist Milošević, strongly opposed the breakup of the federation. After Croatia and Slovenia declared themselves independence, war broke out. Local Serbian militias, created with help of the regular army, enclaves in the seceding states.
The worst violence took place in Bosnia, where not only Serbs, but also Croats were trying to acquire their own areas. It was mainly the (Bosnian) Serbs who, under the guise of “ethnic cleansing”, terrorized the Muslim majority in barbaric actions. Prolonged shelling of the capital Sarajevo and the massacre of Srebrenica, where 8,000 men were killed, were among the many crimes.
The international community couldn’t agree on measures. The contingents of the United Nations could not guarantee all the food, let alone to make measures. None of the European powers nor the US wished to make a failure in this complex conflict. The only thing that the Security Council could decide, were economic sanctions against Serbia.
In 1995, the Croats reclaimed their previously lost territory. They started their own ethnic cleansing by expel 200,000 Serbs from Croatia. One year later, Serbia agrees to the conditions of the Dayton Agreement, wherein the borders of Croatia and Bosnia are established and wherein UN peacekeepers oversights Bosnia.
The problems weren’t over yet. In the Serbian province of Kosovo, where the population is 90% Albanian and Muslim, the separatist movement became increasingly militant. In 1998, Milošević launched an offensive to eradicate Kosovo’s independence fighters. The NATO and the US warned him, but he continued. By the time that almost 40% of the population was fleeing, the NATO started bombing Belgrade and other Serbian cities. After 78 days of continuous air strikes, Milošević stopped. The Security Council reaffirmed the Yugoslav sovereignty over Kosovo, but stationed 50,000 peacekeepers in the region.
Meanwhile, Milošević’s popularity decreased in Serbia and he lost the 2000 elections. After extensive demonstrations he finally accepted his defeat. A year later he was, under great international pressure, extradited to the Yugoslavia Tribunal in The Hague. In 2006, he died before the trial ended.
X.1.3 Central and Eastern Europe after 1989
The countries in Eastern Europe moved towards democracy, the rule of law, and a free economy. That was not always easy. Four decades of Soviet rule had left their mark. Crime, corruption, and cynicism towards the authority had become a way of living. Like Russia, the former ruling classes attempted to profit from the privatization of state enterprises. The greed of the early Western capitalism did also took advantage.
Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and the three Baltic states ked the way to democratization, economic reforms, and a pluralistic society. They all sought a admission to the European Union. Despite persistent problems, there was almost everywhere in Central and Eastern Europe visible progress.
X.2 Nation States and Economies in the Age of Globalization
X.2.1 Economic Recovery and a “Third Way” in Politics
By 1992, US President Bill Clinton set a new tone with his politics. He promoted economic growth and productivity combined with attention to the weak in society, health care, and education. He was helped by raising the (world) economy, that was growing and growing. Since 1997, Clinton had a kindred spirit in the person of Labour leader Tony Blair. Blair’s strength and popularity exposed him to a number constitutional changes. He decentralized power to a new Scottish parliament and to a new legislative assembly in Wales. A fragile peace settlement was made in Northern Ireland. In Germany and France were pragmatic policies as well.
X.2.2 Japan in the 1990s
The 1990s were for Japan economically and politically dramatic. Between 1981 and 1989 both equity and house prices were quadrupled. The country entered a financial crisis, which resulted in a deep and persistent recession. The measures of the government were insufficient for the economy.
There was also a party that had Japan in control for a long time. Evidence of corruption and bribery led the Liberal Democratic Party to an huge loss at the elections. The new government didn’t made any strong reforms. Only in 1999 the Japanese economy showed a slight revival.
X.2.3 The European Union: Widening and Deepening
With the accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden in 1995 the number grew to 15 members of the EU, while there are now already more than ten new applications from Central, Eastern and Southern Europe. Twelve members decided in 1991 to the Maastricht Treaty to enter a process of the creation of a European Central Bank and the introduction of a common currency, the euro.
Entry requirements of the EU are strongly associated with liberal political and economic models. Applicants for membership should pursue “freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and legal security”. A functioning free market economy was also a requirement.
Besides widening, the EU created a common foreign and defense policy. Bosnia and Kosovo clearly demonstrated the necessity.
The internal structure didn’t change much during the years. The European Commission, with its extensive bureaucracy in Brussels, was the executive. The European Parliament, with its limited powers, got little enthusiasm of voters. The policy was determined by the Council of the Ministers.
Fully integration didn’t took place. What remained was a strong, pragmatic cooperation, that gave stability, prosperity, and security for the member states. Although the ideas of visionaries in the 50s and 60s were not fully achieved, the EU could be labeled as a success.
The Franco-German cooperation was crucial in this regard. With the reunification of Germany the cooperation came temporarily under pressure, but the French had to accept that the enlarged Germany would play a greater role in Europe and the world. France and Germany were driven together by an uneasy feeling about the leading role of the US in globalization.
X.2.4 The “New Economy”: The 1990s and Beyond
Globalization was the word for the 90s. It stood for a faster and more efficient capital and technology that crossed all borders, geographically and politically. The US took the lead in this development and was driven by the computer revolution and the Internet. The US experienced the longest period of uninterrupted economic expansion ever. During the decade many countries increased the livings standards. In some countries in the industrialized world were problems: the continuing recession in Japan, the debt crises in Mexico (1994) and Brazil (1998), the almost bankrupt of Russia, and the financial crisis in the “golden” economies of South East Asia (1997-1998).
Large companies wanted to be even bigger in order to survive the globalization. A wave of mergers and acquisitions was the result. The American and European stock markets continued to grow, despite warnings of “irrational exuberance”. The new economy seemed to grow to an extremely high level. Early 21st century the prices fell back to earth.
The two most important developments in the computer revolution were the Internet and the World Wide Web. Thanks to the Internet, the World Wide Web became a mass medium for millions and millions of people. It meant a revolution in the way people communicated with each other. English was the dominant language.
In the American society there was a gap between rich and poor, and this gap grew. Such developments caused that the global confidence in the unbridled laissez-faire market economy reduced. Criticism on the argument that the invisible hand of the market would solve all the problems grew.
The growth of world trade led to the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which replaced the GATT. The GATT had been very successful in the removal of trade barriers, but a more formal organization was needed now. The WTO was authorized to establish agreements, impose rules on trade disputes and resolve it. There was criticism, largely from anti-globalists, who often violently protested against the lack of attention to the environment, working conditions, child labor, and more generally the position of developing countries.
Globalization seemed preliminary the socio-economic theme of the 21st century. But for some it was too much “westernization” or “Americanization.” The protests of the anti-globalists have undoubtedly contributed that globalization was not only seen as a purely economic phenomenon. There came a greater focus on social issues. The giant multinational companies are no longer European or American companies. Their home bases are often in dozens of countries all over the globe, involving a great interdependence.
X.3 International Conflict in the Twenty-First Century
The US was the hegemoon of the world, the only superpower leading in both economic and military power. The end of the Cold War didn’t bring peace. But warfare between nation-states seemed almost to disappear in the early twenty-first century. Religious divisions could shape conflicts, like Israel and its Arab neighbors.
X.3.1 The United Nations
The United Nations were most close to the term “international community”. The most dominant institution of the Un is the Security Council. The UN membership expands after the decolonization process. In 1948, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. After the Cold War the US took the leadership in international affairs.
X.3.2 NATO, Russia and the New International Cooperation
The role of Russia in the world was important, but not yet precisely defined. When Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic joined NATO, Russia was not amused. Relations with Russia were important, but relations with the People’s Republic of China as well.
X.3.3 Terrorism and War after September 11, 2001
On September 11, 2001, radical Islamic terrorists known as al-Qaeda committed terrorist attacks on the United States: two hijacked planes flew into the World Trade Center in New York, a third one in the Pentagon, and one crashed in Pennsylvania. As answer, president George W. Bush started the War on Terror. Backed by a strong coalition of NATO allies, the Americans invaded Afghanistan in 2001. The regime in Afghanistan, the Taliban, hosted al-Qaeda militants. Two years later, the US also invaded Iraq, although the UN condemned an invasion.