Karl Marx and Communism

October 16th, 2014 | by msanchez17

“The history of all previously existing societies is the history of class struggles.” Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels collaborated to create what is now known as the socialist bible, The Communist Manifesto. Socialism was created in 1815, during the Enlightenment movement in Europe. It is a philosophy that explains how economic planning, greater economic equality, and state regulation of property are key factors for a successful society. Socialism was acutely aware of the French Nationalism and Liberalism movements, and did not agree with these principles. Socialists believed that these movements were a way of fomenting individualism and division of societies.

The middle class and the poor were a great appeal to early French socialists. “Marx ridiculed such appeals as naive.” In Marx’s views, the middle class – the bourgeoisie – and the poor – the proletariat – was more split than ever in socialist views. “For Marx, class identity triumphed national identity.” As a result of his ideas, the proletariat grew in size and the bourgeois owned the small means of production available. Later on, Marx predicted that the proletariat would revolutionize against the bourgeois. Karl Marx was mainly influenced by English classical economists, that believed in the value of labor.

Nowadays, communism is not as popular worldwide as capitalism is, but it is still part of societies around the world. China is one of the largest countries with communist views. Ever since 1949, China has been ruled by the Communist Party, and it still remains as the dominating power. This is evidence of Marx’s influences and importance in the Enlightenment and in modern society.

 

Charles Darwin

October 16th, 2014 | by imagbie17

     The great Philosopher Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.  Darwin was born into a very wealthy and highly educated family.   His father was practicing medicine so Charles and his brothers had to take care of things around the house.  He became very interested in science; therefore, him and his brothers made a chemistry lab outside in their tool shed.  He started learning science at an early age and ended up going to the University of Edinburgh for medicine.  He didn’t last long there, his ideas changed and he then decided to study theology.  He studied theology at Christ’s College in Cambridge Massachusetts.  While he was there, Darwin became close friends with a man who was majoring in science.  Their relationship made Darwin realize he was still very interested into the field of science.

     On October 2nd, 1836, twenty two year old Charles went on a science expedition on a survey ship names the HMS Beagle.  On the expedition he traveled to Galapagos, an island off of South America.  As he looked at the islands he saw that they were all similar in the formation, yet they had different.  On that expedition, he created some of his first theories which later turned into his philosophy.

     Darwin had ideas which were completely against the Christian religion.  In the Christian religion, their creationism story is that God created all of life, the plants and animals, including humans.  The Christians believe that the world was created in seven days.  Darwin believed the complete opposite from God’s creation of the world.  His major ideas on evolution and humanity were used in the Social Darwinism philosophy.  He believed that humans evolved from apes and in fact homo sapiens were just another type of animal.  However, the apes didn’t just transform into homo sapiens.  The apes slowly yet steadily changed over time, gradually inheriting physical traits that humans have today.  Eventually the apes turned into who humans are today.  Eventually the apes turned into who humans are today.  This inversion was called natural selection.  Natural selection was when the animals or plants best suited for their environment successfully survived and reproduced.  This passed on their survival characteristics to their offspring.

     Charles Darwin had many intriguing ideas which caused him to gain many followers along with being criticized by many as well.  People who believed in the more logical aspect of creationism followed Darwin and believed in his philosophy.  Most Christians disagreed with his ideas because it was the total opposite from what they believed. All in all, his ideas made a more realistic view on the creation of the world and his ideas are used by many people today.

 

 

 

British Uses of Social Darwinism

October 16th, 2014 | by mbishop17

Can Darwin’s theory of evolution be used to show the evolution of the status of citizens? The Theory of Evolution is survival of the fittest through natural selection. Individuals within a species can have different characteristics; however, once a group of individuals a genetically different from the rest of their species, a new species is formed. This idea of evolution of species was taken by Herbert Spencer and adjusted to human economic evolution, naming it Social Darwinism.

The lifetime of Herbert Spencer was full of revolutions within England, and was during the height of British Imperialism. The effects of his idea of Social Darwinism can be drastically seem with the British treatment of the subjects of their empire. The British would view themselves as the powerful and their subjects were the weak. The Industrial Revolution also highlighted these effects as the life of the rich and poor within England was also on a large scale.

Spencer took the Theory of Evolution and related it to politics and economics. He theorized that an upcoming economic disaster would crush the population economically, causing the richer to remain powerful and the poorer to become submissive due to the lack of material wealth they had. His ideas were used as ‘scientific reason’ for nationalism and imperialism. Colonizers would use Social Darwinism as a way of keeping the citizens of their colonies under control. The invading nation would be able to make money off the natural resources within a colonized country. This would make the invaders powerful as they have the wealth and the indigenous people weaker as their wealth was. This way of life could be seen during the British colonization of India. Life and wealth of the British rose; the life of Indians, however, become the opposite. The idea of Social Darwinism had come around during the middle of the British rule in India.

Social Darwinism is an offspring of Darwinism, and is thus a direct influence in how Social Darwinism was shaped. It has influenced how citizens interact with each other. Upper-class citizens were attracted to the idea of Social Darwinism, as they would have been the powerful citizens. The gap in wealth between the poor and rich civilians in England was dramatic. The poor were subjected to harsh conditions, such as the conditions within the mines, whereas the rich had the lifestyle, often portrayed in cinematography, e.g. Downton Abbey.

Social Darwinism and its Survival

October 15th, 2014 | by aportnoy17

Charles Darwin was a British naturalist who lived during the nineteenth century. He is credited with discovering Darwinism: a set of beliefs centered on the idea that all life is descended from one central source. There is no clear definition for Darwinism, but post-Darwin scholars have identified five points that most clearly define the movement’s ideas: evolution, common descent, multiplication of species, gradualism, and natural selection. Evolution is the theory that the earth and life are continually changing; gradualism is closely aligned with evolution, as being the theory that change in populations is gradual, not immediate. Common descent illustrates the idea that organisms and microorganisms all descended from a common ancestor, which, according the multiplication of species theory “budded” off, into new species. Perhaps the most relevant today is the theory of natural selection presenting the idea that evolutionary change comes through genetic variation. The term for the modern movement, “Social Darwinism,” is more readily defined as the strong become powerful and the weak fall in “survival of the fittest.”

Charles Darwin did not form and spread his ideas solely on his own. John Chapman was a medical doctor in Charles Darwin’s time. In 1851, Chapman bought the “Westminster Review” publication with plans to revitalize it with the views of freethinkers. As Darwin saw other doctors and scientists publish their ideas on evolution, he was able to safely share his ideas without fear of interference. Years before, Darwin met two young men named Carlile and Richard who publicly spoke about free-thinking topics while attending Cambridge University. They were forced to leave on counts of blasphemy; Darwin refrained from publicizing his ideas in order to avoid this fate. Edward Forbes indirectly gave Charles Darwin the idea of natural selection through his studies on how sunken land bridges proved how plants and animals were found in different places. Disagreeing with him, Darwin conducted his own study and discovered that some species evolved to have the ability to spread themselves elsewhere on water rafts when they felt threatened. With this theory, Darwin began to build his legacy.

         All did not accept Darwinism. In fact, many people today disregard the movement. Charles Darwin lived in a time where religion still dominated secular institutions. As he experienced at Cambridge University, the Christian faith is opposed to the idea of evolution. Conservative followers of the Abrahamic religions have expressed their disbelief due to Creationism stories and the like. The story of Creationism tells that everything was created and has remained the same through the 6000 years of the world’s existence. This divide has shrunk the pool of Darwinist followers into primarily scholars. With scholarly adherents, the Social Darwinist movement has been able to steadily grow over a century after Charles Darwin’s death and keep the movement from dying out.

 

Karl Marx

October 15th, 2014 | by gracedublin
         Karl Marx influenced the world in many aspects during the Enlightenment period including developing a new system of thinking; he originally entitled it Marxism but it was later known to people as  modern “scientific” version of socialism. Marx’s work was not publicized to the  English people until after his death in 1883. In the 1880′s his reputation sky rocketed as a progressive thinker with the start of the Socialist party. Marx’s ideas and works are constantly a  controversial topic discussed by many.

Marx was born into a long line of rabbis, but his father slowly converted to Lutheranism and even had Karl baptized at the age of 6. Even though he grew up in an upperclass religious lifestyle he then turned to atheism during the Communist era. He quoted,” religion is the opium of the people”, which is commonly interpreted as Marx saying that religion is false and unrealistic and shouldn’t be practiced anymore. Later in his lifetime he told his followers that they should think of Marxism, his new theory, as a religion and Karl Marx as its prophet.

Marx described his thoughts best in writing with the help of Fredrick Engels. Together the two wrote The Holy Family( a controversial piece of writing written about his former teacher Bruno Bauer.) The next book Marx wrote on his own, it was called poverty of philosophy it was written to hint subtly that this polemical work was an to M. Provahun’s book.  His famous works however are the Communist Manifesto , Das Kapital and Critique of Political Economy.

Marx thought very differently than many philosophers of his time. He believed that Humans should be characterized as a “process of development inherent in their social existence. “He preached that  Humans created themselves and their world so they should be free to use it to their fullest potential. He also believed that institutions shape ideas and that eventually history is going to end.  He describes History in terms of a paper: thesis, antithesis, and Synthesis. The thesis would be the response to the pre capitalist period. The antithesis would be the capitalism and labor period and the Synthesis would be the final product which would be communism under which people can own capital  and their are no exploitations. Marx also had a utopian idea of the world thinking that we could live in a perfect world. Contrary to this he also believed that we lived in an apocalyptic society meaning that everything would come crashing to end sooner rather than later.

Although Some see Marxism as a new way of life others see it differently. Some say that it is inaccurate, untenable and logically absurd. They think that it is impossible to live in a utopian society with an apocalyptic vision of society. Today  Marxism is very controversial and a topic many see in different aspects.

Out with the old in with the new

October 6th, 2014 | by gracedublin

Political legitimacy is the concept of having the governed people behind their ruler and their beliefs. If the people  don’t like the way the ruler is governing them, they will not have respect for them and will not be empowered to listen to them. During the Zhou dynasty the kings had a close relationship with heaven. The people and rulers during this time period believed in following the mandate of heaven.Mandate of HeavenThe basic idea of the mandate of heaven was searching for harmony on earth. The theory was the heaven would give the king a mandate to rule only as long as he rules in the interest of the people. Similar to American schools, teachers can teach for as long as they wish but once the students stop learning from them, the principal decides to fire the teacher with the hope to replace him or her with a more youthful persona that can really teach the students of this generation well.Why bad teachers must be fired same as why bad leaders must be “fired”

There is a simple cycle that is followed to ensure their is always a leader liked by the people who helps run the government smoothly. First a new dynasty is born and a new emperor makes changes to better the government system such as improving the education system or generating new laws. Everything flows nicely for a short period of time. Then the government goes on to be corrupted by money, power or natural disaster. Leading commoners to become sick and tired of the problems in their empire so they revolt against their leader. This causes the dynasty to lose the Mandate of Heaven . After the dynasty loses the mandate of heaven the emperor is defeated and a new leader emerges and the cycle continues.hooverstreetrag.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-mandate-of-heaven.html

The Mandate of heaven helps dynasty’s and countries always have fresh blood in the system and not be stuck with a leader who the people do not respect and listen to. I think the mandate of heaven should still be used today in Modern countries because it would insure that we would always have a good leader for right length of time. We attempt to do this by voting for our president, but just because the majority of the country is happy doesn’t mean everyone is. Yes, it is impossible to chose a leader that is liked by every single person. However, by following the mandate of heaven we can allow the heaven to decide when a ruler is know longer aiding the society anymore.  Because sometimes four years is either to long or to short. So, if we left it up to heaven we would know the perfect length time of each ruler.

The Impact of the Warring States Period

October 5th, 2014 | by dtorres17

        Despite the violence the Warring States Period cost, it definitely became a great part of China’s history. In fact, it is the most important period in China’s history. This time dates to 403 to 221 B.C.E. The Warring States Period hypothetically represented a scenario in which “every man is for themselves.” Different states in the region of today’s China fought each other for power. Technology and different philosophies developed during the period. Eventually, the state of Qin conquered the rest of the states. This unified all the states under a powerful authority, which would stabilize the pursuit for separation of smaller states.

 

          Enhanced technology of weapons affected later China. During the warfare, new technology of weapons started to develop. This included crossbows, sharp swords, and armor. Acquiring a horse was also key for warfare. As different states battled each other, the endeavor for better weaponry became essential for succession. This pursuit for technological advancement improved weaponry at a quick rate. This left later dynasties like the Qin Dynasty a great starting point for improvement.

 

          Philosophies influenced the states of the Warring States Period and the history of China. Confucius was an impactful philosopher that lived between 551 to 479 B.C.E. Many people followed his ideas, but others opposed it. During the Warring States Period, many different “Schools of Thought” developed and guided rulers. Many of these philosophies opposed Confucianism, which included Daoism, Legalism, and others. These philosophies were taken seriously, as they affected the faith of one’s state. The Qin State, or the winners of the Warring States Period, maintained their tradition of legalism. Legalism became a base part of a government of some of the later dynasties. Confucianism is the base of all Chinese philosophies. Some may consider modern China to be a combination of Confucian and legalist society.

 

           The Warring States Period could be considered as unnecessary violence, but on the long run, it affects China’s history. This warfare created the unification of all the states. The main purpose of this warfare was to fix the Zhou Dynasty’s mistakes of setting up a decentralized feudal system. The winners of the warfare is irrelevant for history’s sake. It is the fact that all of the states were unified once again, which is the greatest relief of China’s history.

 

The Humanization of Empress Wu

October 5th, 2014 | by aportnoy17

Men have historically ruled the world.  In ancient China, more specifically the Tang Dynasty, Wu Zetian rose from the ignoble life of a consort to the empress of China. As a woman, she was criticized for her lecherous behavior and sadistic punishments. In contemporary times, she was labeled a horrible ruler.  However, this designation may have been given upon the fact that she was a woman rather than her actions as a ruler. Essentially, the only ruling difference between Empress Wu and other emperors of China is her gender.

Wu was born to a minor general and was chosen to be a concubine in the year 636 B.C.E. In spite of her beauty as a concubine, Wu was not well connected enough to serve in a close position to the emperor; she was put in the fifth rank as a menial maid. Although her place was extremely low on the royal spectrum, Wu longed for the throne. Oddly, Wu had an educated background and was able to use her intelligence as an advantage in taking the throne. First, she had to take out 28 concubines in higher positions than her, namely empress Wang and the Pure Concubine. She ultimately murdered the two concubines and ascended to the empress position in Wang’s stead. By 705 B.C.E., Wu had ordered the last of her sons to abdicate and took the throne herself.

As a ruler, Wu was very successful. Some believe this is because she listened well. She installed complaint boxes, empowered people to travel, lessened the power of the bureaucracy, and had a secret police. Other accounts paint her as, little short of an enchantress.” She is said to have had a harem of men and was visited by young men long into her old age for pleasure. Yet, how different is this from other rulers? In her time, it was normal for rulers to be brutal and violent in order to maintain their position. Additionally, countless rulers have had affairs, even in the present day.

Empress Wu was given her bad reputation on the basis of her gender. She was able to effectively govern her empire and make it thrive. However horrible her execution methods were, she did what she did in order to further stabilize her place in power.  Pragmatically, it can be assumed the only variation between her and a male ruler is her sex. This sexism is still seen with people in power today. Hillary Clinton is a popular contender for president in 2016, yet people believe that if she wears something feminine, acknowledges a reference to her sexual identity, or menstruates; she is incapable of performing her duties in her position.  Empress Wu is not hated for her misdeeds and cruelty, it is simple because she was different: a woman.

Shihuangdi: the First Emperor

October 5th, 2014 | by lmiller17

Many question whether or not the first emperor of the Qin dynasty was a good one. After successfully defeating all other warring states, he dispensed with the title of king and gave himself the name Shihuangdi, or the First Emperor. During his conquest, Shihuangdi killed many people, and earned himself many enemies. He was nearly assassinated three times. However, as outlined by the movie Hero, it is true that Shihuangdi united the land and ended the constant fighting of the Warring States Period.

 

Once in power, the Emperor along with Li Si, his legalist minister, began a program to bring the unified country together under a centralized government. In order to prevent rebellion the Emperor forced the nobility to move to the capital away from their potential subjects. He also removed the right of citizens to possess weapons. After this the Emperor imposed several reforms. The script, coinage, weights, measurements, and axle lengths of carts were all standardized. Thousands of miles of roads were built for the army, but this better facilitated trade along with the axle length standards. The Lingqu Canal and Great Wall were also built during his rule

 

These facts may cause the appearance that Shihuangdi was a kind leader who brought some amount of prosperity. However, historians have viewed him as a cruel dominating megalomaniac. While the Great Wall did keep out the Xiongnu who were raiding chinese villages, hundreds of thousands of men were forced to build it and an unknown number died in the process. In 213 BCE Li Si convinced the Emperor to burn all books that were not related to agriculture, medicine, and divination. This destroyed most historical records and valuable religious texts. After the attempts made on his life, the Emperor also became obsessed with immortality, and searched extensively for the elixir of life. To preserve himself in the afterlife the terracotta army was constructed to guard his tomb. Finally monuments were constructed with inscriptions of his accomplishments. Here he glorified himself almost to the point of deification.

Despite all of these faults, Shihuangdi did bring together the chaotic nations and see the people unified under one government. The Qin dynasty did fall shortly after Shihuangdi’s death, but this allowed for a more tolerant government like the Han to rise to power. Shihuangdi may have imposed harsh laws and acts, but it laid the framework for a powerful nation and allowed for the Han rule an already set centralized government and then remove the more harsh taxes and reinstate the confucian society. Many historians view Shihuangdi as an oppressive ruler who brought unhappiness to the nations, but his actions allowed for the later ages of intellectual and cultural development.

Empress Wu Zetian

October 5th, 2014 | by trasiel17

Wu Zetian, known as Wu, was an empress in seventh century China. Although she had almost no hereditary right to the throne, she clawed her way there through means that may have been less than savoury. Wu was an imperial consort, and while she was of somewhat high birth, as well as very beautiful, concubines had a very low rank in the imperial palace. She started out around the year 636 as a consort to emperor Taizong, of the Tang dynasty. She was very low ranked in the palace hierarchy, and was one of 29 consorts that she had to get past, so as to get closer to the emperor. She was quite literate for a concubine, but that was not her main advantage. Her main advantage was that, as a low ranked woman, she had the duties of a maid, which included changing the emperor’s bed sheets. This gave her close access to the emperor.

However, after emperor Taizong’s death, she was sent to a nunnery, as all concubines of the time were after their emperor’s death. She escaped from the nunnery, and managed to to return to the imperial palace as a consort of the new emperor, Gaozong. She managed to get rid of his wife, Wang, and his “Pure Concubine,” who was the favored concubine, by smothering her own daughter and blaming it on them. She was ruthless, seducing the emperor, rising above all of the other concubines, putting members of her own family in high positions, and eventually becoming Gaozong’s equal. In 683, emperor Gaozong died, and Wu altered the line of succession between her own sons, with the title of dowager empress. In 690, she forced her final son to abdicate the throne, and became the first and only empress of China. She died in 705, at around 80 years old.

There’s a lot of talk about whether or not Wu was a good empress. There have been articles and stories written about her, and there were movies about her made in 1939, and 1963. Although she was ruthless within the imperial palace, and was apparently incredibly promiscuous, she helped to fix the failing Tang dynasty, and without her, the Tang dynasty would probably not have lasted as long as it did.