“when youth get involved in politics in large numbers, it is not a good thing”

Shorter Dennis Prager: “Get offa my lawn!

Most adults throughout history have recognized that young people are likely to be unwise given their minuscule amount of life experience. After all, most adults, even among baby boomers, believe that they themselves are wiser today than 10 years ago, let alone than when they were 20 years old. It is remarkable, then, how often adults romanticize youth involvement in politics — “Isn’t it heartwarming to see young people getting involved?”

Actually, for a wise adult, it is not heartwarming.

And by “wise adult,” he means Republican. Of course, the best part is that he starts his column like this:

We regularly hear about Barack Obama’s appeal to youth, about how he has been able to excite and mobilize a generation of young people to become politically involved, his rare ability to excite young people, and about how many new voters will register (and vote Democrat) as a result.

All this seems to be true. The question, however, is whether it is a good thing for the country and not just for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.

The answer is that it probably is not. With a few exceptions — and those exceptions are usually those rare cases when young people confront dictatorships — when youth get involved in politics in large numbers, it is not a good thing.

Right, except when they overthrow dictators — just that minor little thing. Otherwise, they’re fools, the whole lot of ’em.

He goes on to beat the same dead horse that wingnuts have been beating for several decades now: Vietnam. Because if those hippies with their sex and their counter-culture hadn’t kept shouting about how Vietnam was so bad, we would have won.

Really, you’ve had about forty years to get over this one. Get over it. You were on the wrong side of history, as conservative so often are. And Prager, you’re downright crotchety at this point. But I hope at least Young Republicans are wise enough to listen to their elders and get out of this political stuff ASAP.


Similar Posts (automatically generated):

50 comments for ““when youth get involved in politics in large numbers, it is not a good thing”

  1. shah8
    June 17, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    Plenty of pretty evil youth movements out there…the worst of the groups involved in the Cultural Revolution…Hitler Youth are a couple that comes to mind.

    But then again, it’s pretty easy to tell good youth movements from bad youth movements. One uses the law to further their aims, and the other believes that the law is an obstruction.

    Trust a crusty old conservative not to get that…

  2. June 17, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    What about zygotes? According to conservatives, they’re the youngest right-wingers out there.

  3. Kristen from MA
    June 18, 2008 at 12:25 am

    I’m sure he’s OK with the College Republicans.

  4. June 18, 2008 at 12:48 am

    why is the only people who bleat on and on about vietnam were never there? was dennis prager there? cos ykno, i hate mccain as much as the next sensible human being, but i dont hear mccain droning on and on about vietnam, becos its a bad memory for him that brings back pain. i grew up with a vietnam vet for a father and he barely spoke about the war the entire time i was a part of his life, when he did it wasnt to bitch that not enough us soldiers died over there for no discernable fucking reason. my mother was a war objector back then and only in the last few years has she began answering me when i ask questions about the personal impacts of that war on her and those close to her, for years all i got was a “i dont want to talk about it”

    when im 50, and some other 50 year old asshat says to me “we shoulda stayed the course in iraq” ill be just as outraged.

    i.dont.want.to.hear.another.fucking.word.about.vietnam. let the vets still living with the horrors they saw have some fucking peace.

  5. Britta
    June 18, 2008 at 4:49 am

    Looks like us young people can never win ;)

    First, we’re written off as the decline of civilization because we don’t vote. Then when we do, we’re criticized for it.
    Maybe we should change the voting age to 40. Or better yet, why don’t we change the voting age to “baby boomer.”

  6. Persia
    June 18, 2008 at 9:46 am

    I’ve also heard the HRC-supporting faction of women bring up this argument– that we don’t respect ‘the wisdom of our elders.’ Funny, I don’t remember any of this elder-respecting coming up when women were campaigning for the ERA or when young people were fighting against Jim Crow.

  7. June 18, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Shah8 — good youth movements see the law as an obstruction? I don’t necessarily take issue with that, depending on the law & the group. There are plenty of laws that I think shouldn’t be followed — like the many that the Nazis followed (and the whole party was pretty much a youth movement). But there are some decent laws, too. Or were you arguing that the good youth movements follow the law? I guess it’s a little off the topic of the original post, but I don’t think the criteria are quite as cut and dry as you say. Particularly if the youth movement is part of the larger group empowered to make laws.

  8. June 18, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    You know, plenty of older people try to come off as the “wise adult” when trying to deal with young folks, but when someone explicitly, unironically refers to oneself as “a wise adult,” they might as well be wearing a DON’T LISTEN TO ME t-shirt.

  9. Karalora
    June 18, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    It seems to me that participating in politics in large numbers is a good way for young people to acquire the wisdom that they supposedly lack.

  10. June 18, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Hey, britta — Didn’t you hear old Prager? You’d be okay to vote if you just listened to Daddy and voted like he told you to. D’oh.

  11. June 18, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    One of the most frustrating things about the “kids are too inexperienced” notion is that the gap never actually closes. My parents justified their more conservative views this way when I was eighteen and they were in their forties. Guess what? Now I’m closing on forty fast and they’re still using the same logic. Bets that when I’m fifty and their in their eighties, they will still blame my “foolish, bleeding-heart” politics on my lack of experience.

    The only time they haven’t used that phrase WRT my politics was when I was 12-16 and still just becoming aware of politics. I tended to parrot my parents views because I was inexperienced at that point – but they never called me that then. Rather they thought me precocious.

  12. shah8
    June 18, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Butch Fatale

    Think of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, which was heavily dominated by youth. They fought against unjust laws by using other laws, and by making it completly inconvenient to utilize unjust laws. They did not take the law into their own hands or summarily decide compliance by their own measures.

  13. June 18, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Shah8: Sure, but there was also resistance to and direct disobediance of the law, as well. I’m not denying that there are examples of youth movements working within the law, I’m objecting to the statement that there is a clear distinction between the “good” and “bad” based on the extent to which the movement in question stayed within the bounds of the law. As you point out in the example of the Civil Rights Movement, the activist were working against unjust laws — so their opponents were also within the bounds of the law.

    As I said, it’s a somewhat off-topic point. I do not think that there is an uncomplicated relationship between the morality of a movement’s cause and their use of legal routes to further their aims.

  14. exholt
    June 18, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    A large part of this is the older generations attempting to maintain their political clout in the face of younger generations whose ideas may be different or opposed.

    A new form of political jockeying…..especially when the majority of the older voters by demographic are the very generation who were stereotypically identified through the popularized statement “Never trust anyone over 30.” and other such pro-youth/anti-older generation attitudes.

    How much do you want to bet that many boomers are lapsing into the very behaviors of their parents/grandparents….and are even more fearful of the younger voters due to their own youthful activities??

    It has been one common theme in some former Clinton supporters I’ve encountered who are now saying they are going for McCain…infuriated about their candidate being trounced by one chosen by “inferior” younger voters with some racism thrown in….

    Instead of the stereotypical “angry White Women” dynamic…I sense more a small minority of “bitter angry boomers” who are angry the young’uns have defied their own voting choices.

    In a lot of ways, they are no different from some McCain supporters I’ve met who feel that Obama’s Presidency would mean that Generation Y will gain power at their expense.

    Plenty of pretty evil youth movements out there…the worst of the groups involved in the Cultural Revolution…Hitler Youth are a couple that comes to mind.

    One key difference is that the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution and the Hitler youth were both youth movements in service of the established social order and were tasked with enforcing the prevailing social orthodoxy. They were not youth movements meant to bring about change…but ones that were effective auxiliaries of the establishment.

    The last point is quite ironic as many American and Western youths of the 1960’s naively took some inspiration from Red Guards and the Cultural Revolution for their own counter-cultural movements….when the Red Guards at their very core…were nothing of the kind……

    Really, you’ve had about forty years to get over this one. Get over it.

    If you had said that in my old urban working class neighborhood around the Vietnam vets I knew…a little more than half of them…especially those who were young ROTC graduated officers would call you an overprivileged clueless “dirty commie-loving hippie”, anti-American, and would possibly forcibly toss you out of their presence.

    This level of animosity, bitterness, and anger among some Vietnam vets was one reason why even some upper-middle class White classmates’ boomer-aged parents who participated in the anti-Vietnam protests and are still active in anti-war movements today are concerned the attitude of “get over it”, especially towards Vietnam veterans is unnecessarily divisive and somewhat revealing of one’s socio-economic privilege…especially after seeing some fellow anti-war activists make some pretty rank classist and/or racist assumptions about soldiers and junior-level officers who had to serve out their draft/ROTC obligations in Vietnam.

    They are aware they had the socio-economic privilege to attend college without needing to resort to ROTC scholarships, were in a better position to take advantage of draft deferments, and/or ditch the draft with less serious consequence than their non-white/working class counterparts.

  15. CBrachyrhynchos
    June 18, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    I had always heard that the actions of middle-aged adult protesters like the Catonsville Nine were as influential as the student protests in the 1960s.

  16. June 18, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    They were a major, perhaps the major, factor in America withdrawing from the Vietnam War.

    Speaking of narcissistic Baby Boomers, I hate it when they make this argument. A bunch of hippies didn’t force America to withdraw from Vietnam. The fact that the Vietnamese (of all ages) fought harder and better probably had a lot more to do with why America lost.

  17. ::
    June 18, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Right, except when they overthrow dictators –

    …and replace them with other, even more brutal and insane dictators. Just a minor little thing. When youth get involved in politics in large numbers, it’s time to start running.

    At least, that’s how it used to be; nowadays, (young) people have neither the stomach nor attention span for oldskool revolution. Consumerism has won, and the world is, generally speaking, a safer, more pleasant place because of it.

  18. exholt
    June 18, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Praeger is also quite funny in his column as one common complaint I’ve heard from every election worker had every time I went to vote from the mid-’90s up until the 2004 elections was that so few “young people” ever bothered to come in to vote. It was a big pet peeve of nearly every poll worker I’ve ever encountered….and they all tended to be middle aged or senior citizens.

    This was especially sad when I was living in the New England area as my neighborhood had a majority of young adults who were grad students/professionals….but according to the poll workers in that neighborhood, I was one of only a handful of people under the age of 30 who bothered to show up to vote on election day. The people who were most likely to vote in that mostly youthful neighborhood: those who were middle-aged or seniors.

    Don’t know about you…but those poll workers would all vehemently disagree with Praeger on this….

    The fact that the Vietnamese (of all ages) fought harder and better probably had a lot more to do with why America lost.

    Interestingly enough, even the most vehement pro-war Vietnam vets from my old neighborhood would largely agree with that statement above…..though their reasons had more to do with their perception that LBJ and Robert McNamara severely constrained their fighting capabilities through excessive micromanagement and what they felt were excessively restrictive rules of engagement. This was especially the complaint of the former young ROTC officers who served as Air Force pilots.

  19. exholt
    June 18, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    I also need to add that not ALL Vietnamese were fighting against the US…and/or were for the North Vietnamese communists under Ho Chi Minh and his successors. Several parents of Vietnamese co-workers would take grave offense at such blanket categorizations as they were not necessarily in favor of the Saigon regime…but also dreaded living under the North Vietnamese regime. Unfortunately for some, that dread was confirmed once the North Vietnamese took over and they were sent to reeducation camps or otherwise harshly treated.

    It is similar to the anger I sometimes feel when many ignorant Americans tell me how all Chinese were Pro-Mao Zedong and Pro-Chinese Communist when I know that is not the case from my own family’s experiences and from studying the history.

    Moreover, the harsh treatment of one branch of my family who chose to remain to aid in bringing about the “New China” during the 100 Flowers Campaign and the Cultural Revolution causes me to be amazed at the level of naivete and ignorance among many Americans and westerners who idolize Mao Zedong and other Communist dictators. In my book, they are little different from the Japanese militarists or Fascists and Nazis where they privileged the State at the direct expense of individual citizens.

  20. kaje
    June 18, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    You were on the wrong side of history, as conservative so often are.

    Indeed. Ideally, history does not stay put or regress, but progresses. When it doesn’t we call those times “dark ages”. By committing to conservatism, one is basically saying “I am a human speedbump in the road of mankind’s betterment, and I am proud!”

  21. June 18, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    You know that if there was a young Republican candidate and an old Democratic candidate, Prager would be jizzing himself about the energy and fresh perspective of youth. He’s just bleating because all those foolish kids are putting Obama signs on his lawn.

  22. Solitary
    June 19, 2008 at 12:07 am

    In the city where I used to live, we elected a young man in his early-mid 20s as mayor. No joke, he was a college grad and had no experience in public service. He might have been part of student government, I can’t remember. :) I always think of him when people complain someone is ‘too young’. Last I heard (I moved a couple years ago) he was doing a bang up job and no one regretted electing him.

  23. exholt
    June 19, 2008 at 12:39 am

    In the city where I used to live, we elected a young man in his early-mid 20s as mayor.

    Back when I attended high school in the late 80’s-early 90’s, I recalled reading about a small town that elected an 18 year old mayor. No issues there either….

    As with humanity as a whole, we young adults have our fair share of people with positive and negative attributes. In this respect, we’re no different from our supposedly “superior” elders.

    Indeed. Ideally, history does not stay put or regress, but progresses. When it doesn’t we call those times “dark ages”.

    As someone who has had a longtime academic and personal interest in history, I do not share your teleological view that history inevitably leads up to something such as greater progress as if history is an independent anthropomorphic being. Moreover, this is not always correct as the European Middle Ages, the decline of the Tang Dynasty with its relatively more liberalized Confucian orthodoxy compared to subsequent dynasties with the rise of Neo-Confucianism during the Sung dynasty, and the rise of genocidal regimes in the 20th century which redefined the sheer scale, scope, and the banal efficient brutality of mass state sanctioned killings in history up to the present.

    People involved in the history concerned through their ideas and actions determine whether the history is progressive or not….not history itself. To believe otherwise not only eliminates human agency, but can lead to dangerous complacent thinking such as “History’s always progressive…any problems/issues will inevitably will be sorted out progressively by history…”

    Ironically, it is not only a belief held by many older more conservative historians…but also one some conservatives would want you to believe to lull you into inaction.

  24. shah8
    June 19, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Hey!

    The Sung aren’t exactly a bad regime, you know…As far as I know, it was the highest point of, relative to other civilizations, Chinese intellectual interest in arts and crafts.

  25. bmc90
    June 19, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Gee funny that one of the only paid interships on the Hill is with the Heritage Foundation.

  26. exholt
    June 19, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    The Sung aren’t exactly a bad regime, you know…As far as I know, it was the highest point of, relative to other civilizations, Chinese intellectual interest in arts and crafts.

    Shah8,

    The Sung dynasty was also when Neo-Confucianism became the dominant social orthodoxy which has been blamed by many Chinese historians for causing great social regression and impediments to innovation. Two immediate examples that come to mind was the greater restrictions placed on women compared to the Tang dynasty(Women were allowed to own property in their own right…which was abolished in subsequent dynasties) and the widespread introduction of footbinding.

    In some ways, the effects of Neo-Confucianism is similar to that of the Puritans on British and American societies.

    The two best dynasties in Chinese Imperial history within the popular Chinese consciousness are the Han and Tang dynasties. The Sung would most certainly not make the cut due to the effects of Neo-Confucianism along with many other factors.

  27. exholt
    June 19, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Gee funny that one of the only paid interships on the Hill is with the Heritage Foundation.

    Well, that’s different you see. Paid internships are a good thing as it provides financial incentives to those youths who choose to aid our conservative cause…it is the epitome of good capitalist practice!!!

    Now unpaid internships…especially by those librul groups…..now that’s just another proof they are exploitative commies!! Yeah, that’s the ticket…they’re commies!

    /snk

  28. Bitter Scribe
    June 19, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    When fools get involved in punditry in large numbers, it is not a good thing.

  29. shah8
    June 19, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Well, the Qin dynasty is the one to be hated, really…That foundation of Legalism with a sort of hollowed out Confucianism masking it influenced the decision paths of the future dynasties.

    In any event, the T’ang is the very concept of Imperial and Invulnerable China, but it wasn’t the greatest thing since sliced toast. That very imperialism lead to the great An Lu-Shan Rebellion (think of the various Germans trained by Romans eventually fighting Rome).

    Lastly, Neoconfucianism, to me, was a general reflection of the feelings of the times, and not the generator of said feelings. It’s hard to envision a China embittered from a dynasty in which women were visible leaders and spoilers of the regime almost from the first, not engage in anti-women attitudes. If it hadn’t been Neoconfucianism, it would have something else, and Sung went with that flow–they were pretty flexible minded fellows (very corrupt and classist, though).

  30. exholt
    June 19, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Lastly, Neoconfucianism, to me, was a general reflection of the feelings of the times, and not the generator of said feelings. It’s hard to envision a China embittered from a dynasty in which women were visible leaders and spoilers of the regime almost from the first, not engage in anti-women attitudes.

    I would argue that it is both…a reflection of feelings which created this generator which created a feedback loop reinforcing and strengthening those feelings…especially after the An Lu-shan rebellions when the vast majority of Chinese historians blamed the Emperor’s love for his favorite concubine Yang Guifei for enabling the corruption which allowed her relatives to gain high government positions despite questionable ability and security lapses through her mistaken belief that An Lu-shan would remain loyal to her for all the favors she bestowed on him.

    Though there are misogynistic elements to this blame, the corruption that resulted from that love is not in dispute as some of her relatives proved to be quite incompetent in the performance of their duties. In fact, one of those relatives deliberately provoked An Lushan into rebellion in the first place by subjecting him to various indignities including the killing of his favorite followers for his own political ends….which backfired spectacularly as we all know…

    Though Yang Guifei is not totally blameless, one issue with this historiography was that she was completely scapegoated while little mention was made of the Emperor’s responsibility, especially considering the fact he had to approve all post assignments and policies. Even my most conservative older relatives felt Yang Guifei was wrongfully scapegoated and the overwhelming majority of the blame lies with the Emperor and his advisers (Quite a few were her relatives).

    Moreover, don’t forget the impact of Empress Wu Zetian who was harshly criticized by Chinese historians for usurping power after her regency was supposed to cease upon her sons reaching an age of majority. Though there was sexism and misogyny in the criticism…one cannot ignore that there was the blatant usurpation of power according to the rules of that period.

    That foundation of Legalism with a sort of hollowed out Confucianism masking it influenced the decision paths of the future dynasties.

    To varying extents, while Legalism coexisted within the different schools of Confucianism throughout Chinese Imperial history, there has always been various degrees of contestation between more legalistic and less legalistic Confucians. Moreover, while legalism inevitably crept up as state orthodox Confucianism(really Neo-Confucianism during and after the Sung), the Chinese scholar-gentry ruling elite had a negative views of legalism and the use of legal devices such as laws and lawsuits to enforce state sanctioned social harmony/orthodoxy and to compel compliance from the populace.

    From what little I recall, laws were only to be resorted to as an absolute last resort after “superior” methods such as moral suasion have all proven futile. Some of this thinking still permeates Chinese society into relatively recent times. I’ve read about and encountered many Chinese people in older generations who are extremely wary of lawyers as a socially disharmonious force and dubious of the “usefulness” and “social benefit” of lawyers in society. One clear manifestation of this was how during the 1950’s in Taiwan, majoring in fields such as “Foreign languages and literature” and medicine were considered far more prestigious and “useful” than studying law. This has only changed within the last 30 years with the increased international pressure on Taiwan and other countries to adopt the “rule of law” and the increasing trend of globalization…whether for good or ill.

    Even so, I still hear from relatives and friends in Taiwan and China that even engineers are granted higher social status than lawyers…the total opposite of the situation here in the US.

    As for the Qin dynasty…blechh….Qin Shi Huang was so harsh and repressive in his methods that it wasn’t long before many people felt they had nothing to lose in rebelling against his dynasty. Even though he is credited with uniting China as one imperial state…..the amount of blood on his hand and his harsh methods are such that if he had the technological and bureaucratic means at his disposal…he probably would have been a viable contender for being one of the worst genocidal leaders of the 20th century….if not the worst. One account I recall reading said he even executed those for crimes we would consider misdemeanors such as littering.

  31. shah8
    June 20, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Wow!

    I have been schooled!

    It has been a privilege, thanks!

  32. June 20, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Wow!

    I have been schooled!

    It has been a privilege, thanks!

    I often feel that way after reading Exholt’s comments, too :-) I’ve definitely learned more about Chinese history from his remarks here than I ever did in a formal educational setting.

  33. June 20, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Even so, I still hear from relatives and friends in Taiwan and China that even engineers are granted higher social status than lawyers…the total opposite of the situation here in the US.

    I think the Chinese have the right idea here, personally. Of course I may be biased, having a husband who’s a chemical and controls engineer. He’s the bottom of the totem pole in the committee on National Plant Design for his company. After all, he’s just the guy who actually designs the plants – nowhere near as important as the lawyers and administrators.

  34. exholt
    June 20, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Shah8 and Jill,

    Thank you for the complements. :)

    My apologies for the followup:

    Another big reason why the Sung dynasty was not considered a highlight of Chinese history except by some who study economic and business* history is that the dynasty was founded by a military coup and brought in a dynasty that left the nation vulnerable to outside invasion.

    The first Sung emperor, fearing the same may happen to him deliberately instituted polices which weakened the military and devalorized military service to the point that the Sung dynasty became vulnerable to a series of invasion from the Jin people(precursors of the Manchus). First the Northern Sung state was lost…with the annexation of the rest by the Mongols about 150 years later.

    This devalorization of military service which continued into subsequent dynasties was one factor blamed for China eventually becoming easy prey for foreign conquerers from the Jin peoples to the Western/Japanese colonizations and conquests during the 19th and 20th centuries.

    It is epitomized by a well known Chinese quote in translation: “Good steel should not be used to make nails, good people** do not join the military.”

    * The Sung dynasty was considered a golden age for Chinese merchants and commerce…something regarded with much suspicion by many in the Confucian-minded scholar-gentry ruling elite as the pursuit of commerce was regarded as antithetical to the values of the Confucian state orthodoxy. A reason why most merchants who gained enough wealth preferred to buy land and pay for their sons’ education in Confucian classics in the hopes they can pass the imperial civil service exams and thus, become socially-accepted members of the scholar-gentry elite. In the Confucian social order dating back to the Han dynasty, merchants were considered at the very bottom of the social hierarchy…below peasants and artisans.

    ** Though it is most likely referring to men, the actual word used in Chinese is gender neutral.

  35. shah8
    June 20, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Hey! I like anti-militarist statements!

    I would have to disagree somewhat on the military aspects, especially of the Southern Sung state. Most military geeks I’m aware of think that the Sung fought the Mongols the hardest and the best, and with a great deal of innovation. My impression of the Southern Sung state was that the main reason that it fell to the Mongols, rather than fight to a draw, was that it was actively hostile to many elements of its own society, who then switched sides to the Mongols, much in the way that the Ming fell to the Qing.

  36. shah8
    June 20, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    And thinking of the antiviolence sentiments, think what would have happened had the Mohists gained a bit more authority during the post Spring and Autumn periods…China might now be a region of countries rather than one giant empire state.

    And ohhh boy, are we *far* away from the supposed topic of the thread!

  37. exholt
    June 20, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    I would have to disagree somewhat on the military aspects, especially of the Southern Sung state. Most military geeks I’m aware of think that the Sung fought the Mongols the hardest and the best, and with a great deal of innovation.

    The problem wasn’t that the soldiers didn’t fight hard enough or lacked for advanced weapons, but that morale and effective command and control of the military was undermined by the Sung Emperors’ tendency to replace effective competent generals and senior commanders with less competent and also less threatening favorites…mainly to forestall the possibility of another coup d’etat considering that’s how the first Sung emperor seized power.

    The tale of Yue Fei is emblematic of this problem. An effective commander who ended up being executed despite his loyally and effective serving the Sung dynasty against the Jin precisely because his military competence would undermine the reigning emperor’s power…especially when victory over the Jin would have meant that the more senior Emperor who was captured and imprisoned by the Jin would be free to rightfully take back his throne from that reigning emperor. This not only started a long trend of devalorizing the military..but also contributed to the soldiers and commanders basically wondering “WTF should I continue to fight loyally for the Sung when they not only fail to acknowledge and reward such efforts, but often punish and even execute those who are exemplars of such.”

    As for the fall of the Ming and the rise of the Qing….the Qing managed to come in after the last Ming Emperor and government collapsed as a result of a bloody internal peasant rebellion which laid waste to the capital city. After a Ming general in charge of a gate which prevented the Manchus from coming into China decided to make a Faustian bargain with the Manchus by opening that gate after being confronted by numerically greater peasant rebel forces. Upon being allowed in, the Qing armies crushed the peasant rebels and then effectively moved into the power vacuum left by the chaos of that rebellion.

    As for most of the Chinese people switching sides…that was not widespread as strong Pro-Ming resistance continued within China and on Taiwan for the next several decades until they were all ruthlessly crushed by Qing forces. Even then, the spirit of such anti-Qing resistance continued to live on up until the dynasty’s collapse in 1911.

  38. exholt
    June 20, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    And thinking of the antiviolence sentiments, think what would have happened had the Mohists gained a bit more authority during the post Spring and Autumn periods…China might now be a region of countries rather than one giant empire state.

    And that has been a great fear and a constant theme within the popular Chinese historical consciousness since the warring states era. Chaos and weakness as a result of disunity…..which was only further reinforced and underscored by Western/Japanese imperial depredations in the 19th and 20th century and the bloody chaos of the warlord era in the early 20th century. One can plausibly argue, however, that the Warlord era effectively continued under nominal Nationalist control until the CCP took over in 1949 as the Nationalist forces were never strong enough to completely supplant many of the more powerful warlords.

  39. shah8
    June 20, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Alot of people switched over to the Qing, not just the authorities in Beijing. Even the most famous of the people who resisted the Qing, Coxinga,did so after his father switched sides. And there were plenty of Quislings along with him. The southern areas might have resisted to the point that the coastal areas were depopulated, but post 1644, they were never actually loyal to the Ming so much as they were loyal to figureheads that endorsed the current way of life of international trade and urban city-life the developed as the Ming central control weakened. By the very end, the Ming central beaurocracy simply commanded too little loyalty to survive, peasant rebellions or no. Nurhaci and his kids and grandkids simply took over what was, by then, pretty rotten fruit. Under no circumstances would a reviving counterattack resulted in a resumption of the Ming. More likely, another general would have started a new line.

    Yue Fei was a lower class (literate) peasant (who is even more mythological than Coxinga) who was showing up the authorities, and was something of a overt superpatriot (He reminds me sometimes of Yuan Shikai). There are quite a few dead generals who were just a tad more successful than they should be, and who wound up dead, just like dead reforming lawyers like Shen. There are many other generals who lived by *not* winning battles, but who were otherwise competent. All this is just to say that the killing of successfull generals was constant feature of Chines politics, and is most definitly not unique to the Sung. The Sung were just much worse about this than usual, over many fields other than military, and it was tied into class.

    My definite impression is that despite what the chinese think (yeah, like I should know better), is that the universal empire mindset has done more than anything else to repress liberties and innovation, and it has held back the peoples of China relative to what could have been. I got a lot of this from Victoria Hui’s book dissertation.

  40. exholt
    June 20, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    My definite impression is that despite what the chinese think (yeah, like I should know better), is that the universal empire mindset has done more than anything else to repress liberties and innovation, and it has held back the peoples of China relative to what could have been. I got a lot of this from Victoria Hui’s book dissertation.

    I’d have to read her book, but her argument as you presented it is one quite a few China historians both in China/Taiwan and the US would have serious issues with as they may regard that as a gross reductive oversimplification of the Chinese society and its people.

    This reminds me of some poli-sci grad student friends who have often complained of the tendency among many political scientists to oversimplify complex social and cultural phenomena.

  41. shah8
    June 21, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    I did not find Victoria Tin-bor Hui’s thesis in War and State Formation in Ancient China and Early Modern Europe to be all that well founded in the evidence she presents. Mostly because the topic that she chose is nearly unworkable in a small book or dissertation. Two very (about 350 years) long eras are compared, with one of those eras being quite poorly recorded relative to the other.

    My personal gist is simply that if there had been a Sichuan Empire and a Jin Empire and a Yan(g) whatever empire all duking it out, the ability for the later Mongols and europeans to claim the entire area would have been much more limited. Japan, Java, and Vietnam were able to do so some or all of that. Also, an international society would have sprung up, and there would have been as much or more coherent/diverse approaches to the arts and sciences, because any repressive region would lose talent to less repressive region, and there wouldn’t have been the general attitude of hey, let’s kill that engineer or soldier or poet just because we’re pissed off. Lastly, the empire state has often been way too effective in creating monopolies and monopsonies. For example, the Zheng fleet dominated trade in SE Asia in its time, with many ships and sailors and military folks. However, after they were eventually defeated by the Qing, there was an INCREASE in the number of ships and trading that happened. Zheng He’s fleet would not have been quite so abrupt in it’s start and stop had it been several countries competing to capture markets and scarce resources.

    So forth and so on…

  42. exholt
    June 21, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    the ability for the later Mongols and europeans to claim the entire area would have been much more limited.

    My impressions are that if China was not unified and were instead a series of independent states, that would at a minimum, not make much of a difference as the Mongols in this period not only invaded China and Korea and attempted to invade Vietnam and Burma but also many states/societies within Central Asia, the Middle East, and Eurasia to the point they were on the doorsteps of Europe. Only the sudden death of the then reigning Khan stopped the Mongols from further conquests as that meant all the commanders who were in the direct royal line had to go back to compete for successorship. The Mongols even attempted two seaborne invasions of the Japanese islands…only to be stopped both times by powerful storms that were termed “Kamikaze” or divine wind and possibly shoddy construction of invasion fleet vessels by shipwrights discontent with Mongol rule.

    Same with the Western Imperialists as one of their most effective tactics was the old divide and conquer playbook…whether playing off of internal divisions within a given state/society or one independent state against another.

    As for the Zheng fleet, that dominance was very short-lived as internal imperial politics within the Ming, suspicions against commerce and trade by the rising dominant conservative wing of the scholar gentry elite, suspicions of Zheng’s status as a eunuch (Eunuchs were blamed for the decline of many dynasties…most notably the Han in 220 CE), etc. In fact, due to these factors, the Ming instituted a policy of isolationism in the late 1400s which imposed severe restrictions on ship size and types to those for domestic-oriented coastal and river-based vessels. Depredations of both Chinese and foreign pirates, most notably those from Japan caused authorities to add further restrictions which reinforced this isolationism such as forcing coastal communities to move far inland. As for the increase in number of ships and trading after the Qing, that was mainly because the isolationism, depredations from piracy and war, and the increasing social chaos and problems which come with increasing corruption and rebellions drove such activities to extremely low levels.

    In fact, one of the factors that is often cited for the Ming dynasty’s* decline other than its brutal tyrannical rule and increasing corruption, was the expense incurred not only to fend of those pirates, but also to aid their Korean allies in fending off two Japanese invasions of the Korean peninsula during the 1590’s instigated by Japanese strongman Toyatomi Hideyoshi. This event is one reason many Koreans I know tend to be exasperated and in some cases, infuriated by Western derived arguments that Japanese imperialism in the 19th and 20th centuries was largely inspired by Western imperialism and Western mistreatment of Japanese during the 19th century.

  43. shah8
    June 21, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Albeit not saying this in the prescence of kimchee fueled Korean tempers, everything I’ve ever read about the japanese motivations towards imperialism in the 20th century is a direct reflection of the challenges of industrialization and maintaining japanese independence in a Western world. To me, there is very little comparison between the japanese invasions of the sixteenth century in terms of motivations and goals and the later day invasions. Western mistreatment of japanese would have been a minor aspect of the motives, but there are practical aspects to it. For instance, the 1905 treaty meetings between Japan and Russia, with T. Roosevelt presiding, wound up being very favorable to Russia, who pretty much lost on all counts. That can’t do much but lead Japan to a possession is 9/10ths law attitude with respect to foreign and military policy.

    The neat part of the imjin war was how the japanese leadership scared itself shitless about how lethal to a nobleman a peasant can be with firearms. Ban ’em, chase away foreigers! Soon enough, the isolation begins…

  44. exholt
    June 21, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    The neat part of the imjin war was how the japanese leadership scared itself shitless about how lethal to a nobleman a peasant can be with firearms. Ban ‘em, chase away foreigers! Soon enough, the isolation begins…

    Interestingly enough, this also ties in with the freezing of social status mobility, especially after the Tokugawa clan gained power in their 1603 victory at the Battle of Sekigahara.

    Before Hideyoshi imposed various restrictions on social mobility, including the restriction of weapons ownership to those of the samurai class, peasants had some possibility of rising into the lower ranks of the samurai warrior class including Hideyoshi who rose from peasant to strongman status during Japan’s Warring States period from the mid 15th-beginning 17th century.

    To me, there is very little comparison between the japanese invasions of the sixteenth century in terms of motivations and goals and the later day invasions.

    Considering Hideyoshi’s main objective was to use the conquest of the Korean peninsula as a springboard to conquer Ming China and to go as far as India, I must respectfully disagree. That sure fits the definition of imperialism as far as I understand it.

    Now whether that was ultimately feasible or a delusional pipe dream of an egotistical strongman full of himself is debatable…but those were his goals and they had the same damaging effects on the Korean peninsula such as wanton mass killings of every living person and animal in many areas, widespread destruction of land and property, and the kidnapping of many Korean skilled civilians and POWs back into Japan to be used as slaves.

    While Japan’s imperialism was partially inspired by influences from 19th century Western Imperialism, I am in agreement with historians who argue that the roots of Japanese imperialism predated the 19th century.

    kimchee fueled Korean tempers

    C’mon. Are you going to reduce legitimate Korean anger at past invasions and colonialist occupation to a mere punchline to a joke?

    Considering the catastrophic damage and serious brutalities and oppression that were carried out by Japanese forces during both the Imjin war and the various underhanded political machinations and assassinations which culminated in Korea being placed under 4 decades of Japanese colonial occupation with more brutality and oppression, it is my considered opinion that much of this anger is justified.

    Especially when the Japanese government has with US support, attempted to downplay and discourage any serious discussion of Japan’s colonial legacy until the early 1990s when the end of the Cold War combined with lawsuits from Korean and other Asian victims who were forced by Japanese authorities into sexual slavery, forced labor in Japanese factories, biological and chemical warfare experimental facilities as guinea pigs for Japanese military scientists, etc forced the Japanese government and the larger international community to take notice.

    What’s more irritating is not only hearing continued right-wing Japanese politicians and pseudo-scholars attempt to downplay and deny the unsavory aspects of Japan’s colonial legacy, but also some ignorant Westerners who wonder why Asian victims of Japan’s colonial legacy cannot “just get over it and move on”.

    These Westerners often forget that the US abetted Japan’s downplaying and suppression of the discussion of Japan’s Colonial legacy and war crimes due to Cold War considerations and the need to make rebuild Japan into America’s most dependable ally. This was underscored when as early as the late 1950’s Nobusake Kishi a formerly indicted Class A war criminal was elected Prime Minister of Japan.

    Furthermore, unless what little I remember from European history is mistaken, I don’t think any former Nazis, much less indicted war criminals were ever elected Chancellor in either of the Germanies.

  45. shah8
    June 21, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    a term of endearment…Think Popeye and that can of spinach.

    I’ve had my ass chewed on by korean friends enough to know that they very much have their own unique brand of feistiness…and yes, they’ve heard “the POWER of Kimchee” from me…It is a comment unto itself about korean tempers and not about korean attitudes about the japanese. I still think the two are *very* different. Tojo is to Hideyoshi as Pitt the Elder was to Henry V. Completely different eras, different motives beyond the big splash of me-want-more-power. The why and the hows and the rationales were different, leading to different paths towards domination, and it’s probably important, while not understating past invasions and conflict contained entirely within East Asia, to recognize the impact of Western influences in dictating how the japanese percieved their own security. Processes like industrialization is almost entirely dependent on having colonies to provide ghost land and calories for the cities undergoing industrialization. Expansions overseas for loot and glory is quite different from expansion overseas for rice and oil.

    Next, I very much completely agree with you about japanese attitudes. I think Koreans (not so much Koreans outside the country) can be very racist and xenophobic and lineage obsessed, but the japanese can be truly irritating about their obsession about being nuked, when push comes to shove, they come as close as anyone, including the Nazis, to actually deserving to get nuked. No real regret or much answers for the chinese, burmese, indians, viets, indonesians, koreans, british, phillipines, and americans who died because of their outright barbarousness. They’ve never really had to ask themselves the way Germans have, just what was wrong with their characters, and those men had no business being buried at yasukuni shrine. We aren’t talking about the Yamagatas here, but the fat-faced militarist politicians and evil as fuck soldiers. I’ve read my Embracing Defeat, and I hope to read War Without Mercy at some point.

  46. shah8
    June 21, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Hmm, but it’s about the roots of imperialism. I’m not sure how much can be said for that. The roots of imperialism is always going to be your nearest, richest neighbor. I wouldn’t be surprised if those guys walking around the Zhongenai *still* have a strong awareness and concern about Outer Mongolia…

  47. exholt
    June 21, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    The roots of imperialism is always going to be your nearest, richest neighbor. I wouldn’t be surprised if those guys walking around the Zhongenai *still* have a strong awareness and concern about Outer Mongolia…

    True. What’s more interesting is that the occupation of Mongolia by China really started when the Manchu leaders compelled the submission of various Mongolian tribes before and during the first several decades of Qing rule. Moreover, until the Qing’s overthrow in 1911, the Mongols along with the Manchus were officially more favored in the allocation of top official positions than their Han counterparts….though this became less practiced as time went on, especially after the Taiping rebellion in the mid-19th century when performance and/or having a lot of money to aid the dynasty became more important in determining allocation of high official posts.

    As for modern Chinese leaders wanting Mongolia, that’s really a mixture of wanting to restore what China lost before the coming of Western/Japanese imperialism along with some geopolitical security considerations as Mongolia has been used by the Soviets and now, the US as a springboard for intelligence gathering and as a means to irritate the Chinese state on its northern border.

    With the discrediting of Marxist/Maoist ideology as the foundation of the Chinese Communist Party’s political legitimacy, the CCP has had to replace that with Chinese nationalism. This means, however, that renunciation of any territories deemed “Chinese” whether it is Tibet, Inner Mongolia, or especially Taiwan would be political suicide for the CCP…especially when the losses of territories of Mongolia, and Taiwan were caused by the effects of Western/Japanese Imperialism during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    Most of those Zhongnanhai leaders know enough Chinese history to want to avoid being compared to the Warlord dominated Beiyang government who agreed to ratify the Versailles Treaty which granted Shandong province as Japan’s sphere of influence along with Japan’s 21 demands in 1919 which sparked the student-led demonstrations which became known as the May Fourth movement.

    Any comparisons of current Zhongnanhai leaders should they renounce any territories to the Beiyang government in 1919 would not only be disastrous from a nationalistic standpoint, but also supremely ironic considering those very leaders often play up that movement as an inspiration for the CCP’s founding in 1921.

  48. exholt
    June 22, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    a term of endearment…Think Popeye and that can of spinach.

    The few times I’ve seen such a term used, it was by a bunch of ignorant White frosh fratboys who intended to be derogatory towards several of their Korean classmates at several campus parties on a Boston area campus where I was an invited guest. What each different group of fratboys didn’t know until it was too late was that many of the first year Korean male students had just finished their mandated 2 years of military service. Those Korean students had no hesitation in picking those fratboys up and cleaning out their clocks. The fact everyone else thought those fratboys had it coming due to their comments meant no sympathy was extended in their direction afterwards.

    I still think the two are *very* different. Tojo is to Hideyoshi as Pitt the Elder was to Henry V.

    Though I agree there was a difference, I would argue it was really a difference between imperialism inspired and implemented by an egotistical strongman….and one inspired and implemented by a systematic imperialistic bureaucratic oligarchy that cannot easily be personified by one figure. Though the US government and postwar US teaching of Japanese history has tended to center Japanese militarism around the figure of Hideki Tojo, Japanese militarism and its roots long predated him. One can arguably trace the roots of Japanese militarism back to the very beginnings of the Meiji regime as many of its key leaders not only desired a strong military to strengthen the Japanese state and for future imperialistic goals, but also because they inherited and adapted the militaristic aspects of the privileged samurai class. The last point is understandable as most of the Pro-Meiji leaders and future key officials and military leaders were samurai mainly from the Choshu and Satsuma clans.

    In fact, the degree of dominance and some degree of rivalry even affected the armed forces as the Army leadership tended to be dominated by the Choshu like Aritomo Yamagata whereas the Navy leadership tended to be dominated by the Satsuma…including Admiral Togo…Naval hero of the Russo-Japanese war.

    Speaking of Aritomo Yamagata, he was one of the key founders of the Imperial Japanese Army and was one of the architects of Japanese colonialism that was rationalized through his doctrine of “Pre-emptive self-defense”…..notice any modern day parallels… ;) For that reason, he is not only a militarist…but arguably the father of Japanese militarism not only for advocating for the strong role of the army and advocating militarism in Japanese politics, but also starting the dangerous precedent by passing a law in which only active-duty general officers can serve as Army or Navy minister which gave the military unlimited leverage in the formation and dissolution of cabinets. In effect, this gave the military nearly unlimited power to influence not only military policies, but all other matters of state. For this reason, the only reason why I would agree that Yamagata cannot be equated with subsequent Japanese militarists like Tojo was that they were latter-day followers who gained much inspiration from his own actions in further expanding the role of the military in Japanese politics.

    Moreover, one big reason why there is some historical inheritance from the Imjin wars on Japanese imperialism was the fact that Japanese senior leaders had been advocating for the colonization of the Korean peninsula as early as the 1870’s…culminating into a bitter dispute between senior oligarchs such as Saigo Takamori in 1873-4 who favored immediate invasion and others who demurred more because they felt the Japanese state was not militarily and financially prepared for the undertaking than any sense of nobility. This dispute was one of the reasons why Saigo Takamori eventually resigned from the Japanese government and later led the 1877 Satsuma rebellion against the Imperial government which was portrayed quite inaccurately in Tom Cruise’s and Ken Watanabe’s “The Last Samurai”.

    The early desires for Korea, the Satsuma led 1874 punitive expedition against Taiwan, and the 1878 annexation of the independent Ryukuan Kingdom…including Okinawa makes me wonder whether the historical roots of Japanese imperialism go much further back than the influences of 19th century imperialism. I’m not trying to deny those influences, but am also trying make a nuanced argument that the historical roots also go back much further than that.

    Moreover, unless I am grossly mistaken, Japanese industrialization was not really a force unto itself until the late 1880s.

    The “rice and oil” motivations for Japanese colonialism really became serious considerations only starting in the 1890s when there was a substantial Japanese industrial complex to support.

    If you have time, one book I would highly recommend is Herbert Bix’s “Hirohito And the Making of Modern Japan”. This book is one of the more recent publications which argues that Hirohito had much more awareness and influence over political events than the US-Japanese establishment’s depiction of him as an innocent helpless figurehead who was completely under the thumb of the militarists.

    This was a convenient politically motivated historical fiction used by both the US and Japanese governments to justify keeping Hirohito on the throne due to Cold War considerations…and the lobbying by pro-Japanese politicians within the US government such as Ambassador Joseph Grew. Despite their efforts, however, many skeptical Japanese, especially those on the left were questioning and protesting this as early as the late 1940’s. Moreover, I have yet to meet any Chinese and Koreans of my parents’ generation who believed that fiction either.

  49. shah8
    June 22, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Interesting about the fratboys…*I* had used it in an “I Give, I Give, Please Have Mercy on ME I GIIIIVEEE” sense when one person was interested in serious rhetorical pounding to the ground.

    I have read The Yamato Dynasty by the Seagraves, which is pretty rotten, I know, and I have read Toland’s Rising Sun, the Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, and they, as well as Embracing Defeat and Alex Kerr’s Dogs and Demons, the Decline and Fall of Modern Japan. Yes, I am aware that Seagrave is a conpiracy nut, Toland is at least subtly compromised, and Alex Kerr is a crank. They form the rough basis for my knowleged picked up on the internet though.

    I meant Yamamoto rather than Yamagata…Ooops. Not hugely important to the point I was trying to make. Tsuji can go burn in hell. Togo Shigenori is really ambivelent.

    Anways, really, I accept much of your point, but a couple of things. If you think about German militerism, there is a pretty similar kind of play–Teutonic Knights invasion of Russia waaay back in the mists of time. Frederick the Great’s almost misadventure with Russia, and the constant awareness of the Bolshevik threat in WWI–but one of the central drivers in Hitler’s mind, and probably *the* central driver is the American economic threat given the resources and the people she had command of. Moreover, Hitler, along with many germans then and now, admired the whole Cowboys and Indians schtick. He very much wanted to emulate that dynamic of ethnic cleansing with the Russians, and kill one, two, three, however many birds with one stone. Lots of bad history between Germany and Russia, but the anxieties and pressings of post industrial revolution was pushing it hard. One of the few reasons that Japan and Germans had for alliance *was* this whole nebulous idea about Americans as the threat and Russia as a solution.

    The dynamics between reactionaries with the bloated samurai ethics and conservative politics have had very resolution to this day. Agree with you there. Thanks for the pointers about Satsuma.

    Don’t mind Hollywood movies. Too easy to get mad.

  50. exholt
    June 22, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    I meant Yamamoto rather than Yamagata…Ooops. Not hugely important to the point I was trying to make. Tsuji can go burn in hell. Togo Shigenori is really ambivelent.

    Though Adm. Yamamoto was against the Manchurian Invasion and the Second Sino-Japanese war, that was more because he was conforming to the Imperial Navy’s “Strike South” strategy of colonial conquest by centering it on conquering territories in Southeast Asia with its oil and other natural resources the Navy felt would be critical to itself as a military force and Japan as an island nation. Though Yamamoto was against a war with the US for strategic reasons, the main envisioned enemies of the IJN was the US and British.

    This was in opposition to the Imperial Army’s “strike north” strategy which emphasized colonization of nations on the Asian continent such as China and Mongolia in order to defend against the Soviet threat to their colonial interests in Asia. This policy was emphasized due to strong Army dominance of Japanese politics of the 1930’s and early 40’s as seen from the 1931 invasion of Manchuria onwards. The overconfident Imperial army units such as the Manchurian-based Kwantung army group did get their asses handed to them by the Soviet army during two battles in 1938-39.

    As for Togo Shingenori, I am not as sympathetic as he was a key bureaucrat in Japan’s colonization campaign known as “The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.” Considering how many Asians throughout the continent suffered as a result of this colonization which he played a key part, he can rot with the other Japanese militarists as far as I’m concerned.

    If you think about German militerism, there is a pretty similar kind of play–Teutonic Knights invasion of Russia waaay back in the mists of time. Frederick the Great’s almost misadventure with Russia, and the constant awareness of the Bolshevik threat in WWI–but one of the central drivers in Hitler’s mind, and probably *the* central driver is the American economic threat given the resources and the people she had command of.

    The Soviets/Russians sure remembered the Teutonic Knights in the 1939 film about Alexander Nevsky. If you ever have a chance to borrow the DVD from a library, you should especially check out the eerie historical foreshadowing of Nazi Germany’s invasion of Russia.

    More interestingly, I recalled reading in a couple of books about the history of East Germany’s Reunification process that Russia and Prussia/Germany had a sort of love-hate relationship with reach other from Peter the Great onwards. Bismark made it a policy to maintain good relations with the Russians until Wilhelm II effectively forced him into retirement in the 1890s.

    Some similarities existed between Korea and Japan in the past, especially with compelling evidence that the Japanese people had ancestral links to the Koreans in the past. Despite the Heisei Emperor making a public announcement conceding such a link along with support from many scholars, this association is still controversial among those in the Japanese right wing and among some nationalist Koreans who have such mutual disgust for each other that any such suggestion could prompt a loud angry temper tantrum and even a violent attack in some extreme cases.

    Such similarities also existed between China and Japan as the Japanese modeled their government, cultural institutions, and even their first written language along Tang Chinese lines around the 700s CE.

    I’m not so sure about the centrality of being worried by the US as a factor in Hitler’s plans to conquer Europe and to create his Eastern European based “lebensraum”. While I agree it might have played a factor, I am wary of placing too much emphasis on American factors…especially when seems like a means of arranging World history in an excessively US-centric context.

    Germany already had plenty of indigenously driven motives for its actions such as revenge for the humiliation of defeat and the harsh terms of the Versailles treaty, deep historical hatred of France both for the WWI defeat and various previous invasions carried out by Napoleon and previous French rulers, deeply embedded antisemitism and racism, desire to remake Europe along Nazi German lines, and other reasons I cannot remember off the top of my head.

    Thanks for the pointers about Satsuma.
    Don’t mind Hollywood movies. Too easy to get mad.

    Regarding the pointers, you’re welcome. As for the Hollywood movies, I usually try to view them as comedies….preferably through borrowing it from a library branch or downloading it so I am not adding to Hollywood’s/MPAA’s overwhelming coffers. ;)

Comments are closed.