Eastern European Absolutism: The Unforseen Catalyst

Eastern European Absolutism: The Unforseen Catalyst

Russia before France? The truth lies in history.
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Amid the devout sense of nationalism and societal order we see today in modern Europe, its history may not have been so pristine and precise. Filled with bloodlust, religious tolerance and constant warfare, the turning point for European history must have been the rise of new monarchies during the 16th century that facilitated greater exploration, new innovations, boosted economy and centralized authority that ultimately led to the sense of nationalism and sovereignty between the states seen today.

Beginnings Of Eastern European Absolutism

From the start of the Thirty Years War from 1618-1648, the constant feuds between the Holy Roman Empire house of the Habsburgs and states such as France, Spain and England, severely weakened the monarchy through loss of population, economic downfall, especially in Germany and inevitable debt. In addition, the Bubonic Plague of the 14th century created tremendous labor shortages and decline of the reputation of the church.

In Eastern Europe, absolutism began to develop after a period of instability, which ultimately led to the resurfacing of serfdom between 1500-1600, a system of being a feudal laborer under the command of the nobility. Lords demanded that kings and princes issue laws that restricted peasant mobility and tied them to their jobs as the ensure their participation in the labor force. In Russia, non-serf peasants were also affected under the robot in which they had to work three to four days without pay. Hereditary serfdom was re-established in Poland, Russia and Prussia, thus giving more power to the nobility and revenue for the monarch. This created the ideal that monarchs needed the nobles to retain their status as Eastern Europe was closed off in isolation during the rule of the Mongol Yokes, especially in Russia.

Austrian Rise (Hapsburgs) v.s. Ottomans

As the ruler of Austria retained the title of Holy Roman Emperor, Austrian land included parts of Naples and Milan in Italy, Belgium, Hungary and Transylvania in modern day Romania. After the Spanish wars of succession from 1701-1703, the Spanish throne was then occupied by the Bourbons of France under Henry of Navarre, causing the loss of land for the Hapsburg Empire. Thus, they turned inward and westward in an attempt to unify the state and consolidate its diverse holdings. Reorganizing Bohemia was the first step toward absolutism. Under the rule of Ferdinand III ( 1619-1657), the HRE was provided a permanent standing army and increased revenue for the monarchs under serfdom, centralizing the old hereditary provinces of Austria Proper. The Ottomans were under the rule of Suleiman the Magnificent who used slaves and armies to conquer the heart of Europe. Under Leopold I of 1658-1705, the Siege of Vienna successfully removed the Ottomans from central Europe, weakening the sultan's rule and expanding the Hapsburg even further. Under Charles VI, the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 issued a claim that Hapsburg possessions had to be unified in order to be successful; therefore, Maria Theresa inherited all the lands of the Hapsburgs under single rule for 40 years. This was the beginning to a more centralized and strengthen monarchy.

Prussia under the Fredericks

Brandenburg was the absolute basis for absolutism in Prussia. Though part of the HRE, it was rarely influenced by international affairs. Years of dynastic marriages thus allowed the Hohenzollerns, very wealthy landowners, to come into power, effectively weakening the power of the Estates, Prussian representative bodies and the nobility. After the devastation of Brandenburg with the invasion of the Tartars of Russia, over 50,000 were killed. The Estates and noble power were now in need of money for a larger army and refused to join representatives of towns resisting royal power. "The Great Elector" was now able to step forward to unify the lands of Brandenburg, Prussia and Rhine holdings.

The Great Elector consolidated the greatest military in Europe through heavy taxation by decree with no noble exemptions, military order of tax collection which expanded the bureaucracy and encouragement of trade and industry by attracting skilled craftsman and Dutch farmers. The Estates controlled by the Junkers were weakened without the power of the purse and a new militaristic society was created.

Frederick William I was the successor who ultimately brought Prussia to its height. Infusing militarism into Prussian society, he created a very disciplined state and doubled the size of the army. More than 80% of the government's revenue went into the military, removing local autonomous governments as each region had to pay taxes to him. The Estates were abolished and the Junkers were now listed into the army and the new nobility were now chosen based on merit, not lineage. The Junkers now agreed the taxation as they could command peasantry in the army and other serfs. This allowed the expansion of monarch absolutism as he had no noble opposition, and other commoners were too weak to charge against. This reign became the first example of absolutism in Prussia.

Russia The Great

Russia's development was lagging behind that of Western Europe. After the Thirty Years War and Peace of Westphalia, the HRE was extremely decentralized and Russia did not benefit from any initiative or incentives from the rest of Eastern Europe. Additionally, the Mongol Yoke until 1330 cut off Russia from Europe. Though not directly occupied by the Mongols, nobility and monarch had to pay tribute to Mongols in order maintain peace. The rise of the Islamic State and Ottomans also posed a threat to centralization and trade.

In the midst, Ivan I (1328-1341) became extremely wealthy. When the city of Tver revolted against Mongol rule, Ivan I went to the city Mongol authorities who then placed him in charge of the Mongol-Russian army to defeat Tver. After Tver's defeat, the Mongols deemed Ivan I as the Great Prince and the tax collector for all Slavic lands. Additionally, because of his newfound status, Ivan I was able to bring the metropolitan city of Kiev to settle in Moscow, which brought him and the Russian Orthodox church more power and wealth.

Ivan III, became the new absolutist ruler who undermined the power of the Mongols. By acknowledging him as the supreme ruler, not the Khans, and strengthening the status of the Russian Orthodox Church, Ivan III elevated the Muscovite authority.

However, Ivan IV, better known as Ivan the Terrible, took the title as czar and absolute ruler. He gained much territory from the Black Sea and Baltic Region, opening Russia to some seaports. He also encouraged the Westernization of Muscovy through trade with the Netherlands and England, bringing more revenue to Russia. The Boyar nobility had to serve the tsar through taxes and were murdered in secret. Peasants fled his harsh taxation and formed the Cossack coalition of outlawed armies and free formed groups. Serfdom increased dramatically and merchants were tied to their jobs for easier taxation. This was a sharp contrast to Western capitalism.

Under the Romanov dynasty through Ivan IV's marriage to Anastasia Romanov, Michael Romanov became ruler from 1613-1645. He favored noble authority and ground peasants further down, leading to various revolts. The Church was now threatened by new Lutheran and Calvin beliefs, leading to more instability. Wars raged between the Cossacks and Boyars, causing Russia major influxes but Russia had more stability in comparison to Ivan III's rule.

Peter the Great became the ultimate form of absolutism in Russia. From 1682-1725, he led numerous reforms to unite Russia together and move it toward more powerful centralization like the ones of France. In an attempt to westernize Russia, Peter created a militaristic society and modeled the army after that of Prussia. Noble authority was limited as they were required to serve in the military. He also wanted to look for warm water ports for trade and commerce. Thus, he built numerous ships and opened universities where people could learn the correct etiquette of royalty. He went on expeditions to Western Europe and brought back new technologies and craftsman to build large factories, where peasants were also assigned to work. Taxation by decree was evident and there were no representative bodies. Landowners owed lifetime service to the czar in return for greater control over serfs. The Russian Orthodox Church lost its supremacy as Peter removed the replacement of patriarchs, giving authority to the state. One of Peter's greatest accomplishment was the building of westernized cities such as St. Petersburg, which advocated his greatness. His reforms thus lead to absolutists views and helped bring Russia closer to mainstream Europe.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

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Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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How The Democratic Party basically Handed Donald Trump The Presidency

The rise of Donald Trump was propelled in part by the far left's efforts to undermine him.

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Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 Presidential Election was a shock to many across the country, myself included. It seemed impossible that someone so unapologetically crass, rude, and idiotic could even hope to achieve the position of the most powerful person in the world (have I mentioned that he literally admitted to sexually assaulting women?). I mean sure, it certainly didn't help that Hillary Clinton was probably the worst candidate that the Democratic Party could have run against him... actually she was definitely the worst, but she still should have won. As she tries to explain in her new book, what happened?

In order for a bigoted, fear-mongering, and an arguably uneducated man like Donald Trump to become president, there needs to be a perfect storm. We've already established that Hillary was a bad candidate on the Democratic side, but none of the other Republican candidates were very good either. Their best guy other than Trump was Ted Cruz, a man who can be described as unsettling on his best days. There was also a large number of people that resonated with Trump. Granted, they were mostly uneducated, blue-collar, religious, second amendment nuts, but Trump's "forgotten man" schtick stuck with them, as these were people who felt like they were being left behind. I would argue that they were and should have been, but that's beside the point.

However, the one thing that I think influenced Donald Trump's meteoric rise to the presidency the most were the ridiculous ways that some of his opponents would try to undermine his legitimacy as a candidate. As someone who identifies as a Democrat myself (not as my gender, but as my political affiliation), I certainly was not a fan of Donald Trump. I think that his election has brought us one step closer to the dystopian future laid out in the cinematic masterpiece that is Idiocracy, but it's not like my party didn't have opportunities to bring him down a peg. It's also not like we didn't completely fail in doing so.

Every time Donald Trump would say something that could be construed as racist, xenophobic, or sexist, Democrats would pounce on it and use it as proof that he was all of these things. This is a good method, but many Democrats got too overzealous in using it, calling him these things even when what he said was probably not racist, or even not racist at all. The baseless attacks vastly outnumbered the legitimate ones, and Trump supporters used it as a way to rally around their guy and to validate the ideas of "fake news" and their "us against the world" mentality.

The day the Donald Trump won the election, in my opinion at least, was the day that Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters a "basket of deplorables." Are you kidding me?! You're going to take tens of millions of American voters, essentially call them racist, sexist idiots, and flat-out dismiss them? All she did was verify to the Trump supporter all the things that he already believed: that he was being disrespected, left behind, and forgotten about by the democratic party. Regardless, how do you think people are going to vote if you just insult their intelligence and character for months on end? That's not the way to build bridges; it only creates the divisiveness that Trump thrives in.

This is why people think of Democrats as elitist: because Democrats act really elitist. If you always act like you know better than everyone else and sit in your ivory tower expecting everyone to realize how stupid they are, you're not going to win elections. In fact, you'll do so bad in elections that you'll lose to an unqualified, idiotic, racist Cheeto that wears a toupee that looks like it was made from hairs scooped out of the bathroom sink. Anyway, that's why Trump won the election: because Hillary and the Democrats had their heads so far up their asses that they couldn't smell his spray tan coming.

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