September 25

Ep. 0032: Uncle Sam vs Democracy, Part 2: Operation PB Success

Encouraged by their success against Iran’s democratic government (covered in last episode), the Dulles Brothers’ next move was against the small central American country of Guatemala, where a left-of-center government appeared to be threatening the interests of the United Fruit Company.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • The immediate backstory on Guatemala, including the dominance of American corporations over the country, its democratic revolution in 1944 and the election of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman to the presidency in 1951
  • The Arbenz government’s Decree 900, aimed at redistributing unused land to poor peasants
  • The CIA’s Operation PB Success, a largely psychological campaign that succeeded in overthrowing Arbenz in June 1954
  • How the CIA itself, after ousting Arbenz, failed to find any real evidence that Arbenz was in league with the Soviets
  • The brutal aftermath of this coup, which caused suffering and oppression in Guatemala for decades and killed over 200,000 people
  • A brief thought experiment of how Americans might respond if they were put in an analogous situation
  • Some discussion of the concept known as “blowback”

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September 22

Ep. 0031: Uncle Sam vs. Democracy Part 1: Operation Ajax

In this episode and the next, we’re going to look at two instances in the early Cold War of American-sponsored and -instigated overthrows of democratically elected governments, and their replacement by unpopular, USA-backed dictatorships.  Of course, I’m talking about Iran and Guatemala in the early-1950s.  This episode will set the context and cover Iran.  Next time we’ll cover Guatemala and consequences of these sorts of operations.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • A quick sketch of the Dulles Brothers (John Foster & Allen) who played such key roles in these sorts of operations in the 1950s
  • A look at the historical context (ie, early Cold War)
  • A sketch of Iranian PM Mohammed Mossadegh, and why the Dulles Bros (and the corporate interests they served) wanted him overthrown
  • How the CIA overthrew Mossadegh and replaced him with Shah Reza Pahlavi
  • The aftermath of this operation and its legacy, which is still being felt today

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September 4

Ep. 0026: A History of the US Dollar Part 2

We continue with our non-consecutive mini-series on the history of the US dollar, which has changed repeatedly over the centuries.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • How, in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War Continental Dollar inflation, most of the Founding Fathers were soured on paper money, and took the opportunity of writing a new Constitution to reinstate a hard money (specie) standard
  • The loopholes that remained within the system even after hard money was written into the Constitution that allowed the banksters to still inflate to their own advantage
  • The Coinage Act of 1792 and its effect on the definition of US money
  • How banks (especially central banks) still created some inflation thanks to the ‘magic’ of “fractional reserve banking”, and also sparked business cycles – though by today’s standards the US dollar’s value was remarkably stable overall
  • How the not-so-Civil War spelled changes in American money that were just as dramatic as the changes the war wrought in so many other arenas, with the Union experiencing high inflation, and the Confederacy experiencing hyperinflation

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August 28

Ep. 0025: DHP Heroes: Lysander Spooner

For the second installment of Dangerous History Podcast Heroes, Prof CJ takes a look at the life and ideas of nineteenth century American individualist anarchist Lysander Spooner (1808-1887.) Spooner had a huge influence on many prominent anti-state intellectuals and activists, including Murray Rothbard and Karl Hess (subject of the first DHP Heroes podcast back in episode #11.)

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  •  A brief overview of Spooner’s life
  • An examination of his ideas, including:  his opposition to slavery, but even more vehement opposition to the Union’s conquest and subjugation of the South in the not-so-Civil War; his belief in the inherent criminality of any coercive state; his rejection of any notion of a social contract; his rejection of the supposedly morally sanctifying effects of democracy; his economic ideas, including his belief in private property and preference for self-employment; and his vehement dislike of banksters, especially those who bankroll the state

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August 25

Ep. 0024: The Second Seminole War

Last time, we covered the First Seminole War; this time, we get to the nastier sequel.

The Second Seminole war was the US government’s longest and most expensive Indian War.  It also had many parallels to later campaigns in harsh environments against determined guerrilla fighters, and many lessons which, unfortunately, were not learned, as the nation did its best to consign the conflict to the ‘memory hole’ soon after its end.  Long before the Philippines War, and even longer before Vietnam, there was this brutal war…

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • The 1823 Treaty of Moultrie Creek, which tried to confine the Seminoles to a reservation in central Florida, requiring most of them to relocate, cutting off their access to the coasts, denying their freedom of movement, and requiring them to assist in the capture and return of escaped slaves
  • The election of Andrew Jackson as president in 1828, which would have disastrous consequences for Southeastern Indians, including the Seminole
  • The Indian Removal Act and subsequent attempts to bribe or dupe the Seminoles into relocating out West
  • The rise of Osceola
  • The beginning of violence in 1835 with the so-called ‘Dade Massacre’ and assassination of the US Indian Agent Wiley Thompson
  • How US General Thomas Jesup captured Osceola by betraying a flag of truce, something even most white Americans found dishonorable
  • Osceola’s captivity and death from illness within a few months
  • The brutal Battle of Lake Okeechobee on Christmas Day, 1837
  • Continued Seminole guerrilla operations and American countermeasures, which sought to grind them down
  • The cessation of fighting in 1842, by which time the Seminole population of Florida had been reduced by approximately 94% in 20 years due to death and deportation
  • A brief mention of the much smaller Third Seminole War (1855-58)
  • Some concluding thoughts about this war from historians who have written about it extensively, and from Prof CJ

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August 21

Ep. 0023: How the United States Acquired Florida (the First Seminole War)

This is the little-known story of how Florida became a part of Team America.  (Spoiler:  It wasn’t totally voluntary…)

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • The background to the war:  what was going on in Florida leading up to the war, & who the Seminoles were, including the so-called ‘Black Seminoles’
  • Why the United States coveted Florida almost from day one of getting its independence
  • The destruction of the so-called “Negro Fort” by American forces in 1816
  • The immediate issues that led to fighting beginning in late 1817, culminating in Andrew Jackson’s invasion of West Florida in 1818
  • How Jackson exceeded his orders (which just allowed him to retaliate against hostile Indians), and went so far as to seize Spanish installations and execute two Brits who were found in the area
  • Secretary of State John Quincy Adams’ successful negotiation of a treaty in 1819 formally transferring Florida (East and West) to the US without provoking war or major retaliations from either Spain or Britain
  • How, even after the American takeover of Florida, Americans continued to see the Seminoles as a major problem, one that would be ‘dealt with’  beginning in the 1830s with the Second Seminole, which was much larger and costlier than the First, and which we’ll cover next episode
  • The troubling precedent set for the American Republic by Jackson’s actions in this undeclared war

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August 14

Ep. 0021: A History of the US Dollar Part 1: Through the Revolution

Why cover this topic?  First off, because the history of money is a lot more interesting than you might  think, and it’s absolutely crucial to understanding the world, past, present, and future.

This will be part 1 of a multipart series (right now I estimate it will probably be around 4 parts) covering the history of the United States dollar.  The series will be non-contiguous — ie, interspersed with episodes on other, probably non-related topics.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • Why money matters to understanding the world
  • British money of the colonial era, bimetallism, and Gresham’s Law
  • Other things the colonists used as money when coinage wasn’t readily available
  • Some of the desirable qualities in a commodity that make it work better than others as money, and some of the reasons why gold and silver function so well as money historically
  • The origins of the dollar — originally a Spanish coin modeled on a Bohemian coin, actually
  • The first paper money inflation in the Western World — in colonial Massachusetts
  • How overprinting of paper money in MA (and later in other colonies) disrupted their economy, and reinstating of hard money revived it
  • The Revolutionary War Continental Dollars, and the hyperinflation that resulted
  • A few updates on the show, how it’s going, ways to support it, thank-yous to those who have, and a few remarks about the future of the show

External links

An excerpt from the TV show DuckTales which shows how increasing the money supply dilutes the value of the money (Uncle Scrooge has more economic sense than our leaders!)

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August 7

Ep. 0019: The First World War, Part 4 (A Very-Not-Happy Ending)

With this episode, we wrap up our overview of WWI and the incalculable damage it did to the world.  I’ll likely cover other topics related to this war in the future, but this four-part series is my basic overview of some of the war and its most conspicuous results, legacies, and byproducts.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • How the war (and particularly how a lot of British actions during it) sowed the seeds for the violence and instability that has characterized the Middle East ever since
  • The collapse of Russia and the Bolshevik takeover there — another effect of the war that still has negative repercussions today
  • The end of the war, including the Paris Peace Conference and the horrible Treaty of Versailles, which pretty much guaranteed a Second World War.  (In the 1920 political cartoon shown, British PM David Lloyd George aims a howitzer at the Germans and says, “Off with the spiked hat!  What d’you think we fought for if not to abolish militarism?”)
  • How the British continued their blockade against the German people even after the armistice ended the war, in order to keep pressure on the Germans at the negotiating table.  (The blockade probably killed over 750,000 German civilians, BTW — think that might have given them a grudge???)
  • The so-called “Spanish Influenza” epidemic that hit at the end of the war
  • War and the growth of state power
  • Estimated breakdown of military deaths
  • Why most Americans see war in general, and the world wars in particular, in a very different light than Europeans
  • Prof CJ’s closing thoughts and analysis on the war as a whole

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External Links:

August 4

Ep. 0018: The First World War, Part 3: Enter Team America

In this episode, I’m primarily going to cover the effects of entering the war on the United States.  Long story short, it was not a good time for civil liberties or the Bill of Rights…

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • The events leading up to American entry into the war
  • Woodrow Wilson’s speech, and how the reasons he gave for entering the war were B.S., and how the real reasons for US intervention were things for which few average Americans would have been willing to risk their lives
  • How most Progressives ardently supported the war
  • The government’s mobilization of the nation for total war by 1) seizing control of the economy; 2) implementing mass conscription; and 3) cranking out propaganda (including disseminating the government’s narrative and attempting to silence any competing, dissident narratives)
  • How bad the war was for civil liberties and the Bill of Rights
  • Some notable Americans who dissented anyway
  • A brief look at Wilson’s 14 Points (most of which were implemented only partially, or not at all)

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External links:

  • The hit American song “Over There” (by George Cohen, 1917), which was the WWI-era equivalent of “America, Fuck Yeah!”  (which came from the wonderfully satirical film Team America:  World Police.)  [By the way, the opening line of “Over There,” which is, “Johnny get your gun,” later inspired the title of Daltron Trumbo’s antiwar novel Johnny Got His Gun, which in turn inspired the Metallica song “One.”]

July 17

Ep. 0013: Artifacts of American Progressivism

Those early American Progressives we talked about last time left the United States with a lot of physical and cultural artifacts that seem omnipresent through to today.  Many things that Americans take for granted as timeless examples of Americana are less than a century old and were Progressive innovations, sometimes ironically in light of how many modern-day “conservatives” love some of them.  Some of the details and origins of these artifacts are more troubling than you might think at first glance.

[BTW, this one was recorded in my noisy old car – I think the last thing I ever recorded in it before trading it in, at which point it was 11 years old and had 170K miles on the odometer.  (As you can surmise, history hasn’t exactly made me rich yet.)  Hopefully podcasts recorded in my new car will have a little less background vehicle noise!]

Join Prof CJ as he discusses the origins and details of:

  • The Pledge of Allegiance (which was written by a Socialist in 1892), and why rightwingers should abhor the pledge (if they actually knew history and were consistent with the beliefs they profess)
  • The Lincoln Memorial (completed 1922), which is actually a temple, deifying a dead politician and the central government for which he waged war
  • The presence of fasces in the Lincoln memorial (which can also be found in a surprising number of other US government buildings, monuments, and insignias, some of which are mentioned)
  • The Mercury Dime
  • The Lincoln Penny (the first time in US history that a politician – rather than Lady Liberty or an American Indian – appeared on US coinage)
  • How earlier American leaders – such as George Washington – opposed the idea of putting politicians on money

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