Author Topic: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period  (Read 10956 times)

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Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #60 on: February 13, 2017, 01:29:34 PM »
Ok, I would not like this threach to branch off in twenty different directions, so I will just write about abortion laws (It was not me who raised the issue, so I think I have the right to reply) and peasant religiosity on the eve of the Russian revolution (or about historical research methodology).

First, abortion. I am a (bad) Catholic, I am pro-life (anti-abortion, if you prefer it) and I would like to have abortion forbidden in the law of my own country and all over the world.

1. Would laws which made abortion illegal be the end of abortion? No.
2. Would pregnant women continue to look for abortion, even if it were illegal? Yes, they would (fewer of them).
3. Would some of those women die as a consequence of complications in those illegal, "backyard" abortion? Yes, a small percentage of them.


1. Laws which made abortion illegal would not be the end of abortion. No law in the long history of humankind has suceeded in completely eradicating a crime. It is not monarchists, it is progressists who think that man's nature is completely elastic, moldable, and through good laws and government intervention would be possible to create heaven on Earth. Conservatives, or anyone who accepts the Judeo-Christian religious tradition, know that man is a fallen, flawed creature. Only limited success is possible.

But law, by penalizing an act, can reduce the incidence of that kind of act. And law can (and have to) show how things should be. It cannot say that fair is foul and foul is fair. Law has to protect human life, specially when it is weaker, at the beginning and at the end.

2. Pregnant women would continue to look for abortion, even if abortion was made illegal. But fewer of them would do, compared to the situation when abortion is completely legal and available. It does not trouble me that "countries that have essentially banned legal abortion haven't seen a decline in the number of abortion "crimes" being committed", for two reasons.

- There are only a handful of countries in that category (only Chile and Nicaragua come to my mind) and "statistics" about abortion in those countries have been produced by the Guttmacher Institute (the "research" branch of Planned Parenthood) or similar organizations, whose credibility is nil.

- Common sense does not allow that the number of abortions in a country will "stay put", after passing a law banning it. Many of the women that go to an abortion "clinic" have many, many doubts about what they are going to do. And that in a country where abortion is legal, "safe" (for the mother, not for the children), widely available, and portrayed in a positive way in the media. A law banning abortion might not change the mind of those women who are decided to have an abortion, whatever, but will tilt the scales in favour of the child's life in most of the rest.

3. If abortion was made illegal, some women would die (or have their health seriously damaged) as a consequence of "backyard" (illegal) abortions. That is an unintended effect of a law banning abortion. But many children (in the USA, millions) would be saved. That's one of the intended effects of a law banning abortion. And many women would be saved, too. That's another intended effect.

Because nowadays adult women (not only the baby girls killed in abortion) DO die as a consequence of abortion, in the USA and in any country where it is legal. And many women have their health (physical and mental) seriously damaged as a consequence of legal abortion. Those women just realize what a horrible mistake they have committed, when that mistake is irreversible. Some of them look for healing (in the Catholic Church or in other religious denominations), others simply cannot cope with the guilt and either commit suicide or choose a self-destructive way of life that ends up killing them. They are also victims of abortion, but for Planned Parenthood or pro-abortion lobby groups they do not exist.

And just to end the part about abortion, I would like to consider what abortion is, in a dispassionate way, without child's body parts or women bleeding to death in backyard abortions. Pro-abortion advocates call themselves "pro-choice". But what choice they are talking about? The choice about the life or death of a human being that a woman has begot.

Pro-life advocates are called "retrogade" for wanting to return to the statu quo regarding abortion current in 1960 in all the Western world. But pro-abortion advocates defends that a woman has the right to kill the child she has begot. In the Roman Empire, the law allowed the paterfamilias, the head of the family, to kill his children or sell them into slavery. So we have progressed (with the difference that now the right of life or death is granted to the mother) to Rome, II century a.C.

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #61 on: February 13, 2017, 01:49:32 PM »
Regarding Figes, his "respectability" as a historian has been damaged by former behaviour towards a colleague in his trade.

On the other hand, he might, or might not, used a representative selection of sources to reach his conclusions about the Russian peasants' attitude towards religion on the eve of revolution. I would have to borrow his book from the library to check it.

My guess is that his selection of souces is not representative, because simply there's a scarcity of documents: peasants do not keep diaries, write essays, or send letters to the press. Any secondary source published in Russia after the revolution will, of course, convey the idea that religion played little or no role in the life of peasants. That was the view of the communist regime, which wanted to eradicate it.

Regarding sources I have read a book written by a "respected American historian" who used a book published in Moscow in 1935 as a source to describe the life conditions of workers in Saint Petersburg before war and revolution. Of course, in the book the life of workers in Imperial Russia was completely dark, in Stalin's Soviet Union, bright. If the author of the 1935 book had written something different, she would have been sent to the GULAG.

I have read enough books published by professors in Western universities to know that the idea that they have followed proper methodology because they have gone through some kind of "peer review" is BS. 


Offline edubs31

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #62 on: February 18, 2017, 11:20:24 AM »
Not sure why I'm wading back into this...I find it amusing that of all the points having been made that you chose to fixate on abortion and the religiosity of the peasants.

How about we return the discussion back to some of the other eight things I listed (reply #44) as possible factors that contributed to the start of the War. Maybe we can, I dunno, get back on topic and talk about that?

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Since this discussion has narrowed itself down to focusing on the specifics - largely revolving around Archduke's assassination & preceding ethnic and/or political tensions between the Austrians & Bosnians - I thought I'd unwind things a little and go for a broader view. Below are some of the key factors I can think of that led to the war. I'd like to hear some thoughts on how much each of these factored in to the outbreak of hostilities in 1914 and what should be added (or subtracted from) the list...

- Tensions within the Balkan states in the decades leading up to the start of War. Followed by the inability of the great European powers to settle their disputes in the region or carve up the territory in an equitable manner. A vacuum being left as a result of this. No one power asserting authority or legitimacy as ruler/overseer of the region.

- The Ottoman Empire's downward spiral. Perhaps looking to make one last stand by strengthening their alliance with Germany and pressuring British interests in Middle Eastern territory that they still held sway over.

- The personal incompatibility and awkwardness of Kaiser Wilhelm II in relation to his royal cousins whose feelings generally ranged from distrust to downright disdain. Exemplifying this was Wilhelm's inferiority complex regarding England and the complicated relationship he had with Edward VII...two men of opposite personalities.

- Exacerbating the aforementioned personal tensions between the Kaiser and his European relatives was the bitterness felt by his Danish relatives toward Germany ever since the Schleswig-Holstein War of 1864. Given that two of the Danish princesses - the sisters Alexandra & Dagmar - just so happened to become Empresses of dominant European powers (England and Russia respectively), and given their sore feelings towards Prussian rule, this seems like a more important factor than perhaps it's given credit for.

- Germany's vigorous foreign policy under Chancellor Bismarck followed by its naval build up in the 1890s. Naturally discomforting to other European powers it was, mostly importantly, Britain whose hand was forced. The British, traditionally reluctant to forge the sort of alliances that ironically helped create the entanglements that led to the First World War, was suddenly in something of an arms race with Germany. This encouraged Britain to strengthen its ties with France (skillfully managed by Edward VII himself) and later Russia, thereby encircling Germany and infuriating the Kaiser and the German government.

- The disastrous result of Russo-Japanese War...a conflict all but encouraged by the German Kaiser...embarrassed Russia and helped spark revolutionary tensions at home leading to Bloody Sunday and permanent resentment of the Russian people towards their Tsar an autocratic regime. In England meanwhile the Boer Wars proved surprisingly difficult for the British who lost some face on the international stage as a result.

- The shock assassination of the Austrian Arch Duke in Sarajevo and the boiling over of tensions between the Austria-Hungarian empire and Bosnia. This guaranteed that even if all out continental war had narrowly been avoided that tensions between the two country's aforementioned allies (Germany & Russia) would still have required the kind of swift & strategic diplomacy Nicky & Willy proved incapable of.

- Bad luck, bad timing and downright stupidity...Russia lacked capable diplomats such as Sergei Witte (retired, somewhat discredited and near the end of his life) and Pyotr Stolypin (assassinated). Germany had no Bismarck to turn to and was contending with a power struggle between it's erratic, impetuous Kaiser and ambitious Generals asserting dominance in matters of foreign policy. France was a democratic state probably somewhat disrespected by the other imperial powers and lacking the sort of ambition & influence the U.S and President's Teddy Roosevelt (1901-09) & Woodrow Wilson (1913-21) brought to the table. England's George V lacked vision and intellect (much like his Russian cousin), wit & charm like his father, and the power & respect Queen Victoria had. In Austria there was a rift between the elderly conservative Emperor Franz Joseph and his somewhat over-confident progressive nephew heir to the throne.

...then of course you have Alexei's hemophilia and the influence of Rasputin. The Kaiser's disastrous Daily Telegraph interview in 1908 and deformed left arm. Much more than a mere physical impediment...something that seemed to shape his personality. Leopold Lojka's fateful incorrect turn down Franz Josef Street. King George's mixed signals to the Kaiser regarding Britain's intentions of neutrality or military involvement...Like a football team with a game plan and track record of success sometimes you don't need a series of events to connect the dots to a catastrophic event/defeat. You only need a key injury or someone to fumble the ball.

Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

Offline JamesAPrattIII

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #63 on: February 23, 2017, 05:26:49 PM »
The book "Defeat in Detail" by Edward Erikson deals with the Balkan wars 1912-13

As for Franz Ferdinand he was against going to war. he also was unpopular in part because he had plans when he became Emperor to turn the Empire into a federated nation. One does not know what have happened if he had not been assassinated but just about anything would have been better if there had been no WW I ect.

Offline JamesAPrattIII

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #64 on: March 03, 2017, 01:05:14 PM »
Some youtube presitations at the National WW I museum and memorial which may be of interest on this and other matters:

The Forgotten realm on the eve of the great war: Austria-Hungary July 1914
The Outbreak of war 1914
Between the rock and a hard place
Tides, Tectonic plates and talismans all over again

Offline JamesAPrattIII

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #65 on: March 07, 2017, 12:05:12 PM »
Eb in your reply 14 you asked about the pre WW I Russian defense build up. It is mentioned in the books "The Eastern Front 1914-1917" by Norman Stone and in more detail in On Effectiveness of Military Institutions Volume I WW I by Williamson Murray and Allan Millet