Was World War I worth it?

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,857
Portugal
#53
Aha! And that is the crux of the matter for me. You're equating movements that are too right-leaning for your tastes as being Hitleresque. That is why I took issue with your original post, it's as if there's a Hitler or Neo-Nazi in every shadow.

And that is what is so tedious, is this knee-jerk reaction, this emotive appeal to project onto people labels and definitions that are just not fair and neither are they accurate.
It seems that you took the issue because there was an issue to take. And in a previous post you already stated that you consider my reaction emotional and I said that I consider it rational, quite rational. So we have here some points of disagreement. It is not the end of the world! Again, we are in a Forum. Btw, I had to search for the meaning of “knee-jerk”. We are always learning and I already learned something with you.

Honestly, I think that the term "living space" should be redeemed just like LGBT people redeemed the use of the word "queer" (a word that was previously used by homophobes). Obviously what the Nazis did was extremely vile and completely immoral and this is why I strongly wish that someone would have put a bullet in Hitler's brain before he came to power or even early on in his rule (for instance, I consider it a tragedy that Georg Elser's attempt to kill Hitler in late 1939 failed).

What the Nazis did and planned to do was vile because they engaged in genocide against Jews and certain other groups and because they wanted to deport tens of millions of Slavs east of the Urals. When I think of the word "living space," I mean conquering a territory and settling it with your own people but also giving citizenship and legal equality to the existing population of these territories (as opposed to engaging in genocide against them or deporting them en masse elsewhere). IMHO, certain aspects of the US's Indian policy were unacceptable (such as the Trail of Tears or even taking land from Native Americans simply because gold was found on it), but ultimately the U.S. did the right thing in giving U.S. citizenship to its entire Native American population. Likewise, the US did the right thing when it gave U.S. citizenship to the Mexicans who were living in the Mexican Cession in 1848.

A German equivalent of this would have been conquering some territory but giving German citizenship and legal equality to the existing population of this territory (as opposed to engaging in genocide against them or expelling them en masse). Obviously this was feasible in the Baltic states--though even then, it would have been far from clear whether enough Germans would have actually been willing to settle there after a German conquest of these territories in order to create a German majority or German plurality there. As for expanding all of the way to the Urals, that would have clearly been unfeasible from a moral point of view since there were so many Slavs there that they would have easily outnumbered the German population--which is why a German expansion of that level would have been utterly stupid and foolish.

IMHO, the best examples of living space were what the US did (albeit with excessive brutality at times--something which would have been best if it would not have been done) and what the Russian Empire did in territories such as Siberia, the Far East, and what is now Kazakhstan. Also, Canada's expansion to the west and British settlement throughout Australia might be additional good examples of living space. As for France's conquest of Algeria, this would not be a good example of living space since the French made it virtually impossible for the Muslims living there to actually obtain French citizenship--which is why it was a good thing that Algeria ultimately seceded from France. Anyway, my point here is that the expansions that I mentioned above should be viewed as being the proper representation of living space--with the Nazis' actions in regards to this being a large aberration from the traditional concept of living space. Indeed, Nazi actions made "living space" a bad term whereas it doesn't have to be a bad term and might not have been a bad term had the Nazis never came to power in Germany.
Futurist, what you are wrote here doesn’t surprise me, we already talked in other threads and what you wrote here is in your line of though with what you already wrote in the other threads. As for “recovering” the expression “living space”, I disagree with you and you gave samples of my disagreement, when you name Australia, Canada or the Russian Empire. These are good examples only for the conquerors. This means that your point of view, your bias, is already too much to one side. But if we continue here this discussion we will probably derail the thread to similar themes that you already have in others, defending the advantages of the colonialism.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,542
SoCal
#54
I'll just respond to one point of yours very quickly, Tulius: I wouldn't necessarily say that settler colonialism/acquiring living space is necessarily only good for the conquerors. After all, the Mexicans in the Southwestern U.S. probably live much better than they would have lived in Mexico. Indeed, the existing population of a territory could benefit from being conquered by another nation if this nation's rule will improve their quality of life. Of course, the existing population of this territory would also need to be given citizenship and legal equality if one wants to avoid having them become angry and resentful later on (like the Algerians became).

As for that colonialism thread, I actually did not defend colonialism for the most part. Indeed, I view even mild-mannered colonialism as being objectionable because the colonial power refuses to give citizenship to its colonized populations. Had citizenship been given to colonized populations, mild-manner colonialism (not the brutal type like in the Belgian Congo) would have been less objectionable--though it would have still been nice to allow the people in one's colonies to determine their own destiny--even if that means secession. In that regard, I applaud France for allowing New Caledonia to hold an independence referendum in 2018 (in spite of the fact that, AFAIK, New Caledonians are French citizens).

Indeed, if the people whom one colonizes are given the citizenship of one's country, treated well, and have a better standard of living then they would have otherwise had, then one might be able to permanently keep the territories that one has colonized. For instance, there is no large-scale independence movement in either Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands and I would think that, on average, the people in these territories would be very grateful for being under U.S. rule and for having the ability to move to the continental U.S. Thus, in the grand scheme of things, mild-mannered colonialism is a mixed package for the colonized peoples.
 
Sep 2013
406
France
#55
None of the major powers gained anything from it, maybe in the short-term the USA gained the upper hand in the superpower stakes, what with all their European rivals weakened badly. In the long-term they had to abandon isolationism, which I'd call a slight negative overall for the US but that's a topic for another thread.

Wars like that are only worth it if the winners & losers learn from it, obviously it took another World War to ram the point home.
WWI took place as a "world" war, mainly because France wanted to take Alsace-Lorraine back.
You do not prepare a war for 20+ years not to make it.
Everybody in France was ready for that, there was a huge nationalistic/patriotic and anti-german movement widespread at that time in France.

And by the way, France take Alsace-Lorraine back. So I don't understand your statement. Alsace is not 'anything', it was and still is a wealthy region...

If you don't understand the french claim about Alsace-Lorraine, you can't understand the deep foundations of WWI...
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,542
SoCal
#56
What are we supposed to make of the fact that, even two decades after the collapse of the USSR, a majority of Kyrgyz and Uzbeks still want to live in one country (either as a unitary state or as a federal state) with Russians? :

Russia Isn’t Hated by (Most Of) its Neighbors



This doesn't necessarily mean that such a renewed union would be a good idea or that Russia would actually support such a renewed union with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. However, this poll does show the conflicting attitudes that ex-colonial subjects sometimes have towards their former colonial masters. In turn, this goes back to my point about living space--if a country acquires living space but the existing population of this territory becomes happy with this arrangement, who exactly are we to complain about this?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,542
SoCal
#57
WWI took place as a "world" war, mainly because France wanted to take Alsace-Lorraine back.
You do not prepare a war for 20+ years not to make it.
Everybody in France was ready for that, there was a huge nationalistic/patriotic and anti-german movement widespread at that time in France.

And by the way, France take Alsace-Lorraine back. So I don't understand your statement. Alsace is not 'anything', it was and still is a wealthy region...

If you don't understand the french claim about Alsace-Lorraine, you can't understand the deep foundations of WWI...
The great irony, of course, is that France lost as many or almost as many people in WWI as it ended up acquiring when it annexed Alsace-Lorraine in 1918. Thus, at the end of WWI, France really doesn't appear to have been any better in a demographic sense than it was at the start of WWI.

Also, while I agree that a plebiscite in Alsace-Lorraine would have been the best solution to decide its fate and that France would have likely won such a plebiscite in 1871 (albeit not necessarily in 1919), I personally don't think that Alsace-Lorraine was worth an extremely bloody, four-year-long World War.
 
Sep 2013
406
France
#58
Yeah, one hundred years after the armistice, it's easy to say: well, you know France, taking Alsace-Lorraine back was not that usefull.
The true question is: was it worth it for France in WWI. The answer is yes, and it's the main reason why WWI was not just a small regional war between Austria and Serbia.
France wanted that war to take place. And for a very long time, it was obvious for the french that it was the good thing to do.
Even my grand parents, born after WWI, still learned a popular patriotic song here about that claim, and sang it to me: "vous n'aurez pas l'alsace et la lorraine" (=you won't get Alsace-Lorraine).
From a britsih perspctive, losing a million man to defend Belgium may be less understandable. From a french perspective, the reason why WWI took place is still quite obvious.
Was it the good thing to do ? Was it worth all that blood ? Maybe not, but very few countries agrees to be amputated, especially the french republic where french main ground is quite sacralized.
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,857
Portugal
#59
I'll just respond to one point of yours very quickly, Tulius: I wouldn't necessarily say that settler colonialism/acquiring living space is necessarily only good for the conquerors. After all, the Mexicans in the Southwestern U.S. probably live much better than they would have lived in Mexico. Indeed, the existing population of a territory could benefit from being conquered by another nation if this nation's rule will improve their quality of life. Of course, the existing population of this territory would also need to be given citizenship and legal equality if one wants to avoid having them become angry and resentful later on (like the Algerians became).
Well a territory can benefit (or not) from being conquered 100, 200 or 1000 years later, when we don’t have a way to compare how would have been its evolution. “Mexicans in the Southwestern” were killed during the war and suffered the consequences of the war and the aftermath – that was not much of a benefit (and this can be applied to any conquest war). Mexicans in the Southwestern saw their way of life and their culture (including their language) seen as a second rate culture, and only just recently in the USA the Mexicans (or generalizing, the Hispanics) are being seen as equals to the mainstream USA culture. And I don’t think that is necessary to document here this discrimination, since it is common knowledge, probably more to you that are from the USA, that to me that am from the other side of the Atlantic.

Anyway the line of thinking let us conquer them to improve their life is just a development/adaptation of “the white man’s burden” concept. And one thing is to study, understand and analyse how it happened in the past, that is the work of history, that should be as unbiased as possible, other is to use those concepts and apply them in the present to construct the future, that is the work of policies. And there are no unbiased policies.

As for your main question in the thread, the WWI price never could be worth for the people of that time. For the future generations, and well… for us, well… we didn’t pay the price of blood, so it is quite debatable, we can always say that it worth the price, it is easy to say with the blood of the others.

Thanks for defending me, Menshevik!
By the way, on one had, you didn’t need to be defended, as far as I know you, you are perfectly able to do so, on the other hand, I was not attacking you, at the most I was attacking (criticizing would be a better word) the use of a certain terminology and what that terminology implies in a history forum, even if seen in a euphemistic way.
 

Menshevik

Ad Honorem
Dec 2012
8,970
here
#60
So we have here some points of disagreement. It is not the end of the world! Again, we are in a Forum.


You haven't even addressed my last point, the one regarding the McCarthyist-Nazi witch hunting that seems to be going on. That's where I disagree with you. I find that way of thinking to be wrong and damaging to society.
 
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