Historical Research Project - Note on Theoretical Research on 20th Century Events

Note on Theoretical Research on 20th Century Events

MSSResearch, a social science research institute, is looking for striking historical facts drawn from the 20th Century history of USA, Europe and India. Researchers are invited to submit facts. We will pay Rs 25 to 100 per fact for the first 1000 facts that meet our research criteria.

The Mother's Service Society is a social science research institute engaged in formulating the principles and process of a comprehensive theory of social development. This research project is intended to identify historical examples from the 20th Century that can be utilized to confirm and illustrate the validity of the theory. In order to contribute effectively, researchers will have to familiarize themselves with the theory and the principles of social development listed on Theory of Development. The central objective is to shed light on the underlying social processes that determine the outcome of social events. Since the subject is extremely broad and complex, almost any topic can become a useful source of illustrative information. This note is intended to illustrate the types of research information we are looking for.

Theoretical Perspective: The evolutionary movement of the 20th Century is toward two goals: human unity and the emergence of the spiritual individual. The evolutionary urge of humanity is moving along these lines of progress, while the atavistic preferences of man resist by insisting on retrograde movements and counter-influences. This dual movement of forward progress and resistance from reactionary forces can be observed in both major and minor events. Theoretically it can be seen even in the minutest events, individual or international. The theoretical basis of this research is explained in 32 principles of Social Development and expanded into another 1000 principles. Obviously one must be familiar with all of these principles before looking for material that may be of interest to us. Any material theoretically will be of interest, but we are looking for material that will be very striking to the reader.

As a guide to researchers, in this paper we shall illustrate through a number of major and minor incidents the types of examples that will be of interest. Some of these examples are drawn from earlier periods in history to illustrate the types of events and facts that are relevant. The list includes striking facts as well as unanswered questions that arise from consideration of known facts.

Regions: Europe, America and India

Sources: There are many well-known books on 20th published recently, such as Martin Gilbert's four volume series on the 20th Century. Researchers should go through books of this type as well as relevant sites on the Internet.

Selection Criteria:

  • Facts should be striking and unusual.
  • Facts may illustrate a striking individual or national characteristic, fact or irony of life.
  • Facts may relate to well-known individuals, countries, or historical events.
  • Priority will be given to facts that directly relate to any of the principles of social development described in MSS's theoretical work (see Preparation and References below)
  • Each fact must be documented by citing an authoritative source.
  • Sources may include histories, biographies and web-sites relating to 20th Century.
  • Participants are invited to submit a preliminary list of ten facts for evaluation, so we can provide feedback on the types of facts most relevant to our research.

Preparation & References: Participants are advised to familiarize themselves with the theory of social development and the 1000 principles of social development in order to better understand the criteria for relevant facts.

Sample format:

Raising Chicago in 1856 illustrates American dynamism: Early Chicago was also plagued by sewer and water problems. Many people described it as the filthiest city in America. To solve this problem, Chicago embarked on the creation of a massive sewer system. In the first phase sewage pipes were laid across the city above ground with gravity moving the waste. The city was built in a low-lying area subject to flooding. In 1856 the city council decided that the entire city should be elevated four to five feet using a newly available jacking-up process. Most of the houses were at that time built of wood, making the task easier. In one remarkable instance, the 5-story Brigg's Hotel weighing 22,000 tons was lifted while it continued to operate. Observing that such a thing could never have happened in Europe, British Historian Paul Johnson cites this astounding feat as a dramatic example of American determination and ingenuity based on the conviction that anything material is possible. Ref: Paul Johnson, History of the American People, Harper Perennial, U.S.A., 1999, p.570 cited in Wikipedia: History of Chicago.

Fee Calculation:

  • Each of the first 1000 accepted facts will be assigned a value ranging between Rs 25 and Rs 100.
  • In order to discourage indiscriminate selection of facts, a penalty of Rs 10 will be deduced from the total payable to each participant for each rejected fact that they submit.
  • There is no limit on the number of facts you can submit.
  • Payments will be made to your Paypal account within 30 days of submission.
  • Since only 1000 facts are required, submissions received after the first 1000 approved facts will not be entertained or rewarded.

Eligibility for Further Research:

  • Individuals submitting the best selection of facts will be eligible for participation in on-going research projects.


  • Email your submissions to facts@mssresearch.org
  • Each fact should be given a title summarizing the subject matter, followed by a detailed description of the fact and the source of the information.
  • Please provide a Paypal account along with your submissions
  • Deadline: March 21, 2008

Other Examples:

1. Striking characteristics in national character that need explanation:

  • When the English Parliament was destroyed during the bombing in WWII, it was rebuilt in the original design with only the original number of seats even though Parliament had expanded by that time to include more members. It shows how traditional and conservative the British are.
  • During WWII, even during the bombing of London, the British government refused to move out of London. They did it to keep up the morale of the people. Theatres and hotels remained open, showing the patriotism, stoicism and courage of the British people.
  • We see in Germany a certain violence unprecedented in history. We read that their universities were pre-eminent in the middle of the 19th Century. Germans are known for perfection in the products they make. Their trains are never known to be unpunctual, even by a minute. It is a historical fact that Germany became a nation only in 1871, the same time as Italy, whereas France was united by Charlemagne 1000 years earlier and England was united 800 years earlier. An immature nation which does not have territorial integrity of unity raising its educational standards runs the risk of converting its efficiency into violence.
  • Italy, the birthplace of the Renaissance, the Roman empire that spread Christianity and civilization throughout Europe and became the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. Ironically, Italy is also the birthplace and home of the mafia.
  • Finland is a country without corruption. Why?
  • The USA is the most advanced seat of science and progressive liberalism. But it is also a seed bed of religious fundamentalists who still insist on the Biblical theory of creation. The USA has a high level of physical violence. Fundamentalism is mental violence. Doctrinaire intolerance promotes violence.
  • The whole world condemned Communist Russia for its violent police state like the Czars of the past. The people were uneducated and very poor. Absence of education and poverty necessitate violence. In contrast, India had an ancient religious culture and had eschewed violence 2000 years earlier. China developed an intellectual rather than a religious culture which promoted cruelty and violence.
  • In WWII and Cold War, Scandinavian countries were neutral. Why?
  • Ireland was once the poor man of Europe and the supporter of violent terrorism in North Ireland. Today it has one of the highest per capita incomes in Europe and is a source of peace.

2. Unexpected historical outcome:

  • Until late in the 19th Century, the Spanish language seemed destined to become the universal language, because of Spain's extensive South American colonies. French was spoken all over Europe. French was the language of the elite even in Russia, where children where compelled to speak in French at home. For intellectual clarity and legal precision French took precedence over English in all European diplomatic work. Obviously French and even Spanish were more qualified to become the dominant language for international communications than English. But we find that English has now assumed that position. There will be innumerable points of history where this transition is hinted at and those are the points that are important for our consideration.
  • The second world war was started by Britain and France when Germany invaded Poland because Poland was in treaty with the Allies. The ostensible purpose was to save Poland. At the end of the war Poland was lost to Russia. It's ironic. We are looking for historical incidents that will explain this irony in terms of historical logic. The fact that Warsaw was razed to the ground whereas Paris escaped destruction gains in significance from this point of view. Poland lies in a buffer zone between two great powers, Germany and Russia. In the war, the greatest human casualties occurred in Poland where one in five people died. A buffer zone, if it is a strong nation, gains from its neighbours. If it is a weak nation, it is crushed by both of them.
  • Green Revolution was a phenomenal success in pockets such as Punjab and Harayana, but it did not extend to the last third of the country. The moment the food requirement was met, it stopped. Just because something is good, it does not mean the whole population will take to it unless it becomes a social movement. Whereas TV spread to the whole country because it became a social movement.
  • In England the tradition is that no one asks for or claims power. The monarch calls a leader to form a government. Churchill was re-elected PM in 1950 when he was aged and unable to work. After granting him that honor, everyone expected him to resign soon. In opposition to the English tradition, Anthony Eden insistently pestered Churchill to resign. After 3-4 years Churchill resigned and Eden took over. Suez crisis came forcing Eden to resign in turn.
  • Ancient Greece was the intellectual birthplace of Europe where the quest for knowledge was revered. The flowering of the Hellenic culture disappeared within one century, but even today ancient Greece remains the leading contributor to Western thought, even though she enjoyed a leading position as a nation only for a brief period thousands of years ago and no longer ranks among the leading nations today. Yet in spite of its contribution to knowledge, we read that Europeans do not believe what is spoken by Greeks and no Greek believes what he hears from another Greek. The irony that false speech arises in a country revered for seeking knowledge is a significant fact.

3. Personal incidents that is overlooked or unexplained by historians:

  • On Indian Independence Day, Gandhiji was not in Delhi to celebrate it. No reader can miss that this is a significant fact. Such events can be identified and listed for our use.
  • President Andrew Jackson disapproved of paper currency and battled against it to the point of closing an important bank. On the face of it, it is a striking incident. Shortly afterwards, when France offered the sale of the Louisiana Purchase for $15 million, the US Government was forced to borrow from the banks to effect the purchase. Jackson's attitude to paper money and banking stands out. It is not as easy to spot the relationship of the second incident that attitude. In our view America is the leader of the world's social evolution. Paper currency is an important development in the evolution of society. It is opposed by the person of the President, while life compels the person to reverse his attitude. From a theoretical point of view these incidents confirm our belief that the resistance to change will be greatest from the pioneer. The future will be decided by the choice the pioneer makes. America did not follow Jackson. Today her abundant prosperity is due among other things to paper currency.

4. Reasons for national accomplishment:

  • In the 17th Century, European powers went all over the globe for trade and established empires. No other country succeeded in the measure Britain succeeded. This fact needs to be explained theoretically.
  • We see the USA is the evolutionary leader of human social evolution. Neither South American countries nor Canada are playing that role today. The presence of the French and English populations in almost equal measure in Canada can explain how their energies are engaged. South American countries have been dictatorships, which have no role to play in future. From this point of view, every incident in those countries will gain significance for us.
  • It has been observed said that development in Peru leaped from mule riding to air travel directly in one generation without passing through the intermediary stages of railways, cars, etc. This is an important fact for it reflects the impact of technological change on social development.

5. Unusual or unique characteristic of a national leader:

  • Nehru says that Rajaji was so persuasive a speaker because he had the capacity to remove the mental defences of people he spoke with.
  • Leaders such as Mao, Teddy Roosevelt and Gorbachev radiated energy.
  • Mao ruled 20% of the world but totally disregarded the value of punctuality.
  • Sardar Patel underwent an operation for guinea worm without anaesthesia. It reflects the man's strength of personality.
  • Former premier of USSR, Nikita Khrushchev was illiterate until the age of 29.
  • Nehru, Jinnah, Gandhi, Liaquat and Patel were all lawyers trained in England. Britain gave the education and training in democracy to the Indian leaders who would push them out.
  • Mrs. Kennedy asked De Gaulle who was the most charming leader. He replied, Stalin. Stalin was a brute capable of any violence responsible for the death of millions, but he was also known to be charming and humorous.
  • Jayaprakash Narayan visited Seattle. As a north Indian, people offered him chapatti. He asked for idly. People have such personal peculiarities.
  • Charles de Gaulle did not like flying in airplanes.
  • Dwight Eisenhower led the Allied victory in Europe and was a popular two-term president of USA after the war but he disliked using the telephone.
  • When Hoover was President, he made FDR wait standing on crutches. When FDR became president, he refused to extend personal security to Hoover. At that level people care capable of petty mean behaviour.
  • Muslim League is a religious body that founded a Muslim state, but its leader Jinnah was so a-religious that he arranged for an independence day dinner on August 14 which was Ramzan, directly breaking the religious rules.
  • When Eisenhower became President, he refused President Truman's customary invitation inviting him to tea at the White House.
  • In the military Hitler never rose beyond the rank of corporal. Stalin and Mussolini were from the party.
  • When De Gaulle became the head of the free French forces during WWII, he was only a colonel.
  • JFK and his brother Robert were sons of a very demanding father. Both were assassinated.

6. Unusual events that reflect underlying principles:

  • In Kerala the Communists had 64 seats and all non-communist opposition parties had 63. After forming the government, the govt acted rashly all Communist policies. It raised tremendous opposition they became was the first to be dismissed under S356. When new elections were held, they won only 40 seats. Had their actions really reflected public will, they would have been reelected. However good or right your intentions, when the society is not ready, you cannot compel it to accept more progressive measures.
  • During the first elections after Independence, India was on the verge of going Communist. Congress adopted all the policies of the Communists and stole their thunder. Only West Bengal and Kerala have remained Communist. The socialists did the same thing in Europe.
  • After partition, fifty lakhs of refugees came into India and were uncontrollable. The new Indian govt did not know how to handle the law and order situation. They had to request Lord Mountbatten, who represented the rulers they had sent away, to take charge and save the situation.
  • In France after the Revolution, in 19th Century America after the Civil War, and in India it can seen that during periods of social transition, the lowest levels of society rise to the highest level.
  • Martin Luther, who led the Protestant Reformation, was as autocratic as the Pope he opposed in his behavior. One who opposes the powers that be possesses the same quality as the power he opposes.
  • In 1943 the Bengal famine occurred in the Ganges delta region, the most fertile region of the country. How could famine come there? The first Viceroy was unable to handle it. When a Viceroy with military background, Wavell, took charge, he was able to bring the situation under control. It was not physical shortage of food that was causing starvation but poor administrative discipline and management of food stocks.
  • President Truman's personal hero was Andrew Jackson. When Chaim Weisman unsuccessfully sought a meeting with Truman to persuade the USA to support the foundation of Israel, Truman's old friend and business partner, Jacobson, finally persuaded Truman to meet Weisman by saying the Weisman was his personal hero, as Jackson was Truman's. That meeting played a critical role.

7. Striking Events that need to be explained:

  • When Churchill resigned his cabinet post and enlisted to fight on the front lines in WWI, he was called away from the trenches for dinner with the commanding officer on the night that those trenches were bombarded and most of the soldiers killed.
  • German General Dietrich von Choltitz who headed the occupation forces in Paris sent a telegram to General Eisenhower urging the Allies to quickly reach Paris before Choltitz was forced to obey Hitler's instructions to destroy the city. Choltitz had earlier lead the German destruction of Sebastapol and was known to be intensely patriotic, yet he neglected and counter-manded direct orders from Hitler. He did it in spite of knowing that the safety of his family was at risk, because Hitler had ordered close surveillance of the families of officers to ensure their obedience. How can we understand it?
  • In 150 years after the discovery of the printing press by Gutenberg, half of Europe became Protestant because the Bible was printed.
  • A shortage of coins in the American colonies was one of the causes of the American Revolution in 1776.
  • After WWII, Britain owed Indian £1300 million. Wealth generates power. This money was one of the reasons India could become free.
  • Refrigerated shipping made New Zealand a world leader in dairy products.
  • The use of wind mills to saw wood made Netherlands a world leader in shipping.
  • The shortage of land in the low countries (Netherlands) is related to the fact that these people are known to be misers.
  • Africa is a much bigger continent than Europe but the European coastline is highly convoluted so the length of the coastline is much longer.
  • In 1907 a single individual, J. P. Morgan, was responsible for ending the Panic in US financial markets.
  • Charles de Gaulle liberated France during WWII, but he could retain the Presidency only for six months immediately after the war.
  • Wealth is normally achieved by effort over many generations. In America many people rose from nothing to become millionaires in a single generation.
  • Andrew Carnegie became one of the wealthiest industrialists in the world by applying the technique of cost accounting to determine the actual production cost of each product more accurately than other companies did.
  • Mussolini's body was humiliated and mutilated after his death.
  • WWI was started because of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand.
  • The sprawling city of Los Angeles gets its water from sources 600 miles away.
  • The San Francisco earthquake in 1906 was one of the principle triggers for the Panic of 1907.
  • In earlier centuries in France the bones of saints were used to raise the winds so that ships could sail.
  • During WWI, when the British soldiers arrived in Russia to support the Czar, the Russian officers refused to allow them because they did not have visa papers.
  • The Chernobyl nuclear disaster was a trigger for the collapse of USSR.
  • British air force officers today do no know about the London air raids during WWII.
  • After 40 years of peace in Europe, the people felt the tension of a long peace and were eager for war in 1914. Peace generates tension.
  • During WWI, at Christmas time hostilities were suspended between Britain and Germany and the enemies mixed for the celebration.
  • In Europe there was a period in which books were chained to the shelf to prevent theft.
  • At a party given by Indira for US President Nixon in Delhi, Indira was irritated by Nixon and impatient to end it. She said to her aid in Hindi that she could not stand 20 minutes more with him. Nixon perceived her attitude and was displeased.
  • George III was mad for 10 years and had 14 children. When he recovered, the Queen told him that he became made because he did not seek the company of other women other than her. Not the advice you expect from a wife.
  • Every initiative Churchill took in life failed except in the fight against Hitler in WWII.
  • On the death of one of the Catholic popes, it was discovered that she was a woman.
  • Peter the Great and the barmaid. The barmaid had a great influence over him, the capacity to know the symptoms of his coming anger and diffuse it. Later he married her and made her Empress.
  • During WWI, in 1914 when the German soldiers entered Paris they found it was undefended and met no opposing army. They thought it was a trap and withdrew.
  • Franco remained a fascist until the end. Why?
  • A German scientist wrote about the power of electricity and described the concept of an electricity state. California was inspired to become an electricity state. That book prompted Lenin to speak that Communism is Soviets plus electricity.
  • When the PM's post became free, Moraji asked for it and it went to Sastri. A second time it became free and he asked again, Indira got it. Indian tradition is you do not ask for the job. Finally he became PM for Janata Party and lost it in the middle of the term.
  • VP Menon arrived in Delhi penniless and borrowed Rs 15 from a man on the street. He later entered government service and retired as a governor. When Mountbatten wanted to draw up a plan for partition, Menon asked for seven days time, but Mountbatten wanted it the same day and received it.
  • At the time of partition India owed 55 crores to Pakistan. Patel did not want to give it until Pakistan withdrew its invading troops from occupied Kashmir. Gandhiji threatened a fast unless the money was paid and it was paid.
  • When Rajiv visited Colombo reviewing the guard of honor, a soldier attacked him with the butt of his gun but Rajiv escaped the blow. This was an indication that he would die a few years later at the hands of a Sri Lankan.
  • Sanjay Gandhi died in a plane crash. Indira and Rajiv were assassinated. The whole family died violently.
  • Nehru said that he was the last Englishman ruling India.
  • Nationalist CR Das brought 250 delegates to a Congress meeting in Nagpur in the 1920s spending Rs 20,000 of his own money, an enormous sum for the times. His position was equal to that of Gandhi in the Congress.
  • The Indian National Congress was founded by an Englishman, an ICS officer.