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Note from JimboWales: I really like the way the following discussion is going. What I'm interested to see is whether and to what extent we might be able to achieve some consensus on a basic 3-screen history of the UnitedStates.

Anyhow, it will be very interesting to see what we might hammer out as mutually acceptable to reasonable people who disagree. So far, things don't look good. :-) BryceHarrington is citing NoamChomsky?, who I regard as a lunatic. And TimShell is posting highly inflammatory pictures of genocide.

Will it break down into a flame war? Or does the ability of others to come in and "tone down" the discussion at will mean that flame wars can be avoided?

It sure is fun and addictive to watch to find out!

We don't want the HistoryOfUnitedStates to be a large pile of pro-American propaganda, like virtually all histories of that country are. However, we also don't want it to be a large pile of anti-American propaganda. So I think we should carefully discuss each controversial point that comes up before writing about it.

The American civil war

Bryce stated that this was not so much about racial issues as economic issues, and Tim disagreed therewith. Which of these points, exactly, are you disagreeing with? If it's the racial one - wasn't the north willing to reverse it's stance on that particular issue? Not being American, I don't really know...

The claim that emanicpation was an attempt to destroy the Southern economy is certainly false. The emancipation took effect after the war, when the Southern economy was already ruined. So I have to challenge that point. Of course, ask 10 American historians about the Civil War, and you will get 10 different theories, so it's hard to say what should be included here. - TimShell


I'm not sure why it's so important to mention the SovietUnion invading PolanD, since that had nothing to with the causes of the war. Inasmuchas the allies never went to war with them.

The invasion might be worth mentioning as it was a direct consequence of the secret Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, which Hitler kept until invading the SovietUnion in 1942 (OperationBarbarossa?) - WojPob (GermanY invaded on Sept. 1st and the SovietUnion on Sept. 17th 1939 - BTW)

...Please note I'm not saying it's not worth mentioning altogether. For a discussion of WWII, one could scarce leave it out. I just don't think that the details of how the war started are particularly relevant to the history of the US, except in so far as to give them a just casus belli.

Attitude towards NativeAmericans?

Someone wrote that the Nazi FinalSolution? was perhaps modelled on U.S policy towards NativeAmerican?s. I think this is ludicrous on many levels. Even if it were true that some Nazi's viewed it as the same thing (something I don't really know about), that view is itself ludicrous. We're talking about a serious estimate of 6,000 dead in a variety of unfortunate incidents, versus a serious estimate of how many millions dead as the result of a deliberate genocide? -- JimboWales

For the record, there were deliberate attempts to annihilate the native americans. I can give you two incidents in particular. One, which happened hortly before the American revolution, was the deliberate spreading of smallpox among the Pontiac. The second is the deliberate annihilation of the Six Nations, to quote Washington:

"The immediate objects are the total destruction and devastation of their settlements, and the capture of as many prisoners of every age and sex, as possible...that the country not be merely overrun but destroyed."

This took place as punishment for their alliance with the British. But certainly it's not how they would have treated the Canadiens, and the Oneida and Tuscora were not spared for their neutrality. In short, it might not have been the coordinated and causeless hatred of the nazis, but certainly it was far from a series of incidents that devastated the natives. Please don't consider this as a specifically anti-American sentiment, since as you can see above it was a continuation of the British attitude, and common to imperialist powers in general.

I agree, the treatment of the NativeAmericans? was ugly, but comparing it to the NaziHolocaust? is really pushing it. We are talking about a total of 6,000 dead (according to TimShell over on IndianMassacres, anyway) versus millions. --JimboWales

Ok, I'm not trying to say that they're tragedies of equal magnitudes. But remember North America was populated fairly sparsely at the time, except for the Aztecs and Mayans down in Mexico, whose blood goes on the hands of the conquistadors. I'm merely saying that though the nazis were dealing with a lot more people, so many that they had to develop all sorts of horrifyingly ingenious methods of doing so, the underlying motivations seem comparable.

There's a tendency to think of the holocaust as a singularly awful point in history. The sad thing is, it's not. It's just that the Nazis were better at what they were doing then most others who have tried, and have received a lot more publicity. But most countries that have ever been powerful, have some sort of deliberate genocide on their hands.

There is also some stuff left on [Ward's wiki] that probably wouldn't hurt to consider.

Chomsky seems to be applying Lenin's theory of imperialism. The competing theory, that nations grow wealthy by increasing the productivity of thier labor, has the advantage over Lenin's of being supported by the evidence.

R.J. Rummel has done history's most exhaustive study on the issue of governmental mass murder. He has calculated the total number of deaths by studying each reported instance of murder and adding them all up, for all of the most destructive regimes of the 20th century (the total for the century came in around 170 million). For perspective, he has done similar research on pre-20th century political mass murder. He was able to document an estimated 6000 deaths of Native Americans at the hands of the United States government. If you wish to argue that there were more than this, please indicate when and where each incident occured and how many people were killed in each incident. This is recent history in an area with a free press and a literate population - if these events occured, they would have been documented. Where are the bodies? If the evidence was destroyed, where is the powerful centralized organization that systematically disposed of the evidence over thousands of miles (a powerful centralized oganization would be necessary for a task of that scale). Where are the directives from Washington (there is official documentation of all the modern genocides - why not this one)? Where are the eye-witness accounts (there are eye-witness accounts of all the modern genocides - why not this one)?

A collaborative project like this one could be a valuable tool for this kind of research. We can start of page for IndianMassacres and begin compiling an exhaustive list of incidents.

(curiously, Rummel just sent me this illustration:)

- TimShell

Okay, okay, I don't wish to be thought of as a lunatic, or be punching bag filler, so I'll depart.

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Last edited January 31, 2001 7:00 am by JoshuaGrosse (diff)