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Posted on on May 5th, 2018
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Great Crack-Up, Then and Now.

May 4, 2018 SHERI BERMAN, Project Syndicate.

The Great War laid waste to the economic and political foundations of Europe, but did not establish a new international order, thus setting the stage for the disasters of the 1930s and 1940s. As the world approaches another period of vast economic and political change, the lessons of the interwar interregnum are more relevant than ever.

Peter Clarke, The Locomotive of War: Money, Empire, Power and Guilt, Bloomsbury, 2017.
Robert Gerwarth, The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016.
Adam Tooze, The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931, Penguin Random House, 2014.
Philip Ziegler, Between the Wars: 1919-1939, MacLeHose Press, 2016.
NEW YORK – Many now fear that we are witnessing the disintegration of the liberal international order, which has for decades ensured peace and prosperity in the West and many other parts of the world. That order was established after World War II, but it is worth remembering that its origins lie in the period following World War I.

WWI was a staggering conflagration with far-reaching consequences. Beginning as a confrontation between the Triple Entente – France, the United Kingdom, and Russia – and the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary, the war quickly engulfed all of Europe, with the exception of Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Scandinavia. In time, it dragged in the Ottoman Empire, Japan, the United States, and various members of the British Commonwealth. And, eventually, its impact was felt as far afield as Latin America and Asia.

Needless to say, WWI was immensely destructive: approximately ten million people died, and perhaps three times as many were injured. By 1918, Europe was shattered, exhausted, and demoralized. And just as the war was ending, a global influenza pandemic struck, eventually killing perhaps 50 million more people. The world that had existed before the war was gone forever.


I know that the article does not do justice to its title. On Jeremy’s great
presentation at the May 2-3, 2018 Lisbon meeting of SE4All (Sustainable Energy for All) – The switch from Fossil Fuels to Renewable Energy – with parallel switches involving communication and transportation – we will have a separate article. I posted this article because it deals actually with the Second Industrial Revolution – the one that switched society from Coal to Fossil Fuels and was source of unemployment and social misery. Jeremy Rifkin has written extensively on these developments and is predicting change we just hinted to
in our article that positioned the EU and the US in terms of just released 2017 emissions data.


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