by Rick Bretz
Some citizens of the world during certain decades have to deal with more adversity than others if war breaks out or the economies move into a recession or depression. Wars caused by leadership and diplomacy failures cause a heartache as well as a depletion in a generation’s men and women who could have the answers for curing disease and making the world a better place. Economic depression is caused by a number of factors including the malaise of industry captains and government officials. When these people who are educated by the world’s finest institutions neglect to act by exercising preventative measures society bears the burden.
Some decades are better than others but some are more tumultuous than others. It occurred to me the other day that if I had to rank the decades in order according to how much chaos and achievement occurred during that time period, this is list I would compose. To keep the list a short one, I am ranking the decades from the time period of 1900 to 2010. Otherwise, I would have to include the Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Chinese, British, Russian, and Mongol empires and I am sure I am leaving a few out.
Effect on subsequent decades
Significant Figures in History
Reason for Rank: There was so much going on during this decade it’s a wonder that the world didn’t have a collective stroke from the stress endured by the population. The Cold War, The Vietnam War, Nuclear build up and testing, the Middle East tensions, The Iron Curtain, North Korea and South Korea, the election and assassination of John F. Kennedy, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, the Assassination of Martin Luther King, the assassination of Malcolm X, civil rights marches, the Freedom Riders in the south, tensions in Europe, South American coups, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Fidel Castro and the list goes on and on. While these historical events were playing out, we managed to put a man on the moon, create some of history’s enduring works of art, literary classics and cinematic masterpieces. Sometimes chaos can bring out the best as well as the worst in human kind.
As Orson Welles said in “The Third Man”.
In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The Cuckoo Clock. So long Holly
Reason for Rank: When an event such as “The Great War” appears in a decade, you have to rank it high. Additionally, the Russian Revolution shocked the world in the decade and it was felt for several decades to come because it influenced foreign policy and caused several wars after World War II. In addition, naval power advanced with aircraft carriers and the further development submarines. The industrial revolution moved forward and the population of cities grew. The Panama Canal was finished in this decade, changing the way products were shipped from one side of the continent to the other. The decisions from this decade, like the Treaty of Versailles, had a negative effect on countries two decades later.
Reason for rank: Hitler and the Nazi regime’s rise to power brought on World War II and cruelty that equaled violence and destruction documented during the medieval age. World War II dominated the decade followed by the rebuilding of several major cities. The testing of the nuclear bomb and using it to force Japan’s surrender forever altered the diplomatic landscape. The cold war followed the end of the Second World War. The end of the decade saw tension increase to the point of North Korea invading the South in June of 1950 to start the Korean War, where two countries still remain proxies for a higher stakes game diplomacy between super powers. The formation of the United Nation, headquartered in New York.
Reason for rank: Terrorism on a global scale, the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Hinting down of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. Immigration in North America and Europe. The proliferation of social media. The used of social media and the internet for business models; Amazon, Apple, etc. The use of smart phone for communicating.
Reason for rank: The depression, the election of FDR and the New Deal socialist policies. Hitler’s election to Germany’s ruling party, the invasion of Austria, Poland, and other Eastern European countries, the annexation of the Sudetenland and the invasion of France, beginning World War II. Japan’s military build-up, the invasion of Manchuria, the Nanking Massacre and many other aggressions. The Hoover Dam was completed.
Reasons for rank: This decade featured President Teddy Roosevelt taking on monopolies and creating labor laws to curb the power of large corporations. Roosevelt, a proponent of taking care of the land and its wildlife in it, oversaw legislation for many natural parks that we enjoy today.
Reasons for rank: The decade saw the end of the Vietnam War under the Nixon administration after being escalated by the Johnson power brokers. The Watergate conspiracy played out on America’s television screens. Nixon resigned, President Gerald R. Ford became the first President not be elected. Jimmy Carter was elected. The Russian invasion of Afghanistan start their long stay there. The Shah of Iran was deposed and because of the United State support for the Shah, the Iranian hostage crisis lasted until President Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration day.
Reasons for rank: The decade began with silent movies and ended with sound on film, the talkies. It began with unprecedented economic growth and wealth accumulation. The motor car or automobile was having an impact on society and how people socialize with one another. The Hoover Dam was planned as well as other engineering projects.
Reasons for rank: Low on the list because there wasn’t that much upheaval compared to other decades. The most significant event was the destruction of Berlin Wall and the fall of communism in the Eastern Bloc countries, opening up the Iron Curtain in front of the Soviet Union whose communist ideology would fall later on.
Reason for rank: Some may rank this decade higher due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 in addition to the Persian Gulf War after the invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi forces. A significant event but because we had to revisit the Iraq after the turn of the century, this isn’t high on my list. Also, the Soviet Union was on a path to dissolution in the later 1980s, the next decade just made it official. The election of President Bill Clinton also was significant due to his influence in subsequent decades. The dissolving of Yugoslavian states resulted in genocide that had to be dealt with by UN Forces. The ethnic cleansing was an event that should have been prevented and stopped by the United Nations. This was one of the reasons the UN was formed after World War II but it failed in this mission.