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C O U R S E 
The Modern World: Global History since 1760
Prof. Philip Zelikow, University of Virginia
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
1930s: The Decade of Contingency
Notes taken on September 23, 2013 by Edward Tanguay
Japan in early 1930s: a stalemate of two conflicting ideals
1. with Japan's enormous modernization, many people appealing for
liberal ideas
international cooperation
2. also a national conservative faction
Japanese nationalism
purity of Japanese traditions
therefore must not be vulnerable from economic pressure from England and other countries
needs to reject culture and dominance of Western countries
the depression in the West is evidence for Japanese conservatives that Western ideals have failed and they need to break away from West
Kanji Ishiwara (1889-1949)
Kanji is family name
was a Japanese conservative
general in the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II
believed that Japan and China should form a pan-Asian alliance and invade Russia
believes people in charge are paralyzed by democratic politics, so uses ways to shame their government into doing things it wants to do
responsible for the Mukden Incident that took place in Manchuria in 1931
pretext for invading Manchuria
blow up train track and blame it on the Chinese
1931 established its puppet state of Manchukuo six months later
installed the heir to the Qing dynasty
West sees this as a transgression of many acts
May 15th incident: Nationalists make a bold move: seizing on visit of Charlie Chaplin, plan to kill him and Japan's prime minister
the officers are dealt with lightly
a clear sign that no one can stand up to the army
Japan is moving more and more to a military dictatorship with civilian rulers on top
depression hits Germany hard
July 1932 elections: 38% voted for National Socialists, 22% SPD, 15% KPD
this kind of polarized electorate cannot form a stable government
Paul von Hindenburg (1847-1934)
1925-1934: president of Germany (figurehead)
gradually gained more influence than Kaiser
retired in 1919 but came back in 1925
a "venerable, old general from the Great War"
thought that it might be a good idea to give the Nazis the chance to run the government just to have a stable government and that "we will be able to control them, they are a bunch of incompetent hooligans"
January 1933: gave Hitler a chance of running the German Republic
within one year, the German Republic was dissolved
Kurt von Schleicher (1882-1934)
German general and last Chancellor of Germany during Weimar Republic
assassinated by order of his successor, Adolf Hitler, in the "Nacht der langen Messer" between June 30 and July 2, 1934, when Nazi regime carried out a series of political murders, at least 85 people died during the purge
Germany and Japan have both chosen to move into a world of dictatorship and imperial ambition
1932 state of capitalism and collective security
capitalism looks as though it is failing
world trade begins to collapse
in 1932, Britain abandons free trade
had been the very symbol of it
imperial preference finally wins out with tariffs
demand plummets
gold standard goes away and easy exchange rates with it
1934 France and Poland were the only major countries still on the gold standard
1933 international conference
Roosevelt torpedoes the conference deciding that the United States had to cut itself loose from the European dead weights and save itself on its own
rising unemployment
in America, the migration of laborers
Oklahoma to California
Missouri to Chicago
Tennessee to Detroit
North Carolina to Pennsylvania
many African Americans
wheat-growing areas a dust bowl
right and left-wing dictatorships
whole east block outside of Czechoslovakia
in all of Europe east of the Rhine, only one democracy was left: Czechoslovakia
Germany walks out of the League of Nations because of the disarmament conference
Italian empire on the march
into Libya and Ethiopia
modern warfare against Ethiopians
League of Nations threatens oil embargo against Italy, which is ineffectual
Soviet Union threat
smaller countries no longer have hope in the League of Nations but in other countries such as Germany, also not a good choice at this particular period in history
far-Eastern crisis
Manchuria was far away be it was understood as the test case
Britain and the United States were the two strongest countries next to Japan, but a military intervention there was out of the question under the circumstances
the United States did not recognize what Japan had done in Manchuria, simply disapproving of it
Japan takes offense that the League of Nations has criticized it for its behavior, and resigns from League of Nations
three ways to obtain security in the modern world taking shape
1. war
2. imperialism
3. diplomacy
era of the 1930s
modern capitalism failing
institutions of security failing
economic story converging with a political story
contingency and choice
those thirty days in January 1993 where a group of German politicians decide to make Hitler chancellor changed the course of millions of people's lives, he didn't have to be chancellor, the Nazis had actually done quite well in the elections and in some ways the National Socialist movement was ebbing, but the decision was made nonetheless which wholly changed the course of history
confronting the Japanese militarists in Manchuria did not occur
choices about going of the gold standard and have no free trade
these choices merged and accumulated to have enormous consequences as people began to slowly realize what kind of world they really live in: populations plunging themselves into totalitarian dictatorships, whole peoples in Europe completely sacrificing their freedom. What was going on in the 1930s? Were times just so hard, people just so desperate?
Erich Fromm, trying to find the deeper explanations for the way people constructed the world around them in the 1930s that they did, gives an argument that there are two kinds of freedom: negative freedom and positive freedom. Negative freedom is freedom from social dictates: absence of obstacles, barriers or constraints. Positive freedom is the possibility and the fact of acting in such a way as to take control of one's life and realize one's fundamental purposes. With the modern changes that had occurred since the 1890s, people had acquired much negative freedom, and with this negative freedom a sense of not knowing what one is supposed to do, of a loss of identity within a political and social context. The vacuum of dictatorships in the 1930s played in a large way on these fears and needs, giving large populations something to surrender themselves to and believe in, giving up freedom for security and social and political self-definition, or as Frome writes, "The frightened individual seeks for somebody or something to tie his self to; he cannot bear to be his own individual self any longer, and he tries frantically to get rid of it and to feel security again by the elimination of this burden". In getting ride of this burden, he ties himself to something that promises to be larger and grander, as Mussolini convinced so many followers to "find their identity in the power and mission of the state", but what was for 1930's dictators submission to a higher purpose, was for millions of Europeans a plunge into the abyss."