The phrase “Industrial Revolution” originated in England in 1848. This was a time when machines made out of steel were employed to make many standard goods and, most notably, machine-like conveyors or assembly lines were used. These were collectiviely called a plant or a factory, and they worked as a single huge machine, consisting of a line of mindless manual workers.
The cultural elite of China was horrified. The concept of “mass production” was unknown, and unwelcome in China, which considered itself the center of the world!
Every Chinese lady’s gown or frock should differ by the choice of silks (for many centuries unknown outside China) and every cup, plate, or vase by its shape and design (porcelain was also unknown outside China). The Industrial Revolution was kept out of China as an invention of savages.
But a country’s military power depended in those times on the production of machines and machine weapons. At one time, the territory of British colonies exceeded that of England itself more than 90 times. When the Chinese government forbade the English merchants to sell opium to the population of China, England forced China by means of two wars to accept the sale of its opium.
England established a colony or a series of colonies (called America from 1507 on), and lost them due to a local rebellion. But conquests are undertaken for certain purposes.
In the conquest of “India” (America) Columbus had two purposes: gold and slaves (to be sold in Europe for gold). China had paper money and needed no slaves. The world outside China seemed, if viewed from China by the Chinese cultural elite, a gathering of savages that had nothing China would covet. So the gigantic navy of China was on the defensive, coursing along the coast of China.
Predictably, England considered itself the most modern, advanced, and developed country; and China the most backward, obsolete, and underdeveloped territory, which was later being conquered by Japan until the latter surrendered unconditionally to U.S. nuclear weapons.
What about the post-Industrial Revolution times?
In an August 2, 1939 letter to Roosevelt, about the possibility of nuclear weapons, Einstein mentioned Fermi, Szillard, and Joliot. Neither Einstein nor those whom he mentioned had been native Americans. They had emigrated from Europe to America as anti-Semitism began to spread. Nuclear research had nothing to do with the Industrial Revolution and its machines or machine weapons.
A post-Industrial "Cerebral Revolution" was on. Anti-Semitism in Europe was good luck for the U.S., for otherwise Germany would have defeated the United States by nuclear weapons.
Nor does the war in Iraq have anything to do with the Industrial Revolution or with its post-revolutionary nuclear weapons.
The United States and Britain perceived themselves as the most modern, advanced, and developed countries.
Their soldiers in Iraq wore camouflage uniforms, and on the generals’ uniforms there was not enough space for all decorations for all old dazzling victories. For every Sunni fighter there were several U.S. tanks and nuclear bombs, to say nothing of old trifles like machine-guns, which ensure victory, according to Kipling, who glorified the British military power. But what has been happening for four years in Iraq?
Sunni guerrillas would hit and vanish.
The record of U.S. losses has been not only of human casualties, but also that of financial costs, with all those armored vehicles and other industrial splendors. This has been the most idiotic defeat of an invader in the history of wars.
The dictatorship of China came in the post-Industrial Revolution era. Before 1945, a country’s military might was still estimated by its output of steel. But nuclear weapons were not industrial machines of steel, but clots or clusters of human thought. The U.S. victory in the Iraq war has required no steel at all, but smartness, intelligence, and to begin with, the good sense not to start that war for those who were after the Iraqi oil, but too stupid to satisfy their greed.
A country’s military success depends today not on its output of steel, but on its output of thought, for even weapons themselves are not steel, but thoughts, such as the thought that impelled Einstein to write that Aug. 2, 1939 letter to Roosevelt or which was put into nuclear weapons, decisive for the outcome of World War II.
In contrast to steel, thought cannot be weighed and tabled in thousands of tons. Do constitutional and democratic societies have an advantage in thought? Einstein developed and reached the peak of recognition in the Kaiser’s Germany, and he left Germany only when he learned in 1933 (he was in the United States) that Hitler’s power meant for him anti-Semitic banditry: Their home in Germany was attacked and pillaged.
Had Germany remained the “Kaiser’s Germany,” he and other Jewish scientists of genius would not have emigrated and possibly would have developed nuclear weapons in the Kaiser’s Germany ahead of any other country.
The Chinese are not the primitive Asiatics that many Westerners imagine them to be. Book printing originated in China; Newtonian mathematics had appeared in China before Newton; and the Chinese used gas for heating and lighting more than 20 centuries before the Western Europeans did.
What if the dictatorship of China creates conditions as favorable for thoughts in science as they were in the Kaiser’s Germany?
On the other hand, the war in Iraq was conceived in the United States by idiots; most of whom were for the war in 2003 and are against it in 2007. With the death of Sidney Hook in 1989, the last internationally known American thinker was gone.
His name was already dropped by the Britannica of 1971, and I told him, much to his amusement, that in Soviet Russia he was in every reference book as an “apologist of American imperialism.”
Thinkers have been replaced by television hosts and their “guests,” such as “academics” who are invited by television as “experts” under the assumption that thinking can be divided into “academic fields” with an “expert” paid by his university for the “teaching” of new “experts” — an unprecedented mammoth bureaucracy, which did nothing to prevent the insane oil war in Iraq.
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