Ommunism The German philosopher Karl Marx



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Communism
......The German philosopher Karl Marx invented modern socialism in the 1800s as a reaction to the working-class poverty of the Industrial Revolution. His slogan was, "Workers of the world unite!" Marx predicted that workers in the industrialized nations would one day rise up and overthrow capitalism.
......In the early 1900s, Russia was not yet an industrial nation; most of its people were poor peasants working the land. Nonetheless, a group of Russian socialists led by Vladimir Lenin thought Russia was ready for a socialist revolution. Their chance came with World War I. The war didn't go well for Russia. The army was poorly led, poorly fed, and poorly equipped, and eventually it fell apart. When soldiers were ordered to shoot women textile workers rioting for food, the soldiers opened fire on their own officers instead. As rioting spread in Russia, Nicholas II was forced to step down as tsar in 1917.
......Into this power vacuum stepped Lenin's well-organized political party, the Bolsheviks. Promising peace for soldiers, land for peasants, and better conditions for workers, the Bolsheviks took control of Russia in October 1917 and removed Russia from the war. The term "communism" has come to mean an extreme form of socialism that blends Marx's economic philosophy with Lenin's ideas about socialist revolution.
......Struggling to hold the Bolshevik (or Russian) Revolution together, Lenin executed thousands of Russians suspected of opposing communism. Among those killed were the tsar and his family. The communists banned other political parties, took over banks and industries, and set up a secret police. The Russian Empire was renamed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the Soviet Union for short.

Treaty of Versailles
......The Great War, as it was called, changed the political landscape of Europe. Gone were the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the long-decaying Turkish Ottoman Empire. Their lands were broken up into smaller nations. Russia lost its tsar, and Germany's Kaiser was replaced by a new German republic. The war nearly wiped-out an entire generation of young men in Europe. Almost 30 million people were killed or wounded during the Great War, and over a million civilians died as a result of the fighting.
......The peace treaty ending the war between the Allies and Germany was signed at the palace of Versailles in June of 1919. Against the wishes of President Wilson, the treaty punished Germany for the war by taking away its overseas possessions and strictly limiting Germany's army and navy. Worse for the Germans, they were forced to make large payments, or reparations, to the Allies for war damages.
......The treaty also established the League of Nations, an assembly of sixty countries that agreed to work together for world peace. The League was the idea of President Wilson who hoped the Great War would be "the war to end all wars." The United States Senate, however, refused to approve the treaty largely because many in America wanted no more foreign entanglements, an attitude called isolationism.
......The huge numbers of both military and civilian casualties made World War I the first total war. When it was over, people had difficulty making sense of the war. What was the point when the results were weak economies, unemployment, and the destruction of a generation?

Fascism
......In Italy, a powerful political leader emerged who pledged to end Italy's economic problems and restore Italy to greatness. He was Benito Mussolini, leader of the fascists, a political movement that opposed communism and democracy, but favored violence and war and promoted nationalism and obedience to the state. After taking power, Mussolini modernized Italian agriculture and improved the economy. To strengthen his control over Italy, he made himself dictator, took over the news media, and set up a secret police.
......Germany too was looking for a strong leader to end its economic problems. Half of the country's labor force was out of work, and inflation got so bad at one point that it took bags of money to buy a loaf of bread. An inspiring public speaker named Adolf Hitler rose to the leadership of a fascist political party called the Nazis. Hitler told Germans they must reclaim their lost territories and build a new empire in Europe. His nationalist ideas took hold in a Germany that felt humiliated by the Treaty of Versailles. With crowds wildly cheering Hitler in huge parades and rallies, the Nazi party grew in popularity until it won enough votes in national elections to make Hitler the new German leader.
......Hitler quickly moved to revive the Germany economy. In just five years, unemployment fell from six million to almost nothing, and the German standard of living rose. Encouraged by anti-communist businessmen, the German parliament voted to turn over absolute power to Hitler. Thus, Hitler used Germany's democracy to end Germany's democracy. Hitler used his absolute power to ban all political parties except the Nazis and to set up a secret police. His enemies were killed, tortured, or imprisoned.

Great Depression
......The situation for workers worsened again in the 1930s due to a worldwide economic downturn called the Great Depression. Several factors led to the Depression including damage done to European economies by World War I and the U.S. stock market crash of 1929. Businesses closed, farms stopped producing, and banks failed. People lost their jobs and their life savings, and they went hungry.
......The Great Depression contributed to the post-war crisis of meaning. Millions of men had died in the trenches of a senseless war, and now it made no sense that millions of strong, healthy men couldn't find jobs to feed their families. The old capitalist system didn't seem to be working anymore; some thought it was about to collapse. Many people, Americans included, looked for a newer approach that would give workers a better break. Some looked to the Soviet Union where communism promised a more equal society. Others looked to Italy and Germany where strong, nationalistic leaders promised a better future.

Totalitarian government
......For the first time, mass culture made it possible to reach everyone with the same message and to rally entire nations behind a cause. Hitler and Mussolini rallied the masses of Germany and Italy behind fascist nationalism. The Soviet Union mobilized its masses to support "the worker's revolution."
......After Lenin died in 1924, Joseph Stalin took control of the Soviet Union. He convinced Russians it was their duty to industrialize quickly. Stalin also confiscated peasants' farms and combined them into large state-run collective farms. In the process, some ten million peasants died or went to prison camps.
......Although communists and fascists had different political philosophies, they used similar methods. Both systems were led by strong, god-like dictators who symbolized the state. Citizens were expected to sacrifice their individuality to the will of the state, and many people were happy to give up personal freedom for a sense of belonging to a great cause. Both systems eliminated dissent; anyone disagreeing with the government could expect a terrifying visit from the secret police. Because these societies took nearly total control over peoples' lives, they are termed "totalitarian." Unlike liberal democracies where the state is seen as the servant of the people, the people in totalitarian societies are seen as servants of the state. Authoritarian states are similar, but the term implies somewhat less control by government.

Mass culture
......Before the industrial era, people usually experienced their culture alone or in small gatherings. They might read a book or play music with friends. This changed when the Industrial Revolution began to manufacture culture as well as goods. By the late 1800s, mass-produced newspapers were a major cultural force as thousands of people read the same stories at the same time. Mass culture swelled in the early 20th century as the public flocked to buy movie tickets, radios, and music recordings. Sports teams formed leagues that competed nationally. Such shared experiences helped to create mass national cultures.
......Some critics were concerned that people were becoming spectators rather than participants by purchasing cultural experiences instead of making their own. Other critics warned that mass culture could be used to control the public by appealing to emotion rather than reason. This fear was realized in Nazi Germany where the state took control of radio stations and the film industry, and the government learned to skillfully use propaganda to manipulate the public through emotional appeals to nationalism and racism. (Propaganda is a systematic effort, usually by government, to spread ideas or beliefs.) In Nazi Germany, individual thought was overwhelmed by propaganda and mass public opinion.

Nanking Massacre
......Back in the mid-1800s, the U.S. Navy forced Japan to open its doors to foreign trade. Shortly thereafter, America was distracted by its Civil War, and the U.S. left Japan alone for several years. This gave the Meiji government time to figure out how to respond to the threat of Western power. Japan had a long tradition of borrowing from other cultures, especially China, so it is not surprising that Japan chose to borrow industrialism from the West. With an educated urban work force, Japan's industrial revolution proceeded rapidly. By the early 1900s, Japan had a modern industrial economy.
......In 1905, Japan became the first Asian country to defeat a European power when it overcame Russia in the Russo-Japanese War. Victory gave Japan economic control in parts of Korea and the Manchuria region of China; Japan was now becoming an imperialist power, and the U.S. began to see Japan as a possible rival in the Pacific. Extreme nationalists came to power in Japan saying that foreign conquest was the only way Japan could get the resources it needed. Japan invaded Manchuria and Southeast Asia, claiming to be liberating Asia from Western imperialism. When Japanese armies took the Chinese capital of Nanking in 1937, they burned the city and massacred between 100,000 and 300,000 Chinese. In what came to be called "The Rape of Nanking," Japanese soldiers brutally raped some 20,000 Chinese women, then killed them or left them to die.

Appeasement
......Meanwhile in Europe, Hitler promised Germans he would destroy the Treaty of Versailles, and he began by rebuilding the German army in violation of the treaty. Britain and France complained but did nothing to stop him. In 1936, in violation of the treaty, Hitler sent troops into the Rhineland region on the German-French border. It was a risky move, but Hitler calculated that nobody would stop him, and he was right. Hitler then brought Germany and Austria together in a union also forbidden by the treaty.
......England and France were following a policy of appeasement, which means they were giving in to Hitler's demands to avoid conflict and the possibility of another terrible war. As the world watched, Hitler's army grew stronger, and each success made Hitler bolder. Next, he took the German-speaking Sudetenland region in Czechoslovakia, and six months later he conquered the whole country.
......In 1939, when Hitler's armies invaded Poland, France and England finally declared war on Germany, and World War II was underway in Europe. The alliance of France and England (later joined by Russia and the U.S.) was called the Allies. Germany, Italy (and later Japan) were the Axis powers. Many historians consider World War II to be a continuation of World War I because the two sides were similar in both wars, and German resentment of the Treaty of Versailles set the stage for the rise of Hitler.

Blitzkrieg
......To overcome the stalemate of trench warfare, Hitler's military planners developed a new battle tactic called blitzkrieg or "lightning war." Blitzkrieg meant attacking quickly with a strong force of concentrated troops supported by artillery, tanks, and air power. Hitler's powerful German military used the blitzkrieg to quickly overrun Poland and five more European countries. It took the Germans only seven weeks to circle around a French defensive barrier and conquer the strong nation of France.
......With France defeated, Hitler ordered massive bombing attacks against targets in England in preparation for a planned invasion. German bombs pounded London for 57 straight nights. These were dark days for the British people; Prime Minister Winston Churchill told his country, "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat." British fighter pilots battled the Luftwaffe in the skies over England, aided by radar that could spot enemy planes approaching the English coast. The Luftwaffe destroyed large areas of British cities, but German aircraft losses became so great that Hitler had to abandon his plan to invade England. Churchill praised British airmen by saying, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." In winning the Battle of Britain, the British dealt Hitler his first major defeat of the war.

United States joins the war
......The United States was still at peace. Although America was officially neutral in the war, the U.S. supplied so much war material to the European Allies that war production helped pull America out of the Depression. In the Pacific, only one barrier stood in the way of complete Japanese control of Asia: the U.S. Navy's Pacific fleet based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The United States insisted that Japan withdraw from the territories it conquered in China and Southeast Asia, and the U.S. imposed an embargo that stopped the shipment of key resources to Japan, a move the Japanese considered virtually an act of war.
......On December 7, 1941, the quiet of a Sunday morning at Pearl Harbor was shattered when carrier-based Japanese warplanes launched a surprise attack on the U.S. fleet. In just 30 minutes, American naval power in the Pacific was crippled. Despite the successful attack, the Japanese commander warned, "I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant." The next day, President Franklin Roosevelt went before Congress and declared, "December 7th is a date which will live in infamy." The U.S. and Britain declared war on Japan. Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S. Now the war in Europe was linked to the war in the Pacific creating a truly global world war. America immediately switched to a war footing.
......Factories began operating 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Chrysler stopped making cars and started making tanks. As American men were called away to fight, American women went to work in war plants making everything from socks to ships. U.S. war production soon equaled that of Japan, Italy, and Germany combined. The Pacific Fleet recovered sufficiently from the attack at Pearl Harbor to defeat the Japanese Navy in carrier sea battles in the Coral Sea and at Midway. These victories gave the United States naval supremacy in the Pacific for the remainder of the war. The giant was awake.

Holocaust
......Hitler's empire in Europe stretched from Scandinavia to North Africa, from the Atlantic Ocean to Russia. People in lands conquered by the Nazis were expected to serve the German "master race." "Inferior" people such as Russians and Gypsies were to be enslaved or eliminated. Many teachers and other educated people disappeared. But the Nazis reserved their harshest treatment for the Jews.
......Hitler's plan for the Jews was called the "Final Solution," which meant complete extermination of the Jewish people. All over Europe Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps where they were forced to work or were systematically executed. Hitler diverted so many resources from fighting the war to killing Jews that his mass murder operation eventually contributed to Germany's defeat. Of Europe's eight million Jews, the Nazis succeeded in killing six million, an event that came to be known as the Holocaust. When the world learned about the full extent of Hitler's homicidal madness, the word genocide was invented to describe the intentional and systematic destruction of an entire racial or cultural group.

Hitler's invasion of Russia
......Hitler was about to make his biggest mistake of the war, the same mistake made by Napoleon over a century earlier. When Hitler couldn't conquer England, he invaded Russia, which brought the Soviet Union into the war on the side of the Allies. As the Russians retreated, they adopted the same scorched-earth policy used by the tsar's soldiers against Napoleon. The turning point in the Russian fighting, and in World War II, came in 1943 at the Battle of Stalingrad, where the Soviets captured an entire German army. The Soviets began to push the Germans back, and from then on Germany started losing the war. The Russians, however, paid a terrible price in World War II, suffering an incredible 23 million dead.
......From airfields in England, British and American bombers pounded Germany, wiping out entire cites and killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. In 1944, the Allies launched the massive Normandy Invasion of France trapping the Nazis between Allied forces approaching from the west and Russian soldiers closing in from the east. With Russian troops only a few blocks from his underground bunker in Berlin, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in April 1945. Germany surrendered one week later.

Hiroshima
......Fierce fighting continued in the Pacific. American troops fought and won savage battles against determined Japanese forces trying desperately to hold strategic islands. American bombers began to strike inside Japan, pulverizing Japanese cities. Japan was on the verge of collapse, but it refused to surrender.
......Meanwhile, American scientists had perfected the atomic bomb. Hoping to avoid a costly invasion of the Japanese home islands, President Harry Truman ordered the atomic bomb used against Japan. The first bomb destroyed the city of Hiroshima where 200,000 people died. Three days later, a second bomb produced similar results in Nagasaki. The next day, Japan asked to end the war. Controversy still surrounds the use of atomic weapons against Japan. Critics say a demonstration of the awesome power of the bomb might have convinced Japan to surrender without using this terrible new weapon against people.
......Again, the nature of warfare had changed. Genocide and massive aerial bombing raids had made civilians, not soldiers, the primary targets of war. Of the 50 million people killed in World War II, an estimated two-thirds were civilians. The atomic bomb meant that a future world war might kill everyone.

Berlin
......At the end of World War II, the Allies divided defeated Germany into two countries, capitalist West Germany and communist East Germany. Although the German capital of Berlin lay deep inside East Germany, it too was divided. West Berlin was a small island of capitalism surrounded by communist East Germany. In 1948, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin tried to force the Allies out of Berlin by blocking all roads and railways into the city. President Harry Truman faced a tough decision: should he send tanks to break through the blockade knowing this could trigger World War III, or should he abandon West Berlin?
......Truman chose a third course, the Berlin Airlift. Within days, American and British cargo planes were landing in Berlin every few minutes around the clock supplying the needs of the city of two million people. Nearly a year went by before Stalin gave in and ended the blockade. Prompted by the Berlin blockade and fears of Eastern bloc military power, the United States and Western European countries formed a military alliance called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO.
......The Marshall Plan helped Western Europe return to economic prosperity by the 1950s; now West Germans could own refrigerators and even buy cars. Many Europeans were grateful to the U.S. for coming to their rescue in two world wars and for helping to rebuild their war-torn countries. In much of the world, America stood for liberty and generosity. Conditions were not as good under communism. In 1961, communist officials erected a wall dividing East Berlin from West Berlin to prevent East Germans from leaving for a better life in the West. The Berlin Wall became the most prominent symbol of the Cold War.

Independence movements
......Although the 20th century saw human nature at its worst, humans also made great strides during the century. Discoveries in the fields of health and medicine increased life expectancy, and the standard of living rose for people in much of the world. And, following World War II, colonialism came to an end.
......Pre-war European imperialism was based on the racist belief that the white Western nations were superior to all other cultures, which gave Europeans the right to conquer and control other peoples. After the horrors of Hitler and the Nazis, this kind of racist thinking was no longer acceptable, and the Western powers let their colonies slip away. Some colonies had to fight for independence while others won their freedom peacefully. Fifteen years after World War II, most former European colonies had gained independence.

  • After World War II, imperial powers gave up their empires because they lacked the will to fight for them.

People's Republic of China
......After the Qing dynasty fell in 1911, China plunged into four decades of turmoil. Following World War II, two Chinese armies fought for control of China. The winners were the Chinese communists, led by Mao Zedong, who established the People's Republic of China in 1949. The losers fled to the island of Taiwan off the coast of China where they set up an anti-communist government that still exists.
......Unlike India's independence movement, which was led by European-trained elites, the communist takeover in China was a peasant revolution. It became a model for peasant revolutions in other places like Vietnam and Cuba. Mao's government made some huge mistakes; an estimated 30 to 50 million Chinese died from starvation when the communists mismanaged the process of setting up large collective farms. But in the end, the communists improved China's agricultural and industrial production.
......After Mao's death in 1976, China's leaders opened the economy to capitalist-style, free-market competition. Since then, China's economy has grown rapidly, but China remains an authoritarian state that restricts the rights of its people. Nonetheless, the communist government's promise of equality has resulted in better nutrition, education, and medical care than in India.

  • Under communism in China, during the reign of Mao Zedong, the land was redistributed to peasants to help improve their lives.

Cold War
......By fighting two terrible wars in the first half of the 20th Century, the great powers of Europe ended their own dominance of the modern world. At the end of the Second World War, two new "superpowers" emerged as the world's strongest nations: the capitalist United States and the communist Soviet Union.
......The Soviets angered and frightened the West when they took control of eight Eastern European countries on the Soviet border with Europe. The Soviets wanted a protective barrier in case another Western nation invaded Russia as Hitler had done in the 20th Century and Napoleon had done in the 19th. The Soviet Union and its "satellites" came to be known as the Eastern bloc or the Soviet bloc.
......The U. S. responded to the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe with the Marshall Plan, a program that sent billions of dollars in American aid to Western Europe to rebuild economies crippled by war and to strengthen them against communism. This was the beginning of an intense 45-year struggle between the Western capitalist democracies and the totalitarian states of the communist Soviet bloc. It was called the Cold War because the conflict did not turn into a hot, shooting war between the superpowers.

  • The two superpowers that emerged during the Cold War competed for influence over other nations by the Soviet Union and the United States by offering economic and military aid to less-developed nations.

  • Democracy failed in many new nations following World War II because the people were unprepared for self-rule.

  • Developing countries that borrowed money from the Democratic West usually spent much of their income trying to pay back their debt.

Nuclear arms race
......The United States was the only nation to possess atomic weapons at the end of World War II, but the Soviets soon developed their own atomic bomb. Cold War competition turned into a race to build the most deadly weapons of mass destruction. In 1952, the U.S. detonated the first hydrogen bomb with a thousand times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. A year later, the Soviets had the H-Bomb. Both countries developed long-range missiles that could fly across the Earth to deliver nuclear warheads on enemy cities. The superpowers placed nuclear missiles on submarines that could escape detection, lie in wait off the enemy's coast, and wipe out large cities in minutes. The U.S. and the Soviets developed the capacity to destroy each other many times over and to turn the Earth into a dead wasteland.
......The U.S. placed some of its missiles in Turkey on the Soviet Union's border. The Soviets placed missiles in Cuba, only 90 miles from Florida. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the super-powers narrowly avoided World War III when they agreed to remove their missiles from both Cuba and Turkey. Fear of a nuclear holocaust hung over the earth; finally, some weapons had become too terrible to use.

Space Age
......The United States and the Soviet Union carried their Cold War rivalry into outer space, competing in a space race closely tied to the arms race; it was long-range missile technology that made space flight possible. The Space Age began in October of 1957 when the Soviets launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite, into Earth orbit. America was caught off-guard and rushed to develop its own space program, which, after many failures, launched satellites into orbit. Then in 1961, the Soviets sent the first man into space. America followed with manned space missions. In 1969, the U.S. overtook Russia in the space race when American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon, an event that future historians may view as a major turning point in history.
......Something unexpected happened when humans left the Earth, and we got our first good look at our home planet. It was a stunning sight! In contrast to all the dead, lifeless worlds visible in the heavens, Earth was a lovely blue sphere floating in space with white clouds swirling over pinkish continents. In all the dark, lonely, vastness of space, we could see only one water-covered world teeming with life. We realized how unusual and precious our planet is. This new view of Earth might represent the most profound shift in human perspective since the great voyages of discovery, and it came at a time when that beautiful blue sphere was being threatened with nuclear and environmental destruction by one of its own species.

Containment
......Communists were now in control of the Soviet Union, China, and Eastern Europe. More people were living under communism than capitalism. The West was genuinely afraid of communist world domination and the downfall of capitalism and democracy. Western leaders feared that if another country fell to communism, more might topple like a row of dominoes: this was called the "domino theory." The U.S. set out to do everything in its power to stop the further spread of communism, a policy called containment.
......The containment policy got its first big test in 1950 when communist North Korea, backed by the Soviets, invaded South Korea, which was backed by the U.S. This was also the first big test for the United Nations, an assembly of world nations formed at the end of World War II to promote world peace and cooperation. With the Soviet Union absent during the vote, the United Nations approved a U.S. resolution to send troops (mostly American) to repel the North Korean invaders. Reluctantly, China was drawn into the war in support of North Korea. After three years of bloody combat, the Korean War ended with North and South Korea occupying much the same territory they held when it began.

  • During the Cold War, the primary goal of American foreign policy was to stop the spread of communism.

Proxy wars
......Although the United States and the Soviet Union never fought each other directly, they supported opposing sides in armed conflicts around the world. Local wars like Korea and Vietnam turned into substitutes, or "proxies," for the superpower death-struggle between communism and capitalism. The U.S. backed anti-communist forces everywhere, even dictatorships that overthrew democratically elected governments. Critics of U.S. policy accused America of betraying its democratic principles, but defenders of U.S. foreign policy argued that communism was so evil it had to be opposed by all means possible.
......The Soviets had their own "Vietnam" experience in a proxy war in Afghanistan where Soviet troops were sent to fight anti-communist Muslim guerrillas supported by the U.S. The Muslim fighters, who included Osama bin Laden, won with help from shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles supplied by the United States. Again, guerilla fighters from a small, poor country had defeated an invading superpower.

  • An effect of the Cold War on the world led was the outbreak of frequent small-scale wars, known as proxy wars.

Vietnam War
…...Before World War II, Vietnam was a French colony. During the war, Vietnamese communists fought Japanese invaders and rescued downed American flyers. After the war, the Vietnamese fought France for independence and won despite American support for France. Although the communists were fighting for freedom from foreign control, U.S. leaders saw Vietnam as a "domino" that must not be allowed to fall to communism. The U.S. set up an anti-communist government in South Vietnam and sent thousands of American military advisers to support it. When it looked like the American-backed government was about to fall in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson took the U.S. to war. Three years later, a half million American troops were in Vietnam, and U.S. warplanes were dropping more bombs than fell during World War II.
......The two sides were in the same conflict, but they were fighting different wars. The U.S. believed it was fighting the spread of international communism; the Vietnamese believed they were fighting for freedom from an imperialist power just as they had fought the Japanese and French. The U.S. found itself bogged down in a guerrilla war with no front lines and few large battles; the enemy would attack and disappear. As the fighting dragged on year after year, and the U.S. death toll mounted, American public opinion turned against the war. With no end in sight, the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam in 1973. A small, poor, rural country had defeated the most powerful nation in the world, and no more dominos fell.

  • A long-term goal of Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam, and most Communist movements in Southeast Asia, desired to free their countries/cultures from foreign domination.

  • During the Cold War, the American priority in Southeast Asia was to stop the spread of communism.

  • The main problem faced by new nations of Southeast Asia was that they were caught in the middle of the Cold War.

Collapse of the Soviet Union
......In 1985, a new and younger leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, came to power in the Soviet Union. He believed that progress in his huge nation depended on making fundamental changes to the Soviet system. Communism sounded great in theory, but it wasn't working very well in practice because people had little incentive to work hard or improve their products. Gorbachev called for a more open, democratic government and economic reforms that looked a lot like capitalism. He also signed treaties with the U.S. limiting nuclear weapons, and he surprised the world by giving up Soviet control over the satellite countries of Eastern Europe.
......In a wave of rebellion, most countries of the Eastern bloc threw off their communist governments in 1989, and Germans happily smashed the Berlin Wall to pieces. Back in the Soviet Union, forces unleashed by Gorbachev's reforms were spinning out of his control: regions of the Soviet Union itself were breaking away and setting up independent republics. In 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist, replaced by 15 new capitalist nations, the largest of which is Russia. Life got worse for many, and several of the republics are still struggling to develop working democracies and healthy economies. The collapse of the Soviet Union meant the Cold War was over, and there was only one remaining superpower, the United States.

New world order
......At the dawn of the 21st century, the Cold War was over; democracy and capitalism had won. There was no longer a balance of power in the world; America was alone at the top. President George Bush, Sr. said there was a "new world order," and it looked promising. But all too soon, Cold War fears were replaced by new ones like terrorism and global warming.
......Another new fear may be starting to haunt Western nations: the possibility of losing their dominant position in the world that began with the age of European imperialism. Today when the West looks east, it sees a new reality. Where the West once saw colonies, it now sees nations like Japan, China, and India growing steadily stronger -- perhaps strong enough to challenge the dominance of the West.
......One major fear left over from the Cold War is the spread of nuclear weapons, termed "nuclear proliferation." Nine countries are known to have, or believed to have, nuclear weapons. Although the United States has been unwilling to give up its large nuclear arsenal, the U.S. has told other nations, particularly North Korea and Iran, that they are not permitted to have nuclear weapons. The U.S. has not objected to nuclear weapons in the hands of its friends such as Israel, Britain, France, and India. The nine nuclear nations are Russia (which has the most), the U.S., Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea.

China
......China is again a superpower as it was for centuries before the age of European imperialism. With the world's largest population, labor force, and consumer markets, China's economy has boomed since China opened its markets to capitalist-style competition in the 1980s. Meanwhile, China's one-party communist government continues to deny Chinese citizens basic human rights such as freedom of the press and religion. China shows that a nation does not need a democratic government to have a successful capitalist economy.
......Relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China have always been difficult due to their differing political systems, friction over the future of Taiwan, and perhaps because China still resents being pushed around by Western powers during the age of imperialism. Nonetheless, the Chinese and American economies are closely linked. China sells billions of dollars in goods to the United States annually, while the U.S. government has been accumulating billions of dollars in debt to China. American officials aren't sure whether to consider China a friendly trading partner or a future threat as China's economy and military grow, and the U.S. and China compete throughout the world for limited resources like oil.

Globalism
......The world is being drawn together as never before by international trade, communications, and mass media, a phenomenon termed globalism. Major industries now do business in what amounts to a single global trading market. The labor market has gone global too as Western companies try to save money and increase profits by outsourcing work to lower-paid foreign workers. Many people believe globalism is a good thing -- that when countries trade and communicate with one another, they are less likely to go to war. In Europe, for example, nations that were bitter enemies during two world wars are now partners in the European Economic Union, which has adopted a common currency called the euro.
......Other observers have concerns about globalism. Will countries lose their distinct identities in a world dominated by mass culture? Another concern is that the rich industrialized nations of the world are controlling the global economy, consuming the world's resources, polluting the Earth, and leaving little behind for the poorer countries, a global case of the "haves" versus the "have-nots."

  • An effect of urbanization (growth of cities) throughout the world since 1945 have contributed to traditional beliefs and values are being eroded and lost through assimilation.

  • The primary cause of global interdependence throughout the world is the result of advances in technology.

  • Technology has helped form a global culture by spreading ideas rapidly.

  • Examples of globalization include large companies that promote and sell their products through international markets, thus known as “globalization through economics.”

Third World economic development
......The world's poorest countries are termed developing nations or the Third World. Most are in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and most are former colonies. Many of these countries are still struggling to find economic models that will work for them. Three basic models have been tried.
......Early capitalist economies such as those in Great Britain and the United States developed with little government control. Governments allowed the free market forces of Adam Smith's "invisible hand" to control economic development. In the Third World, India adopted this laissez faire capitalist model.
......The Soviet Union and China did the opposite. Communist governments completely controlled their nations' economies. Government owned the factories, and government decided who would produce what products at what price. Such command economies did not prove successful over the long term.
......Japan chose a middle ground. Authoritarian Japanese governments adopted capitalism, but they directed the economy by promoting some industries and discouraging others. After World War II, Japan rebuilt its shattered economy by developing industries like textiles that depended on large numbers of unskilled workers. As the skills and wages of Japanese workers grew, textile jobs moved to countries where labor costs were lower, and Japan went into heavy manufacturing, making products like motorcycles and cars. Next, Japan moved into high-tech industries such as electronics and computers. Japan's successful strategy became the development model for other Asian countries including South Korea, Taiwan, and later China.

  • Following World War II, Germany’s and Japan’s rebuilding process included creating efficient, modern factories which adapted to the new technologies and produced high-quality exports.

Latin America
......Western nations long dominated the economies of Latin American countries. Latin America followed the classic colonial pattern of exporting food and raw materials in exchange for manufactured goods. These arrangements benefited the white elites who controlled business and government in Latin America but made up less than two percent of the population. Poor, indigenous people received little. The lack of a sizable middle class might help to explain why Latin American economic progress lagged behind that of the U.S. and Canada. Since the late 1990s, however, Latin America has experienced its greatest period of political stability and economic growth since gaining independence in the early 1800s. And its middle class has been growing.
......During the Cold War, when local political movements tried to improve conditions for Latin America's poor, the U.S. often labeled these moves as communist threats. In the early 1950s, Guatemala had a democratic government that took unused land from the giant American-owned United Fruit Company and gave the land to peasants. In response, the U.S. arranged the overthrow of Guatemala's government. In the unrest that followed, some 200,000 Guatemalans were killed, many of them poor Mayan Indians.
......The United States went on to sponsor the overthrow of governments in several more Latin American countries, acquiring a reputation for supporting wealthy elites and military dictators while opposing better living conditions for the poor. In recent years, anti-American leaders have come to power in several Latin American countries, promising to use their nations' resources to help the poor. One was President Hugo Chavez of oil-rich Venezuela who complained, "The U.S. government sees itself as the owner of the world."

  • Since colonial days, a key cause of Latin American unrest has been the uneven distribution of wealth.

  • Dirty wars” of Central America refer to the kidnapping, torturing, and murdering of thousands of citizens by military leaders.

Africa
......Africa is the world's poorest continent. Unstable governments have slowed Africa's economic progress because foreign businesses have been reluctant to invest their money where conditions are not secure.
......During the Scramble for Africa in the late 1800s, the great powers of Europe carved Africa into artificial new countries that included people of various ethnic groups. When these countries gained independence in the mid-1900s, they had not existed long enough for national feeling to overcome ethnic divisions. Africa's newly independent nations had little or no experience in self-government, yet they had to contend with tough problems like ethnic conflict, poverty, and corruption. Most governments failed.
......Ethnic violence remains a problem; it led to genocides in Rwanda and in western Sudan, and it can cause famine by disrupting farming and food distribution.  If these troubles weren’t enough, Africa has the world’s worst epidemic of AIDS, which burdens African economies with high medical costs and the loss of workers. 
......Still, there are positive signs in Africa.  White rule ended in South Africa in 1994 when Nelson Mandela was elected President in free and open elections, and other authoritarian states have been replaced by more democratic governments.  African countries are also making progress in fighting the plague of AIDS.

  • A factor contributing to political instability in African nations during and after the Cold War was the lack of common cultural ties and goals.

  • In developing countries during the Cold War, conflicts between ethnic groups led to civil war.

Ethnic cleansing
......Ethnic violence has been around a long time, but in 1999 the world recognized a new type of ethnic violence when Serbia was accused of "ethnic cleansing" in the Serbian province of Kosovo. Christian Serbs were brutally forcing Muslims out of Serbia, killing many Muslims in the process.
......At the urging of American President Bill Clinton, NATO approved U.S. air strikes against Serbian forces that stopped the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Did the U.S. have the right to interfere in the internal affairs of Serbia? Does the world have a moral responsibility to stop atrocities like genocide or ethnic cleansing? Who gets to decide when war will be waged to enforce morality? Should it be international organizations like the United Nations or NATO or individual countries like the U.S. or China?

  • Ethnic tensions world-wide have increased since 1945, as a result of “ethnic cleansing.”

Terrorism
......The Islamic revolution against the shah in Iran marked the emergence of a new political force, Islamic fundamentalism. Fundamentalists tend to believe that people should adopt basic religious values and that religion should influence government policies. Fundamentalists are often intolerant of other religions. Christian fundamentalism grew in the United States during the same period.
......Muslim extremists used Islamic fundamentalism to justify violent acts including the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, that killed some 3,000 people at the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. After the attacks, President George W. Bush declared a "war on terrorism," and launched an invasion of Afghanistan, home of al Qaeda, the terrorist organization behind the 9/11 attacks. In 2011, the U.S. killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but American troops are still fighting in Afghanistan.
.....While the U.S. war on terrorism was aimed largely at Muslim extremists, terrorism may take other forms as well. In 1995, homegrown American anti-government terrorists killed 168 people with a truck bomb at the federal building in Oklahoma City. The term terrorism usually refers to attacks against civilians not conducted by a government. When governments attack civilians, they usually call it war or maintaining order.

  • The mentality in the Middle East of supporting a revival of Islam, was that it promises a single Islamic state.

Arab-Israeli conflict
......When the Ottoman Empire dissolved after World War I, Britain took control of much of the Middle East and encouraged Jews to immigrate to their ancient homeland in Palestine, an Arab region at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. After World War II, Britain left the region, and Jews seized over two-thirds of Palestine to form their new nation of Israel. Neighboring Arab countries did not recognize Israel's right to these lands and tried to destroy the new Jewish state in a series of wars that stretched from the 1940s to the 1970s. Israel won the wars and took control of all of Palestine. Israel continues to extend Jewish settlements further into Palestinian territory, dismaying those Palestinians who want to reach a permanent peace agreement with Israel.
......Arab bitterness has also been directed at the U.S. for playing a key role in establishing the nation of Israel and for strongly supporting Israel since. America faces a difficult balancing act in the Middle East - trying to support democratic and Jewish Israel while trying to stay friendly with authoritarian Arab governments that dislike Israel but have large oil supplies that America wants. Meanwhile, poverty, hopelessness, and a history of Western imperialism contribute to Arab resentment against rich Western nations. Angry young men and women have been willing to kill and be killed in terrorist attacks aimed at Israel and the West.

  • The conflict between Palestinians and Jews in Palestine centered on the claim by both groups that it was their homeland.

  • Despite continued efforts for peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel refuses to give up their territories until Arab nations recognize Israel’s right to exist and Arabs are removed from Palestine.

Iran
......In 1951, the government in Iran voted to take control of its oil industry from the British. In response, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (spy agency) secretly organized the overthrow of Iran's democratically chosen leader and replaced him with a monarch, the shah. This was the first of several times that U.S. leaders used the CIA to harm or overthrow foreign governments without the knowledge of the American people. For 25 years, the shah supplied the U.S. with Iranian oil and a base of operations in the Middle East.
......But the shah's harsh dictatorship angered many Iranians, and his efforts to Westernize Iran were seen as threats to Muslim culture. Popular uprisings ended in a revolution that overthrew the shah in 1979. The shah was replaced by a radical Muslim government that despised the U.S. for its long-time support of the shah. When the shah arrived in the U.S. for medical treatment, Iranians feared the U.S. might try to return the shah to power again. Demanding that the shah be turned over to Iran, a group of young Iranian revolutionaries stormed the U.S. embassy in Iran and took 52 Americans hostage for over a year.
......The leader of neighboring Iraq, Saddam Hussein, took advantage of the hostage crisis to attack Iran. The U.S. supported Iraq's invasion of Iran, but when Hussein invaded neighboring Kuwait a decade later, the U.S. crushed Iraq in the Persian Gulf War. America still has a terrible relationship with Iran; the U.S. accuses Iran of making nuclear weapons, but Iran says it only wants to make peaceful nuclear power plants.

  • The United States became involved in wars in the Persian Gulf in order to protect the flow of oil.

Terrorism
......The Islamic revolution against the shah in Iran marked the emergence of a new political force, Islamic fundamentalism. Fundamentalists tend to believe that people should adopt basic religious values and that religion should influence government policies. Fundamentalists are often intolerant of other religions. Christian fundamentalism grew in the United States during the same period.
......Muslim extremists used Islamic fundamentalism to justify violent acts including the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, that killed some 3,000 people at the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. After the attacks, President George W. Bush declared a "war on terrorism," and launched an invasion of Afghanistan, home of al Qaeda, the terrorist organization behind the 9/11 attacks. In 2011, the U.S. killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but American troops are still fighting in Afghanistan.
.....While the U.S. war on terrorism was aimed largely at Muslim extremists, terrorism may take other forms as well. In 1995, homegrown American anti-government terrorists killed 168 people with a truck bomb at the federal building in Oklahoma City. The term terrorism usually refers to attacks against civilians not conducted by a government. When governments attack civilians, they usually call it war or maintaining order.

  • The mentality in the Middle East of supporting a revival of Islam, was that it promises a single Islamic state.

Iraq
......In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq and overthrew the government of President Saddam Hussein. The Bush administration was following a new policy of pre-emptive war, which means the U.S. may attack a country that has done nothing to threaten or harm America if U.S. leaders feel the country might want to harm America in the future. President Bush said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that threatened the U.S., and he indicated that Hussein was involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. When it later became clear that neither was true, the Bush administration said the war was still necessary to bring democracy to Iraq. Critics of the war said the U.S. was more interested in control of Middle Eastern oil supplies.
......The United Nations, NATO, and most countries did not support the U.S. invasion. It hurt American relations with important allies like Germany and France, and it turned worldwide Muslim opinion against the U.S. The war also triggered brutal ethnic violence in Iraq, and it has cost more in lives and money than expected. As happened earlier in Vietnam, Latin America, and Iran, U.S. intervention in Iraq brought major unintended consequences. Some historians argue that American leaders have not been sufficiently aware that invading countries and overthrowing foreign rulers may end up harming American interests in the long run.

  • World-wide dependence on oil impacts global interdependence and economic stability by supporting the idea that all nations rely on oil, and when nations with oil resources underwent political crises, production was halted and prices soared, creating economic shock waves.

Democracy
......Although most countries in the world claim to be democracies, true democracy is not easy to achieve or maintain. Democracy appears to work best in societies with traditions of open expression, which might help to explain why democracy has struggled in the republics of the former Soviet Union.
......One of the greatest threats facing American democracy today is the huge sums of money needed to win election campaigns.  Because politicians need to raise so much money, they are tempted to make decisions that favor big campaign contributors over the interests of ordinary American citizens. In the early days of America’s democracy, Thomas Jefferson warned citizens to be vigilant about their government. He said, “The people are the ultimate guardians of their own liberty.” Jefferson believed the study of history could help give American citizens the knowledge they need to think for themselves and protect their democracy.
......A democratic system is effective only if government is being watched by a free and active press and by citizens with a realistic understanding of the world.  In America’s democracy, citizens can have a big impact. It wasn’t government that started the civil rights movement or stopped the Vietnam War.  It was the people.

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