Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization II Final Lesson

What was the cold war?

The “Cold War” was not exactly a war, although it could have erupted into WWIII quickly enough.  It was more of an extended period of time when there was an extreme amount of tension between the “Western Bloc” (Soviets and their allies), and the “Eastern Bloc” (United states and their allies), in specific, between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.

This period began soon after World War II in 1947, and didn’t truly end until 1991.  The United States and the Soviet Union both wanted to be the biggest superpower in the world, and it was only too obvious that the place couldn’t be occupied by two.

Both of the contestants had vast resources at their back, and weren’t afraid to use them.  Throughout much of the cold war, there were nuclear missiles aimed at Moscow and Washington D.C.

Although not a massive part of the Cold War, the Space Race was a major contest between the U.S.S.R. and the United States to get a man onto the moon before the other country.  Although the Soviets had the first man in space, the United States ended up on top by getting Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin onto the moon in 1969.  Although there is much speculation about the space landing, I will leave that topic for debate.

Anyway, there is a brief summarization of the cold war, and I hope it has added to your knowledge of this period of tension in the second half of the 20th century.

Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization II L145

In what ways did revenge shape World War II?

Revenge is one of the three major motives for small-scale crime, along with love and greed.  Since WWII was far from small-scale, love can be ruled out for the most part.  Thence, we are left with greed and revenge, both extraordinarily apparent throughout most wars.  The German occupation of France, with the ensuing French retaliation,  is of the most brutal examples of revenge throughout history.

When the German army first occupied France, they were more or less civil to the residing occupants, but as the time wore on, they became more and more brutal, to the extent of murdering citizens for no real reason.  As can be expected, the Frenchies got a little sore about this, and when the invaders were finally defeated, they weren’t going to forget in a timely manner.

The “Epuration” as the French called it, was their way of saying thank you to the hated Germans.  On August 25, 1944, when France was finally liberated, there was a short period of mob rule.  During this time, German officials, their lovers, and anyone suspected of collaborating with the Germans, could expect to hear the dreaded knock on their door, signifying imminent death or other gross mistreatment.

This upheaval of virtue was just one of many brutal examples of revenge.  However, by introducing an element of brutality on the Allies’ side, it did much toward shaping the conception of WWII in the modern day.

Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization II L140

What was one of the worst mistakes made by the Axis Powers in WWII?

The Axis Powers of WWII made many blunders throughout the war, not unlike their Allied counterparts.  Many errors were strikingly disastrous, and although many others were perhaps not so disastrous, the obtuse leaders who made them may have some explaining yet to do.  Fortunately for me, Mussolini is not around any more, so I can afford to ridicule his poor decisions without fear of imminent death.

In the summer of 1940, Mussolini was eager to show Hitler that Italy was a serious contender in the war.  He had not yet done anything serious in the war, and he did not want to be underestimated.  Because of this, he made the rash decision to invade Greece.  He was quickly driven back, and repulsed every time he again tried to invade.

Mussolini ended up making quite of a fool of himself with this whole ordeal, Hitler didn’t want all of the Axis Powers to be humiliated by this, and so he sent many of his troops to go wipe out Greece, which he soon accomplished.  Unfortunately for him, it was a key moment during the war, and sending many troops into neutral Greece was rather tough on the rest of his army.

While this may not have been one of the most catastrophic failures of the war, it was one of the most laughable by far.  Mussolini made an absolute mockery of Italy, while accomplishing nothing for himself.

Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization II L120

How did a political assassination in June 1914 lead to a world war?

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in 1914 by a sort of mafia that wanted to break off Austria-Hungary’s South Slav Provinces to be joined with Yugoslavia.  With this intent, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, but the Austria-Hungary government wasn’t pleased.  Austria-Hungary then declared war on the kingdom of Serbia, who didn’t fulfill all of the conditions of an ultimatum sent soon before.

Here is where the world war kicked in;  Austria had several allies, and when they declared war, Russia mobilized many troops in their support.  Germany then issued an ultimatum to Russia ordering that they withdraw.  Russia refused, and so Germany was brought into the war.

From this point, the war escalated.  Each combatant had allies, and when these were brought in, their allies had to join as well.  Thence nearly all of Europe erupted into a massive struggle to defeat the other half of it, resulting in the loss of millions and millions of lives.

Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization II L95

What happened in France during the Revolution of 1830?

In 1824, Charles X took the throne of France.  During his reign, he continually oppressed the people more and more.  In 1830, some newspapers started to speak out against the oppression, and when one of them called for revolt, the government finally got fed up and sent some police to raid the newspaper headquarters.  Raiding the newspaper was the number one thing the government could have done to incite a revolt, they probably didn’t realize it, but a revolt almost instantly started.

On that day, July 27th 1830, the “three glorious days” began.  People openly rioted, and attacked police and military.  The next day, after being stubborn and obstinate, King Charles lost the support of his prime minister and chamber to his cousin, Louis-Philippe.  The government’s authority was pretty much zero by this time.

On July 29th, the military was unable to suppress the citizens, and they sacked the king’s palace.  Louis-Philippe was then elected by the chamber, and Charles X abdicated the throne in view of keeping the peace.

Louis-Philippe went on to sieze all power from the chamber, and reigned as king until 1848.

Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization II L85

What is a key idea of Classical Liberalism?

One key idea of Classical Liberalism was that the government is erected by citizens in order to protect themselves from each other.  In an ungoverned state of nature, conflicts naturally arise.  A government erected by a Classic Liberalist state would have the main purpose of protecting people from each other.

This idea was based on the assumption that all people are naturally incapable of getting along with each other.  Although this is not necessarily true in entirety, it is true enough to need police and military to be kept up.

On that note, as in Iceland, there is no military.  This is because the Icelandic government has weighed the chance of an invasion over the expense of keeping a military.

As has been shown by Iceland’s peaceful record, when there isn’t a lot to take, there aren’t a lot of people who are desperate to take it, despite almost no resistance.

The idea that people need a government to keep them at peace amongst each other was originally adopted by Thomas Hobbes who lived from April 5 1588 to December 4 1679.

Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization II L70

Describe the difference between the French revolution and the English Reformation.

The French revolution was initially started because the french people were oppressed by the ruling nobility.  It ran from 1789-1799 and basically evolved into a bloody reign of terror.  For further details check out my last essay.

The English reformation was also quite an upheaval in society, but in a much more tame manner.  It was also started for a completely different reason.  Although King Henry VIII had not intention of starting a reformation, in seeking permission to get a new wife, he threw out the pope, and so gave the Protestants a great chance to start overthrowing the Catholic system.

So, the English reformation was unintentionally started, and the leaders of the reformation had the goal in mind of throwing off the rule of Catholicism.  The French revolution was initially an effort to free the people, but quickly became a bloody thirst for power, with some seriously tyrannical leaders.


Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization 2 L65

How would you summarize the principles of the French Revolution in its first three years?

The French revolution originated simply as a means of throwing off the tyrannical rule of some of the nobles in France.  The idea was solely to become free, and not be oppressed by the overbearing upper class.

As you probably know, this quickly got out of hand, and the “government” became even more tyrannical than the last one.  The principals of this new government, were to kill anyone that opposed it; even if there was an anonymous denunciation with no proof whatsoever.

The “people’s government” also believed that all forms of inequality whatsoever were evil.  Thus, anyone who had previously held any decent position whatsoever deserved to be killed.  Their was almost never any real trial, just a “judge” pronouncing the victim to be “guilty of treason.”

It is no surprise that the people eventually got tired of this, but it took a lot of courage for anyone to finally stand up against it, when the government could immediately condemn anyone for no reason whatsoever.

Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization 2 L60

What was enlightened absolutism?

Enlightened Absolutists were of the view that royal power was not divine, a new thought in the era.  Instead, they viewed the monarchy as more of a social contract with a man or woman who was put in charge of the country.  Some rulers, like Catherine II of Russia, entirely rejected the non-divine idea, but embraced other ideas of the absolutists.

One of the key ideas of the enlightenment was, as the name suggests, enlightening people.  The key thinkers of the movement were of the opinion that a better society could be obtained by the general public staying out of the dark.  The more each person knew, the more they could understand decisions made by the government, thence, there would be much less civil unrest due to misunderstandings.

Many great rulers adopted this theory, using it to achieve many ends.  Here is a list of what leaders who took advantage of the enlightenment did with it.

Codifying the laws of their territories.

Reforming the countryside by establishing who owned which land and by reporting this data in property surveys called cadasters.

Abolishing, or taking steps to abolish, aristocratic tax immunities.

Limiting the nobility’s power to police and pass judgement upon their peasants.

Diminishing peasants’ legal disabilities, including ameliorating, if not abolishing, the hereditary status and impositions of serfdom where they still existed.

Promoting commerce (whether directly, through royal manufactures, or indirectly, through subsidies, tariffs, the reduction of tolls, or the improvement of transportation).

Establishing some measure of religious toleration.

Sponsoring cultural activities and institutions (such as individual philosophies, royal academies, libraries, and essay contests).

Sourced from Wickepedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted in Western Civilization

Western Civilization 2 L55

What does Adam Smith mean by the “invisible hand”?

Adam Smith actually used the term, “invisible hand” only three times in all of his writings.  The few times that he did use it, he was referring to an individual unintentionally benefiting society in an attempt at self-improvement.

Smith first coined the term, “invisible hand” in 1759, in The Theory Of Moral Sentiments, in which he mentioned how society is often benefited more, when people are intent upon bettering their own situation in one way or another.

The whole idea of the “invisible hand,” rests on the theory of society benefiting from individual actions.  When a person seeks to better their social standing, they might think of numerous paths to an end.  One of the thoughts that might occur to someone would be donating to a charity or cause.  Donating to a charity could very well improve society’s view of someone, but at the same time, society was benefited by the donation.

I have touched on but a few points that Adam Smith wrote about, the “invisible hand” being one of these.  Put in a nutshell, the term summed up how society can benefit from unintentional acts of self-improvement.