Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Another Day of Infamy

Today is Tuesday, 8 July 2008.

In 1853, Japan was a feudal dictatorship. For centuries, the ruling class had largely succeeded in freezing technological advancement (particularly military) and social change, and had cut off the nation from all foreign interchange, save for a few designated trade ports, which were strictly controlled.

In 1853, the USA/USE was a non-feudal dictatorship.

[I note the gasps and indignation, so this sidebar:

Consider that, in 1853, only a minority of adult Americans could vote: no slaves, no females, no Native Americans need register. Consider: the threat of extermination for Native Americans, Black slaves being worked to death, and females were essentially property of husbands or male relatives.

Let us recall that the so-called first democracy, the city-state of Athens, was of the same genre. Only some 15-20 % of adult Athenians could vote, all free males.]

A crucial difference between Japan and the USA/USE was that the latter was a technologically dynamic capitalist state, producing more than it could consume, and therefore had a voracious, and desperate, appetite for foreign markets.

On this date in 1853, a squadron of four American warships, led by Commodore Matthew Perry, dropped anchor near Tokyo Bay. Perry threatened a naval bombardment unless representatives of the imperial government submitted to his demand that they receive a letter from President Millard Fillmore, which required that Japan open its markets to American goods, or suffer military consequences. The Japanese had no choice but to bow to superior violence.

Thus the USA/USE began its ultimately-successful campaign to become the dominate power in the Pacific. Meanwhile, the resentment of the Japanese ruling class would fester and deepen, culminating in a grab for power at Pearl Harbor, which initiated the Pacific War of 1941-45, but the latter would prove only a bump in the road to American hegemony.


Anonymous Nancy said...

And on the lighter side . . .

I, and I am sure HH, would like to wish a happy birthday to our dear, long-time frind, Christy. Or as we always liked to call her, "The Divine Miss M."

(Hope you are reading this.)

We love you!

1:41 PM  

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