History of the World Episode 8 – Age of Extremes
This final episode is almost pure BBC propaganda and contains a large number of jingoist assertions that are totally unsupported by historical record. Age of Extremes covers the rise of Hitler (while neglecting to mention the support he received from Wall Street and German corporations); the founding of the first birth control clinic in Britain by feminist Margaret Sanger and the “sexual revolution” brought about by the birth control pill in the 1960s; Gandhi’s nonviolent struggle for Indian independence; the US invention and deployment of the atomic bomb; the murderous Chinese Cultural Revolution that started in 1967; the capitalist reforms instigated by Chinese premier Deng Xiaoping in the 1970s; the fall of the Berlin Wall (allegedly ending the Cold War) in 1989; and the defeat of world chess champion Gary Kasparov by IBM computer Deep Blue.
Among the more nauseating claims made:
- That the US developed and deployed nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki because that was the only way to force the Japanese government to surrender (“Japanese civilians would pay for their leaders’ refusal to surrender”). Declassified records reveal Japan was attempting to surrender in July 1945 but Truman refused, owing to his determination to intimidate the Soviets by deploying atomic weapons. The deliberate targeting of Japanese civilians (more than 300,000 died within days of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings) was a war crime under the Geneva Convention.
- That Artificial Intelligence will be as significant for mankind as the agricultural and the industrial revolution
- That modern day humans live longer, healthier lives than their ancestors.*
- That despite “altered climate” and mass extinctions “humans have always overcome challenges we are face with and prospered.”**
*This may be true of a few extremely wealthy individuals, but many people of my generation are dying earlier than their parents owing to an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, disease, drug/alcohol addiction, and suicide (US numbers have been high enough to reduce average life expectancy).
**It’s obvious the filmmakers have never read Collapse by Gerard Diamond