In world history, the American Revolution created a republic that continued slavery and expanded a continuous war against Indigenous nations in North America. We look at the British imperial geopolitics, the propaganda, and the history. Why wasn’t the American Revolution the inspiration that the French Revolution was? Special mention to two sources: John Grenier and Gerald Horne.
From the Habsburg marriage alliances to the War of Spanish Succession, to the War of Jenkins’ Ear and the Seven Years War; to the Anarchy in India after Aurangzeb’s death and the founding of Afghanistan by Ahmad Shah Durrani. Some glimpses of three centuries of power politics in world history.
We talk about the scientific revolution – Galileo, Brahe, Kepler, Newton, Rousseau, Voltaire, Montesquieu and others; and take a tour of the Enlightenment as well, and the importance of Enlightenment ideas in the revolutions that would soon follow it.
Dave Power and I talk about the rise of Protestantism, focusing on the characters of Martin Luther (including his advice to Philip Landgrave of Hesse), and Henry VIII.
The global economy was forged in the 18th century under European empires that committed genocides in the Americas and Africa, instituted mass slavery, and colonialism. This is the story.
Following Alexander Woodside’s book Lost Modernities, we talk about the Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese Mandarinates, the peculiarities and pitfalls of a system based on competitive examinations, the interplay of meritocracy and feudalism, and the relevance of it all to today’s debates about standardized testing and education more generally.
Dave Power and I talk about enlightened despots and the “greats”: Peter, Catherine, Frederick, Akbar, Abbas, Shivaji, Sejeong, as well as the Sikh Empire and the Ayuttaya Kingdom.
With David Power. If the quintessential absolute monarchy was Louis XIV, the quintessential constitutional monarchy is England after the Glorious Revolution. We talk about King Charles losing his head and foreshadow (following Gerald Horne) the dire consequences of this for Africa and Africans as it enabled a massive expansion of the slave trade. For our anarchist listeners, we’ve also got Guy Fawkes, the gunpowder treason, the Diggers, and the Levelers.
The transition of European kingdoms from feudalism to absolute monarchy, with Russia, Prussia, and of course France under Louis XIV as examples. We open with some discussion of state formation, mentioning Plato’s The Republic, Chanakya’s Arthasastra, and Charles Tilly’s Coercion, Capital and European States.
In the first episode of our Modern Civilizations Course, a quick tour of the world around 1492 – Aztec, Inka, Ming China, Ottoman Turk, Mughal India, Kongo Kingdom, Haudenosonee Confederacy, and a breakdown of some European polities.