RE: Subject: Re: Bye-Bye to the >H Right Wing --> WW IV?

From: pchaston (
Date: Fri Feb 15 2002 - 14:01:13 MST

> pchaston wrote:
> >
> > Mike Lorrey wrote:
> >
> > > At its core, all world wars have been over which is superior: lies
> > > versus truth.
> snip
> >
> >pchaston wrote
> >Which historical texts describe the First World War as a history of
> > imperialism vs. human liberty? Fact: The predominant powers involved all
> > held territories and colonies that were viewed by
> participants at the time
> > as imperial structures. The powers that fought each other included the
> > British Empire, the German Empire, the Russian Empire, the
> Austro-Hungarian
> > Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Japanese Empire. The First
> World War was
> > not a conflict against imperialism; it was a war between empires and
> > nations. If you want to simplify such a complex history, you
> might view it
> > as a battle between empire and nation, within its European context.
>Mike Lorrey wrote:
> But did imperialism survive WWI? Not really, and Wilson's lobbying and
> public speaking pretty much killed the whole concept at wars end and
> following. The carnage produced by the war between imperialists
> convinced enough people that imperialism was a dumb idea, and the fact
> that the US was needed to end the war helped put the nails in the
> coffin.
> Wilson began the movement for internation recognition of human rights as
> something beyond the ability or right of governments to oppress. That it
> took till the end of WWII for this to come to fruition is only proof of
> the maxim that who wins wars is really only decided by the next war.

Imperialism, as an ideology, did survive the Great War. Moreover, one can
argue that its ideological underpinnings were strengthened by the downfall
of the Dual Monarchy, Germany, Russia and the Ottomans. Countries during the
interwar period who wished to overturn the Versailles treaty settlement
viewed the expansion of their power in territorial and inperialistic terms:
German lebensraum, Italy in Abyssinia, Japan and Manchukuo. Their
governmental ideologies incorporated the dynamic of imperialism and married
it to new racial and national extremes.

The British and French empires remained in existence at this time, and
remained symbols of national strength for their electorates.
Anti-imperialistic arguments in Europe were mainly derived from
Marxist-Leninist theory and never gained much credence beyond the Left.

Imperialism in Britain eventually lost its ideological grip with the
Atlantic Charter.

Perhaps imperialism did lose its ideological hold upon the US under Wilson
but the Versailles Treaty and its principle of self-determination had to
battle with the long-standing notions of racial and cultural superiority
that justified empire.

> > > Mike Lorrey wrote
> > > Countries would not go to war against each other if one side or the
> > > other were not lying about their point of view.
> >
> > If you wish to view a war in terms of the ideologies expressed by the
> > participants, how do you distinguish between their ideas and
> the propaganda
> > created in support of their point of view? Propaganda is a
> natural tool of
> > any nation at war and all sides lie about their intentions and
> their goals.
> > At least, any country at war has done this so far.
> Propaganda, per se, is not always a lie. There are two forms of
> propaganda: information and disinformation. One is truth, the other is
> falsehood.

Propaganda is always a form of untruth as the authors wish the reader or
observer to privelege a particular interpretation. The author is hoping that
their work is structured in such a way that it will make your mind up for

Studies of British propaganda during WWII found that it was not possible to
modify deeply held attitudes but that you could reinforce and exacerbate
preexisting attitudes.

> >
> > >
> > > In this faith versus reason war, you have various faiths: in god, in
> > > power, in a romantic vision of some arcadian or andelusian period, a
> > > golden age in the past. snip...
> >
> > If you wish to view history through this construct of faith
> versus reason
> > (and it is not an interpretation that appears to have a great deal of
> > explanatory force), then surely you should note that one of the greatest
> > vehicles of faith since 1789 has been nationalism. Faith in
> one's nation has
> > been the motive for evil atrocities up to and including
> genocide. Would you
> > add the nationalist to your list?
> Yes. However, nationalism being wrong and false does not mean that
> everything it involves is automatically false (just as a KKK member can
> still tell the truth when he says the sky is blue). Objectively ranking
> one form of polity as objectively better than another is significantly
> different from having blind faith in one's nation, right or wrong.

The terms 'false' and 'wrong' are only applicable if you wish to view
history as a conflict between rationalism and irrationalism (which would
include your definition of faith). However, it is not possible for a
nationalist to set down objective criteria in order to assess nations, as
s/he develops an exaggerated sense of belonging to their own nation through
sentiment and/or loyalty. This is not a statement saying that the objective
ranking of polities is impossible but that one has to reflect on these views
and discount them before attempting suvh an assessment.

Philip Chaston

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