Britain and Western Europe, and then the other parts of the world where English is the dominant language, have mostly been blessed with a degree of geographically conferred freedom of manoeuvre that is denied to the inhabitants of pretty much all other nations. That is why these places got rich first. And it also now means that we Euros and Anglos are able to believe, as a matter of practical political policy rather than merely as privately pious aspiration, in a wide range of idealistic things of very variable value – things like freedom, democracy, equality, human rights, freedom for women, “social justice”. and so on and so forth – things that geographically more constrained people can only, as yet, dream of, and which they often regard as more as a threat to their own ways of doing things than as any kind of promise.
The word “maps” being in its subtitle, along with the bombastic claim that these maps tell you all you need to know about the world, these maps ought to be really, really well done, from the graphic point of view. But to my admittedly fading eye, they seemed to be not that good. On their own, they tell you nothing like everything about the world, which is why you actually need to read the book to get the points of all the maps. I was particularly disappointed by how the mountains look in these maps. Along with rivers, mountains are a big deal in this book, as you would expect them to be. But, in these maps, the mountains often scarcely register. It doesn’t help that the maps are done only with black ink on white paper. Colour would have helped. But even black ink could have been used, I feel, with somewhat greater clarity. I had to look quite hard to work out where these various mountains were. But, as I say, maybe that’s just me. My eyesight is definitely not what it was.
The mountainous insight I recall with particular pleasure is Marshall’s observation that the hostility between India and China would have been and would now be far greater, were it not for the most impenetrably formidable mountains on earth being at the boundary between these two civilisations. Contrast those impenetrable Asian mountains with that famous gap in the mountains in northern Europe, which results in a gigantic military parade ground with no natural barriers stretching from the Pyrenees to the Urals.
In addition to knowing better about Europe’s mountains, I now sort of know a whole lot more than I did about the mountains of South America. South America is, for me, one of the less fascinating places in the world, because, being so geographically cut off from the rest of the world and being of significance mostly only to their northern neighbours, South American mistakes count for a lot less than mistakes can elsewhere, especially mistakes made by the USA and Europe of course. South America, you might say, is basically just a big clutch of European mistakes.
Speaking of European mistakes, Marshall is very good on the habit of late nineteenth century Europeans of drawing straight lines upon maps of foreign parts, in defiance of geographical and consequent social and cultural and now “national” realities on the ground. The USA gets along fine despite all the straight lines that it contains dividing its states, because these states are, fundamentally, still very united, at least in the sense that everyone in them is quarrelling about the same things within the same political institutions. But the Middle East is still trying to shake free of its baleful legacy of fake states, which Europeans and now also Americans, all motivated by the need for oil, have expended so much of their own treasure and so much Middle Eastern blood trying to keep in being.
March 29, 2017
March 28, 2017
Published on 27 Mar 2017
Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States, is one of the most controversial characters of his era. His racial views, his view on peace and the post-war world, his decision to go to war with Germany in 1917 are still being debated to this day. We take a look at the life of Wilson to better understand his motivation.
In the latest Libertarian Enterprise, L. Neil Smith goes over just the “high points” of American interference in the domestic affairs of other nations:
It makes me sick to keep hearing the mostly Democratic assertion that Donald J. Trump is a candidate foisted on us poor, gullible Americans by the Russian government. This is largely a matter of psychological projection by the left, and of mind-boggling hypocrisy. Previous American governments (mostly Democratic) have a long, shameful history of removing foreign leaders they dislike, for one reason or another, and replacing them with more agreeable figures.
It’s hard to know quite where to begin, and absolutely impossible to be exhaustive. General Smedley Darlington Butler (1881- 1940), twice winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, tells a long, bloody tale in his little book War Is A Racket, in which he demonstrates that the United States Marines were sent on gunboats to various places across our sad, scarred, and war-weary planet — notably to South and Central America — to protect the interests (with rifles and bayonets, if necessary) of corporations like the United Fruit Company. Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatamala have all suffered from this kind of interference. That’s why they’re called “banana republics”.
In 1953, the people of Iran had thrown the Shah off the throne and replaced him with an elected official by the name of Mosaddegh. British and American “intelligence” were alarmed. If the guy was a communist (he was not) he might cut off the supply of oil on which they had become dependent to enforce their will on the world, So they deposed him and set the Shah back on the throne, setting the scene for today’s unholy (and extremely dangerous) mess.
Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina was the dictator of the Dominican Republic (which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti) for many decades. He was thoroughly brutal and corrupt, but a time came when his government began to break up, threatening the “stability” of the Caribbean region. In 1961. he was assassinated spectacularly by riflemen in ambush. (Oddly, I recall his car body being blown off the frame by a bazooka.) Wikipedia teeters between blaming his dozens of political rivals and the CIA. At the time it happened, everybody I knew (I was growing up in the military — counter insurgency branch) took the latter theory for granted.
And in 1963, in the middle of the War in Vietnam, when a dictator named Diem failed to do America’s bidding, the kindly, humane, genteel, and oh-so-Democratic President John F. Kennedy had him assassinated and replaced.
Published on 20 Mar 2015
The third in a series of short films about some of the vehicles in our collection presented by The Tank Museum’s historian David Fletcher MBE.
In 1923 Vickers Ltd. of Sheffield and Newcastle, started to manufacture tanks for the British Army. They were the first representatives of a new generation of tanks, designed to fight on the move and restore mobility to the battlefield.
As designed the Medium tanks had a 3 pounder gun in the turret; a Vickers machine-gun in each side of the hull and Hotchkiss light machine-guns in the turret. These last were later eliminated in favour of a single Vickers machine-gun, mounted alongside the main gun and described as co-axial, since it elevates on the same axis as the main gun. This modification altered the design from Mark II to Mark II*. Using these tanks the Royal Tank Corps established standards of gunnery which, in their day, were never equalled.
The philosophy of political correctness is now firmly entrenched over here, too, and at its core is a refusal to look the truth squarely in the face, unpalatable as it may be.
Political correctness is about denial, usually in the weasel circumlocutory jargon which distorts and evades and seldom stands up to honest analysis.
It comes in many guises, some of them so effective that the PC can be difficult to detect. The silly euphemisms, apparently harmless, but forever dripping to wear away common sense — the naivete of the phrase “a caring force for the future” on Remembrance poppy trays, which suggests that the army is some kind of peace corps, when in fact its true function is killing.
The continual attempt to soften and sanitise the harsh realities of life in the name of liberalism, in an effort to suppress truths unwelcome to the PC mind; the social engineering which plays down Christianity, demanding equal status for alien religions.
The selective distortions of history, so beloved by New Labour, denigrating Britain’s past with such propaganda as hopelessly unbalanced accounts of the slave trade, laying all the blame on the white races, but carefully censoring the truth that not a slave could have come out of Africa without the active assistance of black slavers, and that the trade was only finally suppressed by the Royal Navy virtually single-handed.
In schools, the waging of war against examinations as “elitist” exercises which will undermine the confidence of those who fail — what an intelligent way to prepare children for real life in which competition and failure are inevitable, since both are what life, if not liberal lunacy, is about.
PC also demands that “stress”, which used to be coped with by less sensitive generations, should now be compensated by huge cash payments lavished on griping incompetents who can’t do their jobs, and on policemen and firemen “traumatised” by the normal hazards of work which their predecessors took for granted.
Furthermore, it makes grieving part of the national culture, as it was on such a nauseating scale when large areas were carpeted in rotting vegetation in “mourning” for the Princess of Wales; and it insists that anyone suffering ordinary hardship should be regarded as a “victim” — and, of course, be paid for it.
That PC should have become acceptable in Britain is a glaring symptom of the country’s decline.
George MacDonald Fraser, “The last testament of Flashman’s creator: How Britain has destroyed itself”, Daily Mail, 2008-01-05.
March 27, 2017
Published on 4 Mar 2017
The optimism that marked Catherine the Great’s early years turned on its head. She oversaw the partition and final dissolution of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. She also alienated her son in the same way her own mother once did, leaving him ill-equipped to succeed her.
March 26, 2017
Published on 25 Mar 2017
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It’s time for the Chair of Wisdom again and this week Indy compares World War 1 helmet designs and we talk about the discrimination of Germans in the US during WW1.
We used to run a little contest among ourselves to see who could produce the most striking example of credulity among this fine flower of our western intelligentsia. Persuading church dignitaries to feel at home in an anti-God museum was too easy to count. So was taking lawyers into the people´s courts. I got an honourable mention by persuading Lord Marley that the queueing at food shops was permitted by the authorities because it provided a means of inducing the workers to take a rest when otherwise their zeal for completing the five-year plan in record time was such that they would keep at it all the time, but no marks for floating a story that Soviet citizens were being asked to send in human hair – any sort – for making of felt boots. It seemed that this had actually happened.
Malcolm Muggeridge, Chronicles of Wasted Time, 2006.
March 25, 2017
Published on 21 Jan 2017
First episode about the Living Room with Lucy Worsley Give a thumbs up for more episodes! 😀
March 24, 2017
Published on 23 Mar 2017
The First World War & The Death of the Habsburg Empire: http://www.boehlau-verlag.com/download/163983/978-3-205-79588-9_1_OpenAccess.pdf
Since Kaiser Karl I ascended the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire he was not happy with the progression of the war. He felt that his empire was tied to their German ally more than necessary and this week 100 years ago he was starting a process of secret negotiations for a separate peace with the Entente. At the same time the British had increasing problems at the home front and the chaos in Russia continued.
Published on 27 Feb 2015
The second in a series of short films about some of the vehicles in our collection presented by The Tank Museum’s historian David Fletcher MBE.
The Carden Loyd Carrier or tankette: Designed by Sir John Carden and Captain Vivian Loyd this was a low cost, two-man Machine-Gun Carrier for infantry use. The company was taken over by Vickers-Armstrong in 1927 and the vehicle was mass-produced for the British Army in addition to a thriving export trade. Unpopular with the infantry, they were used mostly by the Royal Tank Corps as embryonic light tanks in the reconnaissance role.
March 22, 2017
Published on 21 Mar 2017
Without trains, the modern armies of World War 1 were not able to move their troops en masse. Without trains, the soldiers at the front didn’t have food or ammunition and without trains, the soldiers wouldn’t make it to the nearest hospital. Trains were the backbone of the new, industrialised war of the 20th century.
Alberta in the 1970s “had more revenue than it knew what to do with. THAT IS NOT A FIGURE OF SPEECH”
Colby Cosh on the past and future of the Alberta Progressive Conservative party:
On Saturday, as was generally foreseen, Jason Kenney became leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives. This sounds portentous and impressive. But one of the things that strikes you, since Kenney is proposing to (at a bare minimum) re-brand the Alberta PCs, is that their leaders are not exactly an honour roll of mighty statesmen. The party was successful and did good, and Albertans are grateful for its legacy. But they are, perhaps, grateful in the reluctant, compromised way one might be grateful to an ex-wife who was not much fun but helped the kids turn out well.
Peter Lougheed helped to change Canada’s destiny and define the compact between Ottawa and the provinces. Ralph Klein put the province on a competitive, economically diverse footing and established the fiscal health that a New Democratic government is now exploiting. But Lougheed’s electorally unsuccessful forerunners are forgotten by all but families and friends, and Klein’s successors all came to unhappy political ends.
Why, then, do Albertans speak so fondly of the Progressive Conservative heritage? I am afraid the answer is that older Albertans have chosen to forget it and younger ones don’t understand it. Peter Lougheed led a government that, owing to 1970s oil prices, had more revenue than it knew what to do with. THAT IS NOT A FIGURE OF SPEECH. Much of the art of Alberta government in the Seventies was trying to think up new, non-wasteful uses for oil money.
Most of Lougheed’s choices turned out to be very wasteful indeed after he left office. Those budgeting conditions have occurred only a few times anywhere in the annals of Western civilization, and they are never coming back. If they did, it would now be thought insane to follow a Lougheed program — make bad infrastructure and “value-added industry” bets, throw doomed loans at resource and tech companies, flood the cities with cheapo housing.
March 21, 2017
Streamed live 9 hours ago
Othais’ channel: https://www.youtube.com/candrsenal
In our series about the rifles and pistols today, Othais got his hands on the standard issue rifles and pistols of the British Army in World War One.
Published on 25 Feb 2017
Catherine had many lovers during her life, but perhaps none meant so much to her as Grigory Potemkin. Although their romance did not last a lifetime, it did form the basis of a working relationship that would change the face (and future) of Europe.