I have been reading, actually rereading, a book on the origins of World War I. It is titled “The Sleepwalkers” It is a bit of a revisionist treatment of the topic which has been popularized by Barbara Tuchman and “The Guns of August which lays the blame for the war on Germany. This book does a pretty good job of assigning responsibility to two new culprits, Sir Edward Grey, who is also blamed by Pat Buchanan in “The Unnecessary War.” Buchanan blames Grey and Churchill, which I disagree with. Buchanan goes on to blame Churchill for WWII, as well but I think he has a good argument with Grey about WWI.
What is striking to me on this rereading, is the role of the bureaucracies of several countries. Many know of the willfulness and erratic behavior of Kaiser Wilhelm. His ministers often did not inform him of serious matters, lest he impulsively make them worse. A gross example was “The Daily Telegraph Affair.” In this example, the Kaiser wrote a letter to then English newspaper making some extreme statements. His ministers were horrified.
The Russian Czar was equally erratic and his ministers frequently maneuvered to discourage his role in foreign affairs.
What seems to me to be new insight concerns the English and French bureaucracies. Edward VII had been a Francophile and Germanophobe and had encouraged The Entente Cordiale with France and Russia. Edward died in 1910, leaving his son George V on the throne. George V was new, uncertain and left foreign affairs in the hands of his Foreign Minister Sir Edward Grey. Grey was a quiet, seemingly passive man but he was also a bureaucratic manipulator. He was a Germanophobe and had a collection of like minded men in the foreign office. The worst of the Germanophobes was Eyre Crowe born in Germany and spoke with a German accent but a Germany hater. Grey’s policy was not popular with other Liberals in government so he kept the policy of alliance with France vague right up until 1914. He denied the existence of an alliance with France right up to the declaration of war. As for Crowe:
He is best known for his vigorous warning, in 1907, that Germany’s expansionist intentions toward Britain were hostile and had to be met with a closer alliance (Entente) with France.
Crowe organized the Ministry of Blockade during the World War and worked closely with French President Georges Clemenceau at the Supreme Council at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.
Lloyd George and Crowe’s rivals in the Foreign Office tried to prevent Eyre’s advancement but as a consequence of his patronage by Lord Curzon, Eyre served as Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office from 1920 until his death in 1925.
A similar group in France ran the foreign Ministry and was referred to as the “Centrale.” The French government was as unstable as it was before WWII and for the same reasons. Weak parties and weak Foreign Ministers who came and went, often in months not years. The man who was the center of this system was Maurice Herbette. There is very little about this man in English sources. He apparently controlled the Foreign Ministry’s public communications and very nearly caused a war with the Agadir Crisis of 1911.
The point of this discussion of history is that we have a similar situation in this country right now. We have a weak, very weak, president in Joe Biden who is senile and who is being controlled by someone mysterious. The Deep State is a term used to describe the federal bureaucracy and probably includes a network of rich corporatist donors who control the Democrat Party.
The faceless bureaucrats of 1914 botched the crisis the followed the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. Yes, the Serbian Black Hand created the crisis and there has been much discussion of the competence of the “Three Emperors” who ruled the main belligerents, but the real rulers of these three countries plus republican France were unknown (to the public), unelected bureaucrats who might well have resembled the people running Joe Biden.
58 thoughts on “The Deep State and World War I”
A little like the china centric establishment typified by stanley hornbeck, a name who i heard from all of places a novel by frank deford
One could draw another parallel with the situation prior to 1914.
England in those days had been top dog for several generations — really since the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The English Ruling Clique had grown arrogant and self-satisfied. However, in reality England was rapidly falling behi9nd the times, in part due to their foolish experiment with unilateral “Free Trade”, which was eviscerating English industry. Germany was taking the lead in technology. England’s insane trade policies had reached the point that England in 1914 relied on Germany for the khaki dye for its uniforms.
Any similarity to England vs Germany in 1914 and the US vs China (and, thanks to Pretender Biden*, vs Russia, Iran, and most of the EU) today is entirely coincidental.
Gavin, the parallels struck me too. Hence the post.
I have read a series of novels by an English author about the RFC in WWI. England did not even make magnetos for airplane engines when the war began. They bought them all from Germany.
one of things that made reconsider my view of world war one, contra the narrative in shows like black adder, was reading niall ferguson’s pity of war, specially about how integrated the german and british economies, were prewar, does sleepwalkers refer to pity,
“Sleepwalkers” is so dense I am reading it again. I underlined lots of places the first time I read it. Now I underline more. It is more on the political maneuverings of the governments. For example he has a couple of chapters on just the Serbian Black Hand. The integration of the economies was well described in a book about how a war could never happen. It was written about 5 years before the war.
The conclusion is that France was at least as much at fault as the Germans. I also think the Boer War had a lot to do with the estrangement between Germany and England. I think I posted a long comment at Althouse, now no doubt gone, about my conclusions.
Another random thought about the run-up to WWI — the inherent instability of a multi-polar world.
In the years before WWI, there were a number of major players like France, Germany, Russia, UK, Austria-Hungary as well as other players such as Turkey, Serbia, and (ultimately) the US. The entanglements of interests and treaties along with the arrogance of the various Political Classes almost ensured that this multi-polar system would collapse into chaos and war — to the detriment of the mass of the population.
When we think of historical eras of relative peace, we think of terms like Pax Romana, Pax Britannica, Pax Americana — basically, a unipolar world.
Sadly, the days of Pax Americana are over. That was inevitable once the US Political Class chose to outsource the manufacturing real economy and replace it with an unsustainable Cargo Cult economy dependent on imports. In the future, China will quite properly remain focused on its own interests and eschew any attempt to replace the US as the world’s unpaid policeman. We are heading towards a multi-polar world — and history tells us that will likely lead to hot wars.
Running a state so as to inhibit the rise of a Deep State is very hard work and most leadership classes don’t want to do that work.
This is classic Principal:Agent theory.
When Wikileaks released Hillary Clinton’s communications, there was correspondence from Canadian bureaucrats to their American counterparts, asking them to nudge Hillary to push for something at the diplomatic-leadership level that the Canadian bureaucrats favored and that their Conservative political masters disfavored. When this came to light, did those Canadian political masters make heads roll for insubordination? Nope, too much work.
There are all manner of management processes designed to align agent and principal, but they require effort and resources to implement. Why does the military have limited-term assignments for officers? Because they don’t want “little fiefdoms” to arise. Emerging networks get disrupted by this policy. Why an “Up or Out” policy? To prevent the promotion pipeline from clogging. There is a lot of personnel turnover in the military, not everyone who enlists is looking to be a lifer. We can’t say any of the above for the bureaucracy though – lifers abound, those who stall on the career ladder park themselves into the last job and start, or continue, building little fiefdoms. Look at the revolts Tillerson and Pompeo faced from staffers at State. Other than Reagan firing the Air Traffic Controllers, when was the last time political appointees instituted mass firings to clean out Agents who were thwarting the agendas of the Principals?
As a Principal, if you’re not going to do the hard work of keeping the Agents in line, then you should expect that the Agents are going to advance their own agendas.
This is classic Principal Agent theory.
I have previously posted on this.
And here, to some extent.
In recent years, political parties have mislead their voters, the worst offender being the Republican Party. The Democrats posture as the party of the working man but it has become a party with two wings, the rich who want social liberties, and the poor who want to be taken care of. Jay Cost has written a good book about the Democrats Party called, “Spoiled Rotten, which explains the current policies of the party that has adopted “Identity politics” in which race and victim status has become a principal focus. My own review of the book is here.
There were many pieces that led tp the conflagration, just like the washington naval conference culminating with pearl harbor i think it was john schindler (before he went nuts) that showed the links between the russian andthe black hand one of the venomous appendages of panslavic orthodoxy
when was the last time political appointees instituted mass firings to clean out Agents who were thwarting the agendas of the Principals?
Less of a threat than firing…
England did not start WW1. It is possible to argue that they bungled into it. If England has refused to honor their treaty with France and the century-long guarantee of Belgian neutrality, the Austrians would still have shelled Belgrade. Russia would still have responded.
Tsar Nicholas was a dolt, but he did not want war. For one thing, he had not gotten over getting his butt shot off in 1905.
The useful parallel for today is still there. In 1914, Austria-Hungary was ruled by a senile 84-year-old Emperor and dragged to war by a delusional Chief of Staff. Conrad desperately wanted war.
In 1919, the victors needed a villain. Germany and Kaiser Wilhelm fit the bill. Austria-Hungary no longer existed and was not a useful culprit to blame for starting the war to end all wars. But start it they had.
Tsar Nicholas was also not available in 1919 to receive blame.
the inherent instability of a multi-polar world.
And yet it largely worked for 100 years, 1815 to 1914.
England did not start WW1. It is possible to argue that they bungled into it. If England has refused to honor their treaty with France and the century-long guarantee of Belgian neutrality, the Austrians would still have shelled Belgrade. Russia would still have responded.
Grey had intimated that there was no treaty with France since the idea was unpopular with his own party. He concealed the obligation until the war actually began.
Belgian neutrality is tougher. One good argument is that England could not tolerate Germany, and its fleet, that close to England and the Thames estuary. On the other hand Bertie’s high handed treatment of German ships was the direct cause of the Kaiser’s plan to build a High Seas Fleet. Tirpitz egged him on for his own reasons but the German public was outraged by the Boer War.
My argument is that WWI wrecked England and Germany and France and caused the Great Depression. Wilson and his fascist policies were also part of our present predicament. The Progressives had gotten much of what they wanted but would they have done as much damage without Wilson? The War is what made Wilson so dangerous.
I will, once more, recommend:
What We Lost In The Great War
by John Steele Gordon
It’s an excellent summary of the results of WWI, which I argue is what caused Classical Liberalism to morph into PostModern Liberalism.
The proud, arrogant CLs, so sure of their wisdom and prowess in creating the Modern Era, looked with horror upon what men had done with the gifts of the industrial age, and turned on Western Civilization with a vengeance that would make a woman scorned look aghast. Thus was born the precepts of PostModern Liberalism, which are almost uniformly aimed at the rejection of, and ultimate destruction of, the twin underpinnings of Western Civilization:
a – The inheritance of Greek Thought and Ideal
b – The Judeo-Christian ethos
Moral relativism, structuralism, deconstruction, all the rest of the “tools” of PML are diametrically opposed to aspects of those two foundational elements, and seek to destroy and replace them with vastly less functional elements.
PML is nothing less than a social cancer — literally, not figuratively.
And it’s pretty close to stage 4, if not there already. “We live in interesting times”, indeed.
OBH, I agree that is a good summary of the effects of the war although I quibble on the “mobilization caused the war” thesis. That is more Barbara Tuchman. I wrote this post because I see a parallel between the Deep State that seems to be running Biden and the bureaucrats of 1914. Pat Buchanan touched on this in his book and, while I disagree with much of his argument, he makes some good points. Grey did keep the commitment to France a secret and denied there was a treaty.
The French still wanted revenge for 1870. They armed the Serbs and the Russians, providing loans that funded the arms they sold to them. The Germans acted like barbarians in Belgium, which gave the English the theme of “the Huns,” which the Kaiser clumsily adopted himself to describe his army. Another troubling similarity is the failure of England to be self sufficient in such things as machine guns and airplane engines. We have come to depend on potential enemy China for crucial products like pharmaceuticals. Unlike 19th century England, we invented the technology that China has stolen. Germany far outstripped England in chemistry and engineering. We provided those technologies to China.
I’ve watched, and have been re-watching, some lectures on the start of the WWI from the US National WWI Memorial Museum in KC. The fundamental problem appears to have been that everybody but the Serbs, who everybody seems to enjoy kicking around both then and now, had some plausible deniability for starting the war. That said, I think the machinations of France do tend to get overlooked.
It’s tough for us to get back to the 1913 mindset but it’s important to remember that nobody expected a four year long global war (We’re looking back over not only four years of WWI but six-plus years of WWII and decades of the Cold War). Virtually all the war planning was done based on the premise that the conflict would be extremely bloody but also fairly short.
To me the key is Russian mobilization. No Russian mobilization, no German counter-mobilization, no French mobilization, no WWI. There probably would have been a Third Balkan War since Austria-Hungary was going to at the least stage a punitive expedition into Serbia in response to assassination but there had already been two Balkan conflicts without direct intervention by Russia, and Russia could plausibly have been talked out of responding to this one. Nationalists shooting monarchs is not something you’d expect the Romanovs to support even if it was their Slavic cousins firing the pistols. The people who really wanted the Russians to mobilize would be the French since their only prospect of victory in any war with Germany depending on the Russian threat fixing a significant portion of Germany’s army in the East. The Germans still deserve a decent amount of blame for not managing their Austro-Hungarian allies better, especially allowing their demands to exceed what the Germans were willing to back short of total war. If the French were pushing Russian mobilization (The Czar and the French PM were meeting in St Petersburg during the July 1914 Crisis) I think they seriously miscalculated the German response to possible British involvement if they violated Belgian neutrality, which the Germans were almost sure to do. The British threat was primarily the naval blockade but if you take the ‘short war’ planning into account then you can see how the Germans might have decided that they should grab what they could of France from a standing start, plan on blunting a Russian drive in the East, and then sue for peace before a blockade started to bite rather than waiting to get hit from both sides. That would be especially true since German would be defending French territory it had grabbed instead of having the war fought on its own ground.
England had a very long-held policy of avoiding involvement in continental land wars. It’s not at all obvious to me why they jettisoned that for WWI.
The main lack of parallel to today that I see is that Germany had a military that was experienced and proven and had been used previously to achieve their goals. The Chinese army is a means of domestic political control, and there’s no reason to believe it can be used effectively externally. They have no need to resort to military means when they’ve completely subverted our politicians, either directly, or more commonly, indirectly via our businesses.
I keep reading that essay , OBH , and he is now fully into the Barbara Tuchman theme that it was all the Kaiser’s fault. That is what I disagree with. Yes, he was a foolish man but he feared Russia in spite of the 1905 upheavals. Too many Europeans feared Russia when it was a paper tiger.
I still say the French bear much responsibility as they sold the materials to Russia and made the loans to fund those sales.
WW1 was France’s fault because France loaned money to Russia and Serbia, and because Russia refused to agree to a perfectly reasonable Austrian request to be allowed to perpetrate a little genocide in Serbia.
I toss this out looking for comments:
“To me the key is Russian mobilization. No Russian mobilization, no German counter-mobilization, no French mobilization, no WWI.” I have no dog in this fight, but it strikes me that one reason pushing the Russians to mobilize first is the knowledge that they were neither as good at mobilizing nor as efficient at it as the other major powers. Germany had it planned down to train schedules. France was not far behind that. Britain had a smaller professional army and was removed from the immediate battlefield so any extra time taken in mobilizing and deploying would not threaten the homeland. I suspect that the Austrian-Hungarian ability to mobilize was somewhere below France.
Could it be that the Russian decision to start to mobilize was based in part on their knowledge that they would be less efficient at it than the other powers and their [military professionals, not politicians/royalty] knowing from relatively recent history  that they needed more time than anyone else?
Just tossing that out there.
I would not say it was France’s fault alone. The point of this post is that an anonymous group of bureaucrats were running their countries foreign policy with no accountability to the people who were supposedly governing.
This includes all the major players in the war. Serbia is an obvious villain because the government was being controlled, almost, by the conspirators. Nikola Pasic, actually did OK for himself and ended up as PM of Yugoslavia.
the Austro-Hungarian government immediately accused the Serbian government of being behind the assassination. The general consensus today is that government did not organize it, but how much Pašić knew about it is still a controversial issue and it appears that every historian has its own opinion on the subject: Pašić knew nothing (Ćorović); Pašić knew something is about to happen and told Russia that Austria would attack Serbia before the assassination (Dragnić); Pašić knew but as the assassins were connected to the powerful members of the Serbian intelligence, was afraid to do anything about it personally so he warned Vienna (Balfour).
Nobody knows his role in the assassination that led to the war. My belief is in the last version by Balfour.
The English and French foreign offices were run by bureaucrats that hated Germany. The Germans and Russians were mostly incompetent.
The reason for the post is that I think we have a similar unaccountable group running our own country right now. It is certainly not Biden. They are not as competent as they think they are or as Grey and the French thought they were.
I’m not too sure how Germany was completely to blame when it was the Czar threatening to go to war with Austria over Serbia. What business did Russia have interfering in a Austria-Serb clash? It certainly didn’t affect Russia’s vital interests. My own opinion from reading is that all the Great powers – except for England – were either itching for a showdown or were A-OK with it. Everyone thought it would be a short war, and that their side would win.
Morally there wasn’t a lot of difference between France, Germany, Italy, Russia or A-H, in WW I. The Germans, of course, being desperate, gambled it all on Sub warfare, brought us in, and lost. It
Mahan wanted us to go to war in 1914, simply to preserve the North Atlantic and as an Anglo-American lake but most Americans weren’t so cold-blooded and needed the Zimmerman Telegram and Unrestricted warfare to take the plunge. Whether our entry was a good thing or a bad thing can argued forever. Good for who?
MJike K, re “the inherent instability of a multi-polar world.”
“And yet it largely worked for 100 years, 1815 to 1914.
That is where reasonable people may differ. The better interpretation is that the world from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the start of the 20th Century was NOT multi-polar. Those were the days of Pax Britannica — an approximation to a unipolar world. A world in which something like a quarter of the world’s population was under the control of the English Crown, the Empire spanned the entire globe, and other nations tried to avoid stirring up England’s ire.
Nelson on the oceans and Wellington & his armies on land in Spain and elsewhere in Continental Europe were the key to ending Napoleon — which showed the Europeans who was Top Dog. Thereafter, Queen Victoria had lots of little wars around the globe, repeatedly reminding everyone that it was not a good idea to mess with England.
What changed over the 19th Century was that England’s pursuit of unilateral “Free Trade” undermined England’s industrial position. Yet England’s global supremacy depended not on her small population but on her over-sized industrial capabilities. Once England’s industrial supremacy was allowed to slip away, Pax Britannica was effectively dead.
We are now entering a world where the nation with the largest population is also the nation with the largest industrial capacity. But I suspect that China will not assume the uni-polar Top Dog position that is there for the taking. Instead, China will be forceful in looking after its own interests (anywhere in the world), and otherwise be happy to see other nations squabbling amongst themselves.
Fair enough. Faceless , inept and vindictive bureaucrats in France and England hated Germany and stumbled into war. The French bureaucrats wanted Alsace-Lorraine back. (Is WW 1 Kaiser Wilhelm the First’s fault for taking Alsace-Lorraine in 1870 or do the Germans escape blame for that, too?)
Kaiser Wilhelm II was a warped and erratic nut-job, but he did not really want war. Neither did the incompetent bureaucrats in Berlin. But Moltke wanted war and he worked very hard to bring it about.
The only official who wanted war more than Moltke was Conrad.
The Russian mobilization date was July 30, two days after the Austrians began shelling Belgrade. Russia believed it had an obligation to protect the Serbs from genocide. They failed, but it was a just cause. It is estimated that the Austrians killed 20 to 30% of the population of Serbia. The Russian army was not a paper tiger. It easily destroyed the Austro-Hungarian army in short order.
Biden might be as senile as Franz Joseph was. The evil, faceless bureaucrats you are looking for to compare to the evil faceless bureaucrats of the US in 2020 were Austrian. Austrian, not Hungarian. Istvan Tisza did not want war.
25 years later a different Austrian re-started the genocide.
By the way, I agree with you completely about the unaccountable group of both sogannante parties taking us incompetently into war. The question about Russian mobilization was just off the top of my head.
at the world from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the start of the 20th Century was NOT multi-polar. Those were the days of Pax Britannica —
Good point. Although the American Civil War, the two German wars of reunification, 1866 with Austria Hungary and 1870 with France were exceptions to the”Pax.” The Crimean War also interrupted.
Britain was also badly managed through much of that period. The Industrial Revolution was a huge event but the British largely botched the social effects of that. The Reform Act of 1835 helped with the corruption.
The Cato Street Conspiracy showed that all was not well. Victoria did a great job as queen but country still did not do much with inequality, largely because of the class system. Germany passed Britain by the end of the century, beginning from almost nothing.
By 1914, Germany was well ahead of Britain in industrial production. France was still suffering in the 3rd Republic. They were still not over the 1848 period when much of Europe went nuts.
There were so many different actors on so many different sides that were convinced that a short little war would be just the thing to advance their agenda, it seems a little unfair to lay all the blame on just one politician. Then, as now, no one would admit to this attitude for publication. I doubt any of the sane ones were expecting a four year meat grinder that would bleed all of them white.
Britain didn’t really have an army when it started. The few divisions they had turned out to be just enough to get the killing machine well primed. The rational response to the invasion of Belgium would have been a blockade that they were well equipped to enforce. France would have collapsed about as fast as they did in WWII with a “peace” conference scheduled for Spring 1915. Note that there was no shortage of Frenchmen that expected a replay of 1870 except with France triumphant, not withstanding being out manned and out classed.
The challenge is to find any war since that doesn’t fit this pattern.
China has a very minimal capacity to project power beyond sight of their coast, they have a long way to go before they have actual power. Taiwan is toast anytime the CCP decides they want to absorb the cost and we no longer have the ability to intervene directly. Taiwan has insured that the cost will be quite high in terms of men and ships. Th internal economic cost would also be very high, the pay checks of a lot of Chinese are made out in Taiwan. Then there is the very problematic question of what sanctions might be imposed by the West. Your guess is as good as mine.
If the “deep state” is the enemy of the republic, and I think they are. We are probably blessed again by totally incompetent enemies.
The Chinese navy of today is incompetent, but improving rapidly. The Chinese air force is not a factor, yet. The Chinese army inflicted an embarrassing and bloody defeat on MacArthur. We might not be blessed. They might not be incompetent enough.
World War I provides an instructive example. Ordinary Russian soldiers fought fairly well, at least for the first three years, but Russian army leadership was mind-bogglingly incompetent. Except for Brusilov and maybe Ruzsky the generals were truly awful. High command was blitheringly stupid. And yet, the Russian army completely destroyed the Austro-Hungarian army in a matter of weeks. The only thing stopping the Russians from going to Budapest and Vienna were the mountains and their own supply problems. And, of course, a set-back at Tannenberg.
Why? What was the great feature of the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Army that made it what it was? So glad you asked. Diversity.
The Chinese navy of today is incompetent, but improving rapidly.
I have to admit that ours is no better and is not improving. The crazy diversity thing may finally destroy it completely. The Navy hid the story of the two women officers on watch and not speaking until the end of the courts martial. We have a military that is paralyzed by politics and I see no evidence of improvement while Democrats are in power.
The WWI Russian and Austro-Hungarian militaries were paralyzed by incompetent aristocrats in command. We have a similar problem now with PC nonsense.
Since I can’t conceive of a U.S. invasion of China, the quality of the Chinese army is irrelevant, they have no capacity to project them except overland. For Russia and India, not so much. Remember, the last battle they fought against Vietnam ended in humiliation. I think their present army is around 2 million and except for show units, still poorly equipped and lead.
2 million is also about the number they lost in Korea. As the saying goes, quantity has a quality of its own. The Russians prevailed because they were able and willing to throw huge numbers against an overextended German army without regard to casualties. This is the same strategy they foisted on Mao in Korea that lead to a lasting estrangement.
We also lack the capacity to project any meaningful land force against a determined and prepared enemy. Our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan would have been impossible on any reasonable time scale without the availability of safe nearby countries willing to act as jumping off places. Remember that D-Day took three years of preparation and more than 5 million Americans and millions more allies under arms just to put a small fraction ashore across a 30 mile straight.
}}} Gavin: England in those days had been top dog for several generations — really since the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The English Ruling Clique had grown arrogant and self-satisfied. However, in reality England was rapidly falling behi9nd the times, in part due to their foolish experiment with unilateral “Free Trade”, which was eviscerating English industry. Germany was taking the lead in technology. England’s insane trade policies had reached the point that England in 1914 relied on Germany for the khaki dye for its uniforms.
The problem with this comparison is that this occurred in the midst of the Industrial Era.
The USA has advanced beyond that into the “Post-Industrial Ecomony” aka the “IP & Services Economy”, which no one else is even close to advancing fully into yet, because the USA’s IP & Services have been so dominant. Japan comes moderately close, with lots of patents, as does the UK, with a combination of patents as well as entertainment-based IP utilizing the US model.
In patents granted, alone, the USA gets 4x as many as Japan, and 8x as many as China (ditto for SKorea).
Add to this the amount of entertainment IP the USA creates every year and you can see a massive difference in HOW the USA remains top dog, vs. your comparison to the UK prior to WWI.
This is something no other nation is prone to replicate — perhaps Australia or New Zealand might manage it — because the USA, as a “melting pot”, has something no other nation has (excepting perhaps those two): a degree of actual diversity of peoples, such that anything that works here, should work anywhere. All other nations can create things with distinct appeal (e.g., Honk Kong action flicks, Japanese Manga/Anime, Bollywood), but have a harder time creating something with broad appeal that will sell anywhere in the world.
This may change, but I don’t see it happening now or in the near future. Moreover, Chinese tech developments are hardly significant. Everything they do is dependent on what we create for them, first. And that’s going to stay that way unless and until you begin to see China creating a much larger number of granted patents.
NOTE: This isn’t for lack of TRYING by China — they actually produce 5x the patent applications that the USA does:
Why on earth would China need to build a new Hollywood, when they’ve already bought the original?
OBH: “The USA has advanced beyond that into the “Post-Industrial Ecomony” aka the “IP & Services Economy” …”
Sadly, that is the kind of distracting nonsense with which those in charge try to distract those whose pockets are being so successfully picked.
First, if this IP economy is so good, why does the US have a massive trade deficit? US IP is obviously worth less than Chinese physical goods.
Second, is there any truth in the nonsense that the US has to run a trade deficit because the Dollar is (still) an international reserve currency? Well, the Euro is also a reserve currency, even though the EU runs a large trade surplus.
Third, look at China’s IP & Services economy. Alibaba, Baidu, TikTok, WeChat and many more less well known names. Or look at China’s huge internal tourism market, or their very impressive TV & movie industries.
Reality is that the dumb Best & Brightest in the US offshored manufacturing so they could feel good about “reducing” (i.e., transferring elsewhere) pollution and CO2 production — without thinking about the consequences — unpleasant consequences which are now hurting us all.
Refugee from Althouse’s all-night windmill here. Last posted here (under a different nym) more than a decade ago, but have lurked a bit since.
Many good points made already.
One of the ironies of 1914 is that the professionals did expect a short war–as already mentioned–despite Old Moltke’s warnings that Germany could not count on any more 1871s. I can understand the prigs and snobs of the (new) Old Regime ignoring Bloch, but you would think they might listen to Moltke!
Off the top of my head, the biggest trading partners in 1914 Europe were Germany and France. Doc K mentions Brit dependence on German tech, but of course the point is that everyone was dependent on someone else for something, which did bugger-all to halt the rush to the colors.
IMO the clear threshold was Russian mobilization; that was the step that turned the situation from a Balkan Crisis into a World Crisis.
OTOH I also hold that war was inevitable at some point; too much had been forgotten by too many people.
For any refugees from Althouse, There is a gathering at Discord.
I’m still slogging through “The Sleepwalkers” but France had a lot to do with modernizing Russian military and, especially, railroads.
Interesting data point in regards to this thesis of “unelected bureaucrats doing their own things” would be the Serbian contention that I’ve heard from numerous sources that the Tsar’s Cheka was the driving force behind the Black Hand organization.
There was a long history of “entrepreneurial” Russian intelligence operations operating well in advance of Imperial desires and goals across the Caucasus. Mostly in the service of pan-Slavic ambitions, and often at odds with the “official policies” emanating from St. Petersburg. I rather doubt that Nicholas II would have been on-board with a plan that included an assassination attempt on his Imperial cousin who was slated to sit on the Hapsburg throne–Although, I suppose it is possible that he saw said heir’s marriage to a commoner and intent to reform the Austro-Hungarian Empire as threatening to his own Imperial scam.
In short, the Black Hand was likely a wholly-owned and operated subsidiary of the Russian intelligence organization, and probably not working in the long-term interest of the Tsar. After all, Nicky did wind up executed with his wife and kids in Siberia, and while that may be a bit of delicious karmic destiny working out, it is really unlikely to be something that the Romanovs would have been on-board for.
Obviously a masterful Russian plan. It went off like clockwork provided the clock had been worked over on an anvil with a 10 pound hammer first.
Patents filed is a very poor proxy for innovation and patents granted is worse.
As far as I know, Edison started the practice of patenting every passing thought and then using the portfolio as a bludgeon on the competition. He may have patented it. This has only gotten worse.
A U.S. patent should be assumed invalid until it has survived a challenge in court. That challenge will cost each side 7 figures or more and take a minimum of several years to conclude. The patent is worth exactly as much as the holder is prepared to pay to defend it if it’s worth anything at all. The lone inventor getting rich, exploiting his patented invention is a fairy tale on the order of “Harry Potter”.
The statistic for Chinese applications versus grants might be an indication that they have a meaningful presumption of validity to confer some value. That ended here long ago. Otherwise they are an example of Mark Twain’s “good idea” and worth exactly as much.
The question of “war guilt” was a great deal more ambiguous in August, 1914 than it was at Versailles in 1919, when it was used to rationalize punishment of Germany. For example, from the diary entry of Lord Bertie for July 26, 1914,
“It seems incredible that the Russian Government should plunge Europe into war in order to make themselves the protectors of the Servians. Unless the Austrian Government had proofs of the complicity of Servian officials in the plot to murder the Archduke they could not have addressed to the Servian Government the stringent terms which the Austrian Note contained. Russia comes forward as the protectress of Servia; by what title except on the exploded pretension that she is, by right, the protectress of all Slavs? What rubbish! And she will expect, if she adhere to her present attitude, France and England to support her in arms. Public opinion in England would never sanction such a policy, but unfortunately we might be dragged into a war through reverses to French arms and the necessity to prevent the annihilation of France.”
Bertie was British ambassador to France at the time. I think the reasons for Germany’s collapse in 1918 as portrayed in the “official” histories are also open to question. Far too much emphasis is given to the successful allied military offensives of 1918. In fact, if Germany had been ruled with an iron fist as Nazi Germany was in 1945, or the Soviet Union was in 1941, she might have held out for a great deal longer, and might well have been able to negotiate less harsh peace terms. In fact, the situation in Germany in November, 1918 was very similar to that of Russia in 1917. Mutiny in the fleet had spread to the Army, and led to a full scale revolution. Many major German cities, including Berlin, either were or appeared to German leaders to be occupied and controlled by the “Bolsheviks.” The Army was demoralized by socialist propaganda and the lack of a firm hand to deal with defeatists, and was beginning to melt away just as the Russian Army had in 1917. For example, from the diary of Count Harry Kessler,
November 6, 1918 (my translation from the German): “…besides Kiel, Hamburg, Luebeck, and Cuxhaven have been taken by mutinous sailers. The troops have gone over to them in Hamburg, and a Red government set up. Reds are streaming from Hamburg to Berlin on all the trains. A putsch is expected here by the evening.” In the entry for November 9 he describes the scene in the Reichstag in Berlin as follows: “Soldiers with carbines and red badges ask everyone who wants to enter what business they have there. The scene inside is chaotic; up and down the stairs there are sailers, armed civilians, women, soldiers… Beneath the pillars of the foyer groups of soldiers and marines are lying about on the great red carpet; Weapons have been stacked, and here and there one sees people stretched out on benches asleep; a film from the Russian Revolution, the Tauride Palace under Kerensky.” Finally, November 11; “The terrible armistice conditions were signed today… Nothing better was possible, as our front is in the process of melting away.”
Obviously, the Russian and German governments of WWII learned their lesson well from these events, and were not about to allow them to be repeated. Just as Michael noted about the history of the beginning of the war, what happened at the end is also relevant to our current situation. Intelligent German politicians were still discussing what parts of France they would insist on keeping as a minimum in any peace agreement in the spring of 1918. Their fond hopes that “business as usual” would continue into the foreseeable future were quickly smashed by revolution and the disintegration of the German armed forces. There is no guarantee that this country will never experience such a historical tipping point.
Lord Bertie: “Unless the Austrian Government had proofs of the complicity of Servian officials in the plot to murder the Archduke they could not have addressed to the Servian Government the stringent terms which the Austrian Note contained.” False. The Austrian government had no such proof. They were lying. The “stringent” terms were drafted so as to ensure compliance was impossible.
In 1919, it was necessary to blame Germany for the war because Austria-Hungary pretty much no longer existed.
Blaming France for the war because French bankers invested in Russia and blaming Russia for supplying foreign aid to Serbia is inverting the truth to blame the victim. Very trendy.
I confess that in my lifetime, I have purchased NFL tickets. Am I therefore responsible for the actions of Philip Adams?
The War Guilt clause was partly a sop to the French and Belgians, who were willing to take that instead of holding out for more reparations.
As for historical blame, there’s plenty to go around. I agree that French investment in Russia was only a problem because the Germans didn’t like it, and that Russia had as much right to pose as the Slavic Elder Brother as the Kaiser had to pose as a champion of Islam–the important difference being that support for Serbia was a threshold (IMO) on the path to war.
Niall Ferguson (who I actually quite respect) posits naively that if the UK had stayed out in 1914, then maybe the result would be German economic hegemony over Europe with minimal amounts of blood and suffering. I say naive because he ignores cultural factors such as national character–it is my opinion after a lifetime studying Europeans that as bad as Germans can be when they lose, they can be even worse when they win.
Someone mentioned the multi-ethnic makeup of the AH armies as a source of significant weakness, which is undeniable, and I think a similar argument could be made about the Tsar’s forces.
(I keep having trouble accessing BTW. Very spotty.)
I agree that French investment in Russia was only a problem because the Germans didn’t like it, and that Russia had as much right to pose as the Slavic Elder Brother as the Kaiser had to pose as a champion of Islam
The French investment in Russia was particularly in military items and my point was that this was being directed by the bureaucracy, not the government ministers. The role of specific individuals in the bureaucracy, such as Bertie on the English side and Herbette on the French side, was my issue. Do we know who is running our foreign policy right now ?
Ive referrenced the early episodes of reilly ace of spies when he was operating against zaharoff’s vickers and he had arranged to serve as an agent for bluhd and dorn, in addition to the brutal consequences of arming both sides with maxim type guns, the brits had the advantage in the boer wars, and look how long that lasted, that egyptian writer ahdaf souief references chesterton’s remark about the maxim guns suggesting that was the reason her ancestors had lost, but as much came from the revelations that the bolsheviks had released to the world, re the sykes/picot, lawrence hussein and balfour/weitzmann promises, you can’t promise the same land to three different parties,
“Lord Bertie: “Unless the Austrian Government had proofs of the complicity of Servian officials in the plot to murder the Archduke they could not have addressed to the Servian Government the stringent terms which the Austrian Note contained.” False. The Austrian government had no such proof. They were lying. The “stringent” terms were drafted so as to ensure compliance was impossible.”
As documented in “The Sleepwalkers,” the Austrians were not lying. While they did not believe they had sufficient evidence to prove Serbian government responsibility for the plot at the highest levels in a court of law, they possessed significant evidence of involvement by Serbian officials, as set forth in the sections entitled “Flashbulb Moments” and “Austria Demands.” I doubt that watertight proof that would hold up in a court of law was what Bertie had in mind when he wrote that entry in his diary.
It is true that Wilhelm was erratic and harbored a resentment towards the English for his withered arm, but if there is any “blame” to be dealt, wouldn’t that be with the Hapsburgs? For giving the Serbs a list of demands after the assassination that they knew would be rejected?
At the time Germany said they would come to the aid of the Hapsburgs, it was still a “regional” affair.
I finished a book a few months ago that dealt quite a bit with the origins of the War.
Churchill claims in “The World Crisis” that the Serbs capitulated and that Germany forced Austria to continue its invasion. The terms, as you say, were such that the capitulation must have been an unwelcome surprise and that Austria was intent on war.
Part of the problem is that the motivations and forces at work then are all but incomprehensible to us now. Many rooted in the Reformation and before. Especially the rivalry between the Eastern and Western Church and the monarchies that fashioned themselves as “Protectors of the Faith”. Then there were all the various rivalries and feuds between royal houses, also going back for centuries. When Vietnam counts as ancient history and that history itself subject to constant revision, not accessible to many today.
Churchill claims in “The World Crisis” that the Serbs capitulated and that Germany forced Austria to continue its invasion.
Oh yes. The Serbs accepted all the terms of A-H’s initial ultimatum. Whether it was the Germans or Austria’s suicidal arrogance, that is correct. When I finish “Sleepwalkers” I’m going to re-read “World Crisis.” Perhaps the Russians encouraged Serbia to resist but they did not initially. Russia was also on a path to suicide, which should have been apparent after 1905.
That discord link doesn’t appear to go anywhere, at least for me. I have a newly created discord account just for this, and it didn’t make any servers of my own.
Do you have to issue an invitation for someone to be able to see the Althouse group?
it was like one of the finger puzzles, the brits working with the french wanted to preempt germany, the germans rightly wanted to prevail, now nicholas meyers seven percent solution, from the perspective of 60 years thereabout paints an all but named kaiser wilhelm, as some sort of sociopathic murderers,
Kirk, I don’t know. You should be able to link if you have an account. I will ask “I have misplaced my pants” who organized it and knows more about Discord.
Kirk, this might work.
I had some trouble last week with my attempts at getting into Discord for the Althousers. I may try again but
for now I’m letting my mind clear for a bit.
To try to answer Doc K’s query about who is in charge of our foreign policy now– I don’t. And it’s inherent in
modern bureaucracies–especially those as bloated and politicized as our Organs are–that all the processes will
be obscured and obfuscated.
Given that we still argue about 1914, with the relative paucity of potential evidence and actors that episode
presents, makes me doubt that we’ll understand 2020 better in 2120, or even as well.
Assuming there’s anyone left to care by then.
By 2120, there will be thick tomes written by “woke” Chinese academics criticizing long-dead President Xi for his part in persuading the easily-corruptible Western Political Class to destroy their own societies. Others will be arguing that — no — it was Mao or Marx who was responsible for the death of the West. Self-loathing in China will become popular in elite circles.
Meanwhile, in the dark & little-populated plains of burned out Europe and North America, small groups of people will be recalling the century of humiliation their ancestors received at the hands of traitorous politicians and distant Chinese. They will be beginning to compete with Africa for outsourced manufacturing from China, and calculating how many decades of near-slave labor it will take before they can get revenge on those Chinese who bestride the world like a collosus.
And the Big Wheel keeps on turning.
Self-loathing in China will become popular in elite circles.
I strongly doubt this will happen. Self-loathing as we see in our White middle-upper class seems to be a uniquely White genetic failing.
All elite classes seem to share a loathing of their lower-class countrymen, some successful people in minority groups, be it in the West, in Colonial Africa and India, will strive to become “more British than the British” (hence the term self-hating Black) but these folks are transferring loyalty to a “more successful” culture which has rewarded them for mastering the new cultural paradigm. This is not the case with self-hating Whites.
What’s going on with our self-hating Whites has a parallel to what goes on in Hollywood – guilt. Those Hollywood actors moving around everyday among hordes of struggling actors come to feel uneasy with their success, thinking it was pure blind luck that they’re mega-stars, and better actors, more beautiful actors, are still waiting tables. Our self-hating Whites feel guilty for the success achieved their their collective ancestors, talking themselves into believing it was blind luck, or malfeasance, that the success of the West was not earned.
What has been stripped from Whites is tribal loyalty, clan loyalty, race loyalty, even religious loyalty. The folks who exhibited clan loyalty were destroyed by the forces of Universalism playing out with the rise of the Catholic Church. Cousin marriage was prohibited, clans were broken up, the Enlightenment happened, the rise of individualism began. Those who clung to clannish ways were left behind, if you were a distant cousin of the Hatfields of McCoys, did you really want to put your life on the line and engage in the blood feud? Those with strong clannish tendencies went out to fight for clan honor, many died, those with weak clannish tendencies avoided the battle, protected by society now rather than clan ties, society protecting the individual.
I certainly am not seeing this guilt play out in Japanese society, guilty for being modern and wealthy, not even much guilt for their history in WWII. I don’t see Muslim guilt, I don’t see Chinese guilt, I don’t see Indian guilt, I don’t see Turkish guilt for perpetrating the Armenian genocide, I don’t see Bantu guilt, I don’t see Iranian guilt, I don’t see Inuit guilt for their genocides, I don’t see guilt in Burma for expelling their Muslims. What I see is America accelerating the influx of Muslims after 9/11 compared to the rate of immigration before 9/11. Multiculturalism is a societal death-wish. The Africans expelled their Colonial masters, so did the Indians, Asia is not looking to import Africans in order to erase their societies and create new multicultural “nations.”
There is something mentally wrong with our self-hating elites than doesn’t play out in other racial elites. As I already noted, it’s understandable for “self-hating Blacks” to want to jettison their racial and cultural background and adopt a “better” identity, but that’s not what is going on with our elites, sitting at the top of the civilizational pyramid, to hate that racial and cultural heritage is bizarre.
Toynbee was on to something in his theory of no-longer-creative elites adopting the cultural patterns and practices (as they perceive them) of the formerly despised–whether they be barbaric outsiders or internal proles. Initially, that can be liberating and creative, but ultimately nonproductive on its own.
The process is linked to the tendency in hegemonic powers for the denizens of the metropolis who occupy the positions of trust to distrust everyone–at home and abroad–who isn’t them, and to treat them with arbitrary and capricious rules, rewards, and punishments.
Of course, Chinese elites have undergone many waves of self-loathing since, say, 1800, some voluntary and others forced. But without ever losing a sense of Chinese ethnic distinctiveness that has no parallels in the modern West.
As I already noted, it’s understandable for “self-hating Blacks” to want to jettison their racial and cultural background and adopt a “better” identity,
That’s not what I see in a segment of “activist blacks,” such as the black Muslims. The proposed Biden “Civil Rights ” section head of the DOJ has a weird theory that melanin makes blacks smarter than whites. She is also advocating the freeing of murderers as “political prisoners.”
Her melanin theory seems to be related to the Substancia Nigra, the source of L DOPA and related to Parkinson’s Disease. Her theory that this has anything to do with intelligence is one of the imaginary concepts common in cults.
That’s not what I see in a segment of “activist blacks
They are not the subjects of criticism from their own people though, these folks maintain identity with their host group and their attacks are against “the Others,” in this case White Civilization.
I take it that she’s not classing murderers who are White in the political prisoner category. It takes a strong racial loyalty to excuse Black murderers for their crimes. Let’s be clear about one point though – this oppositional mindset is only present in diverse societies. If this woman held a powerful position in some African nation, she wouldn’t be classing African murderers as political prisoners for the simple reason that she wouldn’t hold an oppositional lens through which she filtered all of life. So many Blacks in the West make a living off their Blackness – Blackity, Black, Black, something impossible to do in a Black homogeneous nation.
TM: “… something impossible to do in a Black homogeneous nation.”
Let’s be careful not to look at the world through the eyes of Woke Whitey. It is very doubtful that any African would call his country “homogenous”. The Western Leftie cannot see beyond “black”; the African sees Ibo, Zulu, and Lord knows how many other ethnic & tribal groups — many of them antagonistic.
No surprise there. After all, “Whites” in Europe did not think of themselves as homogenous whites. They thought of themselves as French, Italian, Russian, German — and mostly hated each other. They certainly spent centuries on what a Leftie would have to describe as “white-on-white violence”. Even within any one of those national groups, Europeans still hated each other. The Yorkshire man had contempt for the Londoner, and vice versa.
The Leftie aim to make human beings see each other as caricatured “White” and “Black” is a gross over-simplification — a classic attempt to Divide & Conquer.
So many Blacks in the West make a living off their Blackness – Blackity, Black, Black, something impossible to do in a Black homogeneous nation.
Maybe that is why blacks in Zimbabwe are begging whites to return.
On of the Berlin wits of the 20s had a famous observation:
What are Europeans proud of? Being French, or British, or German.
What are Europeans proud of NOT being? French, British, or German.
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