Print Story If you remember the 1860s you weren't there
By TheophileEscargot (Sun Jun 19, 2016 at 12:23:54 AM EST) Reading, MLP, Politics (all tags)
Reading: "1864". Politics. Links.

What I'm Reading
1864 by Tom Buk-Swienty, about the war between Prussia and Denmark in 1864, which I'd barely heard of before reading. Tom Buk-Swienty makes a moderately convincing case that the war was significant as a prefiguring of World War One and a vital step on the way to German unification; but there are a lot of fascinating details regardless of the significance.

Background. Bismarck at the time was minister in Prussia, ambitious for German unification, but not in particular favour. Denmark held two provinces, Schleswig and Holstein, with substantial German populations, under a complicated treaty agreement cobbled together after the Napoleonic Wars. Denmark's rulers passed a new constitution giving them greater and more direct control of the provinces. (This is the notoriously complicated Schleswig-Holstein Question).

Spying his chance, Bismarck first indicated that Prussia would not object to the new constitution, then once it passed assembled a Prussian army, with Austrian allies to invade the provinces. This would serve several goals: increasing his political capital, boosting German nationalism, and by annexing part of the provinces give the state access to the sea via a canal.

The Danish army had several disadvantages. They still used muzzle-loading rifles, more accurate than the Prussian breech-loaders, but much slower to fire; and fatally in a trench war, only loadable if you were standing. Captivated by national myths, The Danish government meddled in strategy. First they insisted the army occupy the ancient Danevirke defensive line which was far too long to defend, and in winter hopelessly outflanked by frozen water. Eventually the capable but eccentric Danish commander Julius de Meza disobeyed orders and ordered a retreat to the somewhat better defenses at Dybbøl just before the Prussian attack. This prevented a catastrophe and frustrated the enemy, but the outraged government fired him and ordered his pliant successor to defend Dybbøl at all costs. At this point they could have made peace and kept most of the provinces (Bismarck didn't want the complications of non-German populations in his empire), but did not pursue a deal.

The Prussians painstakingly dug a network of trenches up close to the fortifications while engaging in devastating artillery warfare. Eventually they went over the top and successfully stormed the fortifications. The crushed Danish authorities eventually surrendered both provinces in peace negotiations, shrinking Denmark back to a tiny state.

It's the details that make it interesting though. War was still seen as romantic at this time: the German commander had a 300-piece orchestra installed in a trench so the assault could be accompanied by music composed for the occasion ("Duppler Schanzen-Marsch" by Gottfried Piefke). Danish commander de Meza was obsessed with "cold air" and forbade all draughts in his headquarters. German commander Friedrich von Wrang hated pens and insisted that everyone memorize his orders, leading his subordinates to hastily scribble notes when he wasn't looking. Queen Victoria had a political influence, her sympathy for her German family discouraging the British government from siding with Denmark.

However it was still a brutal war and there are lots of accounts of the injuries and suffering. Not convinced that it was really a warning of WW1 though. There's no mention of barbed wire and after the trenches were complete the final assault was swift and decisive. If anything the influence might have been the other way, raising false promises of a resolution.

Overall, an interesting account of an overlooked war. Worth reading if you are interested in history or warfare.

Politics: EU referendum
Brexit and the Globalization Trilemma. Too many facts and not enough theories: the rhetoric of the referendum campaign. Vote Leave versus Stronger In: How the referendum campaigns' ground operations measure up, EU design displays the best and the worst of doing things by scrupulous consensus. Out – and into the world: why The Spectator is for Leave. If you want a genuine leftwing government, you need to vote Leave. Do polls show swing back towards Remain? Can the United Kingdom government legally disregard a vote for Brexit?

I think I'm voting an unenthusiastic Leave. I think it will be a small benefit to democracy, and a small amount of economic harm mostly concentrated in the short term. Might force the EU to be more accountable too, especially in its treatment of small countries like Greece and Cyprus.

Also a lot of the more plausible threats from project fear seem to be of things we actually need to do but no-one will face up to doing: make houses more affordable, weaken the pound, loosen the stranglehold the City has on us, and end the triple lock on pensions. (Pensioners already have higher incomes than working-age people, it's insane to give them more real-terms money every year).

Socioeconomics. Globalisation is fraying. Look under the Elephant Trunk. Insecurity: the missing piece of the labour market puzzle 11 Platform Cooperatives Creating a Real Sharing Economy. How did bathrooms get to be separated by gender in the first place? Citations in economics bear out freshwater/saltwater divide.

Politics. Racism and politics in punk music. Jo Cox murder suspect Tommy Mair repeatedly hurled racist abuse at Asian cab drivers, was longtime supporter of the neo-Nazi National Alliance.

Video. Tokyo Timelapse. Jurassic Parkour. I.T. crowd football bits.

Sci/Tech. Phones have to be locked in small plastic cases at some gigs. More text on Antikythera Mechanism decoded. Walking Tractor.

Random. The Young Ones mysterious Fifth Roommate, via.

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If you remember the 1860s you weren't there | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 hidden)
Schleswig-Holstein Question by jimgon (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun Jun 19, 2016 at 08:52:09 AM EST
For enjoyable fiction concentrated on the Schleswig-Holstein question check out "Royal Fash" by Gerorge MacDonald Frasier. The book, not the movie, though the movie is enjoyable too.

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
Wow by Dr Thrustgood (4.00 / 2) #2 Sun Jun 19, 2016 at 08:58:19 AM EST
Not a single mention of the greatest threat of all: a vote for leave is a vote for PM Boris.

I mean, I know I'm prone to thinking the bloody thing is a Tory power struggle that's got somewhat out of hand.

I don't really see by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #3 Sun Jun 19, 2016 at 09:22:03 AM EST
Why he would be any worse (or better) than David Cameron. Not sure he's even that likely, Tory MPs don't seem to vote much for flamboyant loners like Michael Heseltine etc.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Cameron's just a regular Tory arse. by Dr Thrustgood (4.00 / 3) #6 Sun Jun 19, 2016 at 01:30:41 PM EST
For me, Boris is the most terrifying person in modern-day politics by a good margin. A nasty intelligence and agenda hidden by popular buffoonery - just terrifying.

YMMV, I guess.

[ Parent ]
Boris by Herring (4.00 / 1) #9 Mon Jun 20, 2016 at 06:22:19 AM EST
Very difficult to tell what he really thinks - except that he thinks he wants power and will say anything to get it. Word on the street is that the night before he came out for Brexit, he had two speeches ready to go - one each way.

I have heard him described as "A stupid man pretending to be an intelligent man pretending to be a stupid man".

I can't help think that, even if Boris doesn't get the leadership after a Leave vote, someone from the "even nastier" wing of the party will.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
I find the Gove-Cummings axis... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #17 Mon Jun 20, 2016 at 06:39:18 PM EST
much more worrisome. (But that still puts me against Leave.)

They really are out to tear up a lot of institutions - and despite protestations, it's pretty clear they don't have the interests of the majority at heart.

[ Parent ]
Bismark's favor of unification by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #4 Sun Jun 19, 2016 at 12:54:42 PM EST
appeared to entirely depend on whether Austria and the Habsburgs would run unified Germany or Prussia and himself. I'm guessing fighting Denmark was one more step in getting the upper hand on Austria.


Possibly somehow by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #5 Sun Jun 19, 2016 at 01:14:48 PM EST
But Austria were fighting as his allies so it must have been something very subtle if so.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #18 Mon Jun 20, 2016 at 06:40:45 PM EST
by Brendan Simms is pretty good on the S-H thing, as I recall.

[ Parent ]
"Racism and politics in punk music" by lm (4.00 / 1) #7 Sun Jun 19, 2016 at 09:12:24 PM EST
Coming of age in the US midwest as a punk rocker in the 80s was an interesting experience.

In Ohio (at least outside of Cleveland) we didn't have any real gangs. I was hanging out in an alleyway after a concert one night and the police were sweeping through sending everyone home. Apparently a skinhead gang had come down from Detroit and were on the prowl. There were a LOT of them. No violence that I'm aware of ensued. But that was probably because most people heeded the advice of the police to go home.

One guy I knew was heavily into the Oi scene. He was an adoptee from Korea. He was probably just saying shit to make a scene but he was found of saying that if he met his birth parents he would kill them because they weren't Americans.

A guy that was a friend started getting into bands like Youth Defense League. He made me a mix tape. Most of the lyrics were pretty typical teenage angst meets jingoism. At the time I didn't realize that songs like 'Skinheads '88" were a reference to something besides the year 1988.

I could understand something of the Oi scene. It was a pretty big departure from middle America.

What I didn't get were the non-skinhead Nazi punks. It just seemed really fucked up.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
We did not get the racist punks in DCia. by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #10 Mon Jun 20, 2016 at 07:01:42 AM EST
The punk scene here was extremely white, but fairly explicitly anti-racist.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
sometimes the fascists in Ohio weren't racist by lm (4.00 / 1) #21 Wed Jun 22, 2016 at 03:37:24 PM EST
We had one venue out in the 'burbs. At one point it was a private party spot installed on former farm land with a picnic shelter with a fireplace and attached toilets with running water. By the 80s it was pretty run down. But the owners were pretty friendly with DIY bands and quite a few underground shows got put on there.

The inside of the shelter was covered in graffiti.

One of the graffiti things was an epically long rant about how someday TRUE ANARCHY would come ONLY THOSE WITH TRUE STRENGTH would be able to survive and TRUE NATURAL SELECTION would finally be at play to reveal who the REAL ANARCHISTS were.

It was a bit disturbing.

I just came for the tunes and the mosh pit.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
I gather that by Herring (4.00 / 1) #13 Mon Jun 20, 2016 at 07:34:11 AM EST
Telly Savalas is set to spearhead, an Oi revival down Whitechapel way.

(I do like the couplet from there: "Inspired by no-one, other groups bore us; How can you say we sound like Frazier Chorus?"

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
I'm on the fence by anonimouse (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Jun 20, 2016 at 06:17:21 AM EST
 Whether I vote leave it remain I will be asking myself if I'm doing the right thing

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
One of my great-grandfathers came to USia by wiredog (4.00 / 2) #11 Mon Jun 20, 2016 at 07:03:21 AM EST
dodging the Prussian draft. He was from that border region. The family name changes spelling every couple of generations, depending on who had conquered the family farm most recently. They're currently Danish.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Leave might be OK for me personally by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #12 Mon Jun 20, 2016 at 07:11:56 AM EST
House price drop would be nice.

But my heart says Remain and the uncertainty and political bollocks for the next few years inclines me to vote Remain.

Not sure about EU army by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #15 Mon Jun 20, 2016 at 10:01:51 AM EST
If we're in NATO, we're pretty much obliged to fight the Russians anyway.

[ Parent ]
I'm pretty strong on Remain... by Metatone (4.00 / 6) #19 Mon Jun 20, 2016 at 06:59:19 PM EST
  1. My business will definitely be hit by Brexit - it simply will make selling services to the EU harder. (There's a reason why up to now the main Norwegian firm in my sector does most of its EU business through its UK subsidiary.)
  2. I have some friends who are in the UK as EU citizens. It's entirely possible that these people get a raw deal. I don't see that as a positive.
  3. As others have noted, the odds are this will empower a really odd set of blokes (Farage, Boris, Gove) and I can't see in them the required quality to negotiate a Leave plan that benefits us as a country. Further, there's nothing in them to suggest that they have any greater compassion for those outside their circle than George Osborne does. But a Leave vote will most likely put them in power for a long time - UKIP will get a big electoral boost as they campaign for repatriations and the like.
  4. I'm brown. I see no value in giving a victory to the racist side of Leave. Those at the top of Leave feel like they can ride the tiger. I doubt they are as competent as they think they are. They won't suffer for it - but people like me and mine will.
  5. I'm 40. I had some great times in my 20s working in other parts of Europe. I'd be a real bastard if I voted to take that away from young people now.
<shrug> Each to their own.

Reminds me of Quebec separation by marvin (4.00 / 1) #20 Tue Jun 21, 2016 at 01:09:29 AM EST
If you end up with "remain" winning, you'll get to play again every five years, with the same lies raised by the same people each time.

Speaking to EU regulation, Canada would be better off today had Harper been hobbled by something like EU rules over the past decade. Instead we saw a decade of unrestrained majority parliament driven by a corporate agenda, with scientists muzzled, degraded environmental rules, increased education costs, more income inequality, and reduced respect on the world stage after ignoring Kyoto and fighting on the wrong side of many other issues from asbestos to arms sales.

All of this and more can be yours with a simple leave vote. Westminster style parliaments lack effective checks and balances, so getting rid of the imperfect EU gives more opportunity for abuse of national powers.  Best of luck.

If you remember the 1860s you weren't there | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 hidden)