Civilization Week 29 Vengeance in WWII

Prompt: In what ways did revenge figure into the strategies of the countries fighting in World War II? In what ways did revenge figure into the strategies of the countries fighting in World War II?

Revenge was a huge motivator, especially during the second half of WWII. In 1944 the Eastern Europeans (knowing they had been greatly wronged by the Germans) took it upon themselves to rid their lands of any and all peoples of German lineage living within their Countries. Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Poland teamed up with the Soviets to ruthlessly drive the Germans from their lands. Problem was the Germans living in their lands weren’t soldiers, in fact they were merely civilians who had lived there for generations. Many were women, children, and elderly who had stayed in their home country to avoid the brutality of the war. More than one million German people were wiped out in this vengeance fueled act of violence, making this the most consuming ethnic cleansing in history.

By 1945 almost every country was fueled by revenge, each having had something immense taken from them at this time in the war. In February British and American troops bombed Dresden over several days, vengeance for when the Germans bombed Coventry. In France people began practising “epuration”, or purification. The basics of this was anyone having any relation to the Nazis would either be humiliated or shot. Women suspected of having romanced Nazi soldiers had their heads shaved, swastikas painted upon their foreheads, and they were marched around through town to be belittled and laughed at. Anyone besides women who were suspected to have some relation to the Nazis were shot without any real questioning.

Then the most infamous part of the war occurred, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now my personal stance on this is it was unneeded, horrendously destructive and sociopathic on Truman’s part, and simply a way for America to feel like they had earned back their dignity from Pearl Harbor. But it did stop the war in its tracks, with quite an unnecessary amount of civilian murder. Japan had already completely surrendered at this point, their only plea was to keep their emperor (who was seen as a holy asset by the Japanese people). Now this surrender in itself was very difficult for Japan to do, they were an extremely prideful country that took great severity in their victories and defeats. Surrender in any form was extremely disgraceful for them, and asking to keep their emperor was basic for their culture and spirituality. Not only did America refuse this outright, demanding an unconditional surrender. But they poured a huge bucketful of salt into Japans already stinging wound by atomically ripping the skin off of 146,000 uninvolved Japanese civilians. It was incredibly barbarian in nature and was just an unbacked excuse to prove to the Soviets that America had atomic weapons. It was a horrifying end to a horrifying war, and I’ve been pretty horrified having to look into the details of it. It was the most explosive form of vengeance in WWII, a major disaster that makes me wish America had just stayed out of it entirely. But it did end the war, not surprisingly. So I guess we have to give it that. Lots of painful executions of innocent lives, lots of unnecessary death. I hope we get to research something a little more cheery next time. As someone who loves Japan, and all nationalities for that matter, this was a painful topic to thoroughly examine.

Government 1B Week 13 Sweden’s Economy and the Values of Fascism

Question 1: The standard claim about Sweden is that it shows that society can prosper without such a free market and with extensive government intervention. Based on the lesson and on your reading, what would be a good response to this claim?

The claim that Sweden has prospered without any form of free market is inaccurate. The initial growth of Sweden’s wealth was actually accumulated within a free market, as from the 19th century into the 20th century Sweden maintained all the essentials of a free market. There wasn’t any form of socialism or social democracy until after this, until after their wealth had already been built up. So Sweden earned its wealth through a free market, then it must have been social democracy that allowed them to maintain that wealth right? Wrong, it was mainly Sweden’s insistence that they avoid war as much as possible. Since they weren’t throwing millions towards the war fund they were able to further develop their own technology and productivity. From 1870 to 1950 (when Sweden was using a free market system) they had the highest rate of per-capita income in the world. Then from 1970 to 1989 taxes and government welfare programs rose dramatically, and Sweden dropped from the fourth richest industrialized country to the fourteenth. After 1970 establishment of Swedish firms dropped significantly. In 1990 a real estate crash occurred that lowered GDP by 6%. By 1993 government spending had increased to 71.7% of GDP, and consequently this is when the country dropped from fourth wealthiest to fourteenth.

What were the primary values of fascism?

The primary value of fascism is that the leader of a country is in complete and utter power. Its sort of a mix between extreme nationalism and absolutism, the dictator is basically viewed as a human representation of God. They will be patriotic to an unhealthy level, dehumanizing outsiders and convincing the people their nation is superior to all others. They will also usually be fixated on conquering other peoples and further spreading and developing their rule. The way fascism is most commonly developed within a country is the people become blinded by the pre-fascists political charisma. They are promised economic and social liberation, but once the fascist gains power more often than not they deliver the opposite. Fascism is the most extreme example of the central government growing out of control. In a healthy political arena there are thousands of representatives debating laws and regulations, and hundreds of thousands more civilians voting on whether or not they approve. In fascism only the dictator and his or hers advisers make the countries decisions.

Civilization Week 28 World War II’s Increasingly Brutal Tactics

Prompt: Did World War II become more brutal as time went on? In what ways? Was the brutality on only one side?

Following Operation Barbarossa Hitler began implementing mass shootings of innocent minorities. Jews, Romani peoples, Slavs, and handicapped people of all sorts were made to dig their own graves and then be shot down into them. A reprisal shooting program was started to discourage harm against soldiers. Any time a German soldier was hurt or killed they would murder twenty to forty unrelated people. In 1939 the T4 program was created, its purpose being to eradicate everyone suffering from congenital diseases. They would take people from their homes offering medical assistance, then quietly murder them and tell their families they died naturally. The soldiers made into executioners began to feel an understandably burdensome mental tole, so the Nazi solution was to create a much more efficient and much less human mass murder method. They needed a way of killing deprived of all empathy, a way to slaughter hundreds like cattle without having to get a soldiers conscience bloody. In 1941 under SS Lieutenant Reinhardt Heydrich gas chambers were technologically perfected, swift and efficient chambers of death made to kill as many people as possible. People were worked to the point of death, then rounded up together and gassed. This was only the beginning of WWII’s brutality, and sweet lord I hate writing about this. But I have to so lets continue.

The Nazi’s were infamously brutal in their attempts to ethically cleanse their lands, but the British and Americans could be pretty inhuman as well. The major example of this were the bombings and air raids that were sent across Europe. In a twisted form of revenge for their fallen all sides began bombing their adversaries cities. The sole purpose of this was to murder and destroy uninvolved civilians. In this cacophony of chaos hell itself seemed to rise up as literal tornados of fire and debris ripped across the towns and villages. In 1945 thousands of people fled from the Soviets and were attacked by Britains Royal Air Force. They strategically dropped three waves of bombs upon the defenseless people, adamant about creating as much bloodshed as possible. Then they waited for rescue teams to arrive, and bombed them all again. Then the bastards waited AGAIN for rescue teams to arrive and bombed them once more. This horrendous bombing method resulted in 40,000 civilians, rescue workers, and Russian refugees dead on the streets.

Speaking of the Russian refugees I should make clear what exactly it was they were running from. If you thought the Nazi’s could act inhumanly psychopathic you don’t know much about what the Russians under Stalin were like. At least the Nazi’s murder methods were semi quick, guns and gas that sort of thing. The Soviets methods were a lot more.. whats the word… demonic in nature. Torture of innocents was not only encouraged, but rewarded with military advancement. The masses of Polish soldiers shot in the Katyn Forest got off easy compared to the “liberation” going on across Eastern Europe. Torture, rape, and murder of people between the ages of infancy to elderly became the norm. Pillaging innocents, stealing their homes and families, and murdering them in front of their loved ones with horrendously creative torture methods became the way for a Soviet officer to gain military honor and status. This meant those that rose to the top of the Soviet military were the most sadistic and bloodthirsty men around. Death became the goal, torture became the tool, and the grim reaper became the angel who could end your worldly suffering.

So in conclusion of this horrible topic around 80,000,000 people died during World War II, and no one besides the dead could hold the title of innocent. Nazi’s became the most infamous because of their death camps, murdering hundred of thousands of Jews, Romani, homosexuals, disabled people, congenitally diseased people, autistic people, Slavs, rival soldiers, and of course any and all German civilians standing up against the meaningless bloodshed. British and American troops acted sociopathically brutal as well, bombing thousands of innocent civilians in a vague and disgusting attempt at revenge. But in my mind the Soviets were the most unforgivable, as it seemed they hardly had any real motive behind their torture. They started out fighting for communism, but by the end they seemed to just enjoy the mindless violence. Strategy fell in importance to the Soviets as bloodlust clouded their minds, and their brutality was truly unrivaled. War is an immensely horrible thing, it can make almost anyone forget the value of a human life. WWII is a bloody example of that, displaying that even those fighting for justice can become enveloped by hatred and vengeance.

If you’ve read this far I commend you, this has certainly been the most difficult essay for me to write in quite awhile. Three and a half hours of sitting down and researching the details of the most destructive and murderous point in our history, not an afternoon delight by any means. I’d like to conclude this massive event of hopelessness with a heartfelt piece of hope. Each human life is extremely precious, each human life holds a spark of the holy creator, each human spirit should be regarded as miraculous and each individual should be given a chance to find happiness. War blinds us to this, it makes us forget that we are all part of a human collective and propels us to destroy the very essence of our own existence. I hope, God I hope, that these tragedies don’t repeat themselves and that we can be wise enough to learn from the past. For the sake of innocent life I pray that we can become better than this, and I pray that the souls that were unjustly ripped from their bodies can find peace in the beyond. Godspeed children of the light, may we create something better than this.

Government 1B Week 12 Living Constitution and Nullification

Question 1: What is the idea of a living constitution? In what way could it be argued that the American Revolution was a war against the living constitution.

A living constitution it a version of a constitution passed down verbally. The British had a living constitution in the form of parliament. The expectation of a living constitution is that its allowed to change with the times, parliament could discuss and evaluate current events of the time and change their regulations accordingly. The issue with a living constitution is that corruption is drawn to it. Since there is no firm written base backing up parliaments decisions anyone looking to produce their own agenda could wriggle up into parliament and bias the national laws and restrictions. This is what the Americans were fighting to change, they wanted a written constitution that couldn’t be simply changed on a whim. They wanted a document stating clearly the unalienable rights of each US citizen, and they wanted to make sure no one could come along in the future and change these rights to support their own biased agenda.

Question 2: What is nullification? Discuss one example from US history in which the state or group of states acted in the spirit of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798.

The states came first, and from them the central government was born. By this logic the states maintain control over the central government, and the states have the rights to stand up against the central government if they act unconstitutionally. Nullification is basically a state refusing to comply with the central government. If the government begins to act biased or begins implementing laws that favor their own agendas the states have the right to flat out refuse their regulations. The states have the right to label them as null and void, hence the term nullification. Virginia and Kentucky did just this, the government was interpreting the constitution in their own favor and these two states fought back and refused to comply. Another example of states declaring a federal decision to be null and void is the Tariff of 1828, nicknamed the “tariff of abominations” by southerners. Items produced domestically in the US needed to be financially protected, they needed laws in place in case the British attempted to artificially lower or raise their prices. Some protection was put in place, but New Englanders pressed congress to raise the protection measures even higher. Westerners on the other hand wanted an increase of materials, so the federal government had to choose who to accommodate. They chose the west, increasing shipments while also increasing the duties required to import certain raw materials. But while the west was accommodated the New Englanders as well as the South were less than pleased. The British began making threats to seek out other markets, and this made the Southern cotton producers very alarmed. South Carolina called for the teriff of 1828 to be pronounced null and void, and in 1833 another teriff was created as compensation calling for the gradual reduction of production rates.

 

Government 1B Week 11 Arguments For and Against Central Government

Question 1: Describe the models of society laid out by Althusius and Hobbes.

Althusius’s model of society is called a fedorative polity. Instead of imagining society as a flat plain of civilians with an omniscient ruling class above them, Althusius described society as a richly textured enormously vast circuit of information and individuals. The first organization of power within the society is the family, then several families combine and create a village, from there the villages combine to create provinces, and finally the provinces go on to create a kingdom or a state. In essence a society is based upon many different individuals grouping together to collectively strengthen themselves, these individuals then work and live harmoniously together. The purpose of grouping together is to gain enough power to fend off invaders and ultimately gain themselves freedom. The king or the governments role is strictly to protect these freedoms, nothing more. The government is meant to be representation of the individual, its created to fairly deal with other countries and maintain peace and proper commerce between the two. The government is not created to boss around the individuals or demean their freedoms, its a civil servant made strictly to aid the individuals freedom. The fedorative polity is a collection of many different civil authorities who combine their authority together to further help protect their own freedoms. This should be seen as basic for a free society.

By contrast the view of Hobbes is a central government having control over everything, the towns and provinces don’t have any real power to defend themselves against this central government. This (sadly in my opinion) is how the majority of societies establish themselves nowadays. The central government is viewed as unbiased and omniscient, when in reality it’s simply as human as the rest of us. It has its own biases, points of view, agendas and personal goals, and because its given all the civil power its extremely easy for this central government to become corrupt.

Let me give you an example of this corruption from recent history. Originally Europe was composed of many different small societies and civil authorities. It was a vast collection of characters and culture, a patchwork quilt of cultural self expression and individual civil authority. Then over time these civil authorities began blending together and allowing their power to transfer to a broader central government. Now let me ask a question that will highlight my point. Would it have been better for the 20th century European if Germany had stayed a collection of small individual city states instead of combining into a powerful totalitarian nation? The answer is obvious. We would have been spared an enormous amount of grief, wartime, individual suffering and cultural extermination. Nazi Germany is an example of what can happen if a central government becomes corrupt, it can result in horrors the likes of which the world has never seen.

Just because the Hobbesian theory of central government makes it faster to pass laws and control the masses doesn’t mean its the best option for the masses. I argue the Althusius model for society not only better secures our individual freedoms, but it more accurately represents what the average citizen wants. I hate that i’m forced to describe us all as “the masses”. Its like we’ve been labeled as cattle, our individual dreams and culture nearly all forgotten. We’ve completely lost our individual representation, unless you count one government agent representing over 713,000 people as proper representation. In the medieval time period questioning the kings decisions was seen as not only normal, but extremely respectable. You were seen as an intelligent visionary if you could make a proper argument against the kings rulings. As much as Game of Thrones wants to argue otherwise, the historically accurate king was put in power to SERVE THE PEOPLE. Nothing more. The kings that denied this were quickly overthrown.

What is sad is that in today’s society questioning the power of the central government is viewed as civil disobedience, it can even be viewed as civil terrorism by those truly consumed by the group mentality. In my mind this is as close to playing god as we can get as a society, we’ve started looking at the government as an all knowing force that we cant possibly understand instead of a group of people elected to represent the people. If we don’t stand up and speak against this the central government will only continue to grow. It will grow until you can’t speak against it, it will grow until those not satisfied with being part of “the masses” will be quietly done away with. If we don’t want George Orwell’s 1984 to come to fruition we must be able to see the signs of it encroaching.

Question 2: Can smaller political units contribute to the cause of liberty? If so, why?

Our country was founded upon many different small political units. The liberty we won from the British was won by many small political units fighting against one giant central government. This is why in our constitution the United States are never referred to as “is”. The United States are referred to as “are” because we are a collection of individual political groups. We are a collection of states, each meant to have its own power and rights. We are a collection of political units, not simply a blob controlled by central government. The Nationalist Theory argues against this, stating the central government maintains complete control over every part of our country.

The Compact Theory on the other hand argues that it was the states that created the central government, it was the individual states that assigned power to the central government. The creator should always have power over the creation, not the other way around. But it seems the central government has gotten it into its mind that it was the original creator, and that the states are simply under its thumb. This is absolutely ridiculous, and honestly quite frightening. The creation rising up against its creator and enslaving them, makes me imagine a world where a cartoon murders its animator. I’ll use another example. A bride and groom meet and decide to get married. Was the marriage a product of the bride and groom? Or were the bride and groom a product of the marriage. The answer should be obvious, now assign the example in terms of central government and you’ll realize how backwards our current system is. The marriage is acting like it created the bride and groom, when in reality without the bride and groom the marriage wouldn’t exist.

There is a clear parallel between the Compact Theory and Althusius: an organization of small political units creating their own laws and regulations to maintain their freedom. There is also a clear parallel between the Nationalist Theory and Hobbes: a federal government having all the power in the world with the individuals having little to no power whatsoever to represent themselves. Unless, again being assigned the title of “the masses” feels like proper individual representation to you. In the early 1790’s the US’s first congress of representatives had one representative for every 30,000 people. Seems like a lot of people for one person to properly represent doesn’t it? Well today there’s one representative for every 713,000 people, an overwhelming number that clearly establishes that we truly have lost our personal representation. Sure, you have the power of your vote. But a drop in an ocean isn’t likely to do as much as you hope.

The fundamental question that is “Has our federal government gotten too large?” has become taboo to even speak about. Its a very reasonable question, but those who ask it are labeled civil terrorists. This amount of defensiveness just goes to show that we are on the right track, it just goes to show that this is a topic worth talking about. I don’t know about you, but I believe that personal representation is one of the bases our country was built upon. I also believe it has been swept beneath the rug, guarded by a dragon who will bite you if you so much as question what its hiding. Individual representation for every soul who resides in this country needs to be fought for. It needs to come to light how important it is, and it needs to stop being seen as taboo. The creation has enslaved its creator, and the creator has forgotten how to fight back. We need to remember how this country was built, that being on the backs of individuals fighting for and with their lives. These individuals died for our rights of freedom, and their sacrifice has nearly been forgotten. We must remember what they were fighting for, and take a real good look at how it has translated into our modern society.

Civilization Week 27 World War II Becoming Global

World War II began in 1939 with Germany’s invasion of Poland. After they finished their attack in eastern Europe the Germans moved west, taking control of Belgium, a northern part of France, Denmark, Norway and choice pieces of Czechoslovakia and Lithuania. The Italians got involved not long after, attacking France in 1940 and taking a slice of their territory. Meanwhile Germany and Britain were locked in fierce combat, with Germany violating the Versailles treaty by using air force combat and bombing against the Brits. Operation Barbarossa (Germany’s attempt to invade the Soviets) was launched after a Non Aggression pact had been created between the soviets and the Japanese. But Germany underestimated the harshness of a Russian winter, and their invasion plan failed.

In the US tensions between the Americans and Japanese had caused President Roosevelt to cut off any and all trading ties between the two countries. To add insult to injury Roosevelt stuck his pacific fleet in the middle of pearl harbor, an obvious sign of political aggression. On December 7th this tactic resulted in the infamous bombing of pearl harbor, a Japanese air strike against the US. Roosevelt declared war against Japan, but he wasn’t in a place to declare war against Germany. It turns out he wouldn’t have to, as four days later on December 11th Hitler declared war against America. From there nearly every global superpower got involved with the war, as Hitlers ruthlessness and power hunger was too much for the countries of the world to ignore.

Government 1B Week 10 Price Controls and the Origin of Money

Question 1: What problems do price controls cause, and what are the benefits of letting prices adjust without government interference?

The obvious economic issue that arises from forced price controls are production shortages. When price is legally forced down people that would otherwise not buy a product flock to it. It sells like hotcakes, but the producer only makes half of his usual salary. Hes unable to keep up with the demand for his product, and hes not making enough money to upgrade any of his equipment. So there are shortages. The benefits of letting prices adjust naturally create just the opposite, the economy flourishes because prices are aloud to be truthful with consumers. If the producer isn’t making enough to keep up with demand he raises his prices and is once again back on track. Since hes now raised his prices hes able to afford upgrades, and his ability to produce quickly intensifies. Once hes upgraded his equipment he can lower prices again, and now there’s twice as much being produced for a lower price. In times of normal economics (times when there aren’t any natural disasters, urgent wars, ect.) prices need to be aloud to grow and evolve naturally. Trying to evolve the economy by merely passing a law is going to have the opposite result that the government agent intended.

Question 2: What is the origin of money?

Originally we partook in commerce through barter, for example I might trade some wheat for some wool or something of the like. But using this method can sometimes get complicated, if you’re trying to trade a shirt for a hat you have to find someone who wants to make that specific of a trade. The specificality associated with this commerce method eventually wore people down and they began searching for a material that can be seen as universally valuable. We settled with gold, since it has value both in its appearance and ability to be crafted into different valuable things. But carrying around chunks of gold is pretty inconvenient