“World domination” is a concept we don’t mention too often in casual conversation these days, but 100 years ago it was an ordinary frame of reference.
In 1800, at the beginning of the 19th century, European powers controlled about one-third of the world’s land mass. By 1914—before the start of World War I—those Western powers could claim domination of about 84 percent of the planet.
It wasn’t a stretch to acknowledge that “the sun never sets on the British Empire.”
Margaret Macmillan, in The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914, says
"Europe's countries dominated much of the earth's surface whether through their formal empires or by informal control of much of the rest through their economic, financial and technological strength. Railways, ports, telegraph cables, steamship lines, factories around the world were built using European know-how and money and were usually run by European companies.”
"The march of knowledge throughout the nineteenth century, in so many fields from geology to politics, had, it was widely assumed, brought much greater rationality in human affairs. The more humans knew, whether about themselves, society, or the natural world, the more they would make decisions based on the facts rather than on emotion.”
As we sadly know now, such self-serving and blithely ignorant claptrap was brutally exposed when the “guns of August” commenced firing in 1914 after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.