Political economy: The war dividend

WAR is seductive. It is dramatic; powerful stories in histories or conflict-inspired art can easily provoke a nostalgia for the grand struggles of the past, especially among those lucky enough not to have lived through them. It is all too easy to discount their horrors, and to inflate their contributions—not least because of the difficulty of constructing counterfactuals.The centenary of the start of the first world war provides as good an illlustration of the point as any. The war is widely understood to have been a pointless waste. Millions of people died in a four-year scuffle over slivers of territory. Take a step back, though, and the war looks an even greater mistake. The world in 1914 was rapidly growing and globalising. It was an era of prosperity and invention. The great powers’ decision to go to war in 1914 didn’t just knock the world off of this heartening historical path; it began a generation of almost unmitigated horror during which the modern world tried very hard to destroy itself and nearly succeeded.To what end? In his book “The Pity of War” historian Niall Ferguson argues that prior to the start of the fighting in 1914 Germany’s main strategic aim was to establish a continental customs union in Europe, centred on the dominant German economy. That may be a bit too kind to the German leadership; it certainly had imperialist designs on Africa and elsewhere, …

Link to article: www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2014/06/political-economy?fsrc=rss

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.