Anthology – Peoples’ Plan for Life, Now and Forever …
The reader knows enough history to know what followed. But does s/he know that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas voted with the majority in a case it heard near the end of the 20th Century granting the right of Charleston to set tariffs on ships re-provisioning there? Thomas is a Black. The Civil War was critical in making his race less relevant by the time of his appointment in 1991 to the court. South Carolina led the issue of states’ rights to the extreme in 1860 and was able nearly 140 years later to have the matter adjudicated successfully with a descendant of slaves voting in their favor. That would be quite a nice thing to celebrate if so many people hadn’t died, and if there were not such parochial divisions underlying those events, sources of tension in the nation to the present day, including Thomas’s vote.
Some of humans’ most trusted and useful tools of communication and development of their intellectual and social capabilities are relatively new. Consider that the printing press, and all that flowed into societies from it, was invented in about 1446. It should surprise no one that societies are slow to inform themselves, given the lag between discovery and useful application. How long ago did the fact of the world’s shape become accepted.
How long will it take for people to accept the fact that nuclear weapons can eliminate all life on this sphere? How many know that this possibility has nearly been realized several times already? If you happen to be ignorant of the fact, I include the accounts of those events and their protagonists in Anthology. See especially the account of this by Nicholas Thompson, below, in The Hawk and the Dove, Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War.
It will help you to understand the phenomenon if I introduce you to some of the individuals who determined the course of death for millions in World War One. They are grouped by a common trait – they reflect the same small mind and great ambition native to the larger number of people in all societies, simply reflecting that all-powerful, seemingly innocuous trait in societies that accept as gospel, their self-identity as patriots.
I’ll wager you haven’t heard of Alexander Hoyos. He was the “chef du cabinet” of Austrian Foreign Minister Count von Berchtold. The role these two played in bringing the world to war should not be obscure, but it is. Much of the story you know is as it has been told so often by eminent historians. Somehow, though, they missed this little bit, provided for us by Frederic Morton. His Thunder at Twilight © 1989, published by Macmillan, relates the events in a scintillating account of the intrigue in Europe that reached its apogee with the assassination by agents of Serbia of Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, and his wife, on June 28, 1914.
Of course the Austrian court was upset by this outrage, even though there was no love lost for Ferdinand’s wife, a commoner whom he had married against the will of the court and Emperor Franz Joseph. Worse, the general staff of the military, headed by General Conrad, had been pierced only a month before in a proven, very public disgrace. The only case of a commoner being admitted to the High Command, Alfred Redl, turns out to have been a spy for the Russian court of Tsar Nicholas. Still, the Austrians had pride, a resplendent army that could march in bold, colored dress uniforms with a splendor reflecting the eminence suited to all those decades of mercantile and cultural success throughout much of Europe.