View previous topic | View next topic

The Queen

Page 4 of 6
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next

tetsabb
749528.  Tue Oct 05, 2010 1:43 pm Reply with quote

My brain is still dealing with AFB's allusion to jokes about Il Papa having cocaine blown up his arse by dwarf Thai hookers.
Anyone know any?

 
Neotenic
749535.  Tue Oct 05, 2010 1:58 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
I don't see how you can retroactively make the Chinese Revolution to be the direct cause of new global organisations, destroy ways of life on a global scale, lead to new technological developments, change the industrial and economic power of a country half-way around the world, or promote a nation to the position of superpower, all through making new documentaries about it.


I think the reason you're not following the logic is because you're missing the point in a quite spectacular fashion.

Look at what you're suggesting I'm saying - that history can be changed by making documentaries. This is ludicrous. Do you honestly think I would be saying that?

No, my point was that I think you're over-estimating the impact of WWII in light of subsequent events and underestimating the impact of those events. Not least from the perspective of the billion people who happen to live under the Chinese regime - which is almost as many people as those who lived in the countries that were major players in the war.

The Great Leap Forward (as with Stalin's collective farming experiment) did indeed destroy the way of life of millions of people. New technological advances have indeed been made, mostly in the field of low-cost manufacturing, as not all of the savings come from paying the workers tuppence a go. Not as sexy as an A-bomb, but rather more useful on a day-to-day basis. China has, very much on it's own terms, promoted itself to being a superpower - and, as I said, now bankrolls the country that likes to think it is the only superpower, and that very much influences what happens half-way around the world.

From a UK-centric position, I can understand why WWII still looms large in our collective psyche - but from a global perspective, it's importance shrinks back quite markedly. And I happen to think it would be healthier for us to recognise that, than watch yet another half-hour on dogfights over Kent.

 
Sadurian Mike
749575.  Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:45 pm Reply with quote

Neotenic wrote:
I think the reason you're not following the logic is because you're missing the point in a quite spectacular fashion.

Look at what you're suggesting I'm saying - that history can be changed by making documentaries. This is ludicrous. Do you honestly think I would be saying that?

Well that's how it came over. Stranger things have been asserted on this forum.

Neotenic wrote:
No, my point was that I think you're over-estimating the impact of WWII in light of subsequent events and underestimating the impact of those events. Not least from the perspective of the billion people who happen to live under the Chinese regime - which is almost as many people as those who lived in the countries that were major players in the war.

That's actually more logical but you didn't put it forward very well before.

I would also say that it is very wrong. No matter what area you choose, the Chinese Revolution changed less in the world than WWII. Yes, it altered the lives of the Chinese. Yes, it made China a different power to that which it might otherwise have become.

However;
It did nothing to advance technology.
It has destroyed nobody's economies.
It has not directly affected anyone outside of China/Taiwan.
It has not led to the establishment of a new worldwide diplomatic arena.
It has not set up a new East-West divide, just altered it slightly.
etc etc

In addition to what it wasn't, the successful Chinese Revolution was the direct result of WWII itself. Without the power vacuum and the altering of the balance of power resulting from the Japanese occupation, the Communists would have been in exactly the same postion as they had been beforehand.

Neotenic wrote:
And I happen to think it would be healthier for us to recognise that, than watch yet another half-hour on dogfights over Kent.

You keep using that imagery, of being bombarded with war films. If you don't like watching war films or documentaries about the War, turn it over. I have suggested why I think that such programmes are so popular and they hardly dominate the current range of TV channels.

History happened the way it did and nobody can change it. Films and TV programmes are going to be made about subjects that the producers feel will appeal to an audience, and this is always going to be less scholarly end of the interest range. A TV programme aimed at Mr Average about finance will have to be "sexed up" to attract any sort of audience, and the same can be said for just about any subject. Witness Top Gear's emphasis on fast cars rather than family saloons.

The history, causes and after-effects of WWII have been examined and written about by some very eminent historians. The subject matter is, however, too dry to present as a TV programme so it is inevitably going to be heavily filtered and have attention-seeking grahics added to it. It will also be far too long for any reasonable TV schedule.

What we are left with are snapshot treatments of particular battles, weapons, or personalities, and these are the ones that can be seen on the likes of the History Channel. If you see an hour's programme titled "The Battle of Okinawa" then you are probably going to see a programme skimming over the situation, tactics, weapons, commanders and outcome of the Battle of Okinawa. You are hardly likely to see much in the way of how Moscow forced Poland into Communism or how Britain had to let her Empire go for lack of political will and money following six years of war.

The programmes that you keep alluding to, in other words, are easily avoided if you don't like them, perfectly valid in context on the channels on which they are shown, and deal with their subject matter in a necessarily constained manner designed to appeal to a TV viewer armed with a remote control.

Special interest TV channels and programmes are really not very good ammunition to support an argument that society is "obsessed" with a particular subject. They are designed to appeal to fans of that subject and are usually clearly labelled.

 
Neotenic
749632.  Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:13 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Yes, it altered the lives of the Chinese.


If by 'altered the lives' you mean 'killed 25-40 million', then you may be on to something.

From the point of view of someone living in, say, Folkestone, then WWII probably did have a larger impact on their lives. But I'm rather less convinced that is the case for someone living in Tibet. And I do prefer the global perspective.

But I don't especially want to go around in circles on some crazed 'my horrendous thing is more important than your horrendous thing' loop.

Let's not forget, here, that this conversation was kicked off by your - bluntly - lazy and boring picture of Pope Ben with a toothpick moustache. Add to that the fact that internet discussions use Nazi as a synonym for evil so often there's a law about it.

My reason for introducing Mao in the first place was that, by almost any measure, he was a more successful totalitarian dictator - imposing his ideology and inflicting absolute terror on a far larger proportion of the planet and for far longer than Hitler could ever have dreamed of.

Yet it's still the Hitler label we reach for when we're confronted by someone we disagree with violently and fundamentally. Why not Mao? I suspect it's because none of our grandfathers fought against his armies. And we should probably consider that to be a lucky escape.

It may well be the case that WWII provided a scenario whereby the Communists could take control - but that doesn't mean it was the only way they could have done so. But what the other ways could have been, we'll never know.

As far as the documentaries go, I don't bother watching them. As I say, I've seen WaW, I don't think I need to see any more. But our obsession with that period goes deeper than the TV schedules. For the purposes of this discussion, they're little more than a handy and visible symptom.

When I was at the UN building earlier this year, they had a big display on the tour that had two maps side by side - The world in 1945, and The world today - and together they illustrate, on one level, just how much the world has changed since the end of hostilities.

I think this is the key point, really - I will concede that WWII is probably unrivalled in terms of being a big single event (even if there's probably a case to say that it was several events happening simultaneously) - but the problem with the focus remaining on this one, big event, is that our knowledge of the world sort of crystallises around it - and that knowledge is now quite drastically out of date.

In a similar way, our knowledge of the developing world tends to crystalise too - my idle theory is that it's around the images that prompted Live Aid. And things have changed there too, in some cases dramatically. Here is a truly fascinating talk from Hans Rosling about using current datasets to change our mindsets.

I guess the main thrust behind this is that I think that our collective and continuing obsession with the war gets in the way of our true understanding of the world around us today, instead of sixty five years ago. That video talks about 'us' and 'them' in the context of the developing world, but I think that continually looking at the war also helps keep that us/them divide open. And I suppose the really marked thing about the truly big developments of the last fifty years is that they've been achieved by people working together, instead of trying to kill each other.

 
Sadurian Mike
749740.  Wed Oct 06, 2010 8:31 am Reply with quote

Neotenic wrote:
Quote:
Yes, it altered the lives of the Chinese.


If by 'altered the lives' you mean 'killed 25-40 million', then you may be on to something.

Okay, you evidently wish to introduce the emotive element of relative casualties into the debate. This is something of a side branch to the significance of world events but it is certainly worth remembering. Given that you are trying to compare the impact of the Chinese Revolution with WWII, we can compare the figures if this is how you think the effects ought to be calculated.

I use Wiki thoughout simply for convenience. As it happens I have a large and well-equiped University library on my doorstep which has racks of books dealing with this very subject, but my research time is currently employed elsewhere so Wiki will have to do for now.

The Civil War's casualty figures are about 3 200 000 if you include the fighting before and after the Japanese invasion. WWII is thought to have caused from 10 000 000 to 20 000 000, although there are no firm records.

The Great Famine is thought to have killed 20-30 million although,again, no firm records exist.

So, for China alone, the death toll is greater for the Civil War plus the Great Famine, with up to 33 000 000 against up to 20 000 000 during the Second World War.

Now sadly for your argument we are not just talking about China. We are also talking about the rest of the world here, hence the term "World War". We therefore need to add in the casualties of all the warring nations which is estimated at between 62 and 79 million in total (which includes the Chinese figures). This does not include deaths post war from the effects of WWII (such as the Soviet repression).

Using your casualty criteria, then, we see that the WWII was still more significant.

Neotenic wrote:
[From the point of view of someone living in, say, Folkestone, then WWII probably did have a larger impact on their lives. But I'm rather less convinced that is the case for someone living in Tibet. And I do prefer the global perspective.

If you prefer a global perspective then I cannot see how you are so focussed on China. A World War is just that - it affected the lives of the populations of most countries of the world. The effects of WWII were more significant than the Chinese Revolution for just about every country except China and her near neighbours.

Neotenic wrote:
Let's not forget, here, that this conversation was kicked off by your - bluntly - lazy and boring picture of Pope Ben with a toothpick moustache.

Well you didn't find it funny. Some did, some didn't. Oddly enough, a lot of what appears on this forum I find boring as well (most of WFHIT, for example), but I don't go out of my way to draw attention to it.

Toothbrush moustache, by the way.

I would also debate whether this conversation was kicked off by me. Look back and you'll see what I mean. In any case, the current debate seems to be about the significance of WWII and your claim that we are unjustifiably "obsessed" with it.

Neotenic wrote:
Add to that the fact that internet discussions use Nazi as a synonym for evil so often there's a law about it.



Neotenic wrote:
My reason for introducing Mao in the first place was that, by almost any measure, he was a more successful totalitarian dictator - imposing his ideology and inflicting absolute terror on a far larger proportion of the planet and for far longer than Hitler could ever have dreamed of.

You obviously misunderstand the difference between a world-changing event and a significant one. China's Revolution was very significant for China and certainly had repercussions around the world, but it was nothing like as fundamentally world-changing as WWII.

Neotenic wrote:
Yet it's still the Hitler label we reach for when we're confronted by someone we disagree with violently and fundamentally. Why not Mao? I suspect it's because none of our grandfathers fought against his armies. And we should probably consider that to be a lucky escape.

Maybe because WWII affected the whole world and... oh hell, I've explained it to you before, I'm sure you get he message by now.

Neotenic wrote:
It may well be the case that WWII provided a scenario whereby the Communists could take control - but that doesn't mean it was the only way they could have done so. But what the other ways could have been, we'll never know.

Playing "what if" doesn't add to a debate about what actually happened. Otherwise I'll add in that when Japan allied with India and took over China they imposed a regime headed by the divine emperor. It doesn't add anything to the debate in question and is simply lazy. There is no way to prove or back up what would or wouldn't happen and so you simply chose a path that fits your own theory.

EDIT: Tidied up and (hopefully) made the post read rather less aggressively.


Last edited by Sadurian Mike on Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:40 am; edited 2 times in total

 
Neotenic
749751.  Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:21 am Reply with quote

I say again;

Quote:
But I don't especially want to go around in circles on some crazed 'my horrendous thing is more important than your horrendous thing' loop.


Quote:
If you prefer a global perspective then I cannot see how you are so focussed on China.


I wasn't - it was one of a number of points I made, even if we did zero in on that one a bit - and I made a concerted effort to leave it behind, with at least half of my last post having absolutely nothing to do with that.

Oh, that would be the half you ignored completely, yes?

To me, that second half is way more important than comparative importance or awfulness of specific historical events - it's about recognising that things have changed just as much since that time as they did at that time, even if all the changes didn't happen all at once.

 
Sadurian Mike
749753.  Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:28 am Reply with quote

To you the second half is more important. To me it it isn't.

The world in which we currently live was so fundamentally shaped by WWII that we can trace current events back to it directly.

It is not out of date (no historical research is ever "out of date"), it is the foundation of the modern world. Naturally changes have occurred since then, but they have occurred within a world framework set in place by WWII.

Your UN example is a classic point. The UN and therefore the UN building and chart you use to illustrate your point was a direct result of WWII.

 
suze
749812.  Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:19 am Reply with quote

Sadurian Mike wrote:
The UN and therefore the UN building and chart you use to illustrate your point was a direct result of WWII.


Now this has set me thinking. Is it tenable to argue that the reason WWII took place at all is because the League of Nations was really pretty useless? (Didn't tell the Japanese not to invade Manchuria, didn't remind Hitler that "no troops in the Rhineland" was non-negotiable, and so on.)

And a large part of the reason why the League of Nations was ineffectual was that the USA never joined it. Why not? Because a Republican congress refused to back the proposal of a Democrat president (Woodrow Wilson).

We once played a game in which we presented more or less convincing arguments for why WWII was the fault of Portugal, Sweden, Accrington Stanley FC, and various others. So today, I suggest that we can blame WWII on the Republican Party in the USA.

 
Neotenic
749849.  Wed Oct 06, 2010 1:35 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Now this has set me thinking. Is it tenable to argue that the reason WWII took place at all is because the League of Nations was really pretty useless?


It's obviously hard to argue that the LoN's efforts under it's 'war prevention' remit were anything other than an abject failure.

However, we shouldn't forget that it wasn't the League's only remit - and other sub-organisations of it simply carried on with their work under the new UN banner - so I'm not quite convinced that we can view the foundation of the UN as a seismic post-WWII event, but more a rebranding exercise that brought more folks into the tent - however spurious, as you allude to, their reasons for sitting it out beforehand.

But back on the broader theme, I think that a certain nostalgia for the war years fomented fairly quickly, and sustained itself, because the post-war years were dreadful for Britain. I said earlier that it was the last time we were clearly right, but it could also be said that it was the last time we were truly Great, too.

We went into the war a global superpower, sitting atop an empire that would have made Caesar weep with envy, and came out of it completely knackered, and virtually pleading on bended knee to the States for some money to keep the lights on.

Rations lasted for almost another decade, the empire gradually collapsed like a flan in a cupboard and we were flat broke - it's hardly any wonder that we, as a nation, should hark back to a time of stirring speeches and making sacrifices to Fight The Good Fight, and that seeped into our national conciousness and stayed there.

And now, both Germany's and Japan's GDP is larger than ours on a per-capita basis, and Italy's is about the same. But we still define ourselves by Churchill's speeches. That Britain is gone, and I think it's time we recognised that.

 
Sadurian Mike
749864.  Wed Oct 06, 2010 2:35 pm Reply with quote

Neotenic wrote:
However, we shouldn't forget that it wasn't the League's only remit - and other sub-organisations of it simply carried on with their work under the new UN banner

The League of Nations was not the United Nations and vice versa. Just because they were intended for a similar purpose does not mean that you can successfully claim that they were the same animal.

Neotenic wrote:
I said earlier that it was the last time we were clearly right,

Yes, and you were wrong as I pointed out with my examples.

The rest of your post seems to suggest that only Britain is interested in studying or remembering WWII as some sort of comfort blanket. Even moving away from international scholarly research I think you are overlooking a glaring fact - most of the WWII-related TV programmes on the History Channel, and almost all the films about WWII that have been released since the 1950s are made in the USA.

 
Spud McLaren
749878.  Wed Oct 06, 2010 3:05 pm Reply with quote

I think the fascination that WW2 holds, here, in the US, anywhere, is down to the cool 1940s music.

 
Neotenic
749958.  Wed Oct 06, 2010 8:22 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Yes, and you were wrong as I pointed out with my examples.


I'm not really convinced that any of those are particularly clear-cut examples - after all, what right do we really have to a clutch of islands off the tip of South America.

I can't say I know a huge amount about Borneo or Malaya, but the words 'trappings of Empire' sprung to mind - digging about, I found this on the subject of Malaya - what do you think of that?

I'm most impressed, I must say, with your unflinching certainty that your interpretation of history is absolutely right.

Quote:
The League of Nations was not the United Nations and vice versa. Just because they were intended for a similar purpose does not mean that you can successfully claim that they were the same animal.


No? How were they so vastly different?

From a speech given at the last session of the LoN

Quote:
The League is dead. Long live the United Nations


The LoN was only fully dissolved after the UN was up and running. It had an upper council and a general assembly. Sub-organisations looking at things like poverty and human rights operated under its control.

If anything, the LoN was a prototype. A Neanderthal UN.

Not quite the same animal, but the UN did come with some hereditary features from the LoN, so the UN was not a wholly original, nor revolutionary creation.

Quote:
The rest of your post seems to suggest that only Britain is interested in studying or remembering WWII as some sort of comfort blanket.


No it isn't. I certainly think that it plays a significant part in the British psyche, but I haven't said that is the case to the exclusion of all others. It's not unreasonable to suggest it also does the same thing in the States.


Last edited by Neotenic on Thu Oct 07, 2010 3:15 am; edited 1 time in total

 
bobwilson
749969.  Thu Oct 07, 2010 1:36 am Reply with quote

Quote:

Quote:
The League of Nations was not the United Nations and vice versa. Just because they were intended for a similar purpose does not mean that you can successfully claim that they were the same animal.


No? How were they so vastly different?


Oh dear. Neo demonstrates (yet again) why he failed GCSE history.

I'll leave it to you Mike - I really can't be bothered with someone who can't be arsed to check basic facts.

 
bobwilson
749971.  Thu Oct 07, 2010 1:48 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Sadurian Mike wrote:
The UN and therefore the UN building and chart you use to illustrate your point was a direct result of WWII.


Now this has set me thinking. Is it tenable to argue that the reason WWII took place at all is because the League of Nations was really pretty useless? (Didn't tell the Japanese not to invade Manchuria, didn't remind Hitler that "no troops in the Rhineland" was non-negotiable, and so on.)


Yes

suze wrote:
And a large part of the reason why the League of Nations was ineffectual was that the USA never joined it.

Nearly

suze wrote:
Why not? Because a Republican congress refused to back the proposal of a Democrat president (Woodrow Wilson).

Congress refused to back a president who'd acted beyond his remit.

suze wrote:
We once played a game in which we presented more or less convincing arguments for why WWII was the fault of Portugal, Sweden, Accrington Stanley FC, and various others. So today, I suggest that we can blame WWII on the Republican Party in the USA.


You might have better luck blaming it on Accrington Stanley FC.

In a nutshell - WW had no mandate to negotiate a LoN on behalf of the US - that was his personal bugbear. He DID have the opportunity to take along a deputy from the Republican party - an opportunity he declined. If he had taken along this deputy the LoN may have been a very different beast and may have had the support of the US.

 
exnihilo
749974.  Thu Oct 07, 2010 1:57 am Reply with quote

bobwilson wrote:
Quote:

Quote:
The League of Nations was not the United Nations and vice versa. Just because they were intended for a similar purpose does not mean that you can successfully claim that they were the same animal.


No? How were they so vastly different?


Oh dear. Neo demonstrates (yet again) why he failed GCSE history.

I'll leave it to you Mike - I really can't be bothered with someone who can't be arsed to check basic facts.


Seriously? Did Charles Townshend fail as well?

"A significant number of the old League's aims and methods were transmitted into the new organisation in 1945. Among these were not only such low-key but effective institutions as the International Court and the International Labour Organisation, but also the working assumptions of the secretariat, and some key operations - including those that would soon come to be called 'peacekeeping' operations."

Wait, no, he didn't, he's a Fellow of the British Academy, and a professor of modern history. And, unlike some people's, those are genuine qualifications.

 

Page 4 of 6
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next

All times are GMT - 5 Hours


Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group