Discussion:
WI: No Napoleon Bonoparte
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jerry kraus
2017-10-05 14:12:26 UTC
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So, just how important was Napoleon, really in world history? If we simply excise him from the annals of history, how significantly does that change the history of the planet? This is an excellent test of the "great man" hypothesis of the workings of history, because Napoleon is certainly the archetype of the "great man".
Alex Milman
2017-10-05 23:08:54 UTC
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Post by jerry kraus
So, just how important was Napoleon, really in world history? If we simply excise him from the annals of history, how significantly does that change the history of the planet?
His absence would definitely make a noticeable change in my local liquor store.
jerry kraus
2017-10-06 13:09:16 UTC
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Post by Alex Milman
Post by jerry kraus
So, just how important was Napoleon, really in world history? If we simply excise him from the annals of history, how significantly does that change the history of the planet?
His absence would definitely make a noticeable change in my local liquor store.
Alex, you're directly responding to one of my posts, I'm deeply flattered.

Well, other than Napoleon Brandy, I'm not really sure what the impact would be, which is why I'm asking the question. We still have the French Revolution, of course, but, is there an earlier return of the Monarchy? Napoleon certainly was effective at times in supporting the Revolution against its Royalist opponents. Would other comparably brilliant generals have come forward to conquer Italy and much of Europe? Quite possibly. Would they have been as arrogant as Napoleon, and provoked as much enmity with the other great powers, particularly Russia? Yes, very likely.

So, on balance, this "great man" was simply a symbol of the instability and overpopulation of France and its consequent significance in the contemporary power struggles in Europe as a whole. Thanks for answering my question.
Alex Milman
2017-10-06 20:00:54 UTC
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Post by jerry kraus
Post by Alex Milman
Post by jerry kraus
So, just how important was Napoleon, really in world history? If we simply excise him from the annals of history, how significantly does that change the history of the planet?
His absence would definitely make a noticeable change in my local liquor store.
Alex, you're directly responding to one of my posts, I'm deeply flattered.
Well, other than Napoleon Brandy,
Look a little bit higher on the shelves and price range: "Napoleon" is famous as a cognac: Napoleon means that the youngest element in the blend is aged for at least six, but an average of 20 years and upwards.
Post by jerry kraus
I'm not really sure what the impact would be,
No Napoleon torte, no Empire style, most probably no Beef Wellington (beef who?), no Waterloo station, no "War and Peace" (that's definitely a plus), no Overture of 1812 to play on July 4th (this one I never could get), different royal dynasty in Sweden, no Trafalgar Square (and these obnoxious pigeons crapping all over everything), no Vendome column, Gare d'Austerlitz, etc., Archduke Charles would not have "Essling" on his monument, there would be no Kutuzov's glorification in Russia (most probably he would be known as a general who was preparing a morning coffee for Platon Zubov), books written by de Marbot, Culaincourt and Marie-Thérèse Figueur ("little dragoon Sans-Gêne") would be different, etc.

Isn't it enough?
Post by jerry kraus
which is why I'm asking the question. We still have the French Revolution, of course, but, is there an earlier return of the Monarchy?
How?
Post by jerry kraus
Napoleon certainly was effective at times in supporting the Revolution against its Royalist opponents. Would other comparably brilliant generals have come forward to conquer Italy and much of Europe?   Quite possibly.
List of the French revolutionary generals is well known and so are their abilities and conquests. Nothing even remotely close to the conquest of "much of Europe".
Post by jerry kraus
  Would they have been as arrogant as Napoleon, and provoked as much enmity with the other great powers, particularly Russia?
The "enmity" in question had been "provoked" before Nappy came to power. If anything, Emperor Paul forgot its enmity toward the French Republic as soon as it got "king in everything but name".
Post by jerry kraus
Yes, very likely
So, on balance, this "great man" was simply a symbol of the instability and overpopulation of France and its consequent significance in the contemporary power struggles in Europe as a whole.
Which is supposed to mean what?
Post by jerry kraus
Thanks for answering my question.
The Horny Goat
2017-10-07 00:40:25 UTC
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On Fri, 6 Oct 2017 06:09:16 -0700 (PDT), jerry kraus
Post by jerry kraus
Well, other than Napoleon Brandy, I'm not really sure what the impact would be, which is why I'm asking the question. We still have the French Revolution, of course, but, is there an earlier return of the Monarchy? Napoleon certainly was effective at times in supporting the Revolution against its Royalist opponents. Would other comparably brilliant generals have come forward to conquer Italy and much of Europe? Quite possibly. Would they have been as arrogant as Napoleon, and provoked as much enmity with the other great powers, particularly Russia? Yes, very likely.
If you have not read the first appendix to Tolstoy's War and Peace do
read it. It's the ultimate presentation of the "anti-Great Man theory
of world history" and claims history is all about major forces and not
at all about individuals.

Given the plot of War and Peace obviously Napoleon is one of the
primary subjects of his essay.

For sure there are major forces in world history but I do strongly
think individuals have an impact.

For instance the French Revolution didn't really have a leader after
Robespierre until Napoleon and someone would have taken the helm.
Whether this someone had European wide imperial designs (i.e.
establishing Kings and Dukes and lesser nobility as Napoleon did) or
more explicitly democratic probably determines whether there's a
continent wide war.

I would argue Napoleon was an inevitable result of the French
Revolution but not the only possible outcome.

[On the other hand, I would argue that given the Great Depression an
extreme government in Germany was likely and the Naziism without
Hitler is a "horse of a totally different color". I can envision
someone like Stresemann or his ilk to play the FDR role in Germany -
and don't forget that by American standards FDR was extremely radical
- but that this certainly does not result in a *WW2 with German at the
center of it.

Such a scenario probably leaves the Soviets with their 1920 boundaries
since while Stalin was highly opportunistic he was not inherently that
aggressive.]

A Europe without Bonaparte probably means a French government in
financial collapse and may or may not mean a return to the monarchy.

This is good news for Great Powers who are financially stronger -
probably good things for Britain, Austria and Russia in that order. My
guess is that an Austrian attempt to dominate Italy in that era is a
plausible casus belli for a war in the same but non-Napoleonic period.

No doubt others can come up with equally good flashpoints.
Alex Milman
2017-10-07 01:47:19 UTC
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Post by The Horny Goat
On Fri, 6 Oct 2017 06:09:16 -0700 (PDT), jerry kraus
Post by jerry kraus
Well, other than Napoleon Brandy, I'm not really sure what the impact would be, which is why I'm asking the question. We still have the French Revolution, of course, but, is there an earlier return of the Monarchy? Napoleon certainly was effective at times in supporting the Revolution against its Royalist opponents. Would other comparably brilliant generals have come forward to conquer Italy and much of Europe? Quite possibly. Would they have been as arrogant as Napoleon, and provoked as much enmity with the other great powers, particularly Russia? Yes, very likely.
If you have not read the first appendix to Tolstoy's War and Peace do
read it. It's the ultimate presentation of the "anti-Great Man theory
of world history" and claims history is all about major forces and not
at all about individuals.
The main problem with Lev Tolstoy, besides him being a terrible pompous bore, was his open dislike of the "great people" who had not been Lev Tolstoy. :-)

Of course, his competence on the subject is highly questionable, just as his competence on many other subjects. As far as the military issues had been concerned he seemingly did not grew up above the level of a junior officer and his literary tastes were terrible (he praised Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, eeek).
Post by The Horny Goat
Given the plot of War and Peace obviously Napoleon is one of the
primary subjects of his essay.
And, taking into an account that in W&P (AFAIK, English translation of the title is wrong) (a) Nappy is shown as a posturing clown and (b) it is "proven" that the military commanders are not necessary, it is anything but clear why the whole brouhaha with the Napoleonic Wars and the 1st Empire happened. Probably (following his theory) the French soldiers just decided to go here and then there while the Austrian, Prussian, etc. decided that they don't want to fight.... :-)
Post by The Horny Goat
For sure there are major forces in world history but I do strongly
think individuals have an impact.
Even the commies acknowledged this fact (up to a certain degree).
Post by The Horny Goat
For instance the French Revolution didn't really have a leader after
Robespierre until Napoleon and someone would have taken the helm.
And armies of the Republic had been fighting for years with quite limited results: they managed to move border to the Rhine but in Italy French just controlled mountain passes. Further advances into Germany in 1794 ended up with a retreat so basically the sides almost fought each other into a stalemate.
Post by The Horny Goat
Whether this someone had European wide imperial designs (i.e.
establishing Kings and Dukes and lesser nobility as Napoleon did) or
more explicitly democratic probably determines whether there's a
continent wide war.
I would argue Napoleon was an inevitable result of the French
Revolution but not the only possible outcome.
Well put. :-)

Someone with more modest talents may have a better chance for establishing a real peace in Europe (based on compromises) sooner and with lesser losses of human lives.

[]
Post by The Horny Goat
A Europe without Bonaparte probably means a French government in
financial collapse and may or may not mean a return to the monarchy.
Why so? If <whatever> government reaches a peace deal then you have a peace time economy in which France would do reasonably well: it was a major producer of the items wanted in most of Europe (even Britain, IIRC).
Post by The Horny Goat
This is good news for Great Powers who are financially stronger -
probably good things for Britain, Austria and Russia in that order.
Not sure if Russia will get into the picture without the brilliant French success in Italy (1st Italian campaign). Even less sure about the financial strength of Austria and Russia: they needed the British subsidies for raising the adequate armies.
Post by The Horny Goat
My
guess is that an Austrian attempt to dominate Italy in that era is a
plausible casus belli for a war in the same but non-Napoleonic period.
But Austria will be supported by whom? It was one thing to contribute money and troops for the "anti-revolutionary cause" and quite different to do the same just to benefit Hapsburgs' appetite.
Post by The Horny Goat
No doubt others can come up with equally good flashpoints.
SolomonW
2017-10-07 12:42:32 UTC
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Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
On Fri, 6 Oct 2017 06:09:16 -0700 (PDT), jerry kraus
Post by jerry kraus
Well, other than Napoleon Brandy, I'm not really sure what the impact would be, which is why I'm asking the question. We still have the French Revolution, of course, but, is there an earlier return of the Monarchy? Napoleon certainly was effective at times in supporting the Revolution against its Royalist opponents. Would other comparably brilliant generals have come forward to conquer Italy and much of Europe? Quite possibly. Would they have been as arrogant as Napoleon, and provoked as much enmity with the other great powers, particularly Russia? Yes, very likely.
If you have not read the first appendix to Tolstoy's War and Peace do
read it. It's the ultimate presentation of the "anti-Great Man theory
of world history" and claims history is all about major forces and not
at all about individuals.
The main problem with Lev Tolstoy, besides him being a terrible pompous bore, was his open dislike of the "great people" who had not been Lev Tolstoy. :-)
I like that comment.
Post by Alex Milman
Of course, his competence on the subject is highly questionable, just as his competence on many other subjects. As far as the military issues had been concerned he seemingly did not grew up above the level of a junior officer and his literary tastes were terrible (he praised Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, eeek).
Post by The Horny Goat
Given the plot of War and Peace obviously Napoleon is one of the
primary subjects of his essay.
And, taking into an account that in W&P (AFAIK, English translation of the title is wrong) (a) Nappy is shown as a posturing clown and (b) it is "proven" that the military commanders are not necessary, it is anything but clear why the whole brouhaha with the Napoleonic Wars and the 1st Empire happened. Probably (following his theory) the French soldiers just decided to go here and then there while the Austrian, Prussian, etc. decided that they don't want to fight.... :-)
Post by The Horny Goat
For sure there are major forces in world history but I do strongly
think individuals have an impact.
Even the commies acknowledged this fact (up to a certain degree).
Generally, they tend to argue that great men change the rate of human
progress forward or backwards according to their world view, but he does
not change history course. It gets very complex and twisted what they
mean.
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
For instance the French Revolution didn't really have a leader after
Robespierre until Napoleon and someone would have taken the helm.
And armies of the Republic had been fighting for years with quite limited results: they managed to move border to the Rhine but in Italy French just controlled mountain passes. Further advances into Germany in 1794 ended up with a retreat so basically the sides almost fought each other into a stalemate.
They would have got a draw.
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
Whether this someone had European wide imperial designs (i.e.
establishing Kings and Dukes and lesser nobility as Napoleon did) or
more explicitly democratic probably determines whether there's a
continent wide war.
Without an Empire, I doubt a king could establish itself out of
revolutionary France.
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
I would argue Napoleon was an inevitable result of the French
Revolution but not the only possible outcome.
I do not understand this if it's inevitable, then there are no other
possible outcomes.
Post by Alex Milman
Well put. :-)
Someone with more modest talents may have a better chance for establishing a real peace in Europe (based on compromises) sooner and with lesser losses of human lives.
If only because people would be less willing to follow him on risky
missions.
Post by Alex Milman
[]
Post by The Horny Goat
A Europe without Bonaparte probably means a French government in
financial collapse and may or may not mean a return to the monarchy.
Why so? If <whatever> government reaches a peace deal then you have a peace time economy in which France would do reasonably well: it was a major producer of the items wanted in most of Europe (even Britain, IIRC).
I agree.
The Horny Goat
2017-10-07 16:34:43 UTC
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Post by SolomonW
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
I would argue Napoleon was an inevitable result of the French
Revolution but not the only possible outcome.
I do not understand this if it's inevitable, then there are no other
possible outcomes.
What I meant was "SOMEBODY's going to rise to the top in France, not
necessarily him or someone with ambitions on his scale.
Post by SolomonW
Post by Alex Milman
Someone with more modest talents may have a better chance for establishing a real peace in Europe (based on compromises) sooner and with lesser losses of human lives.
If only because people would be less willing to follow him on risky
missions.
But dreams of glory were central to the whole mythos of the French
Revolution. You can't listen (or read the lyrics) to the Marseillaise
without getting that in spades. And that was written long before
anybody cared about a certain Corsican.
Alex Milman
2017-10-07 17:59:29 UTC
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Post by The Horny Goat
Post by SolomonW
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
I would argue Napoleon was an inevitable result of the French
Revolution but not the only possible outcome.
I do not understand this if it's inevitable, then there are no other
possible outcomes.
What I meant was "SOMEBODY's going to rise to the top in France, not
necessarily him or someone with ambitions on his scale.
"We need one head and one sword" - initially, it meant 2 people. However, I doubt that such a split dictatorship could work in a long run. So, 2 basic scenarios are:

(a) Some form of a sustainable republican government. Directorate was not doing too well and clearly did not have neither "exit strategy" nor popularity. The main "productive" idea was to keep screwing up the popular generals (sending Nappy to Egypt, pissing off Moreau, removing Bernadotte from position of Minister of War, etc.) so it was doomed to end badly.

(b) Military dictatorship with or without a republican paraphernalia (I'm simply unaware of any civilian personage capable of taking and preserving power at that time). List would not be too long because neither Moreau nor Massena had any political ambitions. Carnot seemingly did not have too much of support in the army and was compromised by membership in Directorate (I also was under the impression that he was a honest person which would be a major disqualifier). More or less leaves Bernadotte at the time when he is a Minister of War or a little afterwards; not sure that he was brave enough to accomplish the coup but OTOH he was a political animal with the useful friends (IIRC, Talleyrand and Fouche among them) and good at PR - look at the legends he managed to create about himself in Sweden, like paying the state debt with his own money (yeah, and I have a nice bridge for sale; but in his case it did work). To have a complete picture, in one alt-history book (not 100% serious) France finds itself under the rule of Basileus Thomas-Alexander Dumas (while field marshal Bonaparte is a favorite general of Emperor Paul I).
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by SolomonW
Post by Alex Milman
Someone with more modest talents may have a better chance for establishing a real peace in Europe (based on compromises) sooner and with lesser losses of human lives.
If only because people would be less willing to follow him on risky
missions.
But dreams of glory were central to the whole mythos of the French
Revolution.
Yes, but dreams of loot were at least as central as those of glory ("I'll led you into the richest place in Europe!")
Post by The Horny Goat
You can't listen (or read the lyrics) to the Marseillaise
without getting that in spades.
It was composed in the early days of the Republic and it was proven time and again that, while you can achieve a lot with enthusiasm, you can rely upon it forever.
Post by The Horny Goat
And that was written long before
anybody cared about a certain Corsican.
That's the point: by the time he became known value of the had been steadily devaluated (together with the paper money). The starving and ill-equipped soldiers liked an idea of being led into the places with a lot of food and loot.
Alex Milman
2017-10-07 17:07:30 UTC
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Post by SolomonW
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
On Fri, 6 Oct 2017 06:09:16 -0700 (PDT), jerry kraus
Post by jerry kraus
Well, other than Napoleon Brandy, I'm not really sure what the impact would be, which is why I'm asking the question. We still have the French Revolution, of course, but, is there an earlier return of the Monarchy? Napoleon certainly was effective at times in supporting the Revolution against its Royalist opponents. Would other comparably brilliant generals have come forward to conquer Italy and much of Europe? Quite possibly. Would they have been as arrogant as Napoleon, and provoked as much enmity with the other great powers, particularly Russia? Yes, very likely.
If you have not read the first appendix to Tolstoy's War and Peace do
read it. It's the ultimate presentation of the "anti-Great Man theory
of world history" and claims history is all about major forces and not
at all about individuals.
The main problem with Lev Tolstoy, besides him being a terrible pompous bore, was his open dislike of the "great people" who had not been Lev Tolstoy. :-)
I like that comment.
Thanks :-)
Post by SolomonW
Post by Alex Milman
Of course, his competence on the subject is highly questionable, just as his competence on many other subjects. As far as the military issues had been concerned he seemingly did not grew up above the level of a junior officer and his literary tastes were terrible (he praised Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, eeek).
Post by The Horny Goat
Given the plot of War and Peace obviously Napoleon is one of the
primary subjects of his essay.
And, taking into an account that in W&P (AFAIK, English translation of the title is wrong) (a) Nappy is shown as a posturing clown and (b) it is "proven" that the military commanders are not necessary, it is anything but clear why the whole brouhaha with the Napoleonic Wars and the 1st Empire happened. Probably (following his theory) the French soldiers just decided to go here and then there while the Austrian, Prussian, etc. decided that they don't want to fight.... :-)
Post by The Horny Goat
For sure there are major forces in world history but I do strongly
think individuals have an impact.
Even the commies acknowledged this fact (up to a certain degree).
Generally, they tend to argue that great men change the rate of human
progress forward or backwards according to their world view, but he does
not change history course. It gets very complex and twisted what they
mean.
Taking into an account that nobody (except for the Marxists :-)) can tell for sure what IS "history course" the whole notion does not make too much sense. For example, was creation of the Mongolian Empire predetermined by "history"? It hardly could be extracted from Marx's model of development: the Mongols at Genghis' time hardly were more socially or economically advanced and it can (and was) argued both ways if creation of their empire was or was not the next step in a social development (AFAIK, due to the prevailing level of the contemporary ignorance Marx was mostly ignoring non-European "barbarians"). There were earlier nomadic empires ("history course"?) but none of them was comparable with Mongolian Empire ("history course" or something to do with personality?).

So either the "course of history" is something too vague and unpredictable to be of any practical use or there are individuals capable of shaping that "course" in a very specific way.
Post by SolomonW
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
For instance the French Revolution didn't really have a leader after
Robespierre until Napoleon and someone would have taken the helm.
And armies of the Republic had been fighting for years with quite limited results: they managed to move border to the Rhine but in Italy French just controlled mountain passes. Further advances into Germany in 1794 ended up with a retreat so basically the sides almost fought each other into a stalemate.
They would have got a draw.
Which was more or less happening: the wars had been going on without any of the sides gaining a noticeable advantage. It is possible to assume that some better balanced version of treaty of Campoformio could take place if not in 1797 then reasonably soon afterwards and allowing Hapsburgs bigger concessions in Italy (say ALL possessions of the Venetian Republic including the islands) would make peace more sustainable (France would have border in the Rhine with the Austrian Netherlands included and free navigation guaranteed on the Rhine, the Meuse and the Moselle).
Post by SolomonW
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
Whether this someone had European wide imperial designs (i.e.
establishing Kings and Dukes and lesser nobility as Napoleon did) or
more explicitly democratic probably determines whether there's a
continent wide war.
Without an Empire, I doubt a king could establish itself out of
revolutionary France.
Yes, highly unlikely: the idea was not popular at all.
Post by SolomonW
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
I would argue Napoleon was an inevitable result of the French
Revolution but not the only possible outcome.
I do not understand this if it's inevitable, then there are no other
possible outcomes.
I'd say "logical result" but I agree that it was hardly inevitable as a specific personality. OTOH, I suspect that period of a dictatorship was almost inevitable.
Post by SolomonW
Post by Alex Milman
Well put. :-)
Someone with more modest talents may have a better chance for establishing a real peace in Europe (based on compromises) sooner and with lesser losses of human lives.
If only because people would be less willing to follow him on risky
missions.
Indeed. And because that person would be less prone to the risky actions by the virtue of knowing that he is NOT a genius. Look at Bernadotte: he (after a little bit of experimenting) settled to a minimal risk behavior and survived as a founder of a dynasty.
Post by SolomonW
Post by Alex Milman
[]
Post by The Horny Goat
A Europe without Bonaparte probably means a French government in
financial collapse and may or may not mean a return to the monarchy.
Why so? If <whatever> government reaches a peace deal then you have a peace time economy in which France would do reasonably well: it was a major producer of the items wanted in most of Europe (even Britain, IIRC).
I agree.
The Horny Goat
2017-10-07 16:30:03 UTC
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On Fri, 6 Oct 2017 18:47:19 -0700 (PDT), Alex Milman
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
If you have not read the first appendix to Tolstoy's War and Peace do
read it. It's the ultimate presentation of the "anti-Great Man theory
of world history" and claims history is all about major forces and not
at all about individuals.
The main problem with Lev Tolstoy, besides him being a terrible pompous bore, was his open dislike of the "great people" who had not been Lev Tolstoy. :-)
Of course, his competence on the subject is highly questionable, just as his competence on many other subjects. As far as the military issues had been concerned he seemingly did not grew up above the level of a junior officer and his literary tastes were terrible (he praised Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, eeek).
In fairness I didn't say it was more than Tolstoy's opinion and an
opinion Jerry should read if he hasn't already done so as it's an
extreme view against the "Great Man" school of history. Didn't say I
agreed with it (in fact I said the exact opposite) but I've read all
sorts of things I didn't agree with that probably helped my
understanding even if they didn't contribute anything positive - The
Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the Communist Manifesto come to
mind in this context.
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
Given the plot of War and Peace obviously Napoleon is one of the
primary subjects of his essay.
And, taking into an account that in W&P (AFAIK, English translation of the title is wrong) (a) Nappy is shown as a posturing clown and (b) it is "proven" that the military commanders are not necessary, it is anything but clear why the whole brouhaha with the Napoleonic Wars and the 1st Empire happened. Probably (following his theory) the French soldiers just decided to go here and then there while the Austrian, Prussian, etc. decided that they don't want to fight.... :-)
And why did the French want to go "there"? (or anywhere else in Europe
they ended up going) - rhetorical question obviously.
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
For instance the French Revolution didn't really have a leader after
Robespierre until Napoleon and someone would have taken the helm.
And armies of the Republic had been fighting for years with quite limited results: they managed to move border to the Rhine but in Italy French just controlled mountain passes. Further advances into Germany in 1794 ended up with a retreat so basically the sides almost fought each other into a stalemate.
Post by The Horny Goat
Whether this someone had European wide imperial designs (i.e.
establishing Kings and Dukes and lesser nobility as Napoleon did) or
more explicitly democratic probably determines whether there's a
continent wide war.
I would argue Napoleon was an inevitable result of the French
Revolution but not the only possible outcome.
Well put. :-)
Someone with more modest talents may have a better chance for establishing a real peace in Europe (based on compromises) sooner and with lesser losses of human lives.
Not necessarily more modest talents; more modest ambitions might be a
better way of putting it. Still without Napoleon the French legal
system in 2017 is quite different.
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
A Europe without Bonaparte probably means a French government in
financial collapse and may or may not mean a return to the monarchy.
Why so? If <whatever> government reaches a peace deal then you have a peace time economy in which France would do reasonably well: it was a major producer of the items wanted in most of Europe (even Britain, IIRC).
Obviously - which is why so much of the British effort involved
stopping smuggling on the south coast of England.
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
My
guess is that an Austrian attempt to dominate Italy in that era is a
plausible casus belli for a war in the same but non-Napoleonic period.
But Austria will be supported by whom? It was one thing to contribute money and troops for the "anti-revolutionary cause" and quite different to do the same just to benefit Hapsburgs' appetite.
Post by The Horny Goat
No doubt others can come up with equally good flashpoints.
As I said just another scenario that doesn't require ASBs to make
happen. There are all sorts of ways 1789-1815 could have worked out
differently - some that probably would have made a better world, some
not.

For instance no Anglo-French war probably means no Royal Navy
impressment which probably removes the War of 1812 though it is of
course quite possible Britain and America find something else to fight
over at some point. (Maybe pigs - that's an inside joke - Google "Pig
War 1859" if you don't get the reference)

After all in 1859 Britain was unusually sensitive about pigs given
that India in 1857 was turned upside down due to "fake news" about pig
fat on cartridges. Who knows? (huge smile)
Alex Milman
2017-10-07 17:27:57 UTC
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Post by The Horny Goat
On Fri, 6 Oct 2017 18:47:19 -0700 (PDT), Alex Milman
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
If you have not read the first appendix to Tolstoy's War and Peace do
read it. It's the ultimate presentation of the "anti-Great Man theory
of world history" and claims history is all about major forces and not
at all about individuals.
The main problem with Lev Tolstoy, besides him being a terrible pompous bore, was his open dislike of the "great people" who had not been Lev Tolstoy. :-)
Of course, his competence on the subject is highly questionable, just as his competence on many other subjects. As far as the military issues had been concerned he seemingly did not grew up above the level of a junior officer and his literary tastes were terrible (he praised Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, eeek).
In fairness I didn't say it was more than Tolstoy's opinion and an
opinion Jerry should read if he hasn't already done so as it's an
extreme view against the "Great Man" school of history.
But the trick with Lev Tolstoy was that he considered HIMSELF to be the Great Man capable of changing the human consciousness (which is more ambitious than just conquering some land). Wasn't it a contradiction? :-)
Post by The Horny Goat
Didn't say I
agreed with it (in fact I said the exact opposite) but I've read all
sorts of things I didn't agree with that probably helped my
understanding even if they didn't contribute anything positive - The
Protocols of the Elders of Zion
AFAIK, a malicious fake.
Post by The Horny Goat
and the Communist Manifesto come to
mind in this context.
A pile of verbal manure, typical for Marx.

But I understand you interest.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
Given the plot of War and Peace obviously Napoleon is one of the
primary subjects of his essay.
And, taking into an account that in W&P (AFAIK, English translation of the title is wrong) (a) Nappy is shown as a posturing clown and (b) it is "proven" that the military commanders are not necessary, it is anything but clear why the whole brouhaha with the Napoleonic Wars and the 1st Empire happened. Probably (following his theory) the French soldiers just decided to go here and then there while the Austrian, Prussian, etc. decided that they don't want to fight.... :-)
And why did the French want to go "there"? (or anywhere else in Europe
they ended up going) - rhetorical question obviously.
Obviously:-)

If Tolstoy stopped to think about the answer he probably would have a serious revision of his "theory".
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
For instance the French Revolution didn't really have a leader after
Robespierre until Napoleon and someone would have taken the helm.
And armies of the Republic had been fighting for years with quite limited results: they managed to move border to the Rhine but in Italy French just controlled mountain passes. Further advances into Germany in 1794 ended up with a retreat so basically the sides almost fought each other into a stalemate.
Post by The Horny Goat
Whether this someone had European wide imperial designs (i.e.
establishing Kings and Dukes and lesser nobility as Napoleon did) or
more explicitly democratic probably determines whether there's a
continent wide war.
I would argue Napoleon was an inevitable result of the French
Revolution but not the only possible outcome.
Well put. :-)
Someone with more modest talents may have a better chance for establishing a real peace in Europe (based on compromises) sooner and with lesser losses of human lives.
Not necessarily more modest talents; more modest ambitions might be a
better way of putting it.
We KNOW all noticeable "actors" of that time and even the most capable of them had much more modest talents than Napoleon. The ambitions could be (and had been) a byproduct of recognition one's own abilities. I'd say that there was a greater chance for a more ordinary person to recognize the risks associated with the specific decisions than it was the case with a genius like Napoleon.
Post by The Horny Goat
Still without Napoleon the French legal
system in 2017 is quite different.
Most probably some legal code would be created as soon as the dust settles down. Of course, it could be different but we can only guess HOW different.
The Horny Goat
2017-10-07 18:23:05 UTC
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On Sat, 7 Oct 2017 10:27:57 -0700 (PDT), Alex Milman
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
Didn't say I
agreed with it (in fact I said the exact opposite) but I've read all
sorts of things I didn't agree with that probably helped my
understanding even if they didn't contribute anything positive - The
Protocols of the Elders of Zion
AFAIK, a malicious fake.
Post by The Horny Goat
and the Communist Manifesto come to
mind in this context.
A pile of verbal manure, typical for Marx.
But I understand you interest.
I didn't say I considered the Protocols authentic. By linking it to
the Manifesto I was trying to illustrate what I think of Marx.
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alex Milman
Someone with more modest talents may have a better chance for establishing a real peace in Europe (based on compromises) sooner and with lesser losses of human lives.
Not necessarily more modest talents; more modest ambitions might be a
better way of putting it.
We KNOW all noticeable "actors" of that time and even the most capable of them had much more modest talents than Napoleon. The ambitions could be (and had been) a byproduct of recognition one's own abilities. I'd say that there was a greater chance for a more ordinary person to recognize the risks associated with the specific decisions than it was the case with a genius like Napoleon.
No question we would have a totally different view of Bonaparte had he
died in 1805 - either before or after Austerlitz. At that point his
Code is done.

(I rather strongly suspect that the world would have a different view
of Hitler had he died after the Anschluss but before Munich
particularly if his successors avoided war but that's a different
discussion. No doubt the same is true of JFK whose survival to 1968
would have meant a completely different assessment of his presidency
50 years onwards)
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
Still without Napoleon the French legal
system in 2017 is quite different.
Most probably some legal code would be created as soon as the dust settles down. Of course, it could be different but we can only guess HOW different.
jerry kraus
2017-10-09 13:37:34 UTC
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Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
On Fri, 6 Oct 2017 18:47:19 -0700 (PDT), Alex Milman
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
If you have not read the first appendix to Tolstoy's War and Peace do
read it. It's the ultimate presentation of the "anti-Great Man theory
of world history" and claims history is all about major forces and not
at all about individuals.
The main problem with Lev Tolstoy, besides him being a terrible pompous bore, was his open dislike of the "great people" who had not been Lev Tolstoy. :-)
Of course, his competence on the subject is highly questionable, just as his competence on many other subjects. As far as the military issues had been concerned he seemingly did not grew up above the level of a junior officer and his literary tastes were terrible (he praised Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, eeek).
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Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
In fairness I didn't say it was more than Tolstoy's opinion and an
opinion Jerry should read if he hasn't already done so as it's an
extreme view against the "Great Man" school of history.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Post by Alex Milman
But the trick with Lev Tolstoy was that he considered HIMSELF to be the Great Man capable of changing the human consciousness (which is more ambitious than just conquering some land). Wasn't it a contradiction? :-)
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Tolstoy didn't consider himself to be a "great man", Alex. Tolstoy considered himself to be the second coming of Christ. Rather literally. That's a rather different thing, you know. Tolstoy saw himself in terms of Christ, Buddha, Mohammad and Moses -- prophets of the Lord Jehovah. Hence his ostentatious "humility" in living like a peasant -- in his case that meant having sex with all his female peasants, among other things, but, I digress. Tolstoy believed that he was the mouthpiece of God himself, not that he was great in himself, or had accomplished anything truly great. It's a subtle distinction, but, I think, a real one. Hence, also Gandhi's "humility", in living like a peasant, and modeling himself on Tolstoy. Again, did Gandhi really think of himself as a "great man", or, simply a divinely inspired vehicle of constructive change, with no inherent greatness in "himself"? I think both Tolstoy and Gandhi would have argued that they were merely facilitating inevitable constructive change, rather than that they were "great" or "unique". Napoleon clearly saw himself as being uniquely important in himself.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
Didn't say I
agreed with it (in fact I said the exact opposite) but I've read all
sorts of things I didn't agree with that probably helped my
understanding even if they didn't contribute anything positive - The
Protocols of the Elders of Zion
AFAIK, a malicious fake.
Post by The Horny Goat
and the Communist Manifesto come to
mind in this context.
A pile of verbal manure, typical for Marx.
But I understand you interest.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
Given the plot of War and Peace obviously Napoleon is one of the
primary subjects of his essay.
And, taking into an account that in W&P (AFAIK, English translation of the title is wrong) (a) Nappy is shown as a posturing clown and (b) it is "proven" that the military commanders are not necessary, it is anything but clear why the whole brouhaha with the Napoleonic Wars and the 1st Empire happened. Probably (following his theory) the French soldiers just decided to go here and then there while the Austrian, Prussian, etc. decided that they don't want to fight.... :-)
And why did the French want to go "there"? (or anywhere else in Europe
they ended up going) - rhetorical question obviously.
Obviously:-)
If Tolstoy stopped to think about the answer he probably would have a serious revision of his "theory".
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alex Milman
Post by The Horny Goat
For instance the French Revolution didn't really have a leader after
Robespierre until Napoleon and someone would have taken the helm.
And armies of the Republic had been fighting for years with quite limited results: they managed to move border to the Rhine but in Italy French just controlled mountain passes. Further advances into Germany in 1794 ended up with a retreat so basically the sides almost fought each other into a stalemate.
Post by The Horny Goat
Whether this someone had European wide imperial designs (i.e.
establishing Kings and Dukes and lesser nobility as Napoleon did) or
more explicitly democratic probably determines whether there's a
continent wide war.
I would argue Napoleon was an inevitable result of the French
Revolution but not the only possible outcome.
Well put. :-)
Someone with more modest talents may have a better chance for establishing a real peace in Europe (based on compromises) sooner and with lesser losses of human lives.
Not necessarily more modest talents; more modest ambitions might be a
better way of putting it.
We KNOW all noticeable "actors" of that time and even the most capable of them had much more modest talents than Napoleon. The ambitions could be (and had been) a byproduct of recognition one's own abilities. I'd say that there was a greater chance for a more ordinary person to recognize the risks associated with the specific decisions than it was the case with a genius like Napoleon.
Post by The Horny Goat
Still without Napoleon the French legal
system in 2017 is quite different.
Most probably some legal code would be created as soon as the dust settles down. Of course, it could be different but we can only guess HOW different.
SolomonW
2017-10-07 12:50:43 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by The Horny Goat
[On the other hand, I would argue that given the Great Depression an
extreme government in Germany was likely and the Naziism without
Hitler is a "horse of a totally different color".
I once asked for a great man who changed history and was told in reply
Hitler's father. Now follow the logic here by extension.
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