Week 9 Grenville notes

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31 Dec 2010
1. Democracy on trial: Weimar Germany
even before the outbreak of the war, the more discerning conservatives such as Bethmann Hollweg recognized that imperial Germany
must move in the direction of a more broadly based constitutional monarchy
then it happened with the proximity of defeat facing Germany in November 1918: the Social Democrats joined the Cabinet of Prince Max
von Baden; government, it was intended, should in future be dependent on a Reichstag majority
peaceful transfer of power was almost successful and there can be doubt that this is what the vast majority of the German people desired
political democracy requires that the majority feel a concern for their rights and the rights of others and are ready to defend them
when on November 8 1918, Prince Max von Baden announced the renunciation of the Kaiser and handed over his office to Ebert who
thereby became chancelloron the basis of the constitution, German people were pleased to learn not that there had been a “revolution”,
but that the revolution had been pronounced as having occurred unbeknown to all but a few
between November 1922 until June 1928 (except for a brief period of 3 months in 1923)—that is, for the greater part of the life of the
parliamentary republic they had done so much to create—the Social Democrats refused to participate in government at all
the parties of the centre and moderate right formed the basis of all the coalition governments, sometimes seeking to strengthen their
position in the absence of the Social Democrats by seeking the more extreme-right support of the Nationalists; even so, every one of the
coalitions without the Social Democrats was a minority government, generally lasting only a few months
though Social Democratic leaders recognized that they had most to lose from the destruction of the democratic republic, their own short-
sighted political attitude contributed to the spectacle of government instability, which lowered esteem of parliamentary government in the
eyes of the German people when that esteem was already being constantly assailed by the anti-democratic movements
republic was necessary to deal with the Allies, who were in occupation of the Rhineland
the French still enjoyed overwhelming military strength and could occupy parts of Germany at will, as they did in 1920, 1921, and 1923
besides attempted coups and violence from left and right, every German was affected by the unprecedented experience of hyperinflation
it was due not to reparations payments made by Germany but to decision of government to organize passive resistance when French, in
response partly to threatened political disintegration of Weimar Germany and evasion of reparations, occupied Ruhr in January 1923
at home, the years from 1924 to 1927 were a brief golden period for the republic—currency was stabilized
2. Britain, France, and the US from war to peace
to the right, fascist movements and later the Nazi movement developed, promising new solutions
to the left, communists pointed to the Soviet Union and the new society being created there as the right goal for all progressive peoples
tide first turned against democracy in Russia after revolution of 1917, in Italy in 1920s with Mussolini and emergence of fascists
although the Soviet Union lacked the strength to endanger peace in Europe directly, communist tactics in the democratic states and fear of
communism were among the formative influences of the 1920s
communists were weakest in country which they had mistakenly believed would lead “capitalist assault” on Soviet Union—Britain
an immediate problem facing post-war Britain was Ireland—“home rule” was no longer enough for the Irish nationalists, whose cause
had been spectacularly enhanced by the Easter rising in Dublin in 1916
the Irish Republican Army (IRA) attempted to force the British government in London to recognize Irish independence
it was the worst sort of violent conflict—civil war, without battle lines, carried on by ambush, assassination and murder on both sides
two problems stood in way of solution: Lloyd George’s refusal to grant total independence without any link with Britain, and attitude of 6
counties of Ulster, where majority of Protestants fiercely defended union, refusing to be merged with predominantly Catholic south
an attempted British solution of December 1920 did not satisfy the south, but an appeal by the king in June 1921 led to a truce and a
negotiated settlement that December—the Irish Free State became a Dominion and so remained within the British Empire, and the 6
counties of Ulster were granted the right to vote themselves out of independent Ireland and so remain a part of the United Kingdom
dominion status in practice meant independenceas significant as this insistence of the right of the “white Dominions” to exercise
independence was Britain’s declared intention to extend Dominion status to the “brown empire”
violence in Ireland and mass protest movements in India did not complete Britain’s difficulties
nearer home British governments from 1920 down to the present day became preoccupied with Britain’s relative industrial decline, the
threat of falling living standards, and, most of all, the miseries of unemployment
in 1920s and 1930s Conservative-dominated governments of the Lloyd George, Baldwin and Chamberlain era were socially conscious
and anxious to pass measures that would protect the sick and unemployed and help the poor
France emerged the victor from the Great War, but no country, except Russia, had suffered more physical damage, human and material
despite British disapproval, French and Belgian troops occupied industrial Ruhr in January 1923, ostensibly with objective of collecting
reparations, and, more importantly, with objective to weaken Germany’s reviving power by occupying its important industrial region
the French move was no sudden reaction but the result of a carefully thought-out policy, which separated France from Britain, as the
Germans could not fail to note, and they exploited the split successfully in the 1920s
France experienced few golden years of progress and prosperity until effects of worldwide slump made themselves seriously felt in 1933
in industrial strength and influence the US had emerged as a world power by the close of WWI, but victory left the American people
disillusioned with the role of world leadership that Wilson had sought to thrust upon them
a narrow, nationalistic approach to international finance and trade, in end, harmed US as much as it did other countries, for it contributed
to the great collapse of 1929 and to the depression of the 1930s and so, indirectly, to the rise of Hitler and the outbreak of WWII
3. Italy and the rise of fascism
fascism was movement designed to secure support of masses for leader without intermediary of democratically elected parliament
it was a substitute for democracy, giving the masses the illusion of power without the reality
in Italy, as elsewhere, fascism derived its strength as much from what it was against as what it was for
Mussolini succeeded in attracting attention to himself in his pose as statesman and duce
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