Friday, January 11, 2008

Joseph Stalin and Totalitarianism

Totalitarianism is a form of dictatorship government that wants total control over its citizens; their public and private life. Stalin's real name was Losif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili however, on December 21, 1879, he adopted the name Stalin, which means "Man of Steel." In 1922, Stalin was made secretary general of the communist party. When Vladimir Lenin died in 1924 Joseph Stalin promoted himself as dictator of the Soviet Union. He was determined to transform the Soviet Union into a powerful industrial state. Stalin used propaganda, censorship, and terror to force his will on the Soviet people. In 1928, he launched his first five-year plan. The five-year plan was going to turn the country into a major industrial power within five years. The nation's resources were built into steel mills, electric power stations, and any other industries/supplies needed. There was growth in areas such as coal and iron output. Another part of the five-year plan was to set up large scale farms for peasants to work on. Stalin forced millions of peasants to give up their land and work on large, government-run operations. Soon after, Stalin became extremely paranoid and began to turn on members of the party he had once called supporters. This was the beginning of "The Great Purges". Through 1936-1937, Stalin personally signed 40,000 death warrants. Priests were rounded up and shipped to be executed because Stalin wanted everyone and everything to be the same/equal. By the end of the terror, less than 1,000 churches remained out of at least 20,000.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Film Lesson: Doctor Zhivago

The film Doctor Zhivago depicted the Russian Revolution because it showed how the Russians were trying to stand up for what they believe in by going against their leaders. In the opening scene of the film we see a large group of people marching in the streets towards czar Nicholas II's palace in Petrograd also known as St. Petersburg. These people were angry workers who wanted better working conditions and equality. The workers were being taken advantage of. As a result of the riots and demonstrations Nicholas II's general/guard ordered soldiers to make the crowd go away. Some of the people did not leave peacefully or quickly enough for the soldiers so they started attacking the crowd. That scene depicted an event called "Bloody Sunday". When Doctor Zhivago returned home from the war to Moscow he found out that he was sharing his house and some of his belongings with many other families. This is an example of communism because in a communist country no one owns anything because everything is shared.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Causes of WWI

World War I which was also called the "Great War" began in 1914 and lasted until 1918. There were many causes of WWI including the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, nationalism, and militarism.

The Assassination of Franz Ferdinand

On June 28, 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were shot by a Serbian nationalist. The Serbians wanted to convert the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (the Dual Monarchy) into a Triple Monarchy so that they could be included. The Serbians wanted to be self governed like Austria and Hungary. However, Austria could not find any evidence that the Serbian government had any connections with the assassination. Austria wanted to be assured of the German support just in case of war. On July 6, Germany assured Austria that if there was an Austro-Serbian war, Germany would stand by Austria and give them support as an ally. When Austria sent written demands to Serbia, they didn't like their response so they declared war on July 28, 1914.


All the countries within Europe were building large armies during the pre-war years. Before the conflict happened, the militaries of each country had drawn up complete plans for preparation. Secret battle plans brought along spies, which spread great hate and fear.

Collapse of the Alliance System
The alliances were made in secret which brought along distrust and suspicion among the European powers. Everyone was so suspicious they never talked about specific plans if a war was to break out because they feared distruction.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Opium Wars

The opium war was a battle between China and Britain that occurred from 1839 to 1842. The British opium trade in China started the world’s first drug war, in the 19th century. In the 15th century when opium was first introduced to China, it was used as medicine to treat diseases. It wasn't until the 16th century, when the British started mixing the opium with tobacco allowing the Chinese to smoke it and become addicted.

China was trading tea to Britain, however China was a self sufficient country and didn't want anything from Britain. Britain didn't want it to become a one sided trade so they decided to import opium drugs to China. As a result
a large amount of China's population weakened. When the Chinese government found out that opium was still being brought to China even after the restrictions were set, a letter was written to Queen Victoria. The letter stated that if the opium was so harmful in its effects that Britain had made opium trading and consumption illegal in England, then why was England exporting such harmful products to other countries. Queen Victoria never had the letter delivered to her.

Soon after Britain demanded that China put an end to the anti-opium campaign. But Lin refused to end it. In 1840, British gunboats arrived and attacked China, destroying many coastal cities. China was not prepared for this war because Britain had a technological advantage over them, such as weapons. China was eventually defeated by Great Britain, and was forced to sign the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842.

Monday, December 10, 2007

"The White Man's Burden"

"The White Man's Burden" is about imperialism, meaning the Europeans felt obligated to take over another country and adapt to western ways to better themselves. I don't agree with the analysis of the white man's burden because if the country doesn't want to change then they shouldn't have to. The Europeans are not helping by imposing their beliefs on someone else. I think that the U.S is still imperialistic today because the army is over in Iraq trying to civilize their government. Before the war Iraq was a dictatorship, but now after Saddam Hussein was captured and executed there is no ruler. The U.S thinks that they can calm people down and make Iraq a democracy. It's not going to happen unless everybody wants it to. I believe we are still living the "white man's burden" however other countries are stepping up to the plate and helping us out. We're not taking all of the responsibility for ourselves.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

"The Scramble for Africa"

The Scramble for Africa, which began in 1881 was about how European leaders divided up the African land amongst themselves. The African people didn't have any say about it at all. As a result Africa suffered from tribalism. The new African nations contain different tribes which causes tension, and civil wars among the people. Many European countries were involved with this scramble including Great Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, and Portugal. The Europeans wanted power and thought that owning more land than everyone else meant they had a lot of it. The Europeans knew that Africa was wealthy in natural resources that turned into manufactured goods and made a bundle of money. Great Britain gained an important port for the sea route to India in South Africa. France's main interest was trade in West Africa. Trading stations had been set up on the West African coasts to deal in slaves and be transported to the Americas. Europeans were able to dominate Africa easily because they had better weapons then them. Africa only had handmade spears, and sticks while the Europeans had guns and more sophisticated weapons.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Film Lesson: "Mountains of the Moon"

Some of the hardships the Europeans had to face exploring Africa was not having enough water or supplies, not being able to speak the native language of the people, and not having a map to guide them. The source of the nile river was named after the British Queen because two explorers (Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke) were searching for it for Europe and allegedly discovered it. The African people knew about the lake all before the Europeans did. The Europeans didn't care what the African people thought and named it anyway. It made no sense for a lake all the way in Africa to be named after a Queen in England. One of the advantages that the Europeans had over the Africans was the fact that they had weapons. The Africans had handmade spears and sticks but the Europeans had guns and knives. The Europeans had the upper hand because of their weapons even though the Africans might have outnumbered them.