Sunday, December 20, 2009
Religion had been the basis of people's beliefs as long as history books were written. People didn't question why the sky was blue or why the grass was green, because the answers were all in whatthe priests told them. All they knew was to go to mass and do their prayer and they would be rewarded in heaven. But all of a sudden, the Scientific Revolution came along and upturned all this earlier religious dependence. People started questioning things, and scientists came up with solid, factual answers to age-old questions. Religion was no longer the panacea to all problems and questions in the world. Therefore, due this rise of the education of the masses, religion began to fall back. As it fell back, it made more room for even more questions by science, leading to more answers and eventually led to more inventions and technology. These new found innovations provided an even greater sense of identity for nations, strengthening nationalism.
There is also the question of revolution. A point, or rather, a question, that was stressed in the book was the reason for why people will revolt. What is the fundamental reason people will rise up and protest something? The answer: dissatisfaction. When someone is dissatisfied with something and feel like the possibility of being satisfied is very well within reach, they will protest and speak out. And if this certain individual gains enough supporters that follow behind his cause, it will become a revolt. The switch from religion to science was a sort of quiet revolution, seeing as the people were no longer satisfied with pat answers like "Because God made it that way." So, they saw satisfaction and cold hard facts in science, and revolting against religion, switched to science as "the favorite."
Another thing that struck me was the Pope's blatant favoritism towards Leo/Hasan. What made him so special that he was practically treated like a son by the Pope, and regardless of the fact that he was imprisoned, the Pope still took great care in providing for Leo/Hasan's needs and education. The obvious motive would be that the Pope was hoping that when Leo/Hasan got baptized, he would return to his home and bring numerous converts to the Catholic church. But was that the only reason, or did the Holy one have an ulterior motive?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it a) a much easier read that all the other non-fiction narratives assigned earlier on in the semester. The author weaves a riveting tale through which history is also taught, and I found that I retained the same, if not more, information than I normally would with a textbook. It also puts into stark contrast the ways our society today and the society back then clashes. Issues like sexism, polygomy, cultural identity...I would not normally think of those things on a daily basis, but reading about it triggered my thoughts on it and therefore, I thought the book and overall enlightening experience.
I thought one of the most interesting things in the reading was the complete and total culture difference. The main character's father has two wives, the favoritism of a son, these are all aspects that shocked me as I read through the beginning of the novel. The father has two wives, the first beign the main character's mother and the second being a slave. Then, when both women become pregnant and eventually give birth, the father openly favors the newborn son and pays much less, if no attention to the infant girl.
This culture shock boggled my mind. In today's society, monogomy is the only option to marriage a large majority of the population knows, and the small percentage that IS aware of polygomy frowsn down upon it as almost unspeakable. But in that society, it was completely acceptable. Also, equality is stressed to almost a breaking point in today's world. But in the novel, the father blatantly prefers the son as opposed to the daughter. Today, fingers would be pointed at him left and right for total and blatant sexism, but back then, it was allowed. This makes me think about the statement "a small world." We think that just because we have all this new technology and avenues of communication that the world has become a smaller place. But has it really? Crucial culture differences such as these cause a major rift between opposing societies. Sexism in one society is seem as the status quo while in another it is considered almost as severe as a crime. How then, can our world become a smaller place when such rifts exist?
There was also much discussion about the rising role of women during this time period. This was known as the age of the "new woman." Due to industrialization and urbanization, the life expectancy was now much longer therefore women postponed the age of marriage, leaving more time for their own success. Women started entering the work force, claiming and holding jobs to put food on the table, along with their husbands. The birth rate also declined significantly due to the leaving a better standard of living considering the drop in the household number of mouths to feed. Women now felt empowered, and seeing that they were now equal in the fact that women now could "bring home the bacon," women began to fight for equal fights. This led to a series of struggles and contraversies that eventually and painstakingly led to the emancipation of women. Thus, the "new woman" was created.
I think it is very interesting how time moved throughout this whole period. Things were going relatively slowly during the wars and the movement of globalization, with trading and such. And suddenly, due to just a few inventions, it seems as if society exploded. Age-old traditions were broken and completely rewritten, and the status quo was abolished and redone so many times that the original can hardly be recognized. Even something as simple as a state of mine (ie nationalism) caused such an upheaval that even the traditional role of genders was turned upside down and inside out. It is a little intimidating to think that something seemingly small and insignificant will be discovered in the near future and transform society as we know it.
I remember having a discussion in class about technology during this time and why people of this time put so much emphasis in trying to advance it. I could understand why and how people were so interested because they never seen anything like it because during those times there seemed to be no explanations to certain events. Now when things that seem to be magic, people of our time can attribute it to some type of scientific fact.
Industrialization caused urbanization, and as more and more new inventions were being discovered, the farms and peasant from the countryside knew a good opportunity when they saw one. A shift of the masses occurred as the industrialized cities became more and more populated, filling up with small-town folk hoping to make a more comfortable living. As the cities got more crowded, a sense of togetherness began to form and the people soon started forming trade unions, workers movements, and then eventually even political parties to make their voices known. When changes began to happen, the "proletariat" realized the capacity for change and their power over that capacity, and thus arose democracy.
In today's world, democracy is treated completely differently. Instead of being chosen by the people to adopt democratic ideals, it is forced upon some people. America, being the light and beacon of democracy, is now trying to enforce i in other countries. It thinks that because democracy worked for America, it should work for every other country as well. But, as seen in the case of the War in Iraq, such beliefs do not hold against contestation. Other countries did not go through the process that America did in following democracy, therefore it is both unfair and unpractical to force this political theory on other countries. Thoughts?
This book taught me alot about imperialism and its purpose. Although it was indeed a strong and smart thing to do during this time; I am happy it did not make it to modern society's of today, such as America. I really did like this book, well the things i remembered, and i think future classes can definitely benefit from this book and the things it talks about. It provides alot of knowledge
Saturday, December 19, 2009
New inventions and rapid industry growth led to the economic boom of big and/or major cities. This in turn led to major population growth as more and more people moved to the cities and the boom caused the increased population to thrive. The people were looking for new jobs in these industrialized cities but anoher reason they fled from the rural areas was because moving had become so much easier. With increased transportation fashions, ie advanced railway systems and new found inventions like the steamboat, more and more people made the move the major cities. This major population shift also caused overpopulation, something no one had ever heard of before.
This got me thinking. One little rift in history can cause so many different and perhaps unforseen waves and ripples in the following years. And as much as the society back then and society now are different, some parallels can still be drawn. Back in the 20th century, the invention of the steamboat resulted (indirectly) in the creation of overpopulation. But now, invention like the telephone and the television and now the cellphone have resulted in world-wide connections. With a few numbers, a person in America can ask a person in Beijing what the weather is like. Circumstances like these could have never have been imagined back when the steamboats were first invented. Yet, noting the differences, the similarities in the impact these inventions made on society are still just as significant.
India was in the perfect position to become a world hegemony. It was the bottleneck and bridge between the two different parts of the Indian Ocean, the Eastern and the Western. Therefore, this meant that a large majority of traders had to move through India to accomplish their trade routes, therefore leaving much much rich, cultural residue in India and also providing it with an economical boost. Trading was highly crucial back then and therefore having control over basically an entire trade route put India in a very powerful position. But, even so, India did not take its chance in becoming a world hegemony. Even though they were powerful, they held no desire to expand. India was very content with their situation and had no desire, need, or will to fend off the troubles that would come with being a world hegemony. Subsequently, the Black Death arrived and with the onslaught of other economic problems, India lost their opportunity.
China also had the opportunity to rise and become a world hegemony, but due to a number of reasons, it did not. It had the perfect opportunity too, but at the end of the day, it did not have the desire to become so powerful of an influence in the trading world. This made me wonder, though. Why exactly did China withdraw? It had all the promise and hopes of becoming a world power, with military power that no one could compete with, solid economic foundations and technological advances that no other country at the time could even come close to. Why then, did China back down?
Friday, December 18, 2009
Due to the invasions the Government quickly loss controll. It was not "central" anymore , therefore causing friction between different groups. In the 8th century Charlemagne became emperor. He took advantage of the church to try to regain control of the government and the rest of the political system. It became a long slow process and Charlemagne ended up dying and the empire crashed once again. It seemed as though a "key saviour" in establishing Europe as a substantial power was the introduction into feudalism. Feudalism really helped Europe rise back to a place of influence. It allowed trading centers and exchanges to take place. By the 11th century Europe became more integrated and producing more goods for exchange. Population all over the country began to spark in response to these new changes and different patterns.
The “fall” occurred due to many events not just one single event. It also took a long time to occurr. It didnt just happen over night. It took centuries! Charlemagne got the ball rolling slowly but feudalism gave the ball the kick that it needed to pick up momentum.”
Thursday, December 17, 2009
This week’s reading was about neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism is simply a ‘new’ kind of liberalism. “Liberalism” can refer to politics, the economy, or religion – among many other things – and is progressive in comparison to conservative methods. The main theme of liberalism is free trade. Neo-liberalism has developed from liberalism, and can be seen in the economic policies of the last 25 years or so. Many Americans believe that neo-liberalism policies are a means of making the rich richer and the poor poorer.
The main points of neo-liberalism include: rule of the mark; cutting public expenditure for social services, deregulation, privatization, and eliminating the concept of “the public good” or “community” (http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=376). Rule of the market in terms of neo-liberalism means total freedom of trade for capital, good, and services. This method of trade is intended to benefit everyone by increasing economic growth via an unregulated market. Cutting price expenditures for social services refers to services such as education, healthcare, and healthcare, and decreases the government’s role in each sector. Deregulation is the process of reducing government regulation of anything that could reduce profits. Privatization is the process of selling state-owned enterprises, goods, and services to private investors. Privatization has led to a concentration of wealth in a small number of people. Eliminating the concept of “the public good” or “community” refers to neo-liberalism replacing the two with individual responsibility. This process takes responsibility away from the government and into the hands of the individual, forcing people to find their own solutions for problems such as health care, education, and social security.
Neo-liberalism is especially evident in Latin American, which is what the article by Patomaki and Teivainen focuses on. Patomaki and Teivainen argue that the most common political theoretical response to the process of globalization is the theory of cosmopolitan democracy. Cosmopolitan democracy holds that globalization forces individuals to rethink the political community within which our democratic ideal and aspirations can be realized. Many models of cosmopolitan democracy, however, are partially detached from real world historical processes. In their article, Patomaki and Teivainen detail why they believe it important to redefine the conceptual basis for cosmopolitan democracy in political economy terms.
As noted, many models of cosmopolitan democracy are often detached from real world historical processes. Held developed a model of cosmopolitan democracy that was greatly influenced by the European integration process, and is therefore very Eurocentric and partically detached from many real world historical processes, such as those present in Latin America. Patomaki and Teivainen argue that this has at least three consequences:
1) it lacks an account of what is going on in different sectors of the globalizing world
2) it excludes the process of transformation towards 'cosmopolitan democracy’
3) it is not as open-ended as such a model should be
In addition to these three consequences, it can give rise to negative effects of power because it is based solely on reflections of European experiences. The Mercosur region of Latin American was found in 1991, and is partially modeled on the European Union. Mercosur, however, is very different from that of Europe and is a prime example of why Patomaki and Teivainen argue that the conceptual basis for cosmopolitan democracy should be redefined in political economy terms to FIT the real world processes of that particular economy.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
In this week’s reading, Mohammed A. Bamyeh discusses post nationalism. Post nationalism came about to replace nationalism in Europe after it reached its demise, and today, the European Union has the most advanced institution of post nationalism in the world. Bamyeh highlights two major distinctions between nationalism and post nationalism, being their relation to value judgments and multiplicity of forms. Nationalism tends to always be looked at from a moral standpoint (good vs. evil), as its history shaped and continues to shape our perspectives and opinions on it today. Post nationalism, on the other hand, escapes the limit of moral judgment because it has no major history yet, and is just beginning to unfold. Post nationalism also escapes the limit of having to impose a single ethnocentric form upon it, because it offers multiple venues for solidarity. Conversely, nationalism was always singular in character, and spread throughout the world in the form of an exact replica of the model used in Europe. This replication of solidarity resulted in such things as war and ethnic cleansing, and Bamyeh suggests that nationalism is by “far the most destructive ideology ever experienced by humanity.” He argues that today’s form of globalization, post nationalism, is far more promising than nationalism, because it reintroduces alternative modes of conglomeration and solidarity.
Post nationalism is concerned with the way questions of collective identity are reworked and refers to frames of solidarity offering themselves as alternatives to nationalism. Post nationalism is a more specific outcome of globalization; it seeks to find alternatives to modern nations and states and seeks to transcend the limits of defining group identity by nationality and political form by the modern state. Bamyeh says that there are three common features of a post national culture, which include:
1) Post national culture is perspectively fragmented rather than wholistic
2) Post national culture is not congruent with state ideology
3) Post national culture approaches all given identities as restraints and
emphasizes expansive action in the world
Bamyeh also says that there are four types of post national solidarity, and goes one to describe each one. Spiritual solidarities represent the global growth of religious solidarities, and are characterized by religious fervor as a means to accomplish a global mission. The second type, material solidarity, represents the global connections between people, mainly concentrated in society’s professional classes, that foster an interconnected global life. Humanist solidarities represent the idea of human interest as a basis for solidarity. Humanistic solidarities believe that global humanistic causes can be articulated in broader terms than economic interest to the self and beyond national borders, and strive to do so. The last type of post national solidarity is the life-emancipatory solidarity. This type emphasizes liberation and modes of expression that are restricted within a society. Life-emancipatory solidarities encourage movements oriented toward individual freedom to pursue lifestyles or choices that contradict mainstream cultural patterns.
All in all, post nationalism is in the works to replace nationalism. Bamyeh made a statement to help explain why the transition to post nationalism is taking place, and it really helped me understand the way institutions in the world work. He stated that there are “less audible social formations which, in due time, assert themselves because they better correspond to the realities of their age than do established institutions and discourses.” This really made sense to me, because times do change, and it only makes sense that the institutions that govern society change as well.
Leo Africanus begins with Leo describing the relationship between his mother and father and how he came to be born. He tells readers that when he was born his father was overwhelmed with joy, but it was nothing in comparison to the joy his mother felt. When I first read this, I assumed his mother, Salma, was more joyous simply because she is a woman; women bear their unborn child for 9 months, which usually results in a stronger emotional connection to their young, and women are generally more emotional anyway. Salma’s joy was indeed distinct from Leo’s father, Muhammad, because of their gender, but not for the reasons I expected.
Leo goes on to tell readers that his mother and father are actually cousins, who were betrothed to each other at since childhood, and married four years prior to his birth. A mere two years after their marriage, Muhammad brought home a mistress he called Warda, who was beautiful and young. Salma takes over narration at this point. She explains that she was free, and that Warda was slave. Because Warda was a slave, however, she was able to express more freedom than Salma; “she could go out unveiled, sing, dance, pour wine, wink her eyes, and take off her clothes.” Salma could do none of these things as a married woman, and was even supposed to refrain from showing any interest at all in her husband’s pleasures. She tells us that Muhammad would call her “my cousin” and that at the end of the night, it was Warda, not herself, who went to bed with her husband. This description highlights the dynamics between Leo’s parents and his father’s mistress, and gave me the impression that Leo’s mother was very alone before his birth.
Salma then goes on to explain how she became pregnant with Leo. Her friend Sarah came over one day and say how unhappy she was in her present living situation with her husband. Sarah gave Salma a potion, and told her to pour it into Muhammad’s glass that night, after three nights, and again after seven. Salma did so, and within a few weeks she found herself pregnant. Salma was ecstatic, because she knew a child meant that Muhammad would be there for many years to come. Even this failed to ease the tension Salma felt towards her husband, however, as Warda was also pregnant and whoever birthed the first son would give Muhammad his legacy.
This insight to Salma’s situation really made me feel for her. I could not imagine having to: 1) marry my cousin, 2) tolerate my husband having a mistress whom he went to bed with every night, and 3) being nervous that my child would be a girl rather than a boy or be born too late. It is clear to me that Salma is not must unlike other women during her time, and that her worries were the norm. The fact that free women felt less free than slave mistresses is very sad to me; almost as sad as the fact that there actually were slaves. Reading this section really made me appreciate the rights that women have today and the fact that relationships in this day and age are so different from what they were in terms of gender roles.
In Chapter 13 of “The Age of the Empire,” Hobsbawm details how the norm in Europe shifted from peace to violence. Prior to 1914, peace was the norm and was expected by Europeans. Since 1914, however, Europe has been plagued with world war after world war. Hobsbawm notes that since 1914, most Europeans over the age of seventy have passed through at least two wars over the course of their lives, and most over fifty have experienced at least one. In great contrast to this, from the period of 1815 to 1914 there were no wars involving European powers, and it was most likely because of this that no one expected a world war to breakout, despite it being forseen.
Beginning around 1870, Europeans expressed the likelihood of a future war, and the chances of a world war were made apparent. The concerns about war were well heard, and in the 1890’s, the World Peace Congress was established.
In the 1900s, the likelihood of war was drawing nearer and in the 1910s, its nearness was taken for granted, as many statesmen still did not believe a world war would ensue. It did. There was an international crisis in July of 1914, where international leaders met to deter a world war. The leaders were troubled at the state of the world, but believed that a peaceful solution could be made and the crisis would deteriorate, ending the possibility of a world war.
The optimism of leaders was most likely due to the fact that war was utterly non-existent in Europe for over a century. Today, I cannot even fathom world leaders meeting to discuss the threat of an upcoming world war, and be so confident to believe that no war would ever ensue. I believe if our leaders took on this optimistic attitude, they would be criticized by citizens and actually seen as a threat themselves. Do you think that this shift in attitudes took place because of the shift in history from peace to war that took place during the 1800 and 1900s?
In the section “Emergence from Old Empires,” the epic “fall of Rome” was outlined and discussed. I was very intrigued with the timeline of the “fall”, and the different impact it had on northern and southern Europe. The process of the “fall of Rome” took several centuries, and is accredited to a disintegration of the economy and numerous barbaric invasions. These invasions began as early as the third century A.D., when Germanic tribes broke through Roman lines in northwestern Europe. Although this first wave of invasions was unsuccessful, successive ones were not. In the fifth century, several more invasions occurred, and by the end of the century, a unified Roman rule was beginning to demise, and the separation between northwestern Europe and the rest of the continent was becoming clearer.
The continuous invasions on Europe quickly their toll, and the empire regressed on both a political and individual; the government was decentralized and disorganized, and there was far less sophistication across people. Europe suffered gravely, but found hope when the eighth century finally rolled around, and Charlemagne took the title of Emperor of the West. In an attempt to reorganize Europe’s political system, Charlemagne took advantage of the church, which was the institution that retained any unity. It was after this that western Europe began to put back together the pieces of its fragmentation. This rise was rather slow, however. Charlemagne eventually died and the empire again fragmented and fell to attack. At the end of the ninth century, a system of protofeudalism was established, and a century later feudalism became institutionalized. This adoption of feudalism really helped Europe come back from its demise. It enabled small trading centers to operate and exchange took place with merchants who received protection from local lords in exchange for their commercial services.
At the end of the tenth century, invaders (Vikings) turned back, and by the eleventh century, northwestern Europe was becoming more integrated and producing more goods for exchange. This led towns to quickly multiple and there was an internal explosion of population and urbanization that helped doctor that damages that occurred during the “fall of Rome.”
The “fall” took a much larger toll on northwestern Europe, and it is only to this section of Europe that the “Dark Ages” refers to. The “fall” occurred due to a series of events that took place over the course of centuries, more specifically a uniformed government and continual invasions. The efforts of Charlemagne helped initiate Europe’s comeback, especially northwestern Europe’s, and the installment of feudalism was the catalyst to ending the “fall.”
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Neoliberalism tries to embrace the classical liberal views but is more willing to let government have a part to play. Government is useful for regulating the market and is important for things like consumer protection. The goal of neoliberals is to create governments and structures that allow the people to be as free as possible NOT the overall dismissal or monopoly of government that some other political ideologies would promote. In this way, it is a departure from old Keynesianism which sought to increase the power and influence of government in the market. However, government must have some part in the public’s life for any of the liberal goals to be achieved.
Neoliberalism should not be confused with Libertarianism which is a political ideology very close to classical Liberalism that wants little or no government intervention in the publics dealings.
The simple fact that Wikipedia seeks to be unbiased is an important feature that has allowed it to rise in importance for those wishing to educate themselves. Wikipedia is conscious of its bias and welcomes constructive criticism. In a way, the glaringly obvious biases in some articles on Wikipedia are the cause for observers to question and change the content and keep the Wikipedia experiment alive.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
The video neglects the notion that humans created the internet, and humans are ruled by governments. We should be able to access what we want to but ultimately the government will regulate access. Governments regulate access to most things anyways. We are not “legally” allowed download music or do drugs but obviously people still find access to drugs and I have an Ipod full of music I didn’t buy. Just because something is regulated doesn’t mean we can’t find a way to access it.
Patents and laws keep us from progressing, which should be good since we “are not welcome” or ready for this future (Implied by video of declaration). I understand that ideally all information and ideas should be accessible; but it would mean ALL information. People would be able to find resources to help others (like a charity organization) as well as how to make biological weapons. I’m really not comfortable with that idea. I don’t trust humanity enough either. Hackers shouldn’t be allowed to alter programs that they don’t create or want to destroy. That’s why if you hack a government website it’s a federal crime. Overall, I just feel that the futuristic world that the video implies is one day possible and that we will get there in time as laws and copyrights change; but, for now the laws should remain until they are not needed to regulate human behavior. .
This however, is an ideal that I do not believe would ever materialize. If the markets could somehow run themselves without the intervention of the "human aspect" then perhaps this could actually work; but in actuality, the markets are not run separate of human endeavors and soon the agendas of the larger, more powerful countries would overtake the smaller countries and push them further into poverty. Exploitation has been a constant for centuries that would not all of a sudden disappear and allow the markets to run independent of regulation and be fair. How could anyone still be a proponent of this sort of globalization and trade when we are experiencing now the global recession that was caused by no one watching the markets and allowing those in charge to do whatever they pleased?
We also discussed transnationalism which seems to stem from the ideas set forth of postnationalism. As we are moving away from our ethnocentric views, there is now more than ever an increased sense of the global community. Transnationalism is pretty much synonymous with globalization. Halle argues that transnationalism was made possible by the communication and information sharing that occurs on the internet. Cultural distinctions are becoming much less important and less clear than they were even 20 years ago as the people across the world enjoy many of the same things. Corportations, restaurant chains and films that were once considered as belonging to one particular culture are now mainstream parts of society in many different places all over the globe.
What I found interesting in this particular section is that transnationalism seem to be phenomena occuring between core nations and peripheral nations alike, but post-nationalism seems to be something that is occurring between the core nations only. For example, places like American Samoa are immersed in culture that has been brought to them by the United States and other powers that had dominated the area during the colonial era. Although Americans may now share a lot of the same mainstream films,restaurants, etc., there are still alot of people who feel as though American or western culture is superior to the cultures of the Pacific. Or take for example, the middle east. Places like Iraq or Syria were major players and seem to be highly important to the development of the modern economic system, Islamic cultures are often portrayed as inferior and less important than western cultures despite the fact many of the same corporations that we are accustomed to in America, also have a presence in the middle eastern countries. The question that I would like to pose is: do you think that we are now living in a truly post-nationalistic world or has transnationalism just diverted our attention away from the nationalistic ideals that had previously consumed the world.
Hobsbawm also discusses revolution. He talks about the insistence of the peripheral nations on gaining their independence and the fall of stable, strong powers at the the hands of these revolutionaries. Western powers were upset about this precedent and worried about their future as colonial powers. Reading these sections made me think about what we hold as true today about the world. The enlightenment took place just over 100 years ago, which shows that our knowledge of the world as it is thought about today is truly only in its infancy. Do you think that they way we think about the world today will hold up overtime or do you think there will be another revolution in thinking and the world will come to be viewed from a wholly new perspective?
Two other important effects of the nationalist movement was the rise of women and warfare. Women gained a lot of ground during this time and became more in control of their lives than they had ever been before. In the domestic arena, women began to marry later and used contraception to prevent pregnancy, thus having fewer children. This allowed them to move out of the traditional role that women played and allowed them to join the workforce. These developments helped to enhance women's power and thus started the need for women's rights. Warfare was hugely dependent on the idea of nationalism. Engagement in war was highly important to the conservative agenda of state expansion and imperialism. By painting dissenters as traitors, people were far more inclined to get behind the movemnets and support the war, which enabled the nation to build and army and mobilize forces.
What I find interesting about this reading is the impact that nationalism had on people as a whole. New nationalistic ideals using ethnicity and language to define a nation appears to be the root cause of xenophobic beliefs among western nations. Also By using the term traitor, it seems that the government was able to get the masses to support their agendas despite if individuals were actually behind the initiatives. This type of ethnocentricity and blind support by the masses illustrates the ways that Hitler and Nazi Germany was able to convince so many people to band together and commit genocide to annihilate Jewish people. Do you think that nationalism is truly a democratic ideal- one that empowers the people- or is it a way to remove individuality and force an agenda on a the masses?
However, in the fourth period, which is identified as beginning with the fall of the Yuan dynasty in 1368, the Chinese withdrew from the world system. China's withdrawal was due to a number of factors. The most important of which would be the rise to power of the Ming dynasty. Under this rule, maritime trade was restricted, the powerful navy was disassembled and China's connections to foreign powers were cut off. Although it seems as though there was a change in philosophy that occurred, it is more likely that there were internal problems that needed to be dealt with which prompted the Ming dynasty to take a hiatus from the world system. The new ruling class needed to consolidate their new power over China's expansive mass, regroup from the warfare and recover from the debilitating effects of the Black Plague, so China shut its doors to world trade. This left a power vaccum in the world system. This area of the world became free for the taking, which ultimately became the way in which Europeans took over as the world's hegemony.
What I found interesting in this section was the fact that China seemed to withdrawas from teh world system, but a closer look kshows that China had a number of interal issues that needed to be tended to by the new dynasty. I think the "withdrawal" was more of a stabilization and regrouping initiative than a refutation of old policy and/or disdain for the world system. How do you think the world would have shaped up if China had become the dominant hegemon? Do you think the world would be better, that is technologically more advanced, more morally sound, or do you think it would be worse? Hard to picture or speculate about these kinds of things I know, but its just something I was thinking about.
The Mongol occupance led to the increases in taxation and the transfer of the ruling class from Baghdad to Tabriz. The Mongol invasion also had another important effect. A truce was called between them and the Egyptian Mamluks which rendered the Italians useless and less tolerated. They retreated and the northern route became more attractive to the Europeans. Cairo and Syria were also important players in this area. Egypts two major industries- textile and sugar confectioning joined industry and agriculture which led to increases in wealth and productivity. Italians learned the banking, accounting, currency and credit practices that they employed in the French and Flemish fairs from the Egyptians. The Black Death was a pivotal turning point in Cairo's history; however, even with the reduction in population, Cairo's strategic location kept it from falling completely.
The second part of this reading concerned Asia. Abu-Lughod identified three interlocking circuits of the eastern trading hegemon. The western part was controlled by the Muslims, the southern by the Hindus on the Indian continent and the eastern part by the Chinese. This section talks about India's role in the world system. India was a integral piece of the world puzzle at this time. Not only was some of the most sought after goods produced by the Indian people, but its location was the prime location of international business. Paricularly the southern end of the continent served as host to the merchants traveling to the east from the west as well as the eastern merchants travelling west. India was also highly self sufficient in that it produced its own goods and became very wealthy because it often had a surplus of materials. Because of its prime location, it was also unnecessary for the people of India to travel in order to participate in the trading system; everyone came there. Therefore, India had no need to take an active or aggressive approach to trading and did not build a naval fleet because there was no use for it. This passive approach coupled with India's constant hosting of foreing traders, left it vulnerable to those who wished to overtake it, which is ulitmately what occurred.
What I found interesting about this portion of the book was the discussion on India. Although India had such a great opportunity to impose strict taxation, dominate the passage ways and become a world hegemon, India was content to remain a passive player in the system, which kept the peace instead of starting controversy. The people of India appear to be the antitheis of the western players who were looking for conquest, wealth and splendor. Do you think this disparate philosophies were a result of religious doctrine- (at least the way the Europeans at that time were interpreting the Bible)?
In the twelth century, Italians embarked on a series of imperialistic endeavors. In a sort of piracy, they attacked weaker sea vessels (Muslim and Christian) to capture treasures or ports that were unable to defend themselves from invasion. Two of the most imprtant destinations were Levant and Constantinople. As the Crusaders began to lose the battle with the Muslims, competition between the Venetians and the Genoese heated up. Venetians took control of Constantinople and the Genoese dominated North Africa and western Europe. The Crusades were also important because they stimulated a remarkable increase in naval operations. Genoa and Venice vied to build the best and most technologically advanced ships. With this increase, there was a substantial need for the state to play a larger role in ship builiding. Improvements were also made in navigation, protection (through the employment of convoys) and economics. While both cities made use of the public debt, Venice funded naval ventures through state capitalism assisted by private entrepeneurs, while Genoa's funding was the oppostite. Genoa funded their ships primarliy through provate interest with a lower portion of the funding coming from the assistance of the state. This is one of the main distinctions between these two city-states and why Genoa was unable to fully recover from the subsequent problems that arose, while the Venetians were able to enjoy their hegemon after the Genoese could no longer threaten them.
Changes in the eastern system of trade removed the economic center and destroyed the Venetian monopoly which prompted them to ally with the new ruling party. Particularly those in Egypt. By the end of the 14th century, wesstern Europe had also joined the trade system and a unification and pandemic prosperity became evident. In the first half of the 14th century, both Genoa and Venice declined as a result of the physical changes to their ports, decreases in convey availability, political factionalism and of course, the Black Plague.
What I found interesting about this section was the discussion of the Crusades. Crusaders operating under the principles of reconquering Palestine, seemed more interested in wealth and glory than any holy purpose. Venice illustrates these motives as they hung back wanting to maintain piece for trading reason and then chose to join the fight once it seemed as if the Crusaders would pull of the reconquest. This seems to be similar to what is happening today with our war in the Middle East, but instead of launching the war under religious pretenses, the war was launched as a human rights and freedom campaign. Do you think that the real reason that we are fighting wars in the middle east is because of human rights or is it more about capturing oil and controlling the land?
The Italians were extremely important to operations of the fairs. Because of their crafty business skills and goods obtained through their contacts with the middle and far east, they increased the popularity and relevance of the mrkets. The markets here declined as a result of the Flemish controversy, annexation and the discovery of a new Atlantic sea route that bypassed France. Soon after, the trading towns of Ghent and Bruges emerged and developd the new locale for the fairs. However, just like the Champagne and Brie, these fairs eventually collapsed and gave way to maritime trade. The decline of these fairs were due to a combination of factors as well, but the biggest one seemed to be the Black Death, which claimed appoximately 40-50% of Europe's population and important trading centers like Italy, France, and Flanders were hit the hardest. In summary Europe's venture into the world system was effected by economic, political and natural varibales that impacted the population and trading abilities.
What I found intersting is that the author shows that Champagne and Bruges and other trading towns did not necessarily deserve to fail, but the political and natural occurrences decided their fate. This she says, is the same case for the fall of economic centers in China and other eastern countries of the world system. I find her take on European hegemony quite refreshing. Instead of advocating that Europe was somehow innately "better" than the world powers of the middle and far east,and therefore, naturally assumed a dominat role, she believes hegemony was a consequence of many factors and the west came to dominate because the circumstances were right at the time for the west. I am a senior this year and I have never had a course that told both the European and the eastern perspectives. Why does western academia tend to ignore the role and importance of the east when teaching its students world history?
Saturday, December 12, 2009
We also talked about copyright laws again in class on Wednesday. Although I think that there should be some freedom to be creative and expand on others ideas, there should be a limit. I stick by the Beatles theory, that if a band or artist is known for their sound, it should be illegal to copyright that music.
Friday, December 11, 2009
The Middle East was the center of all global trade. Routes through the Middle East connected Europe to the Far East. The Middle East also made it possible for the Persians and the Chinese to trade. Essentially, this connected the East and the West. Of course being such a major part of global trade, the Middle East constantly ran into conflict within its own territory. The Muslims and Crusaders fought for many years, because of conflicts like this the Middle East was never really able to reach out to other places around the world.
This moves me to the Persian Gulf. In a sense a blessing for whoever controlled it because it was a great place for trading. It connected the Mediterranean Sea, India and the Middle East. What more could you ask for? Unfortunately, it was so popular that there were constant fights over who controlled it. The conflicts made it so that the trade routes were unsafe and trade in the Persian Gulf struggled. Short after the Black Death hit, the Portuguese swooped in and took control of the Persian Gulf. This was also the fall of Egypt's superiority in trade.
The European Crusaders and the Muslims constantly fought over religion more so than money. It does not surprise me that both had a chance to share the gold mine the Persian Gulf but instead could not settle their differences. In the end the Portuguese were the winners! This is one of the few instances i can think of when money was not the top priority.
The destruction of the Mongol Empire led to the decrease in value of the north. The Mediterranean was badly affected and produced low profits. The last significant thing Genoa attempted to do was take control of the Atlantic. This was a stretch but they weren't left with many options. In the end this was a failure and Venice took over the connection with Egypt. Genoa was left with virtually nothing and Venice took over.
I found the issues between Venice and Genoa to be quite interesting. Each tried to stay one step ahead of the other and control the trade routes. They also tried to cut off trade routes of the other. The greed for money and power both possessed was incredible. Unfortunately, Genoa fell short of this battle mainly because of natural disasters and external factors.
My question is how much longer could Genoa have fought off Venice if they didn't lose their connection to Egypt?
Janet begins in the 13th century. She says that during the 13th century there was a huge amount of economic development and cultural achievement around the world. Technology played a big role in the economic boom. New technologies made it easier for countries to trade amongst each other. With the trading came a spread of culture. The money used from trading went back into cultural affairs. It was somewhat of a cycle.
During this time, there was no one country or area of the world that was a hegemonic power. At this time the West, Middle East, and East were all similar in power. The question is raised, could we describe this time period as a world system. Maybe even modern capitalism for a better term. This time period is very interesting. It's hard for me to imagine a time period in history when Europe was not seen as the dominant power. I guess my reason of thinking is the exact reason why Janet questions why we assume that Europe was always the dominant hegemony.
I think this article had many interesting points, from what I could understand as I am not up to date on all the political and ideological terms. But, I try and look them up to gain some understanding of what is going on with current beliefs and movements. Since I have not heard of some of these ideas that are influencing our generation it is probably why my first response to the idea of seeing a world government within my lifetime, let’s say I make it till 2050, was absolutely not possible. Now, as I become more educated with the idea of globalization during the twenty first century and the current movements my thoughts are beginning to change. Although, even with these ideas out there I still think a catastrophic event like a natural disaster or and economic tragedy is needed for a world government to come together. There has to be a need for it and right now there seems to be really no need for a world government at least within the core countries. It may seem like we are alright without a world government, but I believe it would most certainly help the world as a whole.
I guess what it comes down to is when will humans stop classifying and stereotyping by race, religion, and geographic location. Until we can put our physical and historical differences behind or aside we will never be able to be governed by a single body. The thing that really makes me think is what is going to happen during my lifetime. I feel like we have been exponentially advancing as a species and during the twenty first century I think our advances will be at the highest rate. Thus, what will our generation do during this age of exponential growth?
Capitalism is all about maximizing profits through minimizing costs, and we will minimize costs at all costs. (pun intended). There are sweat shops where kids work for pennies a day, and that's in America so other countries are trying to minimize costs too. So I really don't feel that this could function on a global scale
What do you guys think could this system work?
This in turn leads to the thought of one culture. Right now, despite the fast forward effects of globilization, cultures are still very different. Each has become more accepting of other cultures, granted, but isolation is still very much in effect. But, if we continue in the fashion we are right now into the future, could it be possible that these separate cultures will eventually become one giant culture, a melting pot of the entire world under one canopy of integrated culture?
Another thing discussed during class was the issue of "copyright." All the music, movies, or the result from any creative outlet for that matter, is copyrighted, which makes it illegal for others to steal. But is it really stealing? If one person uses another person's works to provide inspiration for their own creations, how is that illegal? I think copyright has crossed the line of just being there for practical purposes and merged into the world where it's all about the money and empty rules.
Potomaki and Teivainen had a very interesting article that discussed the political and economic theory of neoliberalism. The best theoretical response to globalization is a theory called cosmopolitan democracy, but the problem with it is that it is not part of the “real world historical processes”. In Potomaki and Teivainen’s article they use the example of a region in Latin America called Mercosur where neoliberal globalization has shown many political responses that exhibit signs of cosmopolitan democracy. The main issue they are having troubles with is financial globalization. They are attempting to find radical reforms. Countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil have revealed that they have developed in such a way that they now have the political consciousness to handle real problems that citizens were having. Potomaki and Teivainen also developed working definitions of concepts such as: globalization, democracy, civic public spaces, and trans/supra-national responses to globalization. They discovered that they needed to redefine the “conceptual basis”of cosmopolitan democracy in terms of political economy.
I found it interesting that countries in South America were exhibiting signs of neoliberal globalization. I am not sure what country I expected, but South America threw me for a loop.
What other countries do you think are showing signs of neoliberal globalization? Is this good or bad and Why?
Is it possible in today’s capitalistic society of complete self-determination to open up all borders but avoid this situation?
Is it possible in today’s capitalistic society of complete self-determination to open up all borders but avoid this situation?
This article discusses the Mercosur trade agreement in South America. In this article, Neoglobalization is questioned. It is close to cosmopolitan Democracy. One of the characteristics it contains is that every person in a group should have his or her own ability to achieve goals. Their own determination. However, if this is not the case with one or more members of the group, then it causes blocks in cooperation etc. The cosmopolitan democracy comes from many different networks that are connected and make up one nation-state. Now, it is the purpose of the Mercosur to make these different networks work together.
There are more details to the Mercosur tasks. It attempts to protect the political structure, production, exploitation of materials and the need for a democratic process. Most importantly, the union between the different networks must remain strong and their collaboration not weakened by lack of self-determination.
Neoliberal societies have been most prominent in South America. However, many of these have not faired well. The countries had very little freedom for their citizens and the difference in state of living and wealth between the rich and the poor generally worsened. I think that these types of regimes are not productive for our world. In this day and age every person should have the right to influence their own government and the laws that bind them.
----Dorothy Smith "Bunny"
Immediately I thought of music and movies having copy writes. I feel like the only reason copy writes exist because people wanted to find ways to make as much money off of the music or movies as possible. I agree with my classmates who felt that after a certain amount of time the copy write should be lifted. I feel that music and movies are something that should eventually belong to the public because the public is the people that are exploited in a sense to make the different music and movies popular. I feel that if a person wants to continue to make money from movies or music that they should have to continue to work in the craft. I feel that artist continually making money off of old projects just reinforces wealth inequality.
The opposition to the Neoliberalist view would say that capitalism typically helps developed countries more than countries that are not developed. Free trade globally could make things so that developed countries are not accountable for what they do overseas. Undeveloped countries would continue to be taken advantage of, as developed countries outsource. With the restrictions companies are not allowed to outsource all of their jobs for low wages in other countries. Instead companies have to build in their own countries and abide by the outsourcing restrictions. So basically free trade means more wealth, money and a better life for develop countries and the exact opposite for underdeveloped countries. This also would never give the undeveloped countries a chance to improve.
I like the idea of free trade but when you break down its effects, I don't think it is worth it.
On another note in class someone mentioned the thought of globalization leading to one mass culture. Any thoughts on that?
The Western world, particularly the United States, have held varying degrees of hegemony over the rest of the world for almost the entire modern era. This brings up two very important questions. The first is, is this good? The second concerns the future. What will come after this?
So the effects of Western hegemony, to be fair, I don’t think they are terribly different from what would happen under the hegemony of any other region. Other regions are exploited for the gain of the hegemon. Human rights and democracy often take a backseat to potential helpfulness to the hegemon when governments of the “third world” or “developing world” or whatever else the term might be at the time for the less powerful nations. Hegemony over the rest of the world is good if you are the one in power, and is considerably less awesome if you are not. Western domination has helped the West, but not necessarily the rest of the world, I think.
What’s next? This is a question that has been frequently posed over the course of the class, but without any specific answers brought forth in discussion. I tend to agree with Fareed Zakaria’s idea, which is that the “pie” will simply get bigger, and therefore, even though the West’s share of that pie will grow, so will everyone else’s, and the proportion will decrease. I think this leads to the possibility of a world system closest to one without hegemony since the 13th Century system. We would see a multi-polar world, where the United States would still likely have the most important voice, but would only have one voice of many. Regional powers would have much more influence on the system, as Brazil, South Africa, India, and similar nations rise to take their places on the world stage. All of this would still be relatively hegemony-like, but multi-polar, as opposed to previous uni or bi polar systems. What do you think this system will lead to?
The article covers this issue with the trade agreement in South America called Mercosur. The only issue that I see, with it is that it is hard to imagine that more than a handful of the countries involved would oppose the abstract principles of cosmopolitan democracy. These principles include the fact that all groups and associations are assumed to have a capacity for self determinati0on. Should one of the major players, not have this capacity, it would hold the union back significantly, and prevent cooperation and collaboration. The case of cosmopolitan democracy arises from multiple overlapping networks of power, which are confined to the nation-state. These networks are complex and delicate, and it is the job of the Mercosur union to attempt to unite these nations. The defense of self determination, the creation of a common structure of political action, and the preservation of the common good are all important priorities. Democratic autonomy, another important factor, would require the ability to balance these factors, and in a nation that falls short, it could jeopardize the ability of the mercosur. Principle of social justice also follows in the political and economic union. The production, distribution, and exploitation of materials must be conductive to the democratic process, and a common structure of political action available to all. People, must be able to be members of diverse communities and retain membership to these communities. This is what is most import ant about the global societal union, the ability to collaborate based upon complex as well as diverse backgrounds and create something new and innovative. I find this the most important part, as it is instrumental to the purpose of the union itself.
During class a few students voiced their opinions on the restrictions about the re-usage of work. We focused on the "copyright" and music. People commented that music should only be restricted for a certain amount of time. After the artist has died, whats the point of the restriction? That artist can't make any money off of it anymore. It may as well get used or sampled by someone else for their innovative idea.
I agree with these comments. I also have an understanding for why for people try to keep there work and the deceased work restricted. I think it is all about money, just like everything else. Of course as a person that has never a song, I would support that people should be able to use others peoples music. But I have a feeling that if people were trying to use my song I wouldn't want them to be able to. Sounds selfish but that's the way it is.
For now I have nothing anyone would want to use so I say the restrictions on music should be removed. Open new doors for other people and allow innovations. Support free culture. Or at least let me download music for free. That way I wouldn't have to steal it anymore.
I found it most interesting that globalization is beginning to achieve what was simply reality. As we discussed earlier in this course, the idea of a nation being based on a common language and eventually ideology did not come into play until a fair amount of time had passed. Patomaki and Teivainen assert in the article that globalization has collapsed distance and reorganized social spaces and practices, which has led to the creation of “states” that transcend geographical and political boundaries. This sounds to me like the world is resuming its original format, which I find intriguing.
I would have found it interesting if Patomaki and Teivainen would have elaborated more on the relationship between despotism in Latin America and capitalism. They explain that despotism in Latin American countries often came about as a result of a push for capitalism, but they do not explain other methods that could have been pursued. They assert that the Latin American governments ignored the demand from a majority of the citizens to regulate property rights because that would have theoretically hurt the general welfare. So instead of following what the people wanted, the governments decided that in order “to gain free market capitalism, the demands of those opposed, including the victims of recession, unemployment, and all types of physical and moral pains, must be ignored” (44). Do you think that this was the best course to follow? Should there not be a course in which the current welfare is not disregarded in favor of the future?
Neoliberalistic political economy has been tried in parts of the world, perhaps most notably in Latin America, with mixed results (leaning heavily towards failure). However, it is obvious that in the countries where neoliberalism was implemented, the societies were not free (e.g. Pinochet's Chile). One could also object that other nations did not have policies of neoliberalism, but is this necessary for a neoliberal political economy to work...? In many countries that have had neoliberal political economies, the economic gap between rich and poor has/had widened, which is contradictory to the theory's intent.
Here's an (semi-) unrelated question: what will the effects of globalization be on things like copyright law? Will copyright and patent law become (increasingly) internationalized/globalized?