The Austro-Hungarian Empire lasted hundreds of years but could not survive WWI. We look at its makeup, its economy, its socialist movement, at Franz Josef and the glamorous empress Sissi, and wonder whether the end of Austria-Hungary was inevitable.
Of all the mysteries of the World Wars, Germany’s is perhaps the most mysterious. We discuss this country with the fastest growing industrial power, the largest and most powerful socialist movement, and (perhaps) the most arrogant imperialist at the helm. We conclude with some notes on some interesting (but not especially well liked by us) sources on German-British rivalry.
The 1905 Russian Revolution was, though no one knew it at the time, the rehearsal for the 1917 Russian Revolution. Dave takes us from Bloody Sunday to the calculations and miscalculations of the Tsar; Justin uses everyone from Lars Lih to Isaac Deutscher to Simon Sebag Montefiore to draw some pictures of what Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin — you’ll be hearing more about these three — were up to in 1905…
The earth-shaking event where an Asian power defeated a European power in a war, leading to a revolution in Russia and a major shakeup in world affairs. We talk about the role education played in Japan’s victory; the Russian fleet that had to sail around the world; and the qualities of Tsar Nicholas that made him the perfect Tsar for a revolution…
First one of a mini-series about the 1905 Russian Revolution, we talk about the economic, political, and social conditions of Russia on the eve of the Russo-Japanese War. Foreign investment, infrastructural deficits, the question of nationalities. We also talk about the disastrous summer of 1874 when the revolutionaries went down to the countryside, debates about terrorism versus propaganda, peasants and industrial workers, and other revolutionary dilemmas.
There is no better entree into pre-WWI France than the sordid Dreyfus Affair. The whole story in all its gory detail including its implications for the France-Russia alliance and the echoes of 1871 casting a cloud over 1895 France. Anti-semitism, frame ups, spies, corruption, incompetence, trials, retrials, people of conscience, and echoes a century later.
Reading Corelli Barnett, David Cannadine, and others, our stop today on the pre-WWI Europe tour is Britain, which has reached the very heights of world domination only to discover that they are being out-innovated and out-educated by rising imperial rivals. While social imperialists begged for consolidation of the white Anglosphere, a strategy given the old college try, it wasn’t to be. How the British system went into decline and the role it played in causing WWI, in this episode of WW Civ.
In this long episode we ask the question: what in the intellectualism of the early 20th century may have contributed to the climate that led to WW1? After reading Losurdo’s long book about Nietzsche, Justin does a deep dive into Nietzschean thinking about Great Men and genius and mediocrity; Dave covers militarism and nationalism; Justin comes back with some history on the 2nd International and the widespread belief in the inevitability of socialism; and we talk about the dual beliefs that war was inevitable and that war was impossible — and how they both contributed to the war happening.
How do you turn a local conflict into a world war? Create an intricate set of alliances that guarantees it! Dave takes us on a tour of the construction of the alliance system from the Emperors’ Leagues to the Congress of Berlin to the Triple Alliance to the Reinsurance Treaty and more. How British and Bismarckian Balance-of-Power games made things so balanced that they could only collapse, in our second episode on the causes of WW1.
The Scramble for Africa is over. Greedy European powers can now only expand at one another’s expense. Du Bois and Lenin both thought this made a big European war inevitable. But others at the time thought it impossible. After two years we are ready to begin the 20th century with something your history classes never fail to discuss – the causes of World War 1. And so we begin the new series, World War Civ, which will include WW1, the Interwar period, WW2, and the aftermath, which will be followed by our Civilizations:Decolonization series – but that will be a while, so relax and get ready for World War Civ.