How an aristocratic fashion revolution in Paris brought about our Civil War. – the Law of Unintended Consequences
Marie Antoinette and her fellow fashion trendsetters made cotton desirable. Technology and slave labor made it affordable. It was the perfect storm. The affordability increased the desirability, resulting in an even higher demand, which in turn increased the mass production so that the price dropped even further. The cycle caused “King Cotton” and the institution of slavery which it stood upon to rule the South. Of course, we all know what happened from there. A simple dress launched an elaborate butterfly effect with far-reaching consequences that the young French queen never could have predicted when she took a step outside her lavish royal wardrobe.
No matter how often radical periodicals denounced fake news published by their competitors, they found it difficult to suppress false information spread by powerful newswire companies like Hearst’s International News Service, the United Press Associations and the Associated Press.
These outlets fed articles to local papers, which reprinted them, fake or otherwise. Because people trusted their local newspapers, the veracity of the articles went unchallenged. It’s similar to what happens today on social media: People tend to reflexively believe what their friends post and share.
According to muckraker Upton Sinclair, syndicated “news” banked on this and knowingly spread fake news on behalf of the powerful interests that bought ads in their periodicals. Fake news was not only a sin of commission, but also one of omission: For-profit wire services would refuse to cover social issues, from labor protests to tainted meat, in ways that would depict their powerful patrons in a negative light.
A long article about what the “New World” that Columbus discovered may really have been like, versus what we were taught in school.
Before it became the New World, the Western Hemisphere was vastly more populous and sophisticated than has been thought—an altogether more salubrious place to live at the time than, say, Europe. New evidence of both the extent of the population and its agricultural advancement leads to a remarkable conjecture: the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact
I also watched recent video of ISIS members in a museum smashing (alleged) archaeological relics from the very ancient Mesopotamian past. I felt a certain sense of historical irony while doing so. I wondered as I watched them use sledgehammers and power drills on a 3,000 year old Assyrian statue if they realized that they were following the ancient Assyrian playbook as they tried to erase the region’s past. The Assyrians of that era were masters at the art of atrocity marketing. The concept of publicizing horrific cruelty to cow and intimidate subjects or opponents has a long history, and only fell out of style relatively recently (and not everywhere).
It’s only in the last century or so that public executions, for example, have become rare. Having people view a burning, beheading or hanging (with or without a torture appetizer) was thought to be something that reinforced law and authority and demonstrated that justice was being carried out. Often it was thought an edifying thing to have children watch.
How would the German public living in the Third Reich have reacted to ISIS-like, slickly produced films showing the scenes inside a death camp gas chamber while people were dying? Even in a nation brainwashed by state-fostered anti-Semitism, it’s hard to imagine the reaction being anything the Nazi regime would have considered positive.
The fact that the Islamic State’s marketing gurus feel otherwise is interesting. Perhaps its more evidence bolstering the idea that ISIS seeks to return to the values of an earlier, much more harsh historical era. If so,we might be seeing a visual and visceral example of what our ancestors might have done with a good TV studio.
If online video existed in the Middle Ages, does the burning of Joan of Arc go viral? Would it go viral today?
The U.S. has so far been prepared to act as the guarantor of international stability, but may not be willing—or able—to do so indefinitely.
Though the era just before World War I, with its gas lighting and its horse-drawn carriages, seems very far off and quaint, it is similar in many ways—often unsettlingly so—to ours, as a look below the surface reveals. The decades leading up to 1914 were, like our own time, a period of dramatic shifts and upheavals, which those who experienced them thought of as unprecedented in speed and scale. The use of electricity to light streets and homes had become widespread; Einstein was developing his general theory of relativity; radical new ideas like psychoanalysis were finding a following; and the roots of the predatory ideologies of fascism and Soviet communism were taking hold.
Globalization—which we tend to think of as a modern phenomenon, created by the spread of international businesses and investment, the growth of the Internet, and the widespread migration of peoples—was also characteristic of that era. Globalization can also have the paradoxical effect of fostering intense localism and nativism, frightening people into taking refuge in the comfort of small, like-minded groups. One of the unexpected results of the Internet, for example, is how it can narrow horizons so that users seek out only those whose views echo their own and avoid websites that might challenge their assumptions.
While history does not repeat itself precisely, the Middle East today bears a worrying resemblance to the Balkans then.
It is tempting—and sobering—to compare today’s relationship between China and the U.S. with that between Germany and England a century ago. Now, as then, the march of globalization has lulled us into a false sense of safety.
Like the world of 1914, we are living through changes in the nature of war whose significance we are only starting to grasp.
“The 10 most dangerous words in the English language,” Reagan said on another occasion, “are ‘Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’ ” As Hobbes could have told him, in reality the 10 scariest words are, “There is no government and I’m here to kill you.”
So yes, war is hell — but have you considered the alternatives? When looking upon the long run of history, it becomes clear that through 10,000 years of conflict, humanity has created larger, more organized societies that have greatly reduced the risk that their members will die violently. These better organized societies also have created the conditions for their members will die violently. These better organized societies also have created the conditions for higher living standards and economic growth. War has not only made us safer, but richer, too.
While we a gone from World Wars to Cold Wars this book review, which is continued from the “more” link overlooks the ongoing danger of even a “small” thermonuclear war, between emerging powers, annihilating our 10,00 years of “progress”. The miscalculations of rising powers has contributed to most wars of the Industrial age.
We are now moving into a world of what I call Soft Wars, waged by guerrilla tactics of cyber and economic warfare. And now with so many empowered transnational bad actors on the world stage, it will be hard to determine who really hit you and how do you counter.
Reddit user mygrapefruit and self-taught colorizer Sanna Dullaway has colorized famous photographs in history. You can find the entire 34-image collection on Imgur . http://imgur.com/a/wapUe Using a Wacom bamboo tablet and Photosohp, each photo takes anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours.