August 18

Ep. 0022: Learn the Past, Understand the Present, and Prepare for the Future

It’s been a tough week for me.  Haven’t been able to put together a historical narrative podcast, primarily due to work obligations.  On the plus side, I finally came up with a tagline for the show, so I decided to do a mobile podcast while driving home from work, about the tagline and what it means to me and for the show.  This is mobile guerrilla podcasting, for sure — aside from the usual audio issues you get from recording in a car while you’re driving it, Mother Nature decided to toss another monkey wrench into it in the form of a massive rainstorm.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • A little self-indulgent bitching about the excess of superfluous meetings in academia (I’m sure most people have a version of this affliction in their career, of course.)
  • The tag line Prof CJ finally came up with:  “Learn the past, understand the present, and prepare for the future”
  • An extended exploration of what that statement means by breaking it down, analyzing, and applying it.  (Once again, we get into questions of the utility of history in your life — ie, other than it being interesting, why learn history at all?)
  • History can liberate you by helping you allocate your scarce resources more effectively to things that both A) actually matter and B) you can actually have a major affect on

(Image “3d Chain Breaking” courtesy of David Castillo Dominici via freedigitalphotos.net)

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 11

Ep. 0020: Esoteric vs. Exoteric

Having made it through World War I in the past four episodes, today we take a break from historical narrative-type podcasts to do something a little different.

From time to time, I want to talk about theories, concepts, and so on that have helped me to understand the world (past, present, and probably future) more clearly, and that I hope you’ll find interesting and useful too.

These will mostly be concepts from somewhere in the so-called ‘social sciences,’ which are (in addition to history) fields such as psychology, sociology, economics, political science, etc.  I’ll probably also cover the occasional philosophy topic, as well.

Today I’m going to be talking about ‘Esoteric vs. Exoteric,’ two words that, despite being separated by a single word, are actually antonyms.

[BTW, forgot to mention it in the show, but one thing I try to do with the Dangerous History Podcast is to share esoteric history — the true version known only to a select view — with anyone who wants to learn it.  That’s part of what makes it “Dangerous.”]

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • What esoteric and exoteric mean in the context of human society and institutions
  • Specific examples of them in practice, including organized religion, labor unions, political parties & movements (including the Tea Party and the Progressives), governments, and wars
  • Why these concepts matter and can help you see the world more clearly

Prof CJ’s Picks ( buy via these links to help support the show)

(Image “Triangular View” courtesy of ‘dan’ on freedigitalphotos.net)

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

Prof CJ’s Picks (buy from Amazon via these links to help support the show at no additional cost to you)

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)

Prof CJ’s Picks (buy from Amazon via these links to help support the show at no additional cost to you)

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 31

Ep. 0017: The First World War, Part 2

We continue our coverage of the unnecessary, freedom- and life-obliterating carnage-fest that was First World War.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • The truth about the Lusitania
  • Propaganda, especially that of the Brits (who were the best at it) — even the royal family had to accommodate themselves to the Germano-phobic narrative
  • Two of the most notorious battles on the Western Front, both of which occurred in 1916:  Verdun & the Somme
  • Why Prof CJ thinks this type of slaughter is an inevitable consequence of the modern state, and that the state itself is the consequence of statist ideas

Prof CJ’s Picks (buy from Amazon via these links to help support the show at no additional cost to you)

External links:

  • Germany’s warning to America about traveling on the Lusitania
  • A collection of British propaganda posters from WWI (scroll down a little and you’ll see the first poster — just click on the poster to get to the next one, rinse & repeat.)
  • The Dropkick Murphys rendition of “Green Fields of France” (sometimes also called “Willie McBride,” and originally entitled “No Man’s Land,” a song written by folk singer Eric Bogle in 1976.)  This song seems to be about the Battle of the Somme.  I’m a big fan of DKM — you gotta love a band that incorporates bagpipes and other traditional Celtic instruments into aggressive punk rock!  This song, like “Christmas in the Trenches,” is another one that I think brings most decent people at least to the verge of tears.

July 28

Ep. 0016: The First World War, part 1

Since World War I officially began 100 years ago today (that is, July 28th 1914), I decided it would be an opportune time to kick off a multi-part series on this conflict.  (As of right now, I’m not 100% sure how many episodes this will encompass, but I think probably around 4.)

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • Why he thinks WWI is actually the single worst thing that ever happened in modern history
  • Origins of the war, in terms of immediate causes as well as long-term, deep-seated ones
  • The alliances, rivalries, and plans that made Europe a powderkeg just waiting for ignition
  • The spark that lit it, and how the dominoes fell until every Great Power of the time was at war
  • Some thoughts on why the war ultimately proved more costly than prior wars (the state’s software is actually more important than its hardware, Prof CJ thinks)
  • The Christmas Truce of 1914 and its implications
  • War against civilians in terms of illegal, total blockades (which the British, not the Germans, started first)

Prof CJ’s Picks (buy from Amazon via these links to help support the show at no additional cost to you)

External Links:

July 24

Ep. 0015: The Age of Classical Liberalism in Europe

The episode following this one (ie, Ep. 0016, due out Monday the 28th) will begin a multi-part series on the First World War.  So I figured it would be a good idea to give an overview of what Europe was like before that huge turning point conflict.  The 99 years from 1815 (when Napoleon was finally defeated for good) to 1914 (when WWI started) were years in which the dominant ideology in most of Europe (especially the more advanced parts of Western Europe) was that of ‘Liberalism,’ in the old sense of the word — or what today we have to call ‘Classical Liberalism.’

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  •  A brief explanation of classical liberalism as an ideology
  • Some quotes and information about 19th century Europe that illustrate some ways in which things were better than in the 20th century (especially compared to the era of the World Wars)
  • How classical liberalism was never fully implemented anywhere in the world — even countries such as the United States and United Kingdom, which were strongholds of the ideology, still had significant deviations from it
  • The worldwide trend towards centralization between roughly the 1860s and 1900, which boded ill for classical liberalism and which can be seen in varying forms in the US, Japan, Canada, Italy, Germany, France, and Russia, among other countries
  • Tools of centralization, which included compulsory social insurance programs, compulsory state education; and military conscription
  • Some brief highlights of France, Britain, and Germany in the decades prior to the Great War
  • How mass democracy was a key factor in bringing down classical liberalism as an influential ideology European governments, because working-class voters tended to vote either for nationalist/imperialist parties, or for socialist parties, leaving classical liberalism as a doctrine without a mass constituency.  (In other words, the masses preferred to vote for varying flavors of collectivism.)
  • The fatal flaw of classical liberalism as a political belief system, which the bloody 20th century gruesomely illustrated

Prof CJ’s Picks (buy from Amazon via these links to help support the show at no additional cost to you)

July 21

Ep. 0014: The Collapse of the Soviet Empire

Join Prof. C.J. as he discusses:

  • The proximate causes of the fall of the Soviet Empire, i.e., the long term/inherent problems of communism as an economic system, which are the incentive problem & the calculation problem
  • How the Soviet system could produce AKs but failed at such basic things as agriculture and consumer goods
  • How the Soviets’ renewed aggressiveness after America’s failure in Vietnam may have led to Soviet overextension
  • Immediate causes (that caused the Soviet system to fall when it did): an unwinnable, costly war (in Afghanistan of all places!); a lack of good leadership (exemplified by the dimwitted & senile Brezhnev); and nationalist unrest (sometimes combined with religious unrest) in the satellite states, starting with the Polish Solidarity movement
  • Symptoms of decline & milestones in the loss of legitimacy for the Soviet regime in the 1980s
  • The rise to power of Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985
  • Gorbachev’s 3-pronged plan to ‘fix’ communism:  glasnost; perestroika; and peredyshka
  • The success of (mostly nonviolent) resistance in the satellite states, culminating in the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989
  • Gorbachev’s renunciation of the use of force and the Brezhnev doctrine
  • The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan
  • Political reforms within the USSR, which led to its disintegration
  • How the US disbanded NATO and drastically slashed its defense spending, because after all, the Soviet Union was gone, the Cold War was over, so the rationale for those things no longer existed.  (Oh, wait, that last part didn’t really happen.  Actually, the opposite happened.)

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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

Prof CJ’s Picks (buy from Amazon via these links to help support the show at no additional cost to you)