The year 1936 was a momentous one in the history of communism. This was a time of acute uncertainty and fear, during which the Soviet Union and international communist movement faced unprecedented challenges. This article examines the attempts to build a socialist state in Russia, and to follow new international policies of collective security and the building of popular front alliances. Particular attention is given to the principal developments of the year—the internal crisis in the Soviet Union, the Chinese and Spanish civil wars, the Popular Front in France, the origins of the Great Terror—but also to the more everyday experiences of communists around the world.
This analysis of the origins of the Second World War in Europe challenges several key ideas of the historiography: the ‘thirty years war’ thesis, the notion of a European civil war, and the stereotyping of the 1930s as a seemingly unstoppable rush to war after the internationalism of the 1920s. There was no sharp contrast between decades—the period only makes sense as a whole. Churchill’s ‘unnecessary war’ was preventable. Alternatives to appeasement existed. Though the study of war origins starts with Hitler, his policies were decisively shaped by the actions of others and the instability of an international system, heavily impacted by the Great Depression and ideology. Miscalculation rather than design explains the war of 1939. The outbreak of war should not obscure the significance of the 1930s as a laboratory for ideas and institutions that came to fruition after 1945 and which continue to shape international society.
Kamran Scot Aghaie
The intermediate period marking the transition from the Safavid to the Qajar dynasty was punctuated by widespread turmoil and varied bids to power. This interlude was strongly dominated by the Afghan factor. Two Afghans of humble origins, Nader Quli Khan Afshar and Karim Khan Zand, established rule over large swathes of Safavid domain. Although their reign succumbed almost immediately posthumously, the influence hurtled untill the nineteenth century, the era of the Qajars. The complex political rivalries in the region of Khorasan, bordering Afghanistan, led to the Afghan invasion of the Safavid domain of Isfahan in 1722. The defeat of the Safavid Qizilbash troops and the fall of Herat to the invading Abdali Afghans emboldened the Afghan siege, commandeered by Mahmud Ghilzai. The ascension of Nadir Shah to monarchy was marked by betrayal, violence, and cunningness. His domain stretched from Russian-controlled Caucasus to Delhi in the East. In contrast, Karim Khan's twenty odd years of reign were mostly marked with fighting off various adversaries.
D. W. Ellwood
The First World War cost Europe the leadership of the world. But the United States of Woodrow Wilson was not ready to take its place. The 1920s brought Europe to a crossroads where mass democracy, mass production, and mass communications—the latter two dominated by American innovations— transformed ideas of sovereignty, modernity, and identity everywhere. The financial crash of 1929 destroyed illusions about the United States as the land of the future, and helped legitimize the totalitarians. European democrats looked to the 1930s New Deal as their last best hope. During the Second World War Roosevelt rebuilt the global order, with the United Nations and other new institutions. But the United States was now looking to ‘retire’ Europe from the world scene, and build a new universe based on America’s experience of the link between mass prosperity and democratic stability.
The Atlantic Revolutions in the German lands is the essence of this article. A discussion of the Atlantic revolutions in the German lands begins here with a consideration of the connections between those lands and the Atlantic world. On the eve of the age of revolution, these connections were modest, at best. The German lands had few direct ties to the Atlantic economy; social and cultural connections were sparse as well. New forms of political organization and action, as well as new ideas about the nature of politics were developing in some of the Atlantic countries during the third quarter of the eighteenth century, all of which would resulted in the revolutions of 1776 and 1789. What this discussion suggests is that the external political and intellectual impulses of the American Revolution were, at best, supplemental to trends generated within the German lands themselves. An observation of the political upheavals during the nineteenth century winds up this article.
Helmut Walser Smith
This article focuses on statehood, society, and the failed imperialist powers that continued to rampage Germany in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. A social history of German politics is given in this article. It begins with analyzing the meaning of Kaiserreich and emphasizing its inner logic, and endogenous social and political processes. This article concentrates on the relationship between state, society, and democracy, and argues that the essential conflicts of the Kaiserreich involved the contradictory integration of a newly-formed, authoritarian national state, with an exceedingly dynamic and mobile society, into a competitive world of overseas empires in the process of imposing white hegemony on large parts of the globe. The interpretive emphasis, which is on the national level, rather than the state or local level, does not presuppose that endogenous structural elements brought about the crisis of the late imperial period.
The post-war communist peace movement was a powerful instrument of Soviet foreign policy during the early Cold War. By the early 1950s the movement had eclipsed the Cominform as the centrepiece of communist political strategy. The communist-dominated World Peace Council was supported by many famous Western artists, scientists, and writers and by hundreds of millions of people across the world who signed its anti-nuclear petitions such as the Stockholm Appeal. The relationship between the communist peace movement and Moscow was a two-way affair and the movement’s leaders—Frédéric Joliot-Curie, Ilya Ehrenburg, Alexander Fadeev, Pietro Nenni, and J. D. Bernal—were crucial in cementing the USSR’s commitment to the struggle for peace and in steering Stalin away from the idea that war was inevitable under capitalism. In 1956 the peace movement split over the USSR’s invasion of Hungary and thereafter declined, overshadowed by the rise of non-communist movements of disarmament campaigners.
Common characteristics and objectives united the Axis alliance, composed of Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and imperial Japan. All three were ‘latecomers’ to the great power rivalries of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and all attacked the Wilsonian-inspired global order enshrined after the First World War. Hostile to liberalism, ‘open door’ capitalism, socialism, and communism, the Axis championed authoritarianism, autarky, and a variant of capitalism that integrated state management and investment. Finally, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and imperial Japan sought empires as essential to eliminating social divisions. Although wary of the power of their enemies, they accepted that only war would accomplish that aim. Unable to match the resources of the Allies, the Axis powers resorted to murderous occupation practices that contributed to their defeat.
Did Europe’s ‘age of catastrophe’ (1914–1945) represent a break with the past or did it amplify the tensions of the preceding era? Was it a ‘parenthesis’ or a ‘revelation’? Historians have usually taken the latter view and have dismissed popular nostalgia for the period before 1914 as mere hindsight. Yet Europeans had good reason to be nostalgic. The period 1900–1914 had its moments of crisis and ominous trends (e.g. anti-Semitism), but it was essentially defined by stability, democratization, and significant improvements in social conditions. Nor should one exaggerate the desire for war in society or among Europe’s political elites. Prior to the July Crisis, a great Continental war seemed neither inevitable nor likely, all of which has implications for our understanding of Europe’s later descent into barbarism. Simply put, the dynamics of violence and instability that characterized the ‘age of catastrophe’ were largely generated during that period.
Anne E. Gorsuch
Focusing on the transnational flow and exchange of ideas, rather than on divisions and borders, this chapter emphasizes the ways in which early debates about ‘Sovietness’ related to multiple imaginings, understandings, and experiences of the ‘West’. This perspective builds on work that has reconsidered the history of the Soviet Union within the larger framework of European and North American modernity. ‘Being Soviet’ in the formative years of Bolshevism included ideas, technologies, and cultures that were ‘Western’. Some were openly and positively identified as such; others were covert or unacknowledged. The relationship was deeply ambivalent. But the resultant heterodoxy was notably different from Cold War concepts of the Soviet Union as rigid and impermeable.
How could the Bolsheviks exert control over Russia between October 1917 and 1921 when the Provisional Government had failed to do so after the February Revolution? This chapter reassesses those turbulent years through the prism of centre-periphery conflict and state-building, arguing that the process of civil war served to extend Soviet control through the elimination of armed rivals and the suppression of the centrifugal social forces accentuated by revolution in 1917. If the Provisional Government sought to govern at a time when state sovereignty was disintegrating, the civil war was, to a large extent, a struggle for re-integration—a struggle characterized by the projection of armed force and the exercise of violence against civilians. Military domination of the countryside proved a necessary condition for the medium-term socialization of formerly insurgent populations who initially harboured strong grievances against the new Soviet state.
This chapter examines the evolution of business and industry in Ireland since the eighteenth century. Manufacturing industry, together with financial services, is discussed alongside some key contributions to historiography. The geographically wide spread of industrial activity in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and the subsequent increasing localization up to 1914 is then noted. While Dublin and Cork led Belfast in the earlier period, Belfast emerged as Ireland’s premier industrial and commercial city from the mid nineteenth century, with a strong unionist element among its business leaders. The economic problems of post-partition Ireland, both north and south, led to more interventionist action by the Belfast and Dublin governments to support manufacturing industry and in the second half of the twentieth century there was more emphasis on attracting new foreign firms. The financial crisis and austerity measures of the early twenty-first century generated unprecedented uncertainty for Irish business, especially in the Republic.
This chapter attempts a broad historical and historiographical survey of relations between Irish history and that of the British Empire—both of Ireland as subject to English, then British conquest and colonization, and Irish roles in British imperial expansion, plus Irish people’s ambivalent place in the formation of what many historians now call the ‘British World’. It concludes that, whilst there has been a remarkable and welcome recent expansion in our knowledge of all these themes, and whilst debate on them is less polarized than was once the case, there remains much to be discovered.
Roger D. Markwick
Many hold the view not only that Soviet communism and Italian fascism were close ‘totalitarian’ cousins, if not twins like Stalinism and Nazism, but also that the threat of communism begat fascism in its Italian, German, and other European guises. This article compares Stalin's Soviet Union with Mussolini's Fascist Italy, with occasional asides on fascist Germany. Close inspection of Italian fascism and Soviet communism, on a historical basis rather than abstract, political science principles, suggests that their similarities were more apparent than real. The rise of fascism in its Italian and other European manifestations was, in good part, a response to the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and its shock waves in Europe after the First World War. But fascism, like communism, was also a radical reaction to the crises that racked European states and societies in the aftermath of that traumatic, total war.
This article examines the range of national experiences of communist rule in terms of the aspiration to ‘overtake and outstrip the advanced countries economically’. It reviews the causal beliefs of the rulers, the rise and fall of their economies (or, in the case of China, its continued rise), the core institutions of communist rule and their evolution, and other outcomes. The process of overcoming a development lag so as to approach the global technological frontier has required continual institutional change and policy reform in the face of resistance from established interests. So far, China is the only country where communist rule has been able to meet these requirements, enabled by a new deal with political and economic stakeholders. The article places the ‘China Deal’ on a spectrum previously limited to the Soviet Big and Little Deals.
Robert O. Paxton
Why did fascism succeed in some parts of Europe and not in others? This question places the topic squarely in the domain of comparative history. The development of fascism in Europe after 1919 presents a fruitful terrain for comparison. Every European nation, indeed all economically developed nations with some degree of political democracy, had some kind of fascist movement. At further stages of development, the outcomes were dramatically different. In Italy and Germany, fascist movements became major players and achieved power. In the most solidly established Western European democracies, such as Britain and Scandinavia, fascist movements remained marginal. In some cases, such as France and Belgium, they became conspicuous but could approach power only after foreign conquest. A number of authoritarian regimes, including Franco's Spain, Salazar's Portugal, Antonescu's Romania, Horthy's Hungary, imperial Japan, and Vargas's Brazil, borrowed some trappings from fascism but excluded fascist parties from real power.
The 1640s and 1650s were defining decades in Irish history. The 1641 rebellion played a crucial role in shaping the triple Stuart monarchy during the seventeenth century and triggered a decade of civil war in Ireland. Though Catholic Ireland failed to win lasting political autonomy, the 1640s was the only time before 1922 that Ireland enjoyed legislative independence and Catholics worshipped freely. By contrast, during the 1650s England dramatically reasserted control over Ireland. Cromwellian military victory after 1649, followed by English reconquest, paved the way for another round of expropriation. This chapter draws on the wealth of scholarship that has been produced since the mid-1990s, especially on the 1641 rebellion, the civil wars and the Cromwellian land settlement, and suggests avenues for future research. A chronological approach is taken but this should not obscure the forces of continuity which transcend a period otherwise characterized by intense change and upheaval.
The relationship between Italy's intellectuals and fascism is a most controversial issue, which has generated waves of differing views and many forms of polemic. Once the dictatorship and the war were over, Italians had to rebuild their identity and relearn the principles of freedom of speech and tolerant cohabitation of different cultures. This article tackles the central issues related to fascism and culture while trying to add a sense of chronological development over the twenty years of dictatorship. The 1990s witnessed a resurgence of interest in Italy's fascist past, not all of it free from political reverberations. It could be said that, if the early post-war years saw a process of excessive marginalization of the nation's fascist past, in recent times the prominent presence of a former neo-fascist party within the coalition of three Berlusconi governments has caused a momentum towards a more lenient revision of those years.
In the ruins of World War II, culture was meant to mend the spiritual wounds and traumatic losses of everyday life by providing meanings and orientations unscathed by the functionalization of aesthetic culture during the Nazi era. This article focuses on the culture ballgame cast under the shadow of trauma raged by the war and its aftermath. Art, literature, theater, film, and music, in both emerging Germanys, were no doubt embraced as conduits for a resurrection of the spirit. However, the traumas left by the immediate past led artistic practitioners and their recipients alike to believe that such a resurrection could only succeed if aesthetic experience was allowed to unfold in relative distance to postwar politics. Postwar German culture, in each of its initial four occupational zones and later in both of its Cold War incarnations, cannot be subsumed under one rubric, let alone be retold with the help of one master narrative.
Following defeat in the civil war of 1922–23, Irish republicans formed a new political party, Fianna Fáil, in 1926. By 1932, Fianna Fáil, under the leadership of Eamon de Valera, achieved power and remained in office from 1932 to1948 and from 1957 to 1973, being temporarily replaced by coalition governments between 1948–51 and 1954–57. De Valera remained leader of the party until 1959. This article assesses the impact of Fianna Fáil’s domination during these decades; the enduring personal appeal of de Valera, the efforts to increase the sovereignty of the state, and the significance of domestic and foreign policy initiatives, including neutrality during the Second World War. It also examines social and economic issues and conditions, censorship, the moral climate, the impact of the 1937 constitution, emigration, class and gender tensions, and the successes and failures of Irish governance during this formative period for the southern Irish state.