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vbo has posted several times on the transparently imperial nature of such bodies as the UN and the International Criminal Court.  The very idea of international law is ridiculous without the idea that there is some power capable of enforcing it, and the whole idea of enforcing legal judgements against sovereign entities is inherently imperial.

Actually you are right. It would be very naive to see it other way...It was obvious to me but I don't know about others.
But is it actually good? I don't think so.

what I am imagining is a complete collapse of the global order, where states truly feel free to, if not compelled to, fight it out amongst each other to build and protect their interests.

Do we have fewer wars as you are trying to implicit? I don't think so. As we look at the history those small neighbours conflicts usually did not escalated in full wars and had much less victims and destruction as opposed to "imperial" conquests or change of imperial powers. These were bloodiest and left half a world in ruins.


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 12:42:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
vbo:
These were bloodiest and left half a world in ruins.

In what way was WWII an "imperial conquest" war?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 03:21:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was for the Axis powers.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 03:34:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not the Empire we appear to be talking about.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 03:38:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not that Empire...This one emerged right after the fall of previous one...as it always goes...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 03:41:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What was the previous one?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 03:46:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The British Empire.

The story goes that the US replaced Britain (and Europe) as the seat of Empire after the Suez Crisis but the rot had already set in and teh Yalta and the Bretton Woods Conferences signified that.

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 03:52:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Was that the cause of war?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 04:42:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Proximate, or structural?

As I commented above, don't you think Japan's 1930's imperial adventures in Asia, Italy in Abisinia and Libya, and Germany from Poland to the BeNeLux and from Austria to Norway doesn't count as an imperialistic expansion?

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 04:49:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Japan and the Pacific theatre, I agree. Italy in Africa - I don't see how it was a cause of war. German expansion to the East was motivated by the revanchist spirit of post-Versailles, along with the intention of going West and settling matters with France.

But my point would be that it's not enough to point to imperial ventures as potential causes of war to say that under a Pax Romana, or rule of law of an all-embracing empire, there is more war, more destructive, more bloody, than between independent sovereigns in the absence of such rule of empire.

I hasten to add that I don't like American imperialism. But I don't believe in independent sovereigns as a "solution".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 05:02:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Inflation! </snark>

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Sep 5th, 2011 at 10:00:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a result of hyperinflation, there were news accounts of individuals suffering from a compulsion called zero stroke, a condition where the person has a "desire to write endless rows of [zeros] and engage in computations more involved than the most difficult problems in logarithms."
You know, considering that hyperinflation ended in 1923, I am finding the folk-history causal connection between hyperinflation and invading Poland more tenuous by the day.
When the new currency, the Rentenmark, replaced the worthless Reichsbank marks on November 16, 1923 and 12 zeros were cut from prices, prices in the new currency remained stable. The German people regarded this stable currency as a miracle because they had heard such claims of stability before with the Notgeld (emergency money) that rapidly devalued as an additional source of inflation. The usual explanation was that the Rentenmarks were issued in a fixed amount and were backed by hard assets such as agricultural land and industrial assets, but what happened was more complex than that, as summarized in the following description.

...

After November 12, 1923, when Hjalmar Schacht became currency commissioner, the Reichsbank, the old central bank, was not allowed to discount any further government Treasury bills, which meant the corresponding issue of paper marks also ceased. Discounting of commercial trade bills was allowed and the amount of Rentenmarks expanded, but the issue was strictly controlled to conform to current commercial and government transactions. The new Rentenbank refused credit to the government and to speculators who were not able to borrow Rentenmarks, because Rentenmarks were not legal tender. When Reichsbank president Rudolf Havenstein died on November 20, 1923, Schacht was appointed president of the Reichsbank.

...

Eventually, some debts were reinstated to partially compensate those who had been creditors. A decree of 1925 reinstated some mortgages at 25% of face value in the new Reichsmark (effectively 25,000,000,000 times their value in old marks) if they had been held 5 years or more. Similarly some government bonds were reinstated at 2-1/2% of face - to be paid after reparations were paid.  Mortgage debt was reinstated at much higher percentages than government bonds. Reinstatement of some debts, combined with a resumption of effective taxation in a still-devastated economy, triggered a wave of corporate bankruptcies.



Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 5th, 2011 at 10:13:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am finding the folk-history causal connection between hyperinflation and invading Poland more tenuous by the day.

Hungary had even worse inflation in 1946. Was it only the lack of a common border that stopped them invading Poland?

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Sep 5th, 2011 at 10:17:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obviously. It's quite shameful to imply that invasions of Poland ever result from things such as, well, greed and general nastiness. No, trust me, it's about inflation every time.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Sep 5th, 2011 at 10:20:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, because suggesting that the Establishment Weimar Republic was full of immoral bastards like Kurt Schleicher who spent an entire decade after hyperiinflation ended plotting the subversion of democracy would be fanciful.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 5th, 2011 at 10:22:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The new Rentenbank refused credit to the government and to speculators who were not able to borrow Rentenmarks, because Rentenmarks were not legal tender.

In other words, they made Soros attacking the currency illegal.

Interesting.

Eventually, some debts were reinstated to partially compensate those who had been creditors. A decree of 1925 reinstated some mortgages at 25% of face value in the new Reichsmark (effectively 25,000,000,000 times their value in old marks) if they had been held 5 years or more. Similarly some government bonds were reinstated at 2-1/2% of face - to be paid after reparations were paid.  Mortgage debt was reinstated at much higher percentages than government bonds. Reinstatement of some debts, combined with a resumption of effective taxation in a still-devastated economy, triggered a wave of corporate bankruptcies.

Refusing to acknowledge the write-off of excess debt leads to a wave of bankruptcies.

Surprise, surprise.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Sep 5th, 2011 at 03:54:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The German people regarded this stable currency as a miracle  

Same in Serbia...We had inflation for quite a few years before but in 1993 we had killing hyperinflation. Then suddenly on 24 th January 1994 (same day when I left Serbia for NZ) New stable dinar was introduced. It looked like miracle...Then I realized that hyperinflation was "manmade"...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Mon Sep 5th, 2011 at 08:28:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The situation, of course, is more complicated than portrayed. In 1933 there were several empires in existence: British, French, Dutch, Japanese, Russian, and US, at a minimum. Germany had been deprived of her imperial possessions at Versailles. The empires with the shortest history had been the US, dating from the Spanish-American War in 1898, (excluding the subjugation of the various Native American populations), the Japanese, which effectively dated from the time of the Sino-Japanese War, 1895, partly over influence in Korea, and the German, from 1884, when Bismark accepted the idea that colonial possessions might have some value.

But, prior to WW II, Great Britain was the hegemon and the holder of the largest empire. The British Navy was the dominant naval force and GB tolerated the continued existence of other colonial empires, even while contesting Imperial Russia in Central Asia and worrying about the rise of the German navy. The British somewhat reluctantly undertook a policy of de-colonialization after WW II while with the French, it was an involuntary process. The Neatherlands really made no serious effort to reestablish colonial possessions in South East Asia after WW II and only kept some Caribbean islands and one South American Colonial possession.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 02:53:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True enough, but in what way was WWII (in Europe, I concede the Pacific) either:

  • caused by imperialist friction ie between empires for reason of empire

  • caused by a hegemonic imperialist power intervening in the affairs of its supposed vassals or subordinates?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 03:55:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most directly, Hitler saw his territorial expansion as a response to the impositions of Versailles, against which he railed. These did include the loss of colonies, though that was a relatively minor real price, (Bismark had likely been right about the worth of Germany's African colonies.) Hitler opted out of the monetary system, especially the gold standard, (Germany having almost no gold), and enthusiastically embraced a command economy in cooperation with industrialists.  In order to guard against the sort of blockade that had been used against Germany in WW I, he sought to secure needed resources via routes he could control - land routes.

I see little evidence that he counted on anything that he could not get by force and suspect that he expected that to be the end game. Hitler never accepted the Versailles Treaty and sought to overturn it by force. To the extent that colonial empires entered into his calculations it was primarily for access to resources and control of trade routes, though he resented Germany having been stripped of her colonies.

Rommel's adventures in North Africa really were just grabbing low hanging fruit unless Germany could seize Egypt and the Suez Canal and, had that been accomplished, he may have been able to secure access to mid east oil as well as to hamper the Allied effort in Asia. I am far from an expert on WW II, Hitler or Germany, but I believe that Hitler saw colonial empires mostly as an aspect of realpolitik.

In effect, WW II may, to a significant degree, have been an echo of pre-WW I imperial rivalries in addition to an attempt to change the outcome of that conflict. Some people have long memories.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 11:14:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your three first paragraphs don't seem to me to lead to your conclusion.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Sep 4th, 2011 at 03:50:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
in what way was WWII...caused by imperialist friction ie between empires for reason of empire...

It was not, because the German Empire ceased to exist at Versailles. Further, the German overseas colonies had not been particularly significant to Germany's overall military machine before and during WW I. But the goal of French diplomacy at Versailles was to render Germany incapable of reconstituting its military power, in no small part by preventing Germany from having secure access to important resources, especially oil. In addition to depriving Germany of her overseas colonies, Versailles also broke up her chief ally, The Austro-Hungarian Empire, which limited the extent to which Germany could count on oil from Romania.

Germany chafed against these conditions from the start. Then there was the occupation of the Ruhr and the hyperinflation. To get out of the box into which the French had put her at Versailles Germany needed to reconstitute her continental empire, which had been largely commercial under the Hapsburgs. The fact that the Nazis called it The Reich instead of The German Empire is largely inconsequential. Germany wanted the functional equivalence of what they had possessed prior to WW I, but wanted better control. The envisioned Thousand Year Reich was to be an empire to end all empires. Hitler hoped that the UK and US could be persuaded to accept German hegemony in Europe and Africa.

That is what I meant by referring to WW II as the echo of the old imperial conflict which Germany had lost. And it is still not inconceivable that Germany might not have succeeded with different tactics, such as not attacking the Soviet Union or Poland. Had Germany been able to seduce Hungary into an alliance and, through Hungary gained access to Romanian oil, without provoking war, who knows what might have developed. Whether this is called imperial conflict or power politics is largely irrelevant.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Sep 4th, 2011 at 05:56:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the few colonies Germany had were of minimal importance in the crushing conditions of Versailles that crippled the German economy and kept the industrial heartland under occupation. This was Germany-France in the ding-dong one side takes a piece of the other / the other takes it back and ups one battle since 1870.

This was nations defining their borders and fighting for them, not imperial rivalry. It was Europe still seeking its spatial distribution after the upheavals of nineteenth-century romantic nationalism - which was much more what the Nazis packaged into their tinpot ideology than imperialism. Even the notion that they had a right to vast territories to the East was posited on the need for the great, dynamic German people to have room to grow and settle - Lebensraum - than on an imperial theme.

In other words, in 1930s continental Europe, I don't see empire as a reason for war, I see nationalism.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Sep 5th, 2011 at 03:12:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This was nations defining their borders and fighting for them, not imperial rivalry.

It was a continuation of the 19th century great power rivalry in Europe - where the dominant European powers had not realized or accepted that they were no longer truly the relevant great powers. But, again, the access to resources afforded the UK and France by the UK's effective control of the sea lanes was perceived as an advantage which Germany sought to offset. Japan did more to put an end to European overseas colonies than anything else. That was one reason Germany entered into an alliance with Japan. For Germany the role of colonies was more that of phantom limb pain.

The ideologies of national exceptionalism were virtually universal - to the extent it is surprising that the nations involved could even form alliances. But reality trumps ideology provided there is no hard requirement to repudiate ridiculous ideologies.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Sep 5th, 2011 at 11:19:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd like to add this:

Adolf Hitler

In Mein Kampf and in numerous speeches Hitler claimed that the German population needed more living space. Hitler's Lebensraum policy was mainly directed at the Soviet Union. He was especially interested in the Ukraine where he planned to develop a German colony. The system would be based on the British occupation of India: "What India was for England the territories of Russia will be for us... The German colonists ought to live on handsome, spacious farms. The German services will be lodged in marvellous buildings, the governors in palaces... The Germans - this is essential - will have to constitute amongst themselves a closed society, like a fortress. The least of our stable-lads will be superior to any native."

So while the actual German pre-wwI colonies did not matter so much, the idea of a colonial empire was very much involved. One can speculate about what would have happened if France and Britain had not declared war on Germany in September 1939, but backed down again. Would Hitler have gone directly for the Soviet Union then?

I would argue that either way Htiler attacked the order upheld by Britain, as that order included that no single power might dominate the European continent.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Sep 5th, 2011 at 12:30:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One can speculate about what would have happened if France and Britain had not declared war on Germany in September 1939, but backed down again. Would Hitler have gone directly for the Soviet Union then?

Unlikely. The whole purpose of the Russo-German partitioning of the Baltic region, from the German point of view, was to leave Germany free to curbstomp France without having to worry about an Eastern front. If war had not been declared, they'd probably have made a slightly greater effort to pretend that they were simply allying with Denmark and Norway rather than conquering them. But that would likely be about it.

After all, the Germans knew that the peace in the East would be unlikely to last forever, and they had already tried and failed to secure a deal with the Western powers to go after Russia together. So the whole "curbstomp France" project came with a sell-by date.

They might have tried partitioning the Balkans with either Russia or Turkey, but then they would have risked their relationship with Italy. Which was of ideological, if not particular practical, value to Germany.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Sep 5th, 2011 at 04:54:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hitler's notion of what India was for Britain was largely delusional. And dreams of imperial adventure and grandeur are one thing, but the essential causes of the war lay in the power relations between European nations (some recent creations of 19th-century nationalism) - as you point out:

A swedish kind of death:

I would argue that either way Htiler attacked the order upheld by Britain, as that order included that no single power might dominate the European continent.

The British Empire, however, did not include the European continent, and Britain could support but not impose that policy (Hitler thought Britain would accept the change he intended to bring about). Again, we're in the field of the definition of nations (subtext nationalism), their extent and borders, and their relative power positions, because some at least (Germany most) considered those questions as not yet having been satisfactorily settled.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Sep 6th, 2011 at 11:07:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In what way was WWII an "imperial conquest" war?

The Pacific theatre was a pretty standard colonial war between Japan and the US, who both attempted to assert hegemony over the Eastern Hemisphere. In Europe, Germany was attempting to break out of the British hegemony over the Western hemisphere.

The fact that the Nazis managed to be worse assholes than the British empire - which is quite impressive, in a sick sort of way - does not negate the fact that Germany was getting the short end of the stick under British hegemony, and had every reason to attempt to force a reevaluation of that relationship.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 04:26:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the Axis powers had been involved in imperial expansionist projects for the better part of the 1930s. Well, Italy and Japan. WWII started when Germany attempted to annex its seventh or eighth country (I'm not counting the phony war, WWII only really started after the German had successfully annexed all or part of Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, and Norway, and invaded the BeNeLux).

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 04:48:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Pacific theatre, yes. The European theatre was much more about the long war between Germany and France than anything to do with the British Empire.

I'm afraid I think this "empires cause nasty war" and "independent sovereign nations just have occasional spats" is wrong. You can read empire into the history of European wars (because independent sovereigns that grow more powerful tend to create "empires"), but you can just as well see sovereign states fighting in defence of their interests, in just as destructive and bloody a fashion.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 04:51:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not attempting to defend the thesis that wars between non-imperial sovereigns are simply friendly argy-bargy between good mates.

But it is true that you only get worldwide wars when you involve worldwide empires, for the simple reason that they are the only ones who have the logistics and raw power to raise an entire hemisphere in total war. Whether the big empires prevent enough wars between the states within the empire to compensate for the occasional war of hegemony is a non-trivial question of counterfactual history, and will probably vary from empire to empire. The American empire might. The British empire almost certainly did not.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 05:04:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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