In the year 1853, the Ottoman Empire had been in power for 554 continuous years. Abdülmecid I was Sultan and, shortly into the year, the Albanian-descended Governor of Crete Giritli Mustafa Naili Pasha took the post of Grand Vizier.
Queen Victoria was the Monarch of the British Empire and Lord Aberdeen was her Prime Minister, though the Queen favored one of his rivals, Benjamin Disraeli, as an advisor.
In France, Napoleon III had been elected President of the Republic in 1848, and had dissolved the National Assembly two years previously in 1851. In December of 1852, the Second French Empire was established, with Louis-Napoleon becoming named "Napoléon III, Emperor of the French."
Across the Atlantic, Franklin Pierce was the President of the United States of America and Jefferson Davis was Secretary of War. There were 31 states at that time, and the American Civil War had not yet been fought.
In mid-1853, the Russian Empire started maneuvering troops to key places on the Baltic Sea near Ottoman territories. Hostilities were about to break out into the Crimean War. The primary forces were Ottoman, British, and French fighting the Russians. The war ended with a decisive British/French/Ottoman victory.
70 years later, after 624 of continuous rule, the Ottoman Empire fell to Entente powers - the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire. The United States, now 48 states strong and under Woodrow Wilson as President, entered the war as an ally of the Entente Powers.
Things change fast, though it doesn't seem that way when we're living through them. 80 years ago in 1931, Herbert Hoober was President, the Great Depression was in full swing after the 1929 bank and stock market crashes, and World War II hadn't started.
In 1931, the German Socialist National Workers' Party was still a fringe movement, Adolf Hitler didn't hold political position, and the Weimar Republic was struggling through hyperinflation and massive unemployment.
Hirohito was Emperor of Japan, Korea and Taiwan were part of the Empire of Japan, and the Japanese Empire had just occupied Manchuria.
The Kuomintang and Communist Party were still at war fighting for control of China. Amidst that conflict in 1931, infighting broke out in the KMT between Chiang Kai-shek and three of his commanders, at a cost of 1.4 million KMT lives lost. The Chinese forces were still not at war with the Japanese.
In the USSR, Stalin had largely completed collectivizing agriculture and the state's economy, but the Soviets weren't aware how much disaster they were in for. Over the next few years, millions would starve to death, including 5 million intentionally starved in the Ukraine. The incident is still underreported in the West. The Great Purges hadn't happened yet.
The Statute of Westminster was passed in 1931, beginning the end of British governance of overseas colonies and ethnic nationalism began to replace pro-British imperialism in the colonies. This legislative shift towards local governance, cultural shift towards pro-ethnicism instead of pro-imperialism, and the Japanese occupation of British Asian territories and German occupation of the European continent over the next 15 years would mark the end of the British Empire.
70 years... 80 years... how long is that?
Not that long, really. Average lifespan in the Western world is right between 70 and 80 - and still climbing. Many of us will be alive 70 years from now.
How long is that? Not so long, in some respects. But long enough for the entire map of the world to be rewritten.
What will the world be like in 2081?
It's hard to say. But there's no doubt it will look very different from today's world.
I even have trouble explaining the world before the internet to myself!
I think it was Nassim Nicholas Taleb who said it first, but whenever I'm talking stocks or investments I like to remind people that, exactly 100 years ago, anyone with millions to invest would've been guided toward Germany and Russia as upcoming major powers -- which indeed they were, but who would've predicted how quickly they would have lost their money, and in what fashion? Science fiction from the late 1980s often includes a future Soviet Union and an economically-dominant Japan. As much as I love to read futurists' predictions based on trends and data, there's no way I would value them more than my own dartboard guesses.
Very interesting summary of history.
I would love to see the world in not 70 but 2000 years or more but I am afraid if I went too far into the future I would not understand anything.
For worse predictions of the future often fail so it is hard to tell how humans will live/be.
Damn Sebastian! This is a stellar post! I think about this a lot. My gf's grandfather is 94 years old. It blows my mind that his first car was a 1928 and his current is 2010. That means he has basically bought the entire evolution of the motor vehicle!
Maps change a lot too. Just in my short like (c. 1984) it has changed dramatically. We like to think this is how it is and how it will always be, but damn what a good reminder.
Thanks for this!
Over the next few years, millions would starve to death, including 5 million intentionally starved in the Ukraine.
Please, read actual sources and stop repeating this cold war propaganda.
I always thought in terms of 60ish years.
Because the 50s was so interesting, I feel like it was the end of the "old" era.
50s: The rise of the USSR, the Korean War, the 50s lifestyle at home (males work, females cook/clean/motherly figure), segregation slowly becoming an issue that would explode in the 60s (brown vs board 1954 landmark case), no legal interracial marriage, etc.
It's interesting to say the least.
Any guesses as to what you feel the world would be like in 2081?
Last September, I wrote "Fighting Out of Formation – a Metaphor for Creativity."
If you look at George Washington or Napoleon Bonaparte, their forces knew how to fight out of formation. That’s why they were able to win important battles against larger, more well-equipped forces. They stirred up a bunch of chaos because their forces were able to handle chaos better than the enemy.
I think if you want to do creative endeavors like writing, painting, whatever – you need to learn to fight out of formation. By that, I mean you need to learn how to do it without having “formal expert tone” or being highly polished. Ideally, you can communicate well without necessarily obeying grammar and punctuation. After all, the point of writing is to communicate – the language is supposed to serve you, you’re not supposed to serve it.
It takes a lot longer to get into formation if you’re out of it than to just fight slightly wild and crazy. Of course, you should learn discipline and how to fight in formation, and should be able to do well in that role. It might even be your bread and butter. But if you’re editing every memo you send, every blog post you write, every rallying talk or speech you give – then you’re burning a lot of time.
This is something I've tried to adopt for myself, but it goes against my nature. By nature, I'm a perfectionist. My natural tendency is to work and re-work and re-work and re-work something ad infinitum.
The ISIS intention of instigating war with America and its allies is clear with the recent video that purportedly shows British aid worker David Haines being beheaded. Reuters could not immediately verify the footage. However, the images were consistent with that of the filmed executions of two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, in the past month.
In the video, Haines addresses David Cameron (UK Prime Minister) was responsible for his execution. He said, "You entered voluntarily into a coalition with the United States against the Islamic State, just as your predecessor, Tony Blair, did. Following a trend amongst our British Prime Ministers who can't find the courage to say no to the Americans. Unfortunately, it is we, the British public, that will in the end pay the price for our Parliament's selfish decisions." Foley and Sotloff also made similar speeches to U.S. President Barack Obama.