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Monsters of the 20th Century.
Posted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 5:08 pm
Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mussolini. Why did so many of the worst monsters of history rise to power during the 20th Century?
Posted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 5:33 pm
Because we had two World Wars and that tends to leave a power vacuum that really bad leaders have the chance of filling.
Posted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 6:39 pm
A lot of what made the enormous death tolls of the 20th century possible was simply higher overall population, greater population concentration (particularly in cities), and deadlier technology. Some earlier conquerors managed to attain massive death tolls even with less people to kill and less sophisticated technology. Hitler and the Nazis were responsible for the deaths of almost 2% of the world population, but Timur killed roughly 5% of the world population in the 14th century and Genghis Khan oversaw the deaths of approximately 10% a couple centuries earlier. All things considered I don't think the 1900s were more prone to spawning mass murderers than previous eras were.
Please don't think I'm trying to minimize the atrocities of Hitler or Stalin et alii.
Posted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 6:44 pm
I don't think the monsters of the 20th century were necessarily worse
, but they had access to more efficient means of slaughter and control than any before them. They're remembered because they're recent and because the century opened with the end of slavery and rise of popular government - people thought the West had advanced beyond that level of brutality. The atrocities committed were supposed to be things of the past, and the shattering of that assumption made them all the more shocking.
The 19th century isn't so different beyond being lesser-known. From 1885 until a little into the 20th century, Belgians killed up to 15 million Congolese.
The global slave trade, by far largest forced diaspora in history and which resulted in tens of millions of direct deaths and unimaginable numbers of lives stolen or ruined, continued until 1833, and a nation supposedly founded on freedom kept further millions enslaved until 1865. Child labor was legal in almost the entire world and domestic abuse short of murder was basically expected in many places. Russia didn't get around to freeing 23 million people, or a third of its population
from effective slavery until 1866. The US and Canada cycled through subjecting Native Americans to death marches
, invasions over nothing
, and cultural destruction
through forced placement in abusive schools. Superpowers acted like drug lords.
And on and on. Some of the numbers aren't as high as in the 20th century, but that's largely down to the fact that 19th century monsters were more focused on exploitation - why shoot ten people when you could shoot one and enslave the rest - and targeted smaller populations.
And all that was still after the world was supposedly civilized. It only gets worse if you keep going back. Europe (mostly Spain) killed up to 100 million people taking over the Americas over 200 years, and almost 30 million in Mexico alone. The Mongols and Tamerlane killed up to 60 million across Asia in an earlier 200 years, even without counting the help of the (deliberately spread) Black Death. Protests and Catholics killed 6 million of each other over not following the same God in exactly the same way. The Albigensian Crusade essentially wiped out the Cathars after up to a million deaths. And that's just some of what's been recorded - much of the rest of the world didn't care enough to document their own atrocities. The Maya ritually inflicted more grotesque torture on prisoners than probably anyone else in history, for instance, and we only know about it because of a few temple paintings.
It's not so much that mass murder is unique to the last 100 years as it is that recognition of the inherent evil of mass murder is unique to the last 100 years.
Posted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:23 pm
...not to be nit-picky, but I kind of object to the use of the word 'monster' to refer to men who do terrible things.
It implies a certain lack of moral agency. That Hitler's crimes were a matter not of personal choice, but of inherent nature. Like, as if he came out the womb evil, like a little Rosemary's Baby or Candarian demon or something. That's an attractive mindset, but it's a little easy and cowardly. I mean, if Hitler was born bad, then we kind of have to excuse him for doing evil, don't we? Can't free a fish from water.
Like, we shouldn't be afraid to acknowledge Hitler was just a man, like any one of us. We all have it in us to be a total jerk----------I just think most of us never would. I hope not, anyway.
...on the flipside, we can totally make fun of Hitler! What a prick! Hahahaa, lookit his dumbass moustache! Don't be mad at Hitler, flip him the bird! Then sing this song!
Whistle while you work! (*whistling*) Mussolini bit his weenie, now it doesn't work!
Hitler is a jerk! (*more whistling*) Mao Tse-Tung is full of dung and Stalin is a berk!
(*energetic tap-dancing*) Whee, wahoo! Look at your boy, mamma--------betcha that ol' stick-in-the-mud sourpuss Kim Jong Il couldn't hoof it like this!
Posted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 11:44 pm
Like what IAN said, humans have been awful throughout our entire history. The irony is that violence in general keeps declining as the years go by, even though cognitive bias screams otherwise.
This is a dark thought but I am a believer of the idea that technology is what placates us. Eons ago, food was much more valuable, life was harsher, and so stricter punishments were in place for things we'd deem petty today like stealing bread or a horse. From a modern perspective, we find ourselves thinking, "People killed each other over THAT? They had a duel over THAT? That's so petty." Nowadays, food and other resources are mostly readily available, and so the need to be aggressive has dampened. We have more ways to amuse ourselves and distract us. Why kill your neighbor over something when you can look up memes and jerk off to free porn?
I think the cognitive bias not only has to do with the recent perspective but also with the fact that we can kill more people in a shorter amount of time than ever before (i.e. nuclear bombs, biological warfare, drone strikes, etc.). So people automatically jump to the conclusion that we are more violent and awful than ever before.
Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:57 pm
you missed a few.
Young Turks and the Ottoman-Government in its later years.
People like Bagosora
Ali Hassan al-Majid
(You know, Chemical Ali)
Oh, one other reason I feel? In the 20th century... we can better record things. i mean just look at Roman emperors - despite that a lot of people agree that some emperors were.... kind of insane, but some of their actions may have been exaggerated by political rivals. (I mean, how in the hell could Nero have fiddled while Rome burned? Fiddles weren't even invented them!)
Imagine how easy it could have been to cover some calamities back in the day before people could take pictures or record telegram transmissions... (just ask Turkey about what happened in the 1910s, then ask Armenia or Greece. Or Assyrian scholars.)
Posted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:23 pm
Posted: Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:31 pm
[QUOTE="е и ժ е я, post: 1635891, member: 25415"]Nixon, Reagan[/QUOTE]
Are you joking?
I can't always tell when people are joking.
Posted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:19 am
[QUOTE="Booyakasha, post: 1637035, member: 17381"]Are you joking?
I can't always tell when people are joking.[/QUOTE]
Joking, but for the record, Reagan:
- Had the most corrupt cabinet in the history of the US. 138 members were indicted, convicted, investigated, etc.
- Sold arms to Iran, specifically forbidden by US law, and funded contra oranizations, specifically forbidden by US law, ramifications of which we still have to address today, lives lost since resulting conflicts are innumerable
- Sponsored Al Quaeda and its leader, Bin Laden, directly, contributing weaponry and funds under the pretense of combatting the USSR at all cost. I think you know the rest of that story for the most part. Reagan's politics directly created the series of events which lead to the WTC attacks and the subsequent wars and the political climate in which we all reside.
- Popularised the concept of 'trickle down' economy, which actually gave the rich a leg-up over the poor, and created a ridiculous wage gap
- Created a more-than 2-and-a-half trillion dollar debt for the US people via government spending
- Deregulated the Savings & Loans industry, allowing high-risk loans to be approved and bailed on leaving the government (and thusly the public) to foot the bill to the tune of 120+ billion dollars when the mess had run its course in 95. This created the climate which was expanded upon and resulted in the Great Recession and housing market collapse in the US in our lifetime.
- Personally fired 11,000 Air Traffic employees for striking, the entire union, which actually ruined the function of the union strike across america as it set a precedence and popularised the practice of Scabbing to bust unions. It also led to drastic safety issues in the industry, as the majority of Air Traffic staff had to be replaced. Last I heard, the percentage of unionised americans in the private sector was under 8% - at the time of its occurance, that was 40%.
- Actually repealed the Mental Health Systems Act, defunding the Mental Health institutions on which we depended to curtail the amount of crazy people living homeless and committing violent crime. You couldn't actually get into a mental hospital even if you were psychotic and knew well enough to try to admit yourself.
- Refused to acknowledge the AIDS epidemic for years, and top admin staff officially implied that it was a 'gay' disease and made light of the crisis, which caused the deaths of many thousands of Americans. Due to the official nature of this position, the FDA and Surgeon General which answered to Reagan were not incentivised to regulate medication and practices, and contaminated blood was used to process blood clotters and in donations and otherwise handled poorly. It also helped engender the social stigma associate with the disease. The spread of the disease is directly related to his inaction.
His financial politics essentially set the trend wherein all manufacturing moved overseas and businesses no longer had to actually deal with unions. Did he do any of it intentionally? Probably not. He was never qualified to be the leader of the country, however, and his lack of education in relevant fields and his poor leadership has screwed virtually all of us in ways that most people cannot fathom.
Posted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 7:35 am
That's fair. I knew some of that already, but much of it was news to me. Thank you.
Re: Monsters of the 20th Century.
Posted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:02 am
"why kill your neighbor over something when you can look up memes and jerk off to free porn"
Sounds like a line from Actual Sunlight but somehow darker.