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Guelzo on Titanic

Over at NRO, Allen Guelzo writes of the legacy of the Titanic, which sank along with over 2/3rds of its passengers 100 years ago this weekend. "The Titanic, name and thing," he quotes, "will stand for a monument and warning to human presumption." In the piece, Guelzo takes issue with some of the crimes committed by James Cameron in his epic portrayal of the disaster, and gives proper praise to the heroic captain of the Carpathia, Arthur Rostron, who did not flinch in rushing his ship through iceberg-infested waters to rescue whoever he could from the doomed ocean liner. "Presumption was what killed the Titanic. Presumption that technology relieves us from prudence, presumption that intelligent regulation will eliminate fear and pain, presumption that we have achieved exemption from the dangers that plagued earlier generations, presumption that nature can be driven out with a will-intentioned pitchfork...The sea hath spoken." Read the whole thing.

Additionally, this excellent graphic puts some perspective on the sinking of the Titanic, how deep James Cameron recently went in his submarine, and other interesting things about the mostly-unexplored depths of our oceans.
Categories > History

Discussions - 5 Comments

Cameron had a great 2-hour special this weekend to "wrap up" what happened to the Titanic, but utterly ruined it by getting preachy about global warming in the last 5 minutes (he used the Titanic as a metaphor for how the poor pay for the greedy leadership of the elites - just as the 3rd World will pay for our CO2 emissions). What an ass. I've lost a lot of respect for him - I can't abide bait-and-switch.

This year the pack ice of the Polar Cap is thicker and more widespread than any year previously recorded, breaking the former record year of 1979. Additionally, according to a Canadian government report that contradicts widespread media misreporting, the number of Polar Bears is just fine, and they aren't remotely close to being endangered.

Anyone familiar with Cameron's tiresome "Avatar" flick will not be surprised at his irrationalism on global warming.

A film on the same subject (and with the same title) was produced in Nazi Germany in 1943. Like Cameron's film, this piece of Nazi propaganda placed the blame for the sinking on Anglo-American capitalism.

Are you being sarcastic?

If you can't distinguish Cameron's film from a Nazi war propaganda piece, I would doubt your ability and credibility as a historian.

Talk about generalization creep. Someone suggests some far flung summary and the damn thing is accepted uncritically as the basis for further analogy.

I don't even grant the idea that Cameron's film placed blame for the sinking on Anglo-American Capitalism.

Cameron's film, like Avatar is chiefly Anglo-American Capitalism.

Any criticism of Cameron's film is more or less a criticism of Anglo-American (chiefly american, but Cameron is Canadian so close enough) Capitalism. $200 million dollar production cost, with 1.8 billion gross, only surpassed by Avatar!

Duh, flipping winning! An example that defines Blockbuster, and like Michael Jordan essentially helps launch and escalate commercial tie ins. Damn good movie if judged by the bottom line. If you don't consider the development of copyright law and hollywood as part of Anglo-American Capitalism, then it is going to be hard to agree on much of anything. After all it has a God Damned modicum of creativity fixed in a tangible medium of expression. (I am not actually going to bother debateing its copyright or trademark elements) For Christ-sakes it has the line: "I'm King of the World".

I am certain I could detect nuances and not so nuanced overt suggestions which would certainly distinguish Nazi propaganda from Cameron's dareing hubris and overweaning pride in creating a 200 million dollar monstrocity...

Of course I am going to assume sarcasm here. The additional irony is that the actual claim is true regardless of its use in Cameron's film or Nazi war propaganda.

The Titanic and its sinking were a product of Anglo-American Capitalism. I don't even know how this is debateable. Damn near all of Admiralty law is Anglo-American Capitalism, and the idea of the Cruise Ship is distinctly so. Have you ever heard of Lloyds of London?

Do you think that without Anglo-American capitalism you would even have ships like the Costa Concordia that manage to sink? There is so much division of labor and general corporate legal entanglement involved in produceing and managing a ship that it isn't funny.

Even the derivative product of the incident (movies about it) is a complex piece of property under Anglo-American Capitalism.

Of course my definition of Anglo American Capitalism is so broad that it includes anything that has ever been made for sale or with a use in commerce including internationaly by persons seeking legal jurisdiction in england, its colonies(Canada) or America. Even Karl Marx is owned by the University of Chicago press. But more on point the Nazi version of titanic is the property of A&E Telivision, a joint venture of Hearst Entertainment, Disney-ABC television and Comcast.

It would technically be illegal to make copies of the history network show, but for academic use I am sure you could get fair use.

A simple way to distinguish the Nazi version with a mainly historical interest from the Anglo American Capitalist version (popular with teenage girls of my generation) is to predict or watch for how many derivative commercial products are spawned by the underlying product.

If it would be pretty risky for a corporation to come out with a nazi equivalent, of the popular titanic inspired "heart of the ocean".

You could draw a line from Mitt Romney to Bain Capital to Burger King to Avatar and Titanic (commercial emphasis on King of the World), but there is no way in hell Burger King is going to come out with a nazi propaganda ad campaign.

Only a truely desperate entrepreneur would think about marketing derivative products from a history channel nazi movie. Not many teenage girls would want that kind of boyfriend, and not many teenage boys would want that kind of girlfriend. The Nazi propaganda movie is thus only tenuously a part of anglo-american capitalism, while Cameron's film more or less exemplifies the genre of Blockbuster associated with it.

So to summarize, not only do I blame anglo-american capitalism for the existance of the Titanic, and for its sinking, but also for the existance of Cameron, Leonardo DiCaprio, and all the films they have ever made.

Anglo-American Capitalism, yeah that is a pretty broad brush. If you go slightly wider, to Western Civilization you can toss in Nazi Germany. If you consider all media or historical sources as owned by components of Anglo-American Capitalism, i.e. as a more narrow example all the copyright owned by say the University of Chicago Press to include documents related to Nazi Germany, then supposing the Anglo-American Capitalist doctrine of Locke is correct and we are born tabula rasa, all knowledge of Nazi Germany is potentially a product of Anglo-American Capitalism, especially since 99.9% of all research is unlikely to rest upon souces outside this property structure.

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