Monday, December 16, 2013

Where Allende went Wrong

It is difficult to answer all questions regarding Allende's presidency--like how much the CIA actually influenced the coup, or whether the leftists were preparing to take up arms to defend their government.  What we do know is that there were many people both in and outside of Chile that wanted Allende overthrown.

Why was Allende--a man who had so much support from the workers--hated by many other groups?  Did he actually overstep the constitution as many of his opponents claim?  Why or why not?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Catching up on Chile

Post one question that you still have on Chile and the Cold War.  It can have anything to do with Videla, Ibanez, Alessandri, Frei, or Allende's presidencies, as well as anything about Chile's relationship with the US during the Cold War.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Allende Revisited

Now you are reading about Allende's election a second time through a new source.  I know we were not finished talking about Alessandri and we did not discuss Frei, but at least now through the reading you have a sense of the tension building in Chile between right and left throughout the Cold War period.

Allende received 36% of the vote in 1970, but in the election of 1964, he had earned 39% of the vote behind Frei's 56%.  Is it dangerous that even though Chile was truly not united that Allende and the Unidad Popular still pushed forward its socialist agenda?  Also, what is your take on the United States' relationship with Chile throughout the Cold War?  How invested was the US in Chile?  Why might this have caused Nixon and Kissenger to act in the way that they did?

Monday, December 9, 2013

US-Chile Relations in the 50s and 60s

Consider the US's role in Chile during Ibanez and Alessandri's presidencies.  How were both of these presidents arguably appeasing the US and other western powers?  Now consider why Chile was so important to the US by the time 1970 rolls around.  The US cannot afford to have another Cuba.  Are you starting to see why the US was enforcing containment-esque policies throughout Latin America?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Legacy of Anti-Communism in Chile

After reading about Videla's presidency, you now know that communism was not new to Chile in 1970.  Why did Videla purge Chilean communists in the late 1940s?  To what extent might the US have been involved in this action?  How do you know?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Oh, that fun thing called historiography -- part I

This post will be a two-parter.  Almost all historical events have different interpretations, but when it comes to a CIA-backed coup of an alleged communist president, historians are still trying to make sense of the events.

Your reading is one interpretation.  In class tomorrow, we will watch part of a documentary on Allende that provides another.

So for part I -- according to the Wall Street Journal article, why might the US have been justified in staging its coup?  What were elements of Allende's rule that may have been misunderstood by the public?

Does it matter that we take into consideration the source of this article (Wall Street Journal).  Why?

Why Allende was unique

Salvador Allende made his mark on Chilean history, even though he was the nation's president for a short three years.  Now that Pinochet's dictatorship is safely in the past, his supporters have revealed even more about his popularity and lasting legacy.

Even though Allende was a socialist and admired world leaders like Castro, Mao, and Ho Chi Minh, his rise to power was very different.  Allende's major accomplishment was that he was able to implement socialism through a democratic election, NOT a violent revolution.

Why then, if Allende achieved the presidency legitimately, did the US still want to overthrow him?  How might the US have felt about Allende compared to some of the previous Chilean presidents like Ibanez or Frei?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cold War Culture

There is so much I could center this blog post around, but let's just narrow it down to music.  A lot of what people heard on the popular radio was a representation of cultural sentiments, often antagonistic towards the Establishment.  There are links to three songs below--listen to all of them if you'd like, but I want you to look up the lyrics (or in the case of the third, consider the song and the performance) to at least one of them and consider why this song is so monumental toward the times.

We will try to talk music, film, sports, and as much culture as we can in class!


Sex pistols - "Anarchy in the UK" -

The Beatles - "Back in the USSR" -

Jimi Hendrix - "Star Spangled Banner" - Live at Woodstock 1969 -

Monday, November 11, 2013

End of the Cold War

In a more simplified examination of the Cold War's end, America is seen as the victor due to the disintegration of the USSR and the independence of the Eastern bloc countries.  Who were some other potential victors in the post Cold-War world?  What kinds of questions are left unanswered as to how the post Cold-War world will develop economically and militarily?

Friday, November 8, 2013

China's Path

While China may have initially shaped its communist policies more directly in tandem with the Soviet Union, its Cold War evolution deviated much more drastically from the USSR than most policy analysts at the time could recognize.  In your interpretation of the reading, what are some of the most prominent reasons for China developing its own identity apart from the Soviet Union?  Why does it take so long for Americans to recognize this difference?  Once we did recognize the changes, how did US opinions towards China shift?  How do you think this Cold War evolution has shaped the US relationship with China today?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cold War Tensions and the Congo

What happens in the Congo is another example of how Western powers may be more accepting of dictatorship than a communist government.  Why was the Lumumba leadership problematic in the Congo, especially in the eyes of the US?  Why do they agree to support an un-democratic government led by Mobutu, and how does this remind us of governments in certain parts of Latin America?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Does Detente Work?

Your reading outlines some of the practices of detente in the late 1960s through early 1980s.  Which of the talks or treaties (i.e. SALT, START -- note the typo on p. 483), seemed to successfully ease some of the tensions between the US and the USSR, and which did not? Even though detente is over by the early 1980s, did some of its accomplishments lead to lessening the sphere of influence of the USSR (consider Germany)?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hungarian Uprising--Why doesn't the US intervene?

When Hungarians make the effort in 1956 to establish a government free from the influences of the Warsaw Pact, they assumed they would have US support in the event of a revolution.  Instead, the Hungarians were easily crushed by the Warsaw Pact troops, and American aid never came.

What, then, can we derive the US position to be in terms of assisting other countries in their independence movements from the Soviet Union?  Why were they more willing to intervene in Vietnam than Hungary?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

To be non-aligned...

If a country can avoid becoming entangled in the affairs of the Cold War, and do so successfully, it can pay dividends for the sovereignty and nationalism of that country.  How does this pan out in Egypt during the Suez Crisis and the construction of the Aswan High Dam?  How is Nasser able to manipulate Cold War sentiments in this situation?  Finally, why might non-alignment work for some regions--i.e. North Africa--but fail for a country desiring neutrality like Hungary?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cold War Ambiguities

This reading does little to evaluate each individual presidents' policies during the Cold War, but rather evaluates the ways in which the United States changes due to its longstanding anti-communist rhetoric.  It is important to acknowledge that while the US continued its military expansions to respond to the threat of the Soviet Union, it never faced its enemy head on.  Meanwhile the United States entered into a period of economic prosperity that remained largely unchecked until the 1970s.

So what is our takeaway from how the Cold War affected the Americas?  How did it change the image of the United States for developing countries in particular?  Was the Cold War necessary for the United States to become the country it is today?

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Canal Debate

When Jimmy Carter entered the White House, he at first did not want to make the Panama Canal a major issue.  However, as he became more centered on the quest for human rights, he felt he needed to act.  Why did he make this crucial decision on the canal in 1977 and why was it so controversial?  What is the Republican (i.e. Reagan) response to it?  How did it fit into a Cold War framework?  Do you agree or disagree with Carter's decision?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Jimmy Carter's Quest Continues

While Jimmy Carter began speaking on the importance of human rights while he was president, his actions after his administration are also significant.  What does your reading reveal about how Carter continued to work towards human rights ambitions in the years after his presidency.  What were his most significant achievements?  Why, according to the authors, were his motives in this matter controversial?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Democracy and Covert Action -- Uniquely American?

Covert operations in foreign countries and spreading democracy seem to be paradoxical ideas--yet the reading shows us how common US covert operations were in democratic as well as authoritarian countries after World War II.  How can these two agendas exist simultaneously?  How might this help us better understand the American foreign policy initiatives in the post World War II years?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Evaluating the Alliance for Progress

After reading the actual proposal for the Alliance of Progress followed by an article weighing its pros and cons, how do we evaluate such a plan?  What were the goals of the Kennedy administration in Latin America, as stated in the Alliance proposal, as opposed to how external and historical sources have evaluated them?  How might the Alliance for Progress help us evaluate President Kennedy's foreign policy as a whole?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Why the shift?

Jimmy Carter grew up during WWII, and was directly influenced by Truman's containment policies.  Also, many members of his cabinet had also previous Cold War administrations.  Why did Carter engage in a shift in foreign policy towards human rights issues?  How might previous events such as Vietnam or interventions in Latin America have affected this choice?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Foreign Policy and Geographic Proximity

Johnson, Nixon, and Carter all had to deal with balancing foreign policy issues both close and very far from home.  In particular, Johnson and Nixon struggled with the conflict in Vietnam while attempting to apply containment and protect US economic interests in Latin America.  Although Vietnam was over by Carter's administration, he too had to deal with policies that concerned countries near and far.

Examine just one out of these three presidents.  What kind of balance do you see them achieving in terms of addressing foreign policy in areas much closer to the Soviet Union and places much closer to home?  Give examples. Why did you chose this president?

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Cuban Missile Crisis and Kennedy's Flexibility

After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, the United States faced its first real threat of imminent nuclear war with the Soviet Union.  Besides Castro's communist revolution, why was Cuba such a target for American hostility?  How does Kennedy correct his previous failures in dealing with Cuba by resolving the missile crisis?  Why did the United States continue to avoid contact with Cuba after the crisis was over?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pre-writing activity

Look on the portal in preparation for Friday's writing assignment:

1. “The outcome of the Vietnam War was determined not on the battlefield, but on the television screen.” To what extent is this statement true?


2. Why had President Nixon ended American involvement in the Vietnam War by 1973?

Address them both briefly. What pieces of evidence would be worthwhile to consider when addressing these questions.  Finally, how might the evidence surrounding the My Lai massacre serve to answer both questions?

Monday, October 7, 2013

The end of the war?

From an American perspective, the Vietnam war ended in 1973 with the Paris Peace accords.  Once American soldiers returned home, the vehement opposition to war could end, and the United States could shift their focus to domestic policies.

What do you make of Nixon's "peace with honor" speech?  How was it received by those outside of the United States?  Ultimately, what was the purpose of this 10 year conflict...indeed, America's longest war?

Friday, October 4, 2013

The most crucial stage of war

As we discussed in class on Thursday, the Vietnam war can be divided into three stages -- 1) US involvement in Indochina (without US troops actively fighting); 2) Escalation; and 3) Vietnamization.  The majority of your readings over the weekend take place during the Escalation period.

What were some of the goals set forth in the escalation plans?  What knowledge do you think was driving the military actions?  How would you evaluate them (feel free to use the last document if you need help with your criticism)?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why were we in Vietnam?

"Our objective is the independence of South Vietnam and its freedom from attack.  We want nothing for ourselves--only that the people of South Vietnam be allowed to guide their own country in its own way." -- Lyndon Johnson, April 7, 1965

This is LBJ's justification to the American public regarding the US escalation in Vietnam.  How do you assess this statement?  What are some of the objectives that you see behind the Vietnam conflict that Johnson did not mention here?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Changing View of Vietnam

Oh, how quickly our friends and enemies change!  During World War II, the United States actually supplied Ho Chi Minh's guerrilla forces with weapons to fight against the Japanese.  Not long after the war's end, the Viet Minh were considered a threat--influenced by the Soviet Union and China, and evidence that no country was safe to the threat of communism.

How do we account for this change in view towards Vietnam?  Do we sympathize with Eisenhower's articulation of the domino theory?  Or are we shocked that we are straying so far away from the Atlantic Charter?

Friday, September 27, 2013

What is Eisenhower Trying to Say?

Eisenhower's farewell address comes across as a cautionary tale to his successor about the proliferation of nuclear weapons that took place under his leadership.  He clearly admits that the United States has entered a new era--that the buildup of such weaponry during peacetime has been unprecedented.

Is Eisenhower defacing his decisions or justifying them?  What seems to be the point of his warning of the potential dangers of the 'military industrial complex?'

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Pros and Cons of Eisenhower's New Look

Eisenhower and Dulles did not want to turn dramatically away from Truman's anti-communist stance, but they did want to change the direction of foreign policy to make it less expensive.  What, according to Dulles, were ways in which massive retaliation could reduce American military spending?  Why do you think the Soviets were reluctant to accept Eisenhower's plan for "Open Skies" after Stalin's death?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How new was the new look?

The election of Eisenhower in 1952 was a seeming transition in many ways.  The Republican party took control after a 40 year period of a Democratic administration.  The Korean War finally ended after a two year stalemate.  The country certainly saw Eisenhower's administration as an opportunity to shift foreign policy in a new direction.

So what was "new" about the new look?  Geographic focus?  Military strategy?  Focus on just one element that you feel to be new when compared to Truman, and consider whether or not the Cold War dramatically shifted in focus.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Korean Reunification

Despite some of the drastic differences between North and South Korea, the goal of reunification looms large over both halves of the peninsula.  We are already well aware of the political, economic, and cultural nature of these differences, and how a 60 year period of isolation has solidified them.  What, according to the reading, are some of the different possibilities for reunification?  Which ones seems more plausible?  What are some of the items at stake?

It may help to think of other instances of reunification from history--consider Germany, and even the North and South United States to help you grasp the concept.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Reasons behind American involvement in Korea

In the readings over the weekend, we read about differing positions as to whether involvement in Korea would thwart a potential third World War, or whether Korea's fall to communism would have minimal effects, so long as Japan, Taiwan, and the Phillipines remained under the United States' sphere of influence.  What is your position on this issue?  Do you think, now that you know how Korea ended, that the US and the UN made the right move by intervening in the Korean conflict?  Does Truman's reference to past events (large empires intervening in more vulnerable countries) carry weight in the answer to this question?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Korea: The Changing Views of War and the American Presidency

NSC-68 was outlined in your optional reading, but not in the excerpt from the IB text, so Secretary Acheson's defense may have been the first you have heard about it.

In short NSC-68 was a paper written by the UN Security Council that placed the policy of containment at the forefront of foreign policy.  It stated that it was the responsibility of the government to not only 'contain' communism where it lay, but also it should take measures to thwart the potential for Soviet influence on other countries.  NSC-68 justified US intervention in Korea and further solidified the US and the USSR as enemies.

The era after WWII redefined the notion of war and broadened the scope of executive power.  How do you view Truman as not only the spokesperson against communism but also as the conductor--the person who actually commands ideology into action.  How is this a change from earlier presidents?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Korea: The First Test of the Containment Policy

Remember that Paper 3 topic that probably few (if any) of you chose?

  • Assess the policies of President Truman, containment, and its implications for the United States.
This question was difficult because we understood what containment was, but how do you really describe it without coherent examples, or an actual case where the US took definitive action in order to 'contain' communism.

How does the Korean War actually show the containment policy in action?  Were there any limits to the ways in which the United States and United Nations would implement containment into military strategy?

Friday, September 13, 2013

"You're next!" The "Us vs. Them" Mentality of Cold War Culture

You need to watch the ending in case you missed it:

The surprise twist ending: Nancy has survived the pod invasion, but Matthew did not.  The bloodcurling zombie scream he emits is his way of alerting other duplicates to a human presence.

So how does all of this relate to the Cold War?  Consider the ways in which Truman's Policy of Containment, as well as the McCarthy Era attempted to identify an "other" as the enemy.  Relate your understanding of the film to the historical context.  In what ways do you see the American government identifying and rejecting an "other" in their policies?  What was the threat posed to American society after the war?  Do we still see such fears and threats posed to our society today?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Is culture influencing the government or is the government influencing culture?

Our reading on theater suggests that the entertainment industry had a certain amount of independence from politics.  That is, they could subtly insert a message into their writing to critique or satirize the Cold War or Communism.  However, this is not permanent, as we see playwright like Arthur Miller face HUAC's interrogations.

But also, the government seems to be catching on to the large sphere of influence that entertainment (especially film and television) can have over American thought.  How does the government start to adapt media-like policies to send its own messages across?  Why, then, does the government focus so strongly on education?  Does the government see it as having a similar influence to entertainment?  How so?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Role of American Theater

Towards the end of the reading, on p. 222, the author calls playwrights 'brave and united' in their stand against the McCarthy hysteria.  Indeed, some playwrights themselves faced HUAC investigations and potential blacklisting for the content of their writing...even if it was a satire or critical commentary of the general era of suspicion.

Do you still see art as 'ahead of the curve' when it comes to critical social commentary?  Can you think of things like books, TV shows, and films taking a bolder step towards criticizing the government before other organizations can?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Identifying 'Anti-American' Activities

Realize that while the United States may not have been the definitive 'victor' after World War II, they still emerged as one of the most powerful countries in the world, with a broad spectrum of influence.  The United States saw it as imperative for other countries to rebuild their post-war economies and political structures as democratic and capitalistic in nature, because it affirmed the idea that the American way of life was supreme.

To have a 'kink' in the system (i.e. communist sympathizers) defied the very nature of what made America 'successful' after the war.  Countries like China and Korea demonstrated the threat of communism abroad.  Politicians seized the opportunity to criticize communism in other countries as well as at home as a threat to American ideals.

Why do you think the McCarthy wave caught on so quickly?  Why were initial 'anti-American' investigations targeted towards the Hollywood industry, and then progressed into the government and army?  Why was there so little resistance until the army-McCarthy hearings?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Containment: a good idea in theory?

When Truman first articulated the policy of containment, it was relatively popular, especially among American civilians.  But we know based on the reading that it was extremely difficult to execute, and ultimately backfired in many cases.  Why do you think Congress and the American public were willing to support an idea that we know in hindsight to be a failure?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Why Yalta Matters

Your readings consider a series of opinions over whether the Yalta agreements were effective in ending the wars against Germany and Japan.  They also addressed provisions for postwar Europe, which arguably was the most controversial takeaway of the conference.

I don't expect you to be Yalta experts....yet.  But I do want to you to comment on your understanding of Yalta based on the reading.  What were some of the goals of the parties involved.  Why did they receive criticism as well as praise (and why does perspective matter here)?  Finally....what is your take on Yalta?  Was it successful, and if not, what alternative do you suggest?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Who won World War II?

If we are going by the 'middle school' definition, it's pretty easy to say that this is the explanation of the war's end:

But, after the reading, what is the more complex answer to this question?  Do you believe the US emerged as the clear winner?  Explain.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Why did Mao write this piece?  What do you think his motive was?  Choose one quote that helped you make your decision.

Consider that this was written after the Korean War, when China had proven its ability to defend itself militarily against the West.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mao and Stalin

What is your understanding of Mao's collectivization plan.  How does it compare to Stalin's plan in Russia?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Ask your own question based on the reading.  It could be plot/sequence clarification, quote interpretation, 'bigger picture' question, etc.  Ideally it is a question for which you do not know the answer.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Sometimes we can derive quite a bit of significance from a little tiny part of the reading.  Choose one small quote -- 3 sentences at most -- reproduce it below, and then comment briefly on how it connects to the overall significance of the long march.


"Valar Morghulis."

Valar morgulis -- translated from old Valyrian as "all men must die" -- is one of the most poignant quotes from Game of Thrones.  The literal meaning is obvious, but given how ubiquitous death is in Season 3 so far, we clearly see that there is a more pressing connection to the season's content at large. etc.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The march within the march

I mentioned today that the Long March was a journey not only for the Communist Party but also for Mao himself.  What does the chapter reveal about the lengths which with both go to in order to reach Hunan Province?  How does this further contribute to the creation of Mao's cult of personality?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The conditions of the Long March

This was a short reading--partly due to the fact that we discussed Boston on Friday, so we have not yet gotten into the whole concept of a 'party mandate' for Mao.  This reading--albeit short--mentions many factors that contribute to the status of the communist party by the time of the 'Long March' in the mid 1930s (I will go over the historical context of the March in class).  Comment on some of these conditions below--whether it is the Status between China and Japan, the continued quest for a Communist leader, Chiang Kai-Shek's son, or any other issue that comes to mind...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mao's Party Mandate

We talked a little in class about how Mao, although not the perfect candidate, was emerging as the likely leader of the Communist Revolution by the late 1920s.  Pay class attention to the middle of the reading (c. pp. 246-247) and comment on how it reveals more information about Mao--how is he the key personality to lead the Communists/what has he done to achieve this status?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Critical Period

This article is interesting to me because it shows the difficulties the Communist party faced in the late 1920s, and begins to hint at why Mao was emerging as a potential figurehead for the party.  What strikes you about the rational behind the Soviet's thinking?

Also, be sure to watch the video about how to annotate a PDF--I will upload it shortly after practice this evening.

Monday, April 15, 2013

"Vice Guide" reflections and "The Peasant Question"

First, briefly comment on your reactions to "The Vice Guide to North Korea."  Pick a scene that you found compelling and explain how it connects to other themes of single party states that we have been discussing in class.

How do you see Mao's saying, "the only way to seize power is through a barrel of a gun" manifest itself in his treatment of the peasant population?  How is this similar or different from the experience in Soviet Russia?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why Mao didn't reinvent the wheel

This blog is not a diatribe about how 'uncreative' Mao was.  After all, he temporarily dabbled in the Hunanese independence movement, until many of his followers either latched onto the movement for selfish gain or eventually lost interest.  When Mao became more interest in the Communist party, it is at first because of his love for anarchism in general, but eventually he turns specifically to the Bolshevik model.  Why didn't Mao create a unique brand of communism for China?  Why did he do what the Russians had already done?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Education and Militancy

Li Dazhou claimed that one of the failures of capitalism is the lack of education among the working class. And as the old adage goes, "Ignorance is bliss."  Consider other circumstances in which withholding information from a group of people is a way to control them--like how Frederick Douglass became much more aware of his oppression after learning how to read.

Is there any connection between education and militancy?  Why is it that so many protests in history have been instigated by students?  What is it about this demographic that makes them prone towards fighting oppression?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Formula for a Dictator

I experienced pangs of deja-vu while reading about the May 4th revolutions, which is not surprising as there appears to be a clear formula emerging about the proper circumstances that allow a dictator to arise.

What did you notice about the May 4th movement that provided an opportunity for Mao?  What is he doing in 1919?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Art as individualistic or 'what sells'

I have another paradox to throw at you--after reading this article, on the one hand I thought that censored or propogandized art is not art at all.  Art, after all, is meant to be an individualized form of self-expression--even if a class full of students is meant to draw from the same model, they will likely all render a different end result.

But, at the same time, art--whether it is visual, musical, or otherwise, is ultimately meant to please a mass audience, or else, the artist will fail to make a profit, so there must be a certain degree of conformity in the production process.  As I was saying in class today, "50 million Nickelback fans can't be wrong."

So what are your thoughts?  To what extent is art already censored to a certain degree, thus making the propoganda process unnecessary?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Miracle healings, state of hypnosis, etc

At one point, the reading mentions the possibility that the people of the Third Reich and Stalinist Russia   are under a state of hypnosis.  The author seems critical of this notion, and remains steadfast that the people willingly believe in the cult of personality of their leader, even if deep down, they are rational enough to doubt this kind of perfection.

What do you believe?  Is it possible that the cult of personality can 'hypnotize' the masses into a state of total submission?  Or do the people willingly do this to themselves?  What about the reading convinces you to reach your conclusion?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Cult of personality (kinda/sorta) and does this guy have any heart at all?

First, I am curious about what you all got out of the notion of the 'cult of personality' as mentioned regarding Stalin in the first article by Avdienko and the second article by Yevtuschenko.  The first article is by one who is brainwashed, and the second by one who criticizes the notion of a cult of personality--arguing that there were many opponents of Stalin that existed during his lifetime, but remained silent until after his death when it was safe.  What camp do you fall under--was the obedience to Stalin that of blind devotion or of smart subservience?

Lastly--what do you make of the man commissioned to shoot innocent Russians in the gulags?  How do we account for his utterly disassociated personality in a job that he calls, "easy work, like like felling timber"?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Thoughts on the surreal

One of the things that stood out to me most about the reading was how desensitized certain individuals became to the atrocities around them during times of totalitarian rule.  Like Ukrainians who were surrounded by so much death that the only way to process it was to disassociate from it.  Surely, this happens all the time--it was just as common during the Holocaust or any example To me, it begs the question, when does surrealistic kick in during times of political extremism?  Surely, the first time one sees a body in the street, they would feel inclined to react, so there must be a moment where this disassociation begins....


Thursday, March 28, 2013

I want this reading to make you mad

I want to hear your honest reactions to the reading about racial 'science' and book burning.  Does it make you angry, sad, do you laugh?  Do you just shrug?  And more importantly....WHY?

What is it about these readings (cite one specific area) that makes you react the way that you do, and what does it potentially say about your own life (possibility for continuity...)?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Plan...

Something we discussed ideologically in class the other day is how dictators rise to power when they have a plan--some sort of way to fix the economic or political quandary that a country is in.  Does Hitler have a plan, in your understanding of Mein Kampf?  How did he appeal to his followers like Kurt Ludecke and to what extent were Thomas Mann's warnings realized in Hitler's ascent to power?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Stalin: Finishing what Lenin Started?

Since Lenin died unexpectedly, we cannot say with absolute certainty what he would have wanted for Russia, and whether Stalin accomplished it.  However, there are some commonalities between Stalin and Lenin's policies that are hard to shake--

What are some of the similarities that you notice between Lenin and Stalin's policies?  What do you make of some of his gradualist programs (so as to appease the proletariat, peasants, etc.), versus some of their more extreme measures (i.e. purges, elimination of the opposition, etc.).

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Only the dictator is allowed to be right

As dictators work to legitimize their power, they must first ensure that any or all ideologies, political systems, or people that oppose them are delegitimized--whether they are silenced, disenfranchised, or even killed.  What were ways that Stalin did this in his early years? Why was it necessary to have Trotsky exiled?  What were some of the liberal reforms established under the provisional government (before Lenin) or during Lenin's leadership that Stalin eliminated?  Why do you think he did this?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The time is nigh...

Lenin said twice in his speech that to not act immediately against the provisionary Kerensky government would be "fatal."

Do the happenings on the front at war and at home (give some examples) convince us that this is true?  What do you believe would have happened to Russia if the Bolsheviks did not act when they did?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Crisis States

The following are examples of 'Crisis States,' which are all reasons why single-party and authoritarian governments arise.  Which, in your opinion, speak most to Bolshevik Russia, and why?

·         War, and the aftermath of war
·         Economic crisis
·         Political instability
·         Lack of leadership
·         Unpopular or tyrannical governments
·         Fear of revolution
·         New ideas introduced in politics
·         Nationalism, independence movements

Monday, March 18, 2013

Key elements to a dictatorship

As you are reading, consider the following elements that embody most dictatorships, and comment on one that stands out to you the most based on the reading.

·         Ideology
·         Single-party
·         System of Terror
·         Monopoly of the Media – the press, radio, movies, etc.
·         Monopoly of all weapons
·         Central control and direction of entire economy

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Last blog before break....

Let's make this one a free-for-all.  Write about anything we have discussed over the past week--Nazification, the movie, Hitler's rise, anything.  Give me a paragraph.  :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

OK, we have a dictatorship, now what?

After the Enabling Act, after the Night of the Long Knives, when Hitler moves from Chancellor to Fuhrer, how does his vision for a greater Germany manifest itself?  Consider his economic and foreign policies as well as his controversial Nurenburg laws?  Which policies seemed plausible?  How are other countries regarding Germany at this point?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What is legal?

I know that the readings over the past few days have more or less been different accounts of the same events.  By now, you should realize that a number of events/attitudes are responsible for Hitler and the Nazi party's rise--both tangible events and more abstract strategies.

To you, what was the "game changer"--either the specific event or the general strategy/tactic that solidified the Nazification of Germany?  More importantly...was it legal?  What constitutes what is legal when the Weimar Republic declines and the Third Reich grows?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hitler's Rise

In in a paragraph, discuss how your section of the reading relates to these themes (your reading may not touch on all of them):

Be prepared to discuss the following themes in class on Monday – underline, make marginal notes as you go—the blog will be related to this material
  • Individual characteristics about Hitler – what about the man appealed to Germany
    • o Pay particular attention to his public personality, personal experiences (Mein Kamf), the idea of masculinity, etc.
  • The historical happenings in Germany that allowed for the Rise of Hitler and the Third Reich (pay particular attention to the reaction against the Treaty of Versailles)
  • What strategies Hitler and the Third Reich used to eliminate the opposition
Notes on these ideas will also be helpful to you so that you can expand your discussion in class tomorrow.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The conditions for a dictator

Hi everyone, As you are reading, please consider and comment on at least THREE (3) of the following ideas as they relate to the reading, or your own background knowledge:

  • What makes authoritarian and single party states unique to the 20th century (what sets it apart from previous dictatorships – i.e. Napoleon, Louis XVI, and other earlier forms of absolute power
  • How dictatorships are mentioned in literature, film, and other forms of cultural media (i.e. George Orwell’s 1984)
  • How conflict, chaos, and other forms of contribution lend themselves to authoritarian rule
  • Why certain countries turn to dictatorships and others do not (i.e. the US resists)
  • The idea that all dictatorships are alike – whether communist, fascist, etc.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Laughing our way through dark times

I am glad that you are enjoying Way out West so far. Now that you have seen most of the film, and read about other films of the period, consider what the purpose of the film was. In addition to seeing the film as escapist through its slapstick comedy routine, why is the film's context important? What do you think the West was supposed to symbolize? What do you make of the characters Stan and Ollie--especially the notion that two men who are different, not only physically, but psycholically, but still such close friends? While you may never never heard of Laurel and Hardy before today, their films are classic and timeless. It is not a coincidence that I watched them throughout my childhood, and they are just as enjoyable to us now as they were when they were initially released. Why might it be that these films enjoy a lasting legacy, while others that were mentioned in the reading, resonated more simply with the time that they were created?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Harmless escape and Dose of Reality

The art produced during the Great Depression comprised a variety of forms (photography, film, theater, music, etc.) and served a dual purpose. Some forms were meant to expose the grim realities of the Depression, while others offered forms of escape for those who suffered. Comment on one of each of these forms--one that helped distract the public from the grim realities of the everyday, as well as one that displayed them. To what extent do we rely on art for these purposes today?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Langston Hughes said it best...

"The free? Who said the free? Not me? Surely not me? The millions on relief today? The millions shot down when we strike? The millions who have nothing for our pay?" We began the school year discussion notions of freedom, and many of us were critical of the notion--I still think of Mikey's "mountain man" comment as particularly poignant here. So how do we define freedom after doing this reading? What is freedom for African Americans, Native Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, and other minorities? Consider 2-3 examples from the reading to add substance to your point.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Depression and Gender

On the one hand, the Depression could have empowering effects on women, such as how they could take on more leadership roles in the family and new careers. But, this sense of empowerment was also deemed as a major threat to those who were bearing the brunt of the depression. So, what, in your mind, made women stand out in this time? Note a handful of the documents from the reading to highlight your discussion.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Your Life and the Union

When I opened up this collection of documents just now to prepare the blog, at first I was kicking myself, thinking, "Unions?! This won't inform my class about society!" My instant instinct was to dismiss unions as mainly economic and political, but after thinking more carefully, it is difficult NOT to see how unions were integral to the social development of the Americas during the Depression. So, in your thoughts--what is the connection, if any, between labor unions and social status?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Argentina and the US

The relationship between Argentina and the US seems to become increasingly precarious throughout the Depression, particularly leading into World War II. Consider some of the events discussed throughout the article that shaped the American perception of Argentina in particular. Do they make sense to you? Why or why not?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

All we are give fascism a chance?

So, I won't lie. I always struggled with historical and modern imaginings of fascism. If we go by this definition, honestly, what do we NOT consider to be at least slightly fascist, especially when a country is experiencing an economic-related crisis? Why, when the author of "Depression and Recovery in Argentina" seems to be touting slow but steady recovery, is there still a move to introduce fascist policies to the state? Is there another moment in history (it doesn't matter when or where), that you can recall something along these lines happening? Please, share your examples.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

What kind of autocrat are you?

While Peron was not as extreme of an autocrat as Hitler or Mussolini, the shift of Peronism in Argentina's political history still marks a curious transfer of power that is worth examining closely. Indeed, some historians argue that Peron had fascist tendencies, and that Argentina's military was sympathetic towards Nazi Germany. So...what do you think--would it be wrong to call Peron a fascist?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rallying the Middle Sector

Tonight's reading focus's on the Argentine "middle sector" -- its rise to political prominence by Yrigoyen's (or Irigoyen) election in 1916, and their subsequent removal from power by 1930. Why, if the radicals were so popular in the post WWI era, could they not sustain control during the great depression? Why is Yrigoyen's ousting virtually unopposed by the masses?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The rise and fall(?) of economic nationalism?

Share your thoughts (with some textual substance please....ahem....) about the sources of economic nationalism in Argentina. What global factors influence Argentina to become more nationalistic in its economic policies. To what extent were these policies sustainable once the Depression struck the global market? Finally, why did Argentina turn to a military dictatorship when the US and Canada didn't?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Rallying the Masses, and the tumble thereafter

The Radical party attracted a number of newcomers by Yrigoyen's election in 1916. How had Argentina's politics changed in the previous years to account for this shift? What important industries were developing in Argentina that were still connected to foreign markets, and how did this contribute to economic nationalism? Finally, why was President Yrigoyen ousted by a military coup?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Once again on the brink of war

In 1938 and 1939, the Americas watched horrified as the crises in Europe mounted and war seemed more of an inevitability than possibility. Yet, Canada and the US at first seem to have disparate reactions to this crisis. Based on the reading, what is King's perception of the events in Europe? What are some of the key issues he considers as he attempts to map out Canada's involvement/lack thereof in the war? What is the point of FDR's fireside chat 16? What is he trying to accomplish? How to we connect it to the attitudes in Canada?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How important is attitude?

It is arguable that more has been written about FDR's personality than his actual policies. Also, his life experiences overcoming adversity in many ways made him an ideal leader (even if many of his constituents did not know he could not walk!). What are some key examples of FDR's optimism that stood out to you in the reading, and why? Is optimism FDR's greatest policy?

Monday, January 14, 2013

In a crisis, do we just need a superman?

Reflect after reading about the experiences of the US and Canada and consider if King's second term was any different. Is it the policy or the person that really matters?

Friday, January 11, 2013

FDR, Bennett, and Obama -- Cut from the Same Cloth?

After watching the clips, I am wondering, is the old adage "the more things change, the more they stay the same" relevant here?

I couldn't find a Bennett campaign ad (blame Canada!), but I am curious about what he might have emphasized when he rain in 1935 after drafting his New Deal legislation--what do you think he might have said?  Why?

(Yes, I know we read about FDR, but I am really trying to stress continuity and relevance).

Monday, January 7, 2013

Cause or Symptom?

Post your responses here!  Be sure to indicate which article you read!