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UCLA Magazine Summer 2004
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Summer 2004
The Providential Scholar
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, The Rise of Classes and Nation-States, 1760-1914, came out in 1993. Essentially rejecting Marx's notion that everything boils down to economics ("I was always asking could one actually find an instance where one form of power was primary, and the answer would be 'no' "), Mann examined in particular the relationship between the development of capitalism and the development of war, and also the ideological and political role that a resurgent nationalism played during what historians sometimes call "the long 19th century."

The second volume was also well received, so Mann began researching Volume 3, covering 1914 until the present day. That was until life, in the form of a particularly good research library in Madrid, made another mess of his well-laid plans. "I realized there's so much more information available on the modern era than there is for centuries past," he says. "I began to write a chapter on Fascism ... but it eventually turned into two books."

But even as he was finishing these two books, which argue that Fascism and ethnic cleansing were just the most extreme versions of the dominant modern-day governing paradigm of nation-statism, along came the U.S.-led war against Iraq.

"The moment came in March and April 2002 when I realized that the governments of the two countries where I am a citizen were combining to invade another country for rather dubious reasons, and they were going to do it whatever anyone else said," he recalls. "I was convinced this was going to be a disaster. And I was convinced also that the war on terrorism was going to be a disaster, so I thought that I had a duty to actually say it as publicly as I could. And I really derived my confidence that it would be a disaster from my historical comparative work."

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