Category Archives: History

>Is globalisation a replacement for imperialism?

>I’ve deliberately made this question open to interpretation so make of it what you will. But to start the discussion, global capital flows were larger as a percentage of GDP at the end of the nineteenth century (i.e. when the European Empires covered about 3/4 of the globe) than today, and some critics talk of “Americanisation” as synonomous with globalisation.

>Does democracy encourage violence?

>I’m sure you’ve all heard the idea that democratic nations are less likely to go to war with each other, but what about how long they’re likely to stay in a war? Think about Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and you will probably think democracy encourages the troops to come home. But what about war that’s a little closer to home such as total war? In the limited wars of the seventeenth century countries would sue for peace if casualties looked too bad, or victory seemed too difficult to achieve. So what changed between then and the two world wars? At the time of the First World War all European state leaders feared their people and what they would do. I have recently heard it voiced by top Professors that it was democracy and nationalism that made it so difficult to accept peace talks during WW1. Do you agree?

>How do we cope with the disease of pointlessness?


When critics of Western society actually have a point they usually draw parrallels to Ancient Rome and Greece. In recent years athiests, agnostics, and those believing in philosophies of religion rather than the supernatural, have boomed in number. Ferdinand Mount, who was once head of Thatcher’s policy unit in Downing Street, has written a book called “Full Circle: How the Classical World Came Back to Us”. In this work he paints: Anaximander, a pre-Socratic philosopher, as the first Darwinian; Lucretius as the Richard Dawkins of 55BC; Mithras and Mick Jaeger as the God and semi-God on the brink of satisfaction. Mental illness, and declining belief in what we had once said the West stood for: democracy, liberalism and freedoms; have resulted in apathy, depression and a feeling of pointlessness.

So how do we avoid/tackle this problem? If they followed from the lack of strong beliefs then how do we avoid the widespread immoralities often referred to throughout Ancient Greece and Rome?

I know this picture is a bit biased but imagine it correlated against a graph showing how many people felt life was pointless. And secondly, if Mount is right then might we be headed for a new Dark Ages?

>Does multiculturalism actually work?


There have been many cases in history where people have praised how a country/empire has managed to peacefully manage a population of many different ethnic and linguistic groups. But they usually have difficulties too. It’s often put down to results. In 1998 when France won the World Cup it was seen as the success of multi-culturalism. Today, when French society is having significant problems and the wolrd cup squad seems to echo the country’s ethno-cultural divisions, many of the same commentators say that it points to the failure of multi-culturalism. Indeed since the recession hit Europe there has been a resurgence of the right wing, and a habit of treating immigrants as scape-goats.

So is there any truth in the current fears about multiculturalism? Is it merely scaremongering? Or is it a factor, but a less significant one than others such as the economy?

>When did genocide become ‘wrong’?

>Genocide has been a fairly common feature of human history, with some form of it in almost every country’s history. To give a few examples:

  1. Ben Kiernan, a Yale scholar, has labelled the destruction of Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War (149-146BC) as the first genocide in history.
  2. Charlemagne, who is credited for starting the process of nationalisation and the creation of ethno-homogenous societies in Europe, did so partly through genocidal actions. 
  3. Hundreds of scholars label some of the Mongol conquests, particularly in the 13th century, as genocidal. Despite the positive light in which Mongols see Genghis Khan, people throughout China and the eastern Middle East still see him as a genocidal mad man to this day.
  4. David Stannard argued that the destruction of the aboriginal peoples of America was in fact more than just disease as we commonly think today. He says that there were “a string of genocidal campaigns”.
  5. Starting in the reformation there have been frequent genocides by Catholic and Protestant forces intent on creating religious unity within European states. The Cromwellian conquest of Catholic Ireland is often referred to as a genocide. After the Battle of Culloden in 1746 the British government undertook a ‘pacification’ of the predominantly Catholic Scottish highlands, which wiped out a culture.
  6. Reynald Secher argued that the actions of the French government during the revolt in the Vendée (1793–1796) was the first modern genocide.

This last week the Serbian parliament formally apologised for the 1995 Srebrenica Massacre in which 8000 Bosnian Muslims were killed, and labelled it genocide. Many countries around the world still seek to create ethno-homogenous societies through violent means in emulation of Europe. But now we have almost universal agreement that this would be wrong. Why? What’s changed? And when did it happen?

>State of Nature

>Dr S Lechner, a Lecturer from Kings College London, wrote an article on the above especially for this website. You can see it here:

It is a subject that has provoked a lot of thought from philosophers and also from the public in general. What questions do you see arising from the topic? What do you see the State of Nature as being? If there was no creation then can we even talk about a State of Nature?

Any thoughts are welcome.

>Is progression linear?

>A few sub-questions to think about…

  1. What is progression?
  2. Are there stages of history that societies pass through?
  3. Do we inevitably improve ourselves individually and collectively?
  4. Was everything chaos in the beginning and will it be in the end?
  5. Was everything ‘eden’ (the Hebrew word for pleasure/paradise) in the beginning and will return to it in the end?
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