From Wallace Stevens’ “The Solitude of Cataracts”
“There was so much that was real that was not real at all.
He wanted to feel the same way over and over.”
From Eric Hobsbawm
“The greatest cruelties of our century have been the impersonal cruelties of removed decision, of system and routine, especially when they could be justified as regrettable operational necessities.”
From The Age of Extremes
“During the short twentieth century, more human beings had been killed or allowed to die by human decision than ever before in history.” (12)
“It is not easy to grasp the extent of the, unfortunately accelerating, return to what our nineteenth century ancestors would have called the standards of barbarism… We forget that an international convention once provided that hostilities in war ‘must not commence without previous and explicit warning in the form of a reasoned declaration of war or of an ultimatum with conditional declaration of war,’ for when was the last war that began with such an explicit or implicit declaration?” (13)
He quotes the following from Rules as to Bombardment by Aircraft, 1921
“It may be thought better, in view of the allegations of “barbarity” of air attacks, to preserve appearances by formulating milder rules and by still nominally confining bombardment to targets which are strictly military in character….to avoid emphasizing the truth that air warfare has made such restrictions obsolete and impossible. It may be some time until another war occurs and meanwhile the public may become educated as to the meaning of air power.” (21)
From The Age of Capital
1848 “marked the end, at least in Europe, of the politics of tradition, of the monarchies which believed that their peoples accepted, even welcomed, the rule of divinely appointed dynasties presiding over hierarchically stratified societies…. Henceforth, the forces of conservatism, privilege and wealth would have to defend themselves in new ways.” (39)
The unprecedented economic boom after the revolutions of 1848 “gave the governments shaken by the revolution invaluable breathing space and conversely wrecked the hopes of the revolutionaries.” (45) Between 1800 and 1840, world trade did not even double. Between 1850 and 1870, there was a 260% increase. There were two, maybe three, preconditions to this massive increase in trade — the railroad, the telegraph, and to a lesser extent the gold rushes which provided the capital.