17 years since ... Pearl Harbor

Not sure if this is a debate or just a MPSIMS.

Today’s commemoration of the anniversary of 9/11 got me to thinking about the other event, to which 9/11 is most often compared: Pearl Harbor, Dec 7 1941. Which then led to: if there had been 17 year anniversaries of Pearl Harbor, how had the world changed from 1941-1958? And how much has changed from 2001-2018?

To me, the differences are startling.

Dec 7 1941 - Dec 7 1958
Presidents: FDR - Truman - Eisenhower.
Internationally, the US and its allies crushed the perpetrators of Pearl Harbor and its allies, in WWII. We then fought an entirely unrelated war in Korea. Europe was re-built, Germany and Japan became our allies; the UN and NATO were formed.

European colonies spanned the globe in 1941; they’re dwindling rapidly by 1958.

McCarthyism has come and gone. The Cold War was at its peak.

Domestically: the Baby Boom has peaked. Television has overtaken radio as the main source of entertainment. Rock n Roll is born. Interstate highway system. Mass migration to the suburbs. Beginnings of the space race. Brown v Board of Education.

Sept 11 2001 - Sept 11 2018
Presidents: Bush - Obama - Trump

Internationally: we’re still in Afghanistan. We fought an unnecessary war in Iraq, destabilizing the region and leading to the rise (and fall) of ISIS, and random terror attacks in Europe. The Euro zone is formed (or was that earlier?)

Domestically: we elect the first black president. Advances in technology: Smart phones? Amazon?

Is that it? It feels like a time traveler from 2001 would feel very comfortable here and now, but we couldn’t say the same for 1941-1958.

First off, the Korean war wasn’t ‘entirely unrelated’ to WWII. The issues in Korea stemmed directly from both the pre-WWII situation in Korea and the aftermath of the war itself.

Anyway, the biggest thing I think you missed in our analysis of the first time period was the US going from an isolationist industrial giant who had little interaction on the international stage and a very weak military to the US becoming one of 2 superpowers and a global giant in all major aspects. It was a totally different world between '41 and '58, a world no longer centered on or revolving around Europe. You could say much the same about the Soviets, though they weren’t as militarily weak as the US was, but they went from a relative backwater to one of two superpowers dominating the world in '58.

As for the 2001-2018 period, I think the biggest aspects the rise of new regional powers such as China and India and, perhaps, a resurgence in Russia on the world stage. Technologically I think the changes are much more vast between 2001-2018 than the other period, but they are hard to see from our current perspective since we are in them, as opposed to being able to look back at '41-'58 with a lot more perspective. A time traveler in 2001 wouldn’t think it’s still 2001 or be able to just pick up the technology of today and feel right at home any more than someone traveling from '41 to '58 would. You think that because, like I said, you have lived through the changes and take them for granted, not realizing how far we’ve come or how different things are today than they were in 2001. You also know what technological changes mattered between '41 and '58 and which were dead ends, so can make value judgments on that from the perspective of history and hindsight, while many of the things really changing rapidly today are hard to judge how they will impact things going forward…or be technological dead ends.

Eh, I don’t know. I personally think we’ve gone to shit in the last 17 years and I blame that almost entirely on social media.

Can’t really think of a person (in the U.S. anyway) lovin’ it in '41 and “being uncomfortable” in '58. '68 maybe, but not '58.

It’s ironic, to me anyway, to see how many times, throughout history folks have said something along the lines of ‘I personally think we’ve gone to shit in the last’ X years, and that things were so much better before/when they were kids or whatever. :stuck_out_tongue: You can almost hear the ‘and you kids get off my lawn!’.

I can certainly think of folks who weren’t ‘lovin’ it’ in '41 to '58, and even people who were worse off in '58 to '41. I also think that, world wide, the difference in quality of life using every measurement is better across the board in the '01-'18 time frame as opposed to '41-'58. To me, there is no real comparison, and the ‘gone to shit’ aspects were so skewed in the earlier time frame as to make it laughable that it’s worse now. YMMV of course.

As XT mentioned, the US went from being a separate country that didn’t intervene in other nations’ affairs to being a interventionist world power. There was a huge increase in the national security apparatus, funding, and bureaucracy. Many new intrusive laws and taxes were passed to support that increase. The president went from being a guy interested chiefly in farms and banks to a guy with a button that could launch hundreds of thermonuclear weapons and level cities anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice.

A lot of people disagreed with those changes. Frankly the differences between 2001 and today are pretty underwhelming in comparison.

In geo-political terms there is definitely a lot more change from '41-'58 than '01-'18. Basically, the world had a single hyper-power in '01 and continues to have that today, though obviously you have some regional superpowers starting to make inroads. In '41 the US (and the USSR) were minor bit players at best on the world stage, but by '58 they were the sole superpowers, orchestrating vast geo-political control that affected most of the world.

From a strictly US perspective I think both periods still had a lot of external US conflict, though obviously the number of US battle deaths and causalities were orders of magnitude different in the earlier time period than today (the number of inflicted casualties were also much lower today than in the past). Politically, I actually think the amount of rancor and contention is pretty stable, though I think on the surface things SEEM more contentious today with the last few presidents as opposed to how presidents were treated during the earlier time period. However, keep in mind that the earlier time was a period of the red scare and McCarthyism. Race relations were heating up and we were in the run up to the Civil Rights movement…that has little comparison to today, though in some respects we are still going through issues with race today that have dogged us for decades, if not centuries in this country. I seem to recall that during the earlier time period there was also a lot being made about immigration, with restrictions and measures put in place that actually made the illegal immigration issues of today happen. A lot of this gets glossed over and the earlier time idealized.

The more things change, the more they stay the same I guess. It’s easy to look back on earlier times with rose colored glasses. It’s also very difficult to gain perspective on what the times you are living in actually mean while you are living in them. The technological changes happening today are really hard to see or quantify since we are living through them.

I was going for differences in the magnitude of change, not necessarily the qualitative direction of those changes.

But for a debate on qualitative differences between 41-58 and 01-18, it would be interesting to focus on the rulings of the Warren Court vs the Roberts Court. It’s hard to believe we’re the same country.

This is a very valid point. In my OP I counted the beginnings of satellite technology and manned space exploration on the '41-58 side of the ledger even though it was in the extremely early stages. To be fair I’d need to count immuno/gene therapy cancer cures on the '01-18 side.

Some things/companies that didn’t exist in 2001:

  • Smartphones
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • iPod
  • Legal music streaming/download services (Napster did exist)
  • SpaceX
  • Production electric cars (GM EV1 was discontinued in 1999, Tesla didn’t exist)
  • Airliners made of composite materials
  • Google Maps

I don’t even remember how I listened to music in 2001. Portable CD player??

Try being gay, trans, or mentally ill - two name just three things - and see how different life is compared to the start of the century. The first country (at least in modern times) to legalise gay marriage did so just a few months before 9/11. The understanding and acceptance of trans people and mentally ill people* has vastly increased in the last two decades. Yes, there’s more to do, and there have been some minor backwards steps in some places, but it’s a massive change.

*I’m emphatically not conflating transgenderism and mental illness - that would be another big change in relatively recent years.

On one hand: establishment of the UN, US and USSR become nuclear powers, independence for India and creation of Israel.

On the other: Twitter.

I think you’re making my case for me. :slight_smile:

Which do you think had a bigger impact on the lives of the average American? Seriously.

FWIW, the iPod and legal music streaming/downloads (Pressplay, MusicNet and the original version of Rhapsody I think?) were available by late 2001.

Outside of those two periods, the shadow war between the US and the USSR that began in 1945 (some say in 1924) and ended only in the '90s and sprouted a lot of proxy wars and that includes Vietnam. I was hoping a new generational buffer over that war would make people understand it better but it’s just another reason why I often hate millennials. It’s still the same song as not having any reason for sending boys to fight other people’s wars.

An excellent point, but it doesn’t reflect well on average Americans. Maybe, just maybe…the world is larger than what Americans stick in their ears or can say in 40 characters.

Maybe it didn’t actually impact our lives, but the fear was always there. I remember the air-raid drills from elementary school: you’d go into the halls, line up along the walls, and you’d kneel, facing the wall, putting your head down where the wall met the floor, and put your hands over your head. (Like that would have saved us if they’d dropped the Bomb. Good thing Tom Lehrer made sure we wrote those WWIII songs ahead of time.)

But the smartphone and cell phone revolution has affected developing nations and poorer Americans even more than it has affected upper-middle-class Americans. Affordable smart phones have weakened the “digital divide” in America so much that people no longer talk about it, and cheap communications services have spread throughout the world increasing everyone’s access to information (not always in a good way, mind you, developing nations are just as prone to believing fake news as the rest of us.)

I think it does reflect well on the ‘average American’, and I’d hazard a guess that, world wide the average human would also think that the '01-'18 period was MUCH more formative and had a greater impact on their lives than the earlier period. You seem to want to cherry pick things to make some point about how today it’s all Facebook and Twitter, while in the past important things happened, but the truth is that even there you are having a greater impact on more people with just those examples than the vast majority of humans living on the planet were affected in the early post WWII period. See the irony of ragging on the ‘average American’ viewed through your own perspective? :stuck_out_tongue:

In addition, if you were really wanting to think outside of an American perspective, the '01-'18 time frame has been the single greatest period of prosperity for the most people on the planet in our entire history. More people have moved out of abject poverty than ever before. Science and engineering are taking us in directions it’s hard to even imagine, and it’s happening at a pace that is more rapid than ever before. It’s not JUST Facebook and Twitter.

Yes, 1941 to 1958 (and the next five years after that) were a great time to be alive…for the straight, white, Christian men.

The rest of us were second class or lower. Homosexuals were considered mentally ill, their activities were illegal, and most were in the closet. Whites were the dominant race, with many minorities “passing” for white. Christianity was the religion, and Jews were looked down on. And women were told by the Bible to be submission, and it was legal to deny them any credit, fire them when they got married, had children, and legal for husbands to beat and/or rape their wives.

1941 Economy is just coming out of the greatest economic collapse in the countries history. 1946-1958 with much of the industrialized world in ruins post war, and the US largely untouched leads to a thriving US economy, in order to pay for war marginal tax rates vary from 22-92%, massive foreign aid given to help countries to rebuild.

2001 Economy is just coming off a giant boom of prosperity, 2008 US get hit with second greatest economic collapse in US history. By 2018 US is economy is recovering. Tax rates of 10%-39% seen as too high to allow for thriving economy despite large deficits due to war. Foreign aid seen as a waste of resources that should be spent at home.

(note believers in the last two statements are paradoxically enriched in those people who look to 1958 as a time to be emulated).