Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I have been thinking a bit about post-imperial outcomes.

If look at modern Europe centered empires, we put the ones going through fascism in one pile (Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal), the ones going through strong man illiberal (but not fascist) rule in an other (Turkey post world war one, and Russia post USSR) and look at what we have left, I think it is basically Netherlands (lost Dutch East India during and in the direct aftermath of world war two), France (lost colonial empire in the decades after world war two), and UK (dito). The first two are arguable depending on whether you include the collaboratist governments during world war two, but if we limit ourselves to fascist movements with mainly domestic support, we have these three cases.

Can any conclusions be drawn from these three cases compared with each other empires to gain insight into how to stear a course clear of fascism? Maybe, but I am not sure what it would be. Though there is probably insights that can be had.

  • How hard it is to uphold liberal democracy when the upper class has decided against it. Thinking mainly about Germany and Spain here. Here there are worrying signs in the US, with op-eds arguing that Trump, Brexit etc are signs of to much democracy.

  • The role of troops with experience of wars in establishing dictatorships. Thinking mainly about Italy, Spain and Germany here. Not all veterans of course, not even most, but the kind that goes to Blackwater (or whatever they are called now).

  • The risks and rewards of running on pulling back the empire. Modern empires has advanced propaganda painting the empire as a force for good. Going against that can be hard, but the propaganda image can also be turned around in claiming that this perticular war is bad, as the locals wants us gone. If we look at France and UK in the 60ies and 70ies, pulling troops out and making peace comes with the risk of coup, but continuing colonial wars is unpopular (because empires in decline tend not to win) and creates the conditions for coups through hugh army budgets, veteran units, troop movements and exercises that can be used to start a coup and a general fear of the enemy that can be redirected internally. Over all, I would say that the right policy for a left wing government is to end the wars quickly upon entering government. Appoint generals who are at least sceptical of the war and give them a tight deadline for pulling out. Make peace and stability if you can, but pull out. Add a peace dividend and settle your veterans.
by fjallstrom on Sat Aug 31st, 2019 at 11:04:18 AM EST
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Seems to me you are mixing a couple of unrelated things. Empires, and their assembly and disassembly, do not depend on liberal democracies.

The failure of the wealthy to support liberal democracy is, if you ask me, a tactical error; they refuse to acknowledge that the peasants will eventually revolt.

The collapse of empires is probably due to economics. It is doubtful that the UK make a net profit from India over that 250 year long project, for example.

by asdf on Sat Aug 31st, 2019 at 04:18:31 PM EST
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I don't know whether the UK made a net profit out of India, but it certainly impoverished what had been one of the richer countries in the world. Empires can be a net loss to both the conquered and the conquerors, I supposed, but the balance is heavily skewed in favour of the conquerors.

Most empires - I'm thinking Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Belgian, in particular, were little more than looting operations on behalf of their royal families and associated elites. They also created the military infrastructure and mindset useful to suppress any discontent at home and wage wars against rival empires for control of territories.

You could argue that the world wars were, in part, a response to a situation where a diminishing world had created a world of diminishing returns for the Imperial powers, and with no more "virgin" territory to conquer, they turned to trying to conquer each other.

The current battle between Trump, China and Europe can be seen in similar terms - diminishing world resoources mean that attacking each other is the only source of potential gain. Hell, what has the world come to when you can't even buy Greenland off the Danes? What's a few "Eskimos" or Greenlanders, or whatever they are called, between friends when there are resource to deplete?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 2nd, 2019 at 10:25:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Greenland lies on the east side of the predicted Northwest Passage when Global Warming really gets going.

Thus Trump's interest.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Sep 2nd, 2019 at 05:56:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
lectures 1-20

UCLA Social Sciences | Manas

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Sep 3rd, 2019 at 01:51:03 PM EST
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I don't know that imperial pasts really contain guides to future success for democracies. Certainly withdrawing from foreign entanglements is a good thing, but to cement a democratic future the government must be made to serve ALL of the people, not just the elites of wealth.

First, a putative reform government has to attain power. That is best accomplished by a credible charismatic leader who motivates previously unmotivated citizens to turn out and vote. Then that government has to deliver, starting with easing the economic pain the vast majority of the population experiences.

Second, recognizing that propaganda works and that rich man elite propaganda has led the country into the situation from which it needs to escape, use propaganda techniques to dispel the ideology that sustained the former, undemocratic regime. FDR and the New Deal did more of the hope aspects but did not adequately dispel the ideologies that supported fascism. Going after those who supported The Wall Street Putsch, including Prescott Bush, Bill Doyle, commander of the Massachusetts American Legion, the bankers, associates of JP Morgan Jr., who tried to recruit General Smedley Butler would have discouraged future such attempts.

Third, direct the legal apparatuses of the country to deal with any lawbreaking that can be found to have been associated with the previous regime. The most noxious vermin will quickly crawl back under their rocks and the most prominent will go to jail.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 31st, 2019 at 05:06:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Members of the elite don't "go after" each other.  Look how Nixon, Bush, Clinton, and Bush were able to break the law and then walk away from consequences.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Aug 31st, 2019 at 07:38:32 PM EST
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Some things need to change. The USA is not the Roman Republic and neither were Nixon, Reagan or the Bushes Caesar. The US Senate is not (yet) the Roman Senate. I understand the fear of setting a precedent that one faction attacks the other faction when they get in power. That game was played with lawsuits in the Roman Senate. We do not want a similar dynamic in the USA. But neither can we let lawbreaking become the norm out of fear of partisan reprisal. It is a dilemma we must grasp by the horns and hope to vault over.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Sep 2nd, 2019 at 06:37:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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