Friday, May 6, 2011

Thought You Might Like Some History...

Mass Politics
Mass politics came about because of huge influx of communication. Journalism was newly introduced to the world, and this allowed a huge amount of people to start learning about and taking part in politics. Large groups of activists, such as nationalists, socialists, and suffragists, started demanding rights, and the people who had always been in charge resented this demand so they set out to slow the activists down. This clash of politics made it seem as though the fibers of nations were ripping apart. It looked as though nations were separating, especially in central and eastern Europe.
One of the reasons that this “mass politics” idea was able to work was because of the growing power in the labor force. The middle class people in this labor force were being informed of politics through journalism, and people all over began to fight (metaphorically) for what they believed in. These labor force people created unions which millions of people joined. They organized strikes and created lists of demands to help them maintain power. 
Another effect of “mass politics” was the fight for women’s suffrage. Women such as Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Susan B. Anthony, and Emmeline Pankhurst began fighting for women’s rights around the world. They demanded equal rights because they were more informed on politics, and they were able to circulate their ideas more because of the aforementioned communication network.
A negative effect of mass politics, however, came in the years before World War I. People running for office through elections used anti-Semitism and nationalism to win the elections, which would of course, lead to increased nationalistic and anti-Semitic views worldwide. The most prime example of this is the Dreyfus Affair in France. The anti-Semites that ran the military in France accused a Jewish military captain of spying on France for the Germans in 1894. He was convicted based off evidence that France made up and he was exiled. France still maintained that he was guilty even after the spying continued after he was gone.
All in all, mass politics has had a profound effect on the world today. Without the increase of mass politics, there would most likely not have been a women’s suffrage movement. We also would not have gained the important addition of labor unions to the workforces around the world, so workers would still be mistreated. Also, mass politics was a large part of why World War I happened, because of the increasing nationalistic views.

Great Depression
            In 1929, the stock market crashed in America. This, along with other problems with economy world-wide, began the Great Depression during the 1930’s. After World War I, there was economic boom. Americans started to put their money in the stock market, or borrow money to buy the new luxuries the increased economy allowed for. Basically, the Great Depression started overnight. The Federal Reserve Bank started to limit credit availability which meant the people loaning money had to make everyone pay back their loans immediately. The people who took the loans, however, didn’t have the money to pay, so they started selling their stocks to repay the loans. This started a selling scare which caused the whole market to crash.
            Because of the stock market crash that led the United States to money problems, much of the world started having money problems too. The United States was a provider on a global level after World War I because we were one of the few world powers that wasn’t completely war-torn afterwards. This means that since we had no money, nobody had any money. In an effort to stop the depression, governments around the world made the situation worse by implementing budget cuts and tariffing goods from other countries. The depression caused millions upon millions of people to become unemployed, and farmers couldn’t afford to keep farming food.
            As a result of this depression, many things happened socially. There was a flip-flopping of social norms as men stayed home because they couldn’t find work, and women went out into the world and found jobs as maids. These gender roles made men angry, and this fed the growing feeling of revolution worldwide. This feeling for “revolution” is what paved the way for radical political movements such as Nazi-ism. Another example of revolutionary ideals came in India. Mahatma Gandhi came about and introduced civil disobedience which eventually helped win Indian independence.
            More specific to America, FDR introduced the New Deal, and took America towards a welfare state. He was able to eventually get the United States out of the Great Depression because of the start of World War II.
            The Great Depression has had a profound effect on the world today because it brought about World War II. It also has brought about a fear that is still here today. Anytime the stock market has problems people fear another Great Depression, such as the recession that started a few years ago. It also changed the way the world was set up because, for example, India is an independent country now.

Cuban Missile Crisis
            John F. Kennedy became the President of the United States in 1960. He was fully committed to the continuation of the Cold War and was very anti-Communist. He began to mess with the Communists and ended up heating up the Cold War. One such place he heated up the Cold War was in Cuba.
            In 1959, Fidel Castro became ruler of Cuba and allied with Russia. This, of course, made Cuba the enemy so JFK attacked Cuba in the Bay of Pigs in 1961. The operation was meant to take over Cuba from Castro, but it went terribly wrong which caused the Cold War to increase yet again. At the end of 1962, as a response to some things that were happening in Berlin, Cuba began building missile silos to house Soviet weapons. Kennedy blockaded Cuba and demanded that the silos be taken out. For a few days, nobody knew what was going to happen, but everyone knew that there might be a nuclear disaster. At the end of October, however, JFK and Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev came to an agreement and they both tried to resolve differences without nuclear weapons in the future. In 1963, Russia and America signed the test ban agreement which meant nuclear weapons could not be fired in seas and the atmosphere.
The safe resolution of this crisis signaled the nearing end of the Cold War and it also showed that diplomacy is the best answer in any situation. This is important today because it teaches everyone a lesson about how to avoid nuclear disasters, which are still an issue today with North Korea.

Hiroshima was an unfortunate casualty of the Pacific front in World War II. The Japanese are known to be relentless in war, and this was very much the case in the Pacific. Soldier casualties were extremely high as both the United States and Japan engaged in a war-style called “island hopping.” President Harry Truman decided that he needed to end the Pacific War as soon as possible. He also decided that the fastest way to end the war was to get Japan to surrender, so he ordered the bombing of Japan. In 1945, there was a firebombing over Tokyo that killed 100,000 civilians, but it did not make the Japanese surrender. Finally, in a last ditch effort, Truman decided to release two atomic bombs on Japan, one over Hiroshima, and one over Nagasaki on August 6 and 9 of 1945. The atomic bombs unleashed destruction unlike anything ever seen before and 140,000 people were killed instantly, while many thousand more died afterwards due to complications from the bombs. The bombs served their purpose as on August 14, 1945, Japan surrendered.
The bombing of Hiroshima was extremely important at the time, as well as today. It was important at the time because it made Japan surrender and saved many more lives than it took because the Pacific War was over. It also had some long term ramifications because it was the first real use of atomic weapons. It set the tone for the arms race during the Cold War and even today people are scared of this weaponry. North Korea recently acquired nuclear arms, and it scared the world. We have seen the destruction these weapons can cause, and we know that people will use them, because we already have.

            To me, appeasement is arguably the factor that contributed the most to German power in World War II. Before World War II officially started, Western European powers (that later became the Allies; France and England) tried to prevent war. They wanted so badly to avoid war that they sometimes did silly things. The “political strategy” of silly things I am talking about is called appeasement. In this case, appeasement refers to the relinquishing of land to Hitler’s Germany. Basically, Hitler had come into Germany and brought it back to prosperity. Because he had fixed Germany, he set his sights on world domination. In 1938, he annexed Austria. At the end of 1938, he annexed a part of Czechoslovakia called Sudetenland with a claim that it rightfully belonged to Germany because Germans lived there. In 1939, Hitler actually invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia. Because Hitler had already made treaties with France and England they didn’t do anything to punish him, but they did promise military support to other countries in Europe should Hitler try to take them too. After Hitler made the nonaggression pact with Russia, he invaded Poland. This was the end of the appeasement because Poland was a neutral country. France and England declared war on Germany two days after the invasion and World War II began.
            Appeasement had an obvious effect on the world today. Because of appeasement World War II happened. If France and England hadn’t appeased Germany, Hitler may have been neutralized sooner, and World War II may have never happened. Overall, appeasement had an extremely negative effect on the world.

The Marshall Plan
            The Marshall Plan was a plan devised by the United States as a means to fight Communism, a huge part of the post-World War II era. Its basic purpose was to help western European countries out by sending them money, food, water, and many other types of aid. The United States thought that by sending aid to these countries, they would feel less need to switch over to Communism. The plan started in 1947 and was announced by the Secretary of State, George Marshall, and by the 1950’s we had already sent over 12 billion dollars worth of aid to Western Europe. It obviously worked because the countries we sent aid to did not switch to Communism.
            However, the Marshall Plan had a negative effect on the Eastern European countries that were already under Stalin’s USSR control. Since he did not have the funds to launch a counter-attack on the Marshall Plan, he took it personally and took tighter control over the Eastern European governments to keep them Communist. This meant that these countries could not ask the United States for help. In 1947, Stalin started getting rid of non-Communist government officials in Czechoslovakia, and in 1948 he put his own Communist leader in charge of Czechoslovakia.
            The Marshall Plan is relevant to today because we still fight Communism by sending our aid to countries threatened by it (South Korea). It is also important because it kept many countries democratic as opposed to communist. This is especially important if the Domino Theory had actually taken place. The United States could potentially have been overwhelmed if too many countries became Communist. We ourselves may be Communist to this day without the Marshall Plan.

Berlin Airlift
            After World War II, Germany was controlled by four different countries. France, England, and the United States controlled three of the four quadrants and formed Western Germany. Russia had the fourth quadrant, which was named Eastern Germany. They also split up the capital city of Berlin, and they split it the same way. Western Germany and Eastern Germany did not get along because Russia controlled their section differently than the other countries controlled their sections. In 1948, Russia blockaded the United States/French/England portions of Berlin, refusing to let any ground vehicles through the Russian borders of Berlin. They blockaded as a result of the Marshall Plan and a few other disagreements. As a response to the blockade, the Berlin Airlift took place. Basically Americans flew supplies from Frankfurt, Hanover, and Hamburg to the blockaded Berlin. They flew in millions of tons of supplies, and in order to keep the process moving smoothly, pilots left their engines running so they could leave immediately after dropping off their goods. This kept Berlin from being molded into the Soviet portion of Germany. In 1949, the Soviets lifted the blockade and Berlin went back to being supplied normally. The Cold War, however, continued.
            The Berlin Airlift is extremely important because it shows just how serious the United States was about not letting Communism take hold of anything. It shows that we were extremely serious about keeping Berlin as democratic as we could, and in the end it worked as Germany is not a Communist state. It also helped us maintain a good image because we were helping these people while the Russian Communists were only out to hurt them. It helped keep other countries from being Communist.

McCarthy Hearings
            The late 1940’s through the 1960’s were filled with scares of Communism and Russia. One such manifestation of this fear is found in Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare. McCarthy, like most politicians, wanted to be better known in America so he created the Red Scare in 1949. He was able to convince people that Communists were plotting a takeover of America because of the Communist revolution in China, and because Russia successfully tested an atomic bomb. The Red Scare blossomed into a terrible thing because by 1952 McCarthy had a scary amount of power. He had transformed Stalin’s image from “Uncle Joe,” a helper in World War II, to an image of extreme terror. McCarthy sponsored book burnings and tried to censor books that were sold. It wasn’t until 1954 that McCarthy was finally put to a stop. Unfortunately, by the time he was finally silenced he had already cost millions of people their jobs and potentially had them put in jail. All he had to do was say, as a Senator, that they were a Communist. It became reminiscent of the witch hunts of the old days. If your neighbor made you mad, call him a Communist and the next day he’d be gone.
            The Red Scare McCarthy hearings are important to today because they help us remember that Communism is the enemy, but it also reminds us that we have to be careful not to let our fear get to out of hand. At the time, the McCarthy hearings could easily have led to a state of chaos which maybe would have allowed Communists to actually take over our weak infrastructure. McCarthy only stood to make things worse, all to make a name for himself.

            The road to World War II is long and winding, and there are many causes involved. Many of these causes, however, come as a direct result of World War I. These causes include animosities between countries, treaties from the end of World War I, dire economic situations, and appeasement.
            There was a lot of hatred going around Europe after World War I. Germany was recovering from losing the war, and they were held accountable for most of the war, which will be discussed in the next paragraph. England and France were not pleased with Germany for starting the war. In Eastern Europe, many countries did not agree with how their land was divided because America and England and France decided how to divide up the land Germany took over. This means that some people were technically living in one country even though they shared the culture of another country. This caused many small skirmishes in Eastern Europe even up to today (the splitting up of the USSR led to civil revolt in Yugoslavia). These animosities between all countries made tension flare up and it contributed to the beginning of World War II.
One of the main problems is that the losing countries from World War I were not included in the making of post-war treaties. This is proven by the Paris Peace Treaty and the Treaty of Versailles. The Paris Peace Treaty was produced during the Paris Peace Conference in 1919-1920. It was a series of treaties that were forced on the countries that lost the war. These treaties did several things including separate Austria and Hungary, took away 75% of Hungary’s land, and dissolved the Ottoman Empire creating Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Yugoslavia. The Paris Peace Treaty was bad because it created states arbitrarily and paid no attention to cultural divides. The Peace of Paris was not the only failed attempt, however. The Treaty of Versailles was another treaty that was within the Paris Treaties. To me, the Treaty of Versailles is tied with appeasement for the number one cause of World War II. The Treaty of Versailles basically said that France (along with the other Allies) would control a large portion of Germany territory. It also said that Germany had to pay reparations and the sum of these reparations was set in 1921 at 132 billion marks. It also made Germany reduce its military substantially, get rid of its Air Force, and release all of its colonies. The Peace of Paris, although temporarily beneficial for the Allies, is one of the leading causes of World War II.
Many other countries were in the same shape as Germany. World War I made Europe into a very war-torn place. Economies had to recover, which was much harder than it sounded. Some of the Allied powers had the money they were getting in reparations from Germany, but as was previously stated Germany was in a huge state of inflation, so that reparation money was scarce. There were also loans from America but in the years leading up to World War II America was in the Great Depression so they could no longer loan out that money. The Great Depression in America reflected how things were around the world as well because everywhere people were losing their jobs. All in all, the dire economic straits that most countries were in contributed to the beginning of World War II.
One reason that Hitler was able to conquer so much of Europe is that the Allied powers let him get away with things simply because they did not want to start a war. They used appeasement because they figured that they could avoid going to war if they allowed him some concessions. Appeasement had the opposite effect of what was intended, which is why appeasement is considered a large part of the road to World War II.

(Look at ID’s for Key Events)
            The Cold War started right after World War II because Russia and the other Allied Forces could not agree on how to split up Germany. They resolved this conflict by creating Western and Eastern Germany. However, this initial conflict was only the start of the Cold War between the democratic United States and the communist Soviet Union that blossomed into a huge event for the next fifteen years. The Cold War divided the world because you either had to decide whether you’d side with the democratic side or the communist side. There were several important events that happened in the Cold War including: McCarthyism, Nuclear Testing in Russia, China going Communist with Russian support, Berlin Airlift, and the Berlin Wall going up. Nuclear testing in Russia helped contribute to McCarthyism, but it scared Americans and furthered the divide between America and Russia in the Cold War. The Russians also supported the Communist leaders in China, against the United States who supported the Democratic leader during the Chinese Revolution. The Russians put up the Berlin Wall literally overnight in 1961. It divided Berlin into Eastern and Western Berlin. It was an extremely hostile act. However, more important than all of these events was the Cuban Missile Crisis that took the world to the brink of nuclear disaster. However, the peaceful resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis led to a lessening of the Cold War. In 1986, the Chernobyl disaster helped to open up Communist Russia. Media outlets started being less censored and airing what they wanted to, in American fashion and people started voicing their real opinions about Russia. This really helped to tear down the hate caused in the Cold War and it helped Russia become less Communist. The real end to the Cold War, however, came in 1989 when the Berlin Wall was finally torn down. Although Russia was still Communist the Cold War was over once the wall came down.

4. 1968 was the biggest year in a decade of intense social activism in the United States, Eastern and Western Europe, and the Soviet Union. Describe a variety of issues that were the subject of peaceful and non-peaceful demonstration, litigation, and court decisions during this decade, and how they played out. Use specific names and events, making sure to highlight the major events that were particular to movements in the sixties that came to a head in 1968.  How are the world and your lives still affected by the movements and crises of this period?

Different Movements-
India’s independence from Britain
Women’s rights
Civil Rights Movement
Student Unrest (1968, based off of Vietnam War, etc.)
1968, Czechoslovakia became not Communist