Timeline: 4.3 million Years Ago to 12,000 BCE

Homo habilis – an educated guess

4.3 million YA (Years Ago)  In what today is Ethiopia, creatures labeled Ardipithecus ramidus lived, represented today by the nickname created by scientists: “Ardi”. Her species was either directly ancestral to humans or closely related to a species ancestral to humans. She was 1.2 meters (4 feet) tall. She walked on two feet – not knuckle-walking as gorillas and chimps do, but did not have arched feet like us, indicating that she could not walk or run for long distances. She had opposable great toes and she had a pelvis that allowed her to negotiate tree branches well.

3.2 million YA  In what today is Ethiopia, members of the biological family Hominidae lived, represented today by the nickname “Lucy.” The angle of her knee joint indicates that she walked upright. She was 1.1 meters (3 feet 8 inches) tall. Walking upright improves the ability to run after game and to run from danger.

2.5 million YA  Rocks are split into flakes and used as tools.

2.5 to 1.6 million YA  A species called Homo habilis lives in what today is Tanzania. It is shorter and has disproportionately long arms compared to modern humans and is using stone tools.

1.8 to 1.3 million YA  A species called Homo erectus has come into being and spreads as far as India, China and Java. (There are still disagreements about the Homo erectus classification.) Homo Erectus is to be described as the first human species to walk fully upright.

1.77 million YA  Hominids (humans) in what today is the Dmanisi Republic of Georgia have a gum disease that scientists will think must have been caused by the use of toothpicks.

1 million YA (or shortly thereafter) Creatures using stone tools exist in Eastern England.

200,000 YA  Give or take thousands of years, Homo sapiens have come into being in Africa. They create what will be a fossil record of their species. They are to remain very rare in Africa for much more than 100,000 years. They will be described as having a greater part of their brain devoted to language and speech than Homo erectus.

130,000 YA  The Eemian interglacial period begins. Greater warmth in the next 5,000 years will allow forests to reach above the Arctic Circle. By now another creature belonging to the homo genus (biological grouping), Neanderthals, exist in Europe. They are a species apart from Homo erectus and Homo sapiens. Throat anatomy suggests to scientists that Neanderthals could speak with complex sounds similar to humans.

130,000 YA  The earliest undisputed evidence for an intentional burial appears, to be described in the August 2002 issue of British journal Archaeology. Neanderthals and the Pontnewydd Cave in Wales are mentioned.

110,000 YA  Give or take thousands of years, the Eemian interglacial period ends and another ice age begins, but humans and the Neanderthal will endure.

75,000 YA  Give or take thousands of years, people in Africa have begun to expand from the east or the south, to the west and to the north. Genetic evidence suggests that they will replace other peoples, except for the Khoisan and pygmy peoples. In density of population they will remain rare.

73,000-68,000 YA  The Toba Catastrophe Theory holds that on the island of Sumatra a super-volcanic eruption created a volcanic winter that extended to Africa and reduced the world’s human population there to between 1,000 and 10,000 breeding couples. A mini ice age followed, lasting around 1,000 years. Where the eruption occurred a lake developed – Lake Toba.

60,000-55,000 YA  The planet warms a bit. Ice retreats a little. Changes in climate will eventually begin to alternate between warmer and colder conditions, often in sudden jumps. Much of what would be Indonesian islands are a part of the Asian mainland. New Guinea, Australia and Tasmania are one continent, known today as Sahul.

50,000 YA  Humans running from drought have left Africa, taking a coastal route to India.

50,000 YA  Mating between Neanderthals and people called Denisovans introduces genes that will help modern humans cope with viruses. The interbreeding will embody as much as 4 percent of the human genome.

45,000 YA Humans are in Italy, according to some scholars, reported in Scientific American (20 Aug 2014),”overlapping” with Neaderthals “for up to 5,400 years in parts of southern Europe, yet to a much lesser extent or not at all in other parts of the continent.”

44,000? YA  Neanderthals in Europe on average are about as tall as contemporaneous humans, with around the same size skulls, suggesting similar brain size. Scientists will describe Neanderthals as highly intelligent, that in weapon making they were the first to use “dry distillation.” Their bones are a little heavier and they tend to have stronger arms and hands. Like humans they use stone tools. DNA studies will indicate that because Neanderthal and human genes are so nearly identical some interbreeding may have occurred between the two species. Genetic analyses will reveal modern European individuals as 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal genetically. (PBS Nova: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/decoding-neanderthals.htm

43,000 YA  Humans are in an area around 500 kilometers south of what is today Moscow, their presence to be surmised in CE 2007 by archaeologists who have uncovered artifacts at what today is called the Kostenki Site.

42,000 YA  By now, humans have crossed a body of water from Sunda in Southeast Asia to the continent of Sahul, including what today are called New Guinea, Australia and Tasmania.

40,000 YA  Near what today is Beijing, human bones dating to around this year have been found. At least one person to whom these bones belong wore shoes. According to Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in Missouri, evidence also exists of some shoe or sandal wearing among Neanderthals.

40,000 YA  Neanderthals “disappear from Europe” around now according to Scientific American, (20 Aug 2014).

40,000 YA Europe is first settled by humans around this time. (“Science & Environment,” BBC News, 7 Nov 2014.)

30,000 YA  Homo Erectus becomes extinct. This species will be described as having used the same basic hand axe for more than a million years. Homo Sapiens, meanwhile, have been using the spear.

27,000 YA Climate change has produced ice now at a peak in covering something like two-thirds of Europe. Hunter-gatherer societies “ebbed and flowed” according to Mirazón Lahr, from Cambridge’s Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies (LCHES). In other words some groups died and some survived. The ice was to start melting 17,000 years later.

25,000 YA The last Ice age is reaching its peak. DNA comparisons will show that “Native Americans” are beginning to diverge genetically from their Asian ancestors. These ancestors are disappearing in Northeastern Siberia while those who will be called Native Americans are surviving between Siberia and Alaska on land that is dry as a result of low sea levels that accompanied the ice age. (See Scientific American, 4 March 2014)

20,000 BCE (Before the Common Era)  By now humans are in southern Greece.

18,000 BCE  People in what today is Hunan province, in central China near the Yangzi River, are making pottery.

14,500 BCE  An ice-free corridor in Canada allows migration from Alaska southward.

14,000 BCE  A melting ice sheet begins a rise in sea levels and warming in Europe. Rising waters have separated New Guinea, Australia and Tasmania.

13,000 BCE  Rice is being grown in Korea. Father north, the land bridge between between Siberia and the North American continent begins to disappear.

12,000 BCE  The epoch described by geologists as the Pleistocene has ended. The epoch spanned nearly 1.8 million years. The last continental glacier is in retreat, and for archaeologists the Paleolithic age – a cultural period – ends.

Japan’s Economy and Welfare

After the war, Japan’s government entered into a partnership with private enterprise. But its private insurance industry was devastated. Private insurance companies had failed as Japan had passed through the earthquake of 1923, the Great Depression and then the destruction from bombing raids during the war. Japan’s government became the nation’s insurance agency: against sickness, injury, unemployment and just about everything else that insurers cover, including social security for the elderly. Japan’s government turned the nation into a welfare state comparable to what was developing in Scandinavia. Japan’s government, still under occupation, was replacing, it was said, a feudal economy with a welfare economy. Its welfare policy was to benefit from Japan’s culture of social responsibility and conformity. Japan was to cling to its universal welfare, and rather than inhibiting Japan’s economic growth it was to develop into one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

The outbreak of the Korean War boosted Japan’s economy as Japan became the supplier of goods needed for war. Payments from the US government bolstered the Japanese economy, amounting to 27 percent of Japan’s total export trade. But a more permanent boost to Japan’s postwar industrialization was a government ministry: the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). In 1951, MITI established the Japan Development Bank, which supplied private industry with low-cost capital for long-term growth. MITI stimulated cooperation between government and private industry. Here was government involvement in the economy that US conservatives had no taste for. MITI coordinated various industries to national production goals, and MITI had the power to promote industries it believed promising. A writer contributing to Wikipedia commented that, “The low cost of imported technology allowed for rapid industrial growth. Productivity was greatly improved through new equipment, management, and standardization.”

By the mid-1950s, Japan’s economy reached prewar levels. In 1951, Japan’s Gross National Product was half that of West Germany’s, one-third of Britain’s, and 4.2 percent that of the US GDP. In the late 1950s, Japan’s rice crop set new records, a result of advances in fertilizers, insecticides and seed strains. Japan expanded its fruit growing, vegetable, meat and dairy industries, and with the Japanese consuming more bread and meat, the nation became self-sufficient in rice. The greater productivity in agriculture made more people available for the workforce needed in Japan’s industrial sector. Production in textiles, small electronic appliances, photographic equipment and automobiles increased with a competitive advantage over the methods and practices employed by US industrial leaders.

In 1960 Japan had 16.5 percent of the per capita GDP of the United States. The US was burdened by its Cold War commitments, including its efforts in Vietnam from 1965 into the early 1970s. By 1988, near the end of the Cold War, Japan had passed ahead of the US in per capita GDP and had moved further ahead of South Korea. And Japan had gained also on Switzerland, the world leader in per capita GDP in 1988. In 1960 Japan had 27.2 percent of Switzerland’s per capital GDP. In 1988 that figure had risen to 82 percent.

In 1962, Japan’s agricultural work force was 29 percent of the overall work force, down from 41 percent in 1955. Its Gross National Product in 1962 was $44.8 billion measured in 1951 dollars, up from $15.1 billion, and in 1963 its Gross National Product increased 13 percent. Japan had been saving a good percentage of its earnings and a higher percentage of the nation’s wealth went into investment rather than into the consumerism pursued in the United States. With economic recovery, Japan’s government was able to increase its investment in research and development, which, in turn, helped Japan’s economic development.

By 1970, Japan had overtaken all European economies. It had become the second largest economy in the world and it was a world leader in education. In 1975, Japan’s GNP was double Britain’s and 40 percent of that of the United States – all this despite its welfare.  The country’s continuing birth to death welfare was benefitting from the country’s economic success. According to Niall Ferguson (The Ascent of Money, p. 209), “In 1975 just 9 percent of national income went on social security, compared with 31 per cent for Sweden.”

Japan’s industrial work force was benefiting from the economic growth. The work force was paid relatively well – nothing like the subsistence wages in the Soviet Union during the economic growth years of Stalin’s five-year plans. And the Japanese continued to save at a higher rate than people in the United States.

In 1983, in non-military research and development Japan pulled ahead: 2.7 percent of GDP against 2.0 percent for the United States and 1.0 for the Soviet Union. note54

Economically, Japan still had major concerns. It was dependent on various imports – feed for its livestock, wheat and other cereals and iron ore for its steel and iron industries. It had to import all of the oil that it consumed. Japan imported more fish than it exported. Its farms were small and inefficient compared to those in the United States, and Japan needed to protect its farmers from competition with farmers in the United States in order to maintain a healthy independence in food production – something not always appreciated by policy analysts in the United States. Japan was always on the edge of belt tightening, to hold back from an unfavorable balance of trade. But Japan was also investing heavily abroad, creating and diversifying wealth and tying itself more closely with the rest of the world – the opposite of what had been doing in the 1930s.

Financial Crisis

Throughout the 1970s, Japan’s economy in size was second only to the United States. After a mild slump in the mid-1980s the economy boomed again, and in 1990 it ranked first among the major industrial powers in per capita GDP. Credit was easily available and interest rates low.

Something unsound began taking place in the latter half of the 1980s. It has been described as “over-investment.” It could be called, “irrational exuberance,” in other words, too much enthusiasm and optimism in the pursuit of money. A “bubble” was being created while credit was easily available, interest rates were low and borrowing massive. Speculation created real estate prices that were extremely over-valued. Japan’s stock market index, the Nikkei, reached a dizzying height of 37,189 in January, 1990, up from 10,000 in 1984.

From its height in January 1990 the Nikkei that month plunged, signaling that some were aware of the over investment. By July 1992 the Nikkei was down around 16,000 – a 57 percent fall. It was to be a tough decade financially and a decade of economic decline for the Japanese. During the period of over-investment, bankers, as human and as dumb as others, had overestimated growth. Seeking bigger monetary gains, they had made bad and increasingly risky loans. The result was a banking crisis in the 1990s.

The 1990s became know as Japan’s “Lost Decade.” Investments were increasingly directed out of the country, and the slowing investments in technology at home cut into Japan’s manufacturing and competitive edge.

There was a lot of government investment in infrastructure, bridges, airports and roads. The 1995 Kobe earthquake, which killed thousands, stimulated more spending. But unemployment continued to hover around 5 percent officially – unofficially maybe around 10 percent.

Consumers remained little interested in spending other than for their essentials. They preferred to save, and with the public creating little demand, prices fell – a deflationary spiral downward. Japan’s Central Bank set interest rates at approximately zero. But public interest in spending remained low.

The banking crisis festered, and in late 1997 came numerous bank failures that produced a crisis in lending. Companies had massive debts and an inability to obtain loans for capital investment. The government injected 1.8 trillion yen into Japan’s main banks to keep banking going. But the injections failed to stem the growing crisis. Banks were hiding the extent of their real losses and “bad assets.” A government bail-out took hold in 1999. Many banks were unsustainable, and a wave of bank consolidations took place – to produce what would eventually be only four national banks in Japan.

The economy moved along, averaging 1.7 percent growth in the 1990s. Japan’s economy as measured by per capita GDP had been greater than that of the United States in 1989 by 108 percent; in 2003 Japan’s per capita GDP was only 88 percent as large as that of the United States. The value of stocks represented on the Nikkei exchange stayed down and hit bottom in April 2003 at 7,831, a drop of almost 80 percent in value from its January 1990 high. Government debt as a percentage of GDP had a steady increase from around 70 percent at the beginning of the 1990s to around 170 percent by 2003.

A business writer for the New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi, has written:

Only in 2003 did the [Japanese] government finally take the actions that helped lead to a recovery: forcing major banks to submit to merciless audits and declare bad debts; spending two trillion yen to effectively nationalize a major bank, wiping out its shareholders; and allowing weaker banks to fail. (NYT Feb 12, 2009)

Also from 2003, Japan was benefiting from more sales to the United States and China. Japan’s currency had weakened relative to other currencies which helped revive its sales abroad, helping to create what would be called a recovery. Then came the international financial crisis in late 2007. Japan in 2008 returned to recession. Government debt reached 192 percent in 2009. Japan’s per capita GDP for that year was down to just a little over 70 percent that of the United States. And going into 2010 the Nikkei stock average was hovering down around the 10,000 level, a little more than one-forth what it had been in January 1990.

China, a Macro History

Ray Huang lived from 1918 to 2000. He was Chinese and fought on the side of the Nationalist forces against the Japanese in Burma. He earned his BA, Masters and PhD in history from the University of Michigan, the latter in 1964. He taught history in the United States and is well known for having promoted macrohistory.

The book is described as exploring the trends in government, military, cultural and religious institutions from ancient to modern times. This was one of the books I used in gathering information about China, and I found it easy reading. It’s been used as a text book and appreciated as concise and a “good introduction.”

One customer reviewing the book at Amazon.com writes: “This is one of the most enlightening books I’ve read. Maybe only a person with Ray Huang’s life experience, his mastery of both the eastern and western languages and culture can write a book so refreshing and so uncolored by party politics or ideological beliefs.”

It has been suggested that “some economic historians, like Kenneth Pomeranz,” have an advanced take on China’s economic development in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Failed Radicals in Europe

Anti-war Protests and Unrest in France, 1968

“Politically we lost – thank God.”   Daniel Cohn-Bendit, decades after the event.

In Europe, young people were voicing their opposition to what the United States was doing in Vietnam. From Norway south, people had been acquiring an unfavorable picture of the United States, mitigated only by the vast numbers of Americans protesting the war. Some Germans were saying that Germany had made its big mistakes and now it was the United States taking its turn at mistakes. And, of course, there were those who were willing to go to extremes in their opposition to US policy. On March 18, 1968 in Paris, left-wing student commandos set off bombs in the offices of Chase Manhattan Bank, the Bank of America and Trans World Airlines, the “commandos” believing these companies were involved in the war in Vietnam.

Responding to the bombing a few days later, Paris police arrested two young men and three school boys, and that day, at the University of Paris annex at Nanterre a meeting was called to protest the arrests, attended by around 150 people. The gathering called itself the Movement of March 22, and they decided also to address unpleasant conditions at their university and , including overcrowding and dormitory rules.

The strategy of the Movement of March 22 was to provoke. They scuffled with school authorities. The school dean called police for help. Four vans of police arrived, and students chanted “Nazis” at the police. The commotion made headlines in France’s newspapers, and it brought the Movement of March 22 support from various “intellectuals” and from students at other universities. The rise of Leftists on various campuses inspired right-wing students to do battle with the Leftists. Rioting erupted at the University of Paris – the Sorbonne. The university administration called on rioting students to disperse. The students refused. The police were called in, and the police came with vans into which they put male and female students. Students shouted “down with the repression.” They threw stones at the vans, shattered van windshields, and lifted parked cars onto the road to block the departure of the vans, and the police attempted to control the rampaging students with tear gas.

A clash between the students and the Paris police escalated. On a Saturday morning, four or five thousand students gathered off campus, at the Latin Quarter. They paraded and chanted “professors not police.” The demonstrators were joined by a few faculty members, high school students and others, and at three in the afternoon the enlarged demonstration started toward the Sorbonne. The police pushed them back, and a twelve-hour battle followed, the police and demonstrators pushing each other back and forth across the boulevards. The demonstrators lit fires, pulled up cobblestones from the street, and they tore iron gratings from around trees on the sidewalks and uprooted traffic signs, which they threw at the police. The police were clumsy and knocked down commuters. They sprayed tear gas over the area, and they stormed sidewalk cafes where demonstrators had fled. The police rounded up demonstrators and took them away in policy vans. And the movement now had a new slogan: “Liberate our comrades!”

The student revolt spread from Paris to universities in the provinces. The mood among the young was not the desperation of those involved in a real revolution; it was joy, exhilaration, excitement and hope that some big but vague change was in the offing. Many adults were in sympathy with the students, including labor unionists led by Social Democrats. Communist led labor unions, with their vague idea as to what revolution was supposed to be about, held back, declaring the student rising as the work of “leftist adventurers.”

In early May, a general strike was called, and ten million people went out on strike. The Social Democrat led unions turned their factory yards into fairgrounds in support of the student uprising. The celebrated Jean Paul Sartre and 121 others signed a statement asserting “the right to disobedience,” and Sartre spoke approvingly of student barricades, stating that violence was their only recourse. Leftist politicians called people into the streets as a show of force, and a half million people paraded peacefully and in good humor. Paris came to a halt. And hope was rising on the Left that France’s president, Charles de Gaulle, would be toppled.

The protest in France surprised and aroused people across much of Europe, and a wave of youthful protest spread to every major democratic nation in Europe. Students in Sweden joined in, not only protesting the war in Vietnam but also looking for injustices within Sweden that they could denounce. But the revolution in France was now about to fizzle. France was a nation that had some experience with revolution, and many in France looked at the prospect of revolution with revulsion. Many among the French also associated revolution with Communism, which added to their revulsion.

After the Communists had seen the size of the strike movement, they joined it, and de Gaulle spoke to the nation on television and described France as being threatened by Communist dictatorship. The Communists and the Socialists, he said, were conspiring to overthrow legitimate government. He promised the nation that he was not about to surrender the mandate given to him by the French people. He dissolved parliament and announced new general elections. De Gaulle’s supporters flooded the streets in numbers greater than the Left had put into the streets. Veterans wore their medals. People sang the Marseilles. There was a chant that “Communists will not pass” and that France was for the French. Rightist rowdies could not resist joining in the anti-Communist demonstrations, and referring to the student movement leader, Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Danny the Red), the son of Jews who had fled Germany, some chanted “Cohn-Bendit à Dachau.” A few shots were fired at Communist Party office buildings.

A few of the labor strikes were called off, and on June 18 the biggest strike, at the Renault plant, ended – with labor having won some hikes in wages. As people elsewhere were going back to work, some on the Left tried to revitalize the movement with more demonstrations and some violence. The government announced a ban on all demonstrations anywhere in France until after the elections, then pending. The government declared illegal the student movement’s organization and declared illegal a Trotskyist organization and a Maoist group. The government expelled from France dozens of foreigners considered trouble makers. And all red flags were hauled down from poles on state property.

A showdown concerning opinion came in elections. The Gaullist Party (associated with Charles de Gaulle) increased its seats in parliament from 200 to 297. The Gaullist Party and its allies held 385 of the 487 seats in parliament – a great majority for the Gaullists. The Socialists dropped from 118 seats to 57. Communist Party seats in parliament fell from 73 to 34. Together the Socialists and Communists had lost 100 seats. And the war in Vietnam would last for seven more years.

Baader-Meinhof and the Red Brigade

Rising from the anti-war protests of 1968 was the youthful group in Germany that came to be known as the Baader-Meinhof gang. They wanted social revolution, their struggles having convinced them that their society was evil. They hoped that their acts would provoke the authorities into exposing this evil to the rest of German society. They announced that they were waging a war against “fascist Germany.” They kidnapped and killed ten or so people, and rather than win the public as they had hoped they were despised by most Germans. Without a mass following, their revolution failed, and in 1977 their leaders – Adreas Baader and two others – committed suicide.

In Italy, a student movement and the anti-Vietnam war activities gave birth to the “Red Brigade” (Brigate Rosse). From chanting “Johnson executioner” they began to focus on the evils of capitalist society, and in 1978 they kidnapped and murdered Aldo Moro, Italy’s leading Christian Democrat. The Red Brigade remained isolated and despised, and like the Baader-Meinhof gang they gained nothing.

Britain and the Industrial Revolution, to 1830

British agriculture advanced in the 1700s with the use of crop rotation that had been in use in the United Netherlands – the periodic planting of turnips and clover, which return nitrogen compounds to the soil. Potatoes were being grown. And a seed drill was being used to put seeds deeper into the ground, away from the wind and out of reach of birds. The planting of grass and root crops improved the soil, eliminating the need to leave one-third of a field fallow every year. Larger herds provided more manure for the fields. Food became cheaper to buy and the average person had more money to spend on manufactured goods.

Britain’s economy benefited from stable government and security in holding private property. Britain was becoming the leader in world commerce. Its economy benefited from an effective central bank and from well developed credit mechanisms. Internally Britain was without tariff barriers. All of England was connected by waterways, with no place no more than twenty miles away from water transport, and in the 1700s this inland transportation was being improved with more canal building.

In France Britain was described as a nation of shopkeepers. Great Britain had an extensive middle-class whose values included industry, thrift, initiative and education in matters practical. A spirit of audacity contributed to initiative. The shackles that had been put on Galileo were off. Ignored was the old complaint that if God had intended this or that he would have made it so. Improvements had created a belief in progress, and while working in the sciences and tinkering with mechanics a few people were able to come up with new ways of doing things. New machines were developed.

In the early 1800s there were the Luddites – workers in the spinning industry during hard times who feared being replaced by machines and who rioted. This was in Nottingham in 1811. A few were hanged. The rioting resumed over much of Britain in 1816, but power was on the side of the mill owners, and prosperity was returning. By the 1830s, mechanization had increased productivity in the spinning industry in Britain between 300 and 400 times what it had been decades before.

The production of steel made steam engines possible. Back in 1765 a Scottish instrument maker, James Watt, had created a condenser for steam engines that made them more efficient and practical. Steam engines were used to pump water from mines, and steam engines began replacing waterpower in the cotton spinning and flour mills, in the crushing of sugar cane in the Indies and in driving bellows in iron and steel production.

It had been animals and humans burning calories that did the work. Burning wood had been another source of energy for the British, but much of Britain’s forests had been chopped down and replaced by fields of grain and hay. The new source of energy was coal, for heating and running steam engines. It was abundant and near the surface in Britain, eliminating the need to trade for it or to transport it across the seas. In 1800 Britain was producing 90 percent of the world’s output of coal.

German states were also growing technologically, as were other states, including France and the United States. In 1830 Britain had 9.5 percent of the world’s manufacturing, a big jump up from 1.9 percent in 1750. China with a much larger population had 32.8 percent in 1750 and had declined to 29.8 percent in 1830. India had also declined, from 24.5 percent in 1750 to 17.6 percent in 1830.  In production per person (per capita) Britain led in 1830 with 25 percent of the world’s manufacturing compared to 6 percent each for China and for India. note31

The Downside

The British historian Sir R J Evans described the industrial revolution as rising out of an agricultural revolution and these revolutions as having “destroyed the balance of society.” New farming methods required fewer hands, and people left for the new factory towns. Factories with steam power were replacing work in homes or small shops in rural areas or small towns. Through the Napoleonic war against France and following that war, employers were not burdened by a government empowered minimum wage. Those they needed to hire were in great supply, and employers paid wages that were bare subsistence or less as common people faced rising prices. Writes Evans:

There were no regulations or restrictions whatever to govern the physical state of the factories, the age or suitability of the workers … or to limit in any way the hours worked. In 1815 the average factory working time seems to have varied from twelve to fourteen hours a day, with not more than two half-hours off for meals… And these hours were worked in dirty, ill-lit building, devoid of sanitation, or any arrangement or regulation to control the number of machines, or to protect the human beings packed to the limit of the available space. note32

As British historian Jan Morris describes it, “…stylish English cities of the eighteenth century were invested now by tenements and factories.” According to Morris, as late as 1837, “…at least one in ten of the British people were paupers, naked women pulled wagons through mine shafts, poor little children of eight and nine were working twelve-hour days in the dark factories of the north.” note33

previous | Reform and Revolution


The Victorian Age, by R J Evans, 1950

Heaven’s Command, by Jan Morris, 1973

Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, by Paul Kennedy, 1987

The Relentless Revolution, by Joyce Appleby, 2010

Additional Reading

The Age of Revolution, 17891848, by E J Hobsbawm, 1962

Christianity becomes Dominant

Constantine supports Christianity | Constantine and the nature of Jesus Christ | Constantine’s Harsh Rule | Prestige and Transformations | Bishop Historian: Eusebius | Emperors Julian (the Apostate) to Valentinian | Emperors against Pagans, Jews and Arian Christians

Constantine supports Christianity

In addition to having become an emperor, Constantine took office as Supreme Pontiff. And, as Supreme Pontiff, he gave recognition to the god that had been his father’s favorite: Sol Invictus, the Syrian sun god that had been brought to Rome by the boy-emperor Elagabalus some sixty years before. Constantine’s half of the empire was five or more percent Christian. His mother, Helena, was among the Christians. Constantine had become sympathetic with the god of the Christians, and perhaps he gave Jesus at least part of the credit for his military victory over his rival, Maxentius, making Jesus Christ in his view a god of war.

In the eastern half of the empire, Galerius, who had died in 311, had been succeeded by his choice, his drinking companion, Licinius (pronounced Lick-IN-ee-us). At Milan in 313, Constantine came to an understanding with Licinius. The two recognized each other’s rule, and they agreed that Christianity was to have full equality with other religions and that the property taken from Christians during the persecutions was to be returned. This was their Edict of Toleration.

Constantine gave the Bishop of Rome imperial property where a new cathedral, the Lateran Basilica, would rise, and he provided for the building of other Christian churches across his part of the empire. He granted the Christian clergy special privileges and allowed people to will their property to the Church. He exempted the clergy from taxation, from military service and forced labor – as had been granted to the priests of other recognized religions. The tax exemptions for the Christian clergy were followed by a number of wealthy men rushing to join the clergy, and Constantine corrected this by making it illegal for rich pagans to claim tax exemptions as Christian priests.

The Christian church was experiencing numerous ideological conflicts, and the bishops sought help from Constantine in their effort to preserve what they called true Christianity. Constantine wanted Christianity to end its bickering, and he responded willingly to the bishops’ requests. He saw it as his duty to suppress impiety, and the bishops accepted Constantine’s authority.

Constantine’s half of the empire remained from five to ten percent Christian, and the city of Rome remained largely pagan, especially the Senate, and so too did the high command of Constantine’s army. Constantine had made no break with paganism. The arch dedicated to Constantine’s victory over Maxentius, erected in 315 or 316, described that victory as an “instigation of divinity” and had not credited Jesus or the god of the Jews and Christians, Jehovah (Yahweh). Constantine appointed pagan aristocrats to high offices in Rome while tolerating from his army the greeting “Constantine, may the immortal gods preserve you for us!” Then, in 321, in a move to accommodate Christianity with prevailing pagan ways, Constantine made the day of Sol Invictus a holy day and a day of rest for the Christians – Sunday.

Constantine Takes Control of the Eastern Half of the Empire

In the east, Licinius grew fearful of the respect that Christians in his realm had for Constantine. He expelled Christians from his household and executed a few bishops. In 323, Constantine and his army entered Greece. Then he drove another wave of Goth invaders north and  back across the Danube River. Although Constantine was still in what was officially the western half of the empire he was close enough to the east to concern Licinius. Licinius attempted negotiations with Constantine, which failed, and war erupted between the two. In late 324, Constantine’s forces defeated those under Licinius, and Constantine became emperor of the entire empire. He had publicly promised to spare the life of Licinius, but he changed his mind, and the following year he had Licinius executed by strangulation.

After defeating Licinius, Constantine founded a new capital city in the eastern half of the empire, at Byzantium. He called the city “New Rome.” Later it would be called the City of Constantine, or Constantinople. Eventually it would be called Istanbul.

Constantine had not been baptized, but he appears to have become increasingly devoted to Christianity. He wrote of his successes as an indication of favor from Christianity’s god. He attributed the failures of those recent emperors who had persecuted the Christians as an indication of the Christian god’s power. Constantine granted more lands to the Church. He began a new series in the construction of Christian churches that were much grander than the Christians had before his time. And he gave Christian bishops the authority of judges – against whom there would be no appeal.

Constantine attempted to increase his appeal as a Christian by writing that his father, Constantius – a vice-emperor under Diocletian – had honored the “one supreme god,” and that this god had given his father “manifestations and signs” of his assistance. It was a claim that overlooked that his father had worshiped Sol Invictus, had supported, however half-heartedly, Diocletian’s persecutions of the Christians and had died a pagan.

How War Began

Author: Keith F. Otterbein

Texas A&M University Press, 2004

Keith Otterbein is a professor of anthropology at the University at Buffalo. His approach to How War Began is academic. This review will review his work on the question more succinctly.

Otterbein lists various theories about the origins of war: the Killer Ape Theory – humankind acting out his innate killer instincts. This theory, Otterbein points out, has been described as having origins in late nineteenth century Darwinism and has been associated with man the hunter.

A rival to the Killer Ape Theory is the Developmental Theory: humankind was originally peaceful but fell into war as human society passed into new phases of history, and warfare rose in stages, from armed raids for sport to a political expression of early nationalism.

Thirdly are the “diffusion and acculturation theories” – peaceful people learning war from more tightly organized and warlike political powers – a not very useful abstraction.  

The fourth and last theory, the World Systems Theory, which Otterbein suggests takes “the best from the earlier theories.”

From here Otterbein continues for 200 more pages, including an eight-page conclusion.

My own description of “How War Began” goes back to hunter-gatherer societies and a condition with humanity that persisted through the ages. There were small wars, or riots, between people within societies such as Colin Turnbull described in his work “Forest People.” And there was violence between societies. Violence came as a result of people unable to settle their differences verbally, viewing violence as the proper alternative and believing perhaps that those they disagreed with needed punishment. Different societies hardly recognized strangers as human. They were hardly willing to give sympathy or understanding to the point of view of the other side, and hardly willing to resolve the conflict between them through discussion and perhaps compromise. There were beliefs that the other side had sent demons against them. There was revenge and raiding, with violent warfare becoming a tradition within societies – as happened within hunter-gatherer societies among North American Indians.

Wars continued with the ownership of land, the rise of  towns, and with authoritarian kings. Kings wanted more power and possessions without concern for those from whom they would take these. War had beginnings that were not necessarily linked to a previous war. Resolution came when one king destroyed the power of compititor kings.

Wars came and went and came again not because of some mysterious, innate compulsion to war. Eventually political entities found it in their interest to work out their conflicts discussion and compromise. Into the 19th century this began between Canada and the United States. Looking at the 21st century, this has happened between Germany and France. Federation helped. For example, there have not been wars between Montana and Wyoming because their conflicts are worked out as the federal level.  Accords such as the European Union also helped. Wars have vanished with institutional changes rather than a change in the hearts of people. In ancient times, when people were supposed to be close to God, people were destined to suffer wars not because of irreverence but because of inadequate institutional changes.

The above is my conclusion. In his conclusion, Keith Otterbein draws on his work as a student of anthropology. He writes that some non-literate societies are violent and some are not. He describes the difference between them as that of military organization. He writes of non-professional and professional military organizations. The non-professional military – based on fraternal interest – engaged in warfare that was only infrequent. Then weapons for hunting improved. “Big game hunting increased in importance. Concomitant with this change was an increase in the frequency of warfare.” 

Otterbein is opposed to the “Myth of the Peaceful Savage.” He writes of having found that hunter-gatherers whose subsistence relied heavily upon hunting, particularly large game hunting, were likely to engage in frequent warfare. He found that a decline in the hunting of large game had accompanied a decline in warfare. “Peaceful peoples,” he writes, “settled river valleys, where they either domesticated crops or received crops through diffusion.” With an absence of warfare came political complexity. Then and after a while the state and military organization arose, based on elites and later on massed infantry, and with this came greater war.

In his conclusion Otterbein challenges the claim that there was no warfare before the Neolithic (new Stone Age) period. He challenges the theory that early agriculturalists, including the first residents of Jericho, engaged in warfare. And he disputes the claim that military conquests led to the first states.

Changing Hinduism

Hinduism remained a religion with much variety. It was less organized and less concerned with heresy than Christianity, and it developed new trends. As early as the fourth century the movement called Bhakti – meaning devotion – arose among some of the poor in southern India, and by the 1100s it began spreading to the north. It was another move away from the religion of aristocrats. Bhakti worshipers rejected Brahmin scholarship and ritual Brahmin sacrifices, for which they lacked time as well as money. And being of lower caste, Bhakti adherents rejected, or at least minimized, caste. The followers of Bhakti practiced humility and sang of their adoration and love for a generous, merciful, supreme god. As in Christianity, women were encouraged to participate and Bhakti had some upper class devotees. And some within the Bhakti movement were made saints.

Hinduism changed again when Krishna became a god apart from Vishnu. Rivalry between Vishnu worship and the worship of another god, Shiva, had grown. The worshipers of Shiva tended to be rural, more intense in their devotion and more concerned with sin, especially the sin of carnality, while the worshipers of Vishnu were more urbane and moderate. The rural Shiva worshippers were closer to fertility worship than the worshippers of Vishnu, and some devoted to Vishnu derided the followers of Shiva as phallus worshipers. The priests of Vishnu worship tended to be Brahmins and saw their god Vishnu as both a god of love and a protector of order. They thought themselves more dignified than the priests of Shiva, and they saw themselves as maintaining Hinduism’s noble tradition.

More variety had come to Hinduism back in the 600s after twelve worshipers of Vishnu began wandering through southern India singing songs in praise of Vishnu. These singers believed that worldly enjoyments were ultimately unprofitable and that only a loving surrender to Vishnu was durably satisfying. They sang in temples, villages and markets. The number of singers grew. A book of four thousand of their songs was to be compiled in the 900s and would become the prayer book called the Tamil Veda.

Also in the 600s some Hindus, including worshipers of Vishnu, became involved in rituals called Tantrism. While acknowledging the supreme authority of the Vedas, the Tantrists brought offerings of fruit and sweets to the icons of their gods. Their rituals celebrated the power of motherhood, and they saw birth as the highest form of divine strength.