How Tik Tok hooks (very) young people

Americans have become increasingly aware of the addictive effects that Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram have on young people. But we should all be even more concerned about Tik Tok, the English-language version of the signature app owned by China’s ByteDance company. TikTok consists solely of catchy, fast-moving short videos– 60 seconds is considered a … Continue reading How Tik Tok hooks (very) young people

Columbus in Context

Christopher Columbus was born in the bustling north-Italian port city of Genoa in 1451 CE, just a couple of years before the Ottoman Turks captured the great East Mediterranean metropolis of Constantinople (Istanbul) from its longtime Christian emperor. That Ottoman advance sent many of the merchants, financiers, and seaman who had built up Genoa and … Continue reading Columbus in Context

France’s “historic position” in the Indo-Pacific region

The French and the Anglo-Saxons have gotten into a big pissing match over Australia’s decision to nix a longstanding contract for French-built submarines in favor of a bigger one with the United States (with some UK involvement), for nuclear-powered subs, instead. The French have been understandably miffed by the loss of this substantial contract, and … Continue reading France’s “historic position” in the Indo-Pacific region

The “innovation” of transoceanic empires with cannons

Throughout history there have been numerous empires, none of which was built using peaceful means. All were built through the use of greater or lesser amounts of violence. During the 15th century CE, the era in which the first two great West-European transoceanic empires were first being built, there were a number of large land … Continue reading The “innovation” of transoceanic empires with cannons

More on Portugal’s use of exemplary terror

In the longform essay on the birth and early decades of the Portuguese empire that I published last week, I referred to the uses the Portuguese conquistadors made of “exemplary terror” as they built their trading-forts-based global empire in the 15th and early 16th centuries CE. Any history of this empire contains numerous examples of … Continue reading More on Portugal’s use of exemplary terror

Beyond Kabul airport: Humanitarian crises in all of Afghanistan

If you followed most US corporate media coverage you might believe that (1) the only important news in Afghanistan today is what’s happening in and near Kabul airport; (2) all “sane” Afghans want to leave their country; and (3) the best way Westerners can help is by bringing these people to our shores and integrating … Continue reading Beyond Kabul airport: Humanitarian crises in all of Afghanistan

The hubris of the long-distance empire

What we are seeing in Afghanistan today, in almost real time, is the implosion and final collapse of the imperial project the US launched there in 2001. As with the final US collapse in Vietnam in 1975 or indeed the generally slightly more orderly withdrawal of British troops from India or so many former outposts … Continue reading The hubris of the long-distance empire