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Social Studies: Demography and Colonialism (and Imperialism)


Demography is the study of population changes. I will describe two general views, the Neo-Malthusian and the Modernization view, on the matter, starting with the former.

Thomas Malthus, a late demographer and economist, believed that food production would increase over time but not as fast as population growth.
In his studies, he assumed that love (sex) and food was necessary.
The Neo-Malthusians believe that population growth is the main problem, not only because it will outrun food production but also since it is a threat towards the environment and therefore the base of survival.
The remedy, according to the Neo-Malthusians, is to reduce population and population growth (family planning).

The Modernization theory says that the main problem is economic and social backwardness, thus making population growth occur. If there is economic development the population growth will decrease instantly.
The remedy is therefore is economic and social reforms.


What does history explain?
Colonisation took place in the 16th century and onwards. Trade posts were established along the coasts. Europe started a globalized trade (such as the Triangular Trade) which sent profits back to Europe.
This led to industrialization in Europe in the 19th century. A dependency upon export in the Americas and in Africa was developed since the industrialization in the colonies was prohibited.
The slave trade in Africa created wars and destroyed the already existent local trade. Since slaves often were young and productive women and men a drainage of young workers was created.

Imperialism (1870 – 1914)

During the so called second phase exploatation was intensified, the interior of the continents were penetrated. European industry needed cheap raw materials such as copper, rubber, cotton and food.
Capital profits from industry in Europe needed new investment projects which were found in the colonies.

Best way of Cleaning a G15 Keyboard

I recently tried this technique. It was easy, painless and rather fun, actually! Enjoy, and thanks to the original poster, “wo0t”!

How to clean your G15 keyboard easily and safely!

The Causes of the WWI

The Balance of Power in Europe was disrupted by Germany, and by Turkey in the Balkans. The alliances played a roll in making the Balkans the powder keg it became, but they weren’t binding. No state went to war without a self-interest, without something to gain on it themselves.

Was Germany guilty?
The growth of Germany’s industry led to the growth of the scialist movement. Wilhelm’s “Weltpolitik” seems to have been motivated by a desire to rally the growing number of industrial workers behind the emperor. This in order for them not to support the SPD (Sozialistische Partei Deutschlands) and the Trade Union.
All this can be seen as a way to try to neutralize the socialist threat to the domination position that the Junkers held in German politics.
According to the Fischer Thesis, this domestic motive only continues into war. Germany wanted a war also a way for Wilhelm and the Junkers to stay in control. Thus the war is only an extension of the Weltpolitik.

Was France guilty?
France was the architect behind the encirclement of Germany using the alliance with Russia, and she would never accept the loss of Alsace-Lorraine. By 1914, president Poincarré changed attitude towards Russia. All of a sudden, Paris would now support the Tsar instead of stopping him when he wanted to act against the Austrians.

Was Russia guilty?
The Tsar had domestic problems; a growing wave of strikes and protests against his government would have motivated him to have the population focus on a foreign foe. In essence the Tsar wanted to go to war in order to rally the people behind him.
The Russians mobilization plan caused German reactions, and the support Russia gave to Serbia made the bold enough not to fully accept Austria’s ultimatum.

Was Austria-Hungary guilty?
Austria-Hungary’s ultimatum was most likely designed to create a war with Serbia. Because of the blank cheque Germany had given her, she went ahead and attacked Serbia regardless of the consequences.
She clearly wanted a war, as her position as a Great Power was weakening.

Was Serbia guilty?
Serbia was proud, bold and consciously provoked Austria-Hungary with her attacks.

History: Summer of 1914 (Outbreak of WWI) and the Schlieffen Plan

Outbreak of WWI

An Austrian envoy, Count Hoyos, brings a letter from Franz Joseph to Kaiser Wilhelm. The letter says that Austria-Hungary will crush Serbia militarily on the condition that she would receive German support.
Wilhelm virtually gives Austria a blank cheque, in essence support for whatever actions they wish to take. Berlin thought that this would be just another small Balkan War.
On the 23rd of July, Vienna hands over a nearly impossible ultimatum to Serbia. On the 25th, Russia mobilizes against Austria-Hungary whilst Grey, the British Foreign Minister, desperately tries to get a conference to be held.
His efforts are rejected by Austria-Hungary and Germany.

Historians disagree about the general causes for war, but one can clearly say that all parties more or less wanted war at the time.

The Schlieffen Plan

The German Schlieffen Plan (named after Count Alfred von Schlieffen), drawn up in the 1890’s, said that Germany could defeat France and then later defeat Russia, thereby fighting two one-front wars.
It basically said that Germany could win wars against both France and Russia by first moving through Belgium, capturing Paris and then returning to the Russian border.
The follow description is a key part in Frederick Taylor’s work and theory, “War by Time-Table”, which says that the planning was very important for the outbreak of the WWI.
On the 28th of June Russia was going to mobilize her army. The Tsar’s first order was for a full mobilization (along both the Austrian-Hungarian and German border).
Soon after the first order however, the Tsar tried changing the order to only invoke a partial mobilization, towards Austria. This was to avoid provoking Germany.
The Tsar was adviced by his staff not to call off the complete mobilization, for it would then render Russia defenseless against a German attack.
The elaborate mobilization plan involving hundreds of thousand men had to be followed once it was put in motion, or else an irreversible disruption of troop transport would follow.

On the 25th of June Russia started to mobilize along the German frontier. Normally this would only be seen as a “flexing of muscles”, a political way of displaying one’s power.
But for Germany, who needed to quickly defeat France, this essentially meant an immediate mobilization and movement through Belgium. She had to act.

HD Videos from Klagshamn (and Blekinge)

Recorded a few HD-clips with my Kodak Z812IS today. The videos were recorded around Klagshamn, a port near my home-town. Enjoy!

Klagshamn Hamn #1 from Douglas S on Vimeo.

Klagshamn Hamn #2 from Douglas S on Vimeo.

Klagshamn Hamn #3 from Douglas S on Vimeo.

Did some more recording during the weekend, this time in Blekinge.

Various shots of Blekinge from Douglas S on Vimeo.

History: Post-Bosnian Crisis Times in Europe and the Balkan Wars (1908-1913)

…the Austrians went ahead and proclaimed their annexation of Bosnia. […] Meanwhile it seemed unlikely that London or Paris would accept a conference to facilitate Russia’s access to the Mediterranean…


Russia and Serbia were forced to accept the annexation of Bosnia as Kaiser Wilhelm II sent the Tsar Nicholas II: “If you get involved we will support Austria-Hungary”.
Serbia was embittered and from now on slav and serb terrorism would become an increasing problem for the Austrians.


In 1911 Italy attacks Tripoli in Libya and manages to push the Ottomans away. This inspires Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece to form the Balkan League.

1912 and the First and Second Balkan Wars

In 1912 Turkey’s European territories are attacked by the said Balkan League on both north and south flanks and are swiftly defeated.
The four states of the League acted independently of the instructions from the Great Powers (“do not start a war!”).
Even though Turkey was driven out of Europe, the situation in the Balkans was not stabilized, and the area remained the “powder keg of Europe”.
One result of the war seemed to be that Serbia would get a coastline on the Adriatic Sea. However, a conference with the Great Powers was called, where Austria-Hungary’s and Italy’s urge to stop Serb access was supported by Great Britain, France and Germany.
So, Serbia had to evacuate and instead the new state of Albania was created. The Serbs were bitter and decided to bring up an old disagreement with Bulgaria over the division of Macedonia. As a result of this quarrel Bulgaria attacked Serbia, but was easily defeated when Serbia was joined by Greece, Romania and Turkey (the Second Balkan War).
After this attack Serbia, with a boosted self-confidence, yet again tries to take Albania but is forced to evacuate because of a subsequent conference where Austria insists upon it.
Serbia has to bitterly give in and leave Albania.


During these two wars, tensions between the big powers rose. Especially between Russia, who was supporting Serbia, and Germany, supporter of Austria-Hungary.
Russia was unable to support Serbia’s party of the wars due to Kaiser Wilhelm threatening the Tsar Nicholas II and at the same time giving Austria-Hungary full diplomatic support.

History: The Bosnian Crisis in 1908

In 1908 the status of Bosnia was somewhat uncertain, administered by Austria-Hungary but formally still part of the Ottoman Empire. Inhabited by slavs, Bosnia was part of the slav nationalist dream of a South Slav Kingdom (Yugoslavia).
The so-called Pan-Slav movement wanted all slav people to unite, and the most aggressive proponent of this movement was Serbia. The Pan-Slav movement was sponsored by Russia; the Great Power which also was a slav country. But St. Petersburg did this also for strategic reasons: if Serbia could grow stronger in the Balkans, possibly at the expense of Turkey, Russia might finally win free access and control of the Straits of Constantinople (also known as the Straits of Istanbul, or the Dardanelles).

The foreign ministers of Russia and Austria-Hungary, Alexander Izvolsky respectively Alois Lexa von Aehrenthal, negotiated in secrecy an agreement: Russia would accept an Austrian annexation of Bosnia and Austria would support Russia’s desire to get free access through the Dardanelles. The would be done at an international conference at a later date (not set at the time).
However, before Great Britain and France gave their approval for such a conference, the Austrians went ahead and proclaimed their annexation of Bosnia. This caused an outrage in St. Petersburg, in Belgrade and in other slav quarters. Meanwhile it seemed unlikely that London or Paris would accept a conference to facilitate Russia’s access to the Mediterranean…

Social Studies: Main Political Ideologies

What is a Political Ideology?
An ideology is a system of opinions and values about society and the way it should be organized and governed. These ideas are shared by a group of people “belonging” to the ideology.

Liberalism appeared in the late 18th century, paving the way to an industrial society during the said period by allowing new groups to gain political power. It appealed to the middle class in the growing cities.
It’s main philosophers were Locke, Smith and Voltaire.
Liberalism believes in mankind; you are rational, you are capable, you can make sensible decisions about your own life, you are developable. Since you are able to make sensible decisions, your property and income should not be stolen or taken over by the state.
You should also have various freedoms such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from coercion, economic freedom, et cetera.
Mainly this means the state can not interfere in your affairs, and in extreme liberal cases the state should not be allowed to take taxes, as this is regarded as stealing from your property.
Liberalism believes in democracy without a king where one man gets one vote and the power is focused around the parliament.

Conservatism appeared after the French Revolution, when the philosopher Burke wrote a book on the subject, criticizing the rapid changes to society which the said revolution had brought.
This ideology spread, mostly appealing to the aristocracy and clergy.
Conservatism believes society should undergo development, but in a very slow pace. They like to compare society with a human body, growing all the time but very slowly. A revolution could mean chopping an arm off, and it should therefore be avoided.
It also makes use of hierarchy whenever possible. God is on the top, followed by the king, the noble, et cetera. In the family this hierarchy is also applied thus making the father the one in charge.
Conservatism believes that the way to maintain stability in society is by avoiding so-called “social mobility”, the ability to move between groups in society (e.g. earning enough money to move a class up from farmers).

The acting people behind Socialism were Karl Marx, Engels and Vladimir Lenin (I had no idea until recently his first name was Vladimir).
Socialism was based on several different points, one being “historical materialism”, i.e. Karl Marx’s interpretation of history. He wrote several books about Socialism which still are a foundation for modern Socialism.
He pictured society as an evolving entity with four different stages. Slave society, Feudalism, Capitalism, and lastly Communism. He believed all societies would eventually evolve into Communism, as it was the last stage in the evolution.
Marx description of the different stages included the well-known so-called “class struggles”, i.e. the struggle between the poor and the rich.
During the slave society the struggled lied between the slave-owners and the slaves themselves.
Feudalism brought struggles between the clergy and aristocracy and the peasants. The landlords owned the land and the peasants farmed it in exchange for protection from the lords.
According to Marx, Capitalism brings on struggles between the employers and the employees. Marx’s image of Communism was a struggle-less society.
To achieve communism Marx believed that society had to, inevitably, go through a bloody revolution with certain period of dictatorship following. The last few remains of capitalism had to be cleaned out, and for that society needed a firm hand, i.e. a dictator.

Nationalism is a vague concept, not really an ideology but still a host of ideas that play important roles in modern politics. As I noted in the post Basic Political Concepts, “a nation is a group of people that share common characteristics of culture, language and historical experience”. Hence, Nationalism is about the love for ones country and the common identity the inhabitants share.
Generally there are two kinds of nationalism, citizenship nationalism and ethno-nationalism. Citizenship nationalism emphasizes kinship and solidarity towards the own state. It derives from the French revolution and the enlightenment.
Ethno-nationalism emphasizes kinship and solidarity towards the people. The objective is to have one state with one nation. It derives from the German romanticism.
To summarize this two-sided coin one can say that Nationalism is a gnome keeping states together, but also a seed of war.

There will be more to come!

Social Studies: Basic Political Concepts

I want to take a brief moment to explain some basic political concepts I’ve learnt during the past few days.

A Nation
A nation is a human group sharing common characteristics of culture, language, historical experiences etc.
There are about 200 states whilst there are about 2000 nations.

A Centralized State
This name is used when talking about states which are governed from the capital. Most states are centralized.

A Federal State (a union)
When power has been decentralized from the capital to different provinces the state has become federal. Examples include the USA.

A Government
The ruling party of a country including a set of institutions (ruling the country).
The government has power over the military and police, amongst other things.

A Parliament
This is the lawmaking body of a state.

The Head of Government
Also known as the prime minister, bundeskansler or statsminister (in German resp. Swedish).

The Head of State
The head of state can be a king or a president. Often this post only has a symbolic value, becoming more powerful during times of war.

A Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental laws about how to rule a country and fundamental laws about important values in society, e.g. human rights and freedom of speech.


  • Direct democracy: everyone is allowed to vote. Referendums are held.
  • Indirect democracy: when representatives (to a parliament) are elected to make decisions.

Social Studies: What makes a State?

What makes a state? How do you define a country? I will try to define, simplify and explain the main definitions below.

What do you need to call yourself a country?

  • A territory with clearly defined borders.
  • A population, preferably with a strong sense of cohesion. I.e a population who believe they actually are part of your country.
  • Law and order with a strong basis, such as a constitution.
  • A government with a monopoly of coercive power. I.e a government with the unhindered power to rule your country.
  • Sovereignty. I.e no other state is allowed to violate your borders.
  • Last but absolutely not least: you need recognition from your neighbors. I.e you can not just take a piece of land and call it your country, the surrounding states (as well as the superpowers) need to accept you.