AT&D #34. Chaos and Complexity in History

Check out the phrase “Chaos and Complexity” – Why was this descriptor used for the 20th century? Does it mean that the previous era was “Orderly and Simple” according to the narrative told in the Armesto’s history book? Can you support or challenge the title of “Chaos and Complexity”

There is no doubt in my mind that the use of the descriptor “Chaos and Complexity” for the 20th century is not exclusive in describing that era of history only. Historically speaking, there have been many periods (before and after) that could be characterized as being chaotic and complex (for example, geopolitically); however, when speaking about juxtaposing this time period (the 20th century) with its preceding era, one must study what was previously established then to justify why subsequent events led to a period of “Chaos and Complexity,” if we were to define one era as that.

From what I can surmise, the previous era was by no means “Orderly and Simple” when really it was “Frustrations in Progress” as the book implies. Case in point: its author (Armesto) cites the rise, growth, and spread of imperialism across the globe (alongside the struggles of the conquered and the unwilling to be conquered to comply with the imperialists need for expansion and exploitation of their territory’s resources) as how progression (towards societal development under a power) was met with  frustration and struggle.

Ultimately, frustrations would soon be experienced among the imperialist empires themselves as it became a contest for every empire to take the remaining untouched lands of the world and / or to solve territorial disputes between powers through warfare, the latter of which was one of the reasons why World War I became what it is now known for. This is precisely what led to this book unit be labeled as “Chaos and Complexity;” a new kind of world was born upon the heals of two World Wars and later, the Cold War as foreign affairs of each and every empire (or superpower) / nation-to-be mattered to everyone strategy-wise (especially in regards to government structures, chiefly in adopting democracy vs. communism).

In addition, nationalism became a huge factor in shaping the minds of state leaders for how to draw national borders, especially in Europe where Germany’s urge to unite their peoples sparked the start of World War II, as Armesto claims. With that said, there’s more than enough evidence to support the labeling of the 20th century as a period of Chaos and Complexity “in a vacuum.”

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