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The Most Interesting Man in the World - Chapter 4: Renaissance to the Cold War

High-value men are interesting, and if you ask any woman, they will tell you that interesting is sexy. What does it mean to be interesting? Interesting people tell incredible stories and lead unusual lives. The source of their magnetism is their curiosity. They are always excited to explore the world, and this curious energy radiates outward.

The first step to becoming interesting is exploring the history of the world we live in. So, buckle up, because I am going to take you on a crash course in everything you need to know about the world (in my opinion). This is going to be a mega summary. I am going to exclude plenty of stuff. I am going to try and condense trillions of pages of information into a few thousand words. I have broken this into chapters. This is chapter four.

Chapter 4: Renaissance to the Cold War

One of the biggest victims of the Black Death was feudalism as landowners needed to reinvent themselves. This opened the road to capitalism and Renaissance man. This was an age of discovery, curiosity, upheaval, and questioning EVERYTHING.

European powers dominated the world. Initially, the Portuguese and Spanish Empires dominated the hood. Their union resulted in the Iberian Union, the first global empire on which the "sun never set". How cruel history can be? A few hundred years later, in the 21st Century, Spain and Portugal were identified as the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain) of Europe on account of their weak economies. Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar must both be turning in their graves. Empires rise and empires fall – such is the pattern that can be observed in history.

The English, French, and Dutch began to dominate the Atlantic. In a series of wars fought in the 17th and 18th centuries, culminating with the Napoleonic Wars, Britain emerged as the new world power.

The Europeans set their sights west and did their best to destroy local civilizations, fucking up the Aztecs and the Incas in Mexico and Peru respectively. Portugal claimed Brazil. Spain claimed the rest of South America, Mesoamerica, and southern North America. Britain colonized the east coast of North America but was never able to convince them of the beauty of the sport of cricket. France colonized the central region of North America, and to this day, the French continue to refuse to help American tourists in Paris with directions to the Eiffel Tower. In 1762, amid the Seven Years' War, France secretly ceded most of its North American claims to Spain in the Treaty of Fontainebleau. Thirteen of the British colonies declared independence as the United States of America in 1776, ratified by the Treaty of Paris (a city in which all Americans are vilified) in 1783, ending the American Revolutionary War.

Late Modern Period (1800 to present) The 19th century was dominated by the British. The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain and used new modes of production—the factory, mass production, and mechanization—to manufacture a wide array of goods faster and using less labor than previously required. The Age of Enlightenment also led to the beginnings of modern democracy in the late-18th century American and French Revolutions.

Not content with their own little island, the Brits colonized Australia (initially set up as a penal colony), New Zealand South Africa, and the Indian sub-continent. In the late 19th century, the European powers divided up the remaining territories in Africa (the catastrophic Berlin treaty where they divided the continent up with a pencil with scant regard to tribes, languages, cultures, and ethnicities. One tribe would wake up one morning having discovered that half the tribe was in one country while the other half was in another country!

Colonial powers claimed they were concerned about the souls of the poor Africans and proceeded to ram Christianity down their throats. If the truth is told, there was scant regard for their souls – this was a savage land grab and the only thing that mattered was money. Profits from the slave trade accounted for 5% of Great Britain’s gross domestic product during the industrial revolution.

With the dawn of the 20th century, Europe dominated most of the world directly or indirectly. The rest was dominated by two highly industrialized nations – the United States and Japan. China had been pummeled into submission by the Brits, French, and Americans during the Opium Wars between 1839 and 1860. It is worthwhile delving quickly into these wars because they are now having some impact on the modern world.

In the late 18th Century, the Brits started exporting opium to China in exchange for tea. At first, a handful of Chinese were getting high – but the news spread, and pretty soon, a large portion of the population was getting baked. The Chinese government pushed back – but contraband was still getting into China through smugglers. By the mid-1800s, shit got real. China confiscated boat loads of opium and also pissed off the French, Japanese, and the US – who had also gotten in on the action. Two wars ensued and the Chinese were pummeled into the ground. The Brits, French, US, and Japan, instead of being gracious in victory, proceeded to humiliate the Chinese after their victories. Hong Kong was ceded to the British, and they proceeded to make life hell for the Chinese who entered the century of humiliation from 1839 to 1949. China now wants its revenge on the US, and hence the race for world domination in the 21st century. Back to the 20th century. The first half was ripped apart by two world wars. The first world war did a great job in destroying the Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman and Russian empires, in addition to dealing a severe body blow to Great Britain and France. Another thing that Word War I generated was plenty of strong feelings of hate and anger. We saw a strong upsurge in militarist fascist dictatorships in Germa ,Italy, and Spain. The world fell into an economic depression in the 1930s, and the rise of a very unpleasant little man by the name of Adolf Hitler, who quickly assembled a satanic crew of psychopaths to systematically kill over 6 million Jews and try and take over the world.

The loss of life in World War II (WW II) was astounding. It is estimated that between 70 and 85 million people perished – or 3% of the world’s population. Germany lost between 7 and 9 million lives. The Soviet Union lost 24 million (of which 10 million were soldiers). Twenty million Chinese perished (only 4 million were military and the rest were civilian lives). How the hell did so many Chinese civilians die? China was the unsung ally. China was the first country to enter what would become WW II when Japan invaded China and they clashed outside Beijing. Japan did this as a sign of force on the western world. They desperately wanted to avoid the same fate as China in the 19th century when they were humiliated in the Opium Wars. They figured that by attacking China, they would be sending a strong message that they should not be fucked with. The attack of Pearl Harbor in 1941 was a preemptive strike on the US to send the same message to the US – don’t fuck with us because we now plan to become a global power. This forced China to join the allied forces – the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The humiliation of the Opium Wars at the hands of the Brits and the US were still fresh in Chinese minds – but the clear and present danger of the Japanese forced them to put those hard feelings aside for 4 years.

On June 6, 1944, the Allied Forces of Britain, America, Canada, and France attacked German forces on the coast of Normandy, France. With a huge force of over 150,000 soldiers, the Allies attacked and gained a victory that became the turning point for World War II in Europe. Paris was liberated in August, and after three brutal years, the Russians had the Germans with their tails between their legs retreating to Berlin. They stormed and captured Berlin in late April of 1945. By the end of April, Hitler had committed suicide and unconditional surrender was signed in May. Japan refused to surrender, so in August Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nuked and Japan quickly surrendered.

WWII saw the defeat of the Axis powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan) at the hands of the Allied Powers (Britain, US, China, and Russia) opened the way for the advance of communism into East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, China, North Korea, and North Vietnam.

Great Britain was already in decline, so the two real victors from the war were the US and Russia – and with this, we entered into the cold war. The fact that nuclear weapons had now been developed and tested on two Japanese cities made the cold war even more interesting. Both powers were suspicious of the other. Communism and capitalism go head-to-head in a 45-year standoff that yields three important results.

Firstly, the containment of Russia. Russia came out of WWII feeling they had defeated the Nazis and they were ready to build on this victory. They the highest cost of the war in terms of human casualties, and the US and Russia were true de facto allies, but there was plenty of passive-aggressive tension – this marriage was heading for the rocks quickly. You have watched the spy movies and you know that the relationship is always complicated and unclear. Stalin did not help matters when in 1946 he said that World War II was an unavoidable consequence of “capitalist imperialism” and implied that such a war might reoccur. Stalin then quickly extended his control into Eastern Europe. It took over the governments of Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany, Poland, Romania, and, Yugoslavia. Only Greece and occupied Austria remained free.

Churchill deeply distrusted Stalin, and Stalin, famously paranoid, didn’t trust anyone. From the start, FDR found himself in the middle, soothing Churchill’s fears of a Communist takeover of Europe while feeding Stalin’s aspirations for the Soviet Union’s entry into the upper echelons of political and economic power. One of the top priorities for the US after the Second World War was to contain Russia’s expansion plans and this they executed with flying colors.

Secondly, the development of the hydrogen bomb – more than 1000 more deadly than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Americans got there first – detonating a device innocuously named Mike deep in the Pacific in November 1952. It left a crater at the bottom of the ocean 1 mile long, destroyed numerous nearby islands, generated a mushroom cloud 100miles long and 25 miles high, and sent the Russians scrambling for their calculators and whiteboards to work on theirs. One year later, Russia launched theirs, the UK in 1957, China in 1967, and France in 1968. Half a century later, North Korea took their dicks out and launched theirs. It now appears that we have enough hydrogen to destroy the planet a few times over, and not all the fingers on the red buttons appear to be very stable!

Thirdly, the Cold War resulted in great strides in the field of space exploration. While the Russians were second in the hydrogen race, they were first in the space race when they threw Sputnik up into space in 1957. This sent shock waves through the White House as Eisenhauer quickly realized that the Ruskies could not only send nuclear payloads into space but also onto US soil. NASA was launched the following year as Explorer 1 was sent into space. The Russians, however, remained ahead when they launched the first man into space in 1961 with Yuri Gagarin. Armstrong was the first man on the moon 8 years later as the Americans took over the lead.

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