Conservative magazine The National Interest recently published an article celebrating the technological innovations of the Civil War. While I, for one, am not so keen on this narrative framing…
If there is anything that drives innovation in science and technology, it's a good old-fashioned war. When you need to kill your enemies faster and deader than they kill you, governments are willing to try nearly anything, no matter how insane it sounds.
That isn't to say we haven't gotten amazing technology from war. Rockets, microwaves and radar were all game-changing innovations during battle, but also have turned into essential pieces of our everyday lives, helping humanity even when we aren't smashing and destroying someone else for looking at us funny.
…I cannot deny that there is something interesting about remembering just what kinds of what weapons we forged to fuck ourselves over, including gatling guns, coal torpedoes, shotgun pistol revolvers, and reconnaissance balloons. Sure, half a million American died over a glorified temper tantrum about whether or not Black people deserve to be treated with the most basic human indignity, rather than as pieces of property — but dammit, the CSS Hunley was the first submarine to successfully sink a boat, and that's an important hallmark of American innovation!
Anyway I clicked on this link by accident but it's weirdly kind of fascinating to realize just how many horrible things we created — things which continue to benefit the mission of American Imperialism — just so that we could further dehumanize Black people.
Dustoff Your History Book: The Civil War Produced Some Truly Horrific Weapons [Francis Horton / The National Interest]
Image: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons