Book Profile: 1984, by George Orwell (Revised Version)

George Orwell
[1] George Orwell, the famous writer of 1984 and Animal Farm.

Welcome back. As you may know already, I write Food Profiles, mainly about different ingredients with their special properties and recipes to come with. In this latest edition, I hope to return, in a Book Profile, with my simple take on the famous book 1984 by George Orwell, a highly influential and at times challenging read. I wanted to use this opportunity to analyse a few pointers in understanding this great book, especially as a passionate student in history and politics. In case you are yet to read the book, please refrain from continuing – this is a spoiler warning to it all. Otherwise, do continue and at the end of the analysis, tell me what you think can be improved or whether you want a discussion of it. My analysis will consist of George Orwell’s angle, thoughts on the book itself and the elements that I find the most intriguing.

Background – George Orwell’s angle
George Orwell’s book, Animal Farm, was a basic critique on the ideology and functioning of Communism as a socio-political way of rule. His main point, where he drew major significance in the last scene, describing the pigs to be seen by Napoleon, the main character, to enjoy themselves in the house. This was significant, as this shows that some pigs were fairer than others. Continuing with this theme, 1984 is more of the totalitarian rule that is used by dictators, who are occasionally Communist, throughout the course of history. Orwell is believed to be a Leftist politician, supporting the British Labour Party. Interestingly, Orwell is supportive of socialism, as an ideology and way of rule against capitalism. [2] However, he criticised the Far Left of being radically self-interested for their rise to power and control over the masses. This is key, as this is illustrated through references of gulags and extermination campaigns that were used extensively under the ruthless reigns of Nazi Germany under Hitler, and Stalinist Russia. The “key elements and themes” section will explain this notion further.

Personal thoughts
I will next give my personal thoughts on the book itself. Personally, I felt the book was draggy and repetitive at times, particularly with the explanation that was written by O’Brien and the re-education or torture process taken on Winston. Certainly, Orwell wanted to give his views on the world government under a Big Brother perspective, symbolised through O’Brien’s articulation and a common, revolutionary stance taken by Winston, the main protagonist of the novel. For me, the most important element is that some parts were rushed and some were seriously prolonged and unnecessary. How did Winston so easily renounce himself to O’Brien and the Brotherhood so easily? How can you trust anyone, including O’Brien, in such a dangerous world? The transition from a personal life of a radical, to the shared romantic life with Julia, to the emptiness and helplessness of a political dissident is an intelligent way to show key themes under this categories and stages.

Key elements and themes
Firstly, it is fundamental to consider the key elements or themes within the story. I picked up four main ones that kept reoccurring throughout the novella: how history can be changed through brainwashing, what is absolute truth, the notion of double-think and the use and loyalty towards Big Brother.

The first main theme is how what is the absolute truth. Throughout Winston’s elaborate re-education by O’Brien as part of the Big Brother and Ministry of Love, the reader sees a challenge of facts between the mediator, seductor and destroyer found in O’Brien’s character and the revolutionary himself, Winston. For example, one recurring line that Orwell uses to illustrate the protestation of absolute truth is through the line “two plus two equals four”, or the eventual acceptance that it can easily be three or five for that matter.This is, personally, a fair example, as this challenges an axiomatic fact that was always accepted in ontological theory, epitomised under the Enlightenment period in the mathematics and sciences. Coming to think of it, how do you distinguish between an absolute and relative truth? Is ontology and epistemology enough to achieve it? Do we not, as modern population of global democracy have natural rights to freedom of speech, expression and information? How far does and should this freedom go?

This idea of the absolute truth can be expanded widely to the theme of controlling history and knowledge. As Winston worked in the Ministry of Truth under the watchful eye of the Brotherhood, he would destroy certain evidence in official history. For example, there would be certain words that the Brotherhood would decipher to refine the dictionary. I felt the dialogue between Winston and the old man in the pub on page 113, where the rhyme, “Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clement’s, You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St Martin’s” is used. The fact that it is remembered is of high importance, as the use of sophisticated language and culture is completely hindered by the Party. Another example, would be on page 182, where there is a use of “unperson”, or the dead and abolished person found in Syme. This is significant, as these twists of simpler words, limits the boundary in which the general public are allowed to fully lament the legitimacy of the party itself.

A major theme is how history can be altered through brainwashing or double-think, an invented and shortened artificial language. This is vividly illustrated through the gradual loyalty that Winston had given to Big Brother at the end of the book. At first, Winston had a strong psychological blockade against the idea of committing oneself to the divine political figure, as he frequently questioned the feasibility of the truths given by the Brotherhood and the writings by Emanuel Goldstein on page 213 onwards, a Trotsky-like figure who was responsible in constructing the ideology behind the government. [2] For example, the three short phrases “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength”, as the reader discovers, are all reversible, where slavery can easily be freedom, as this is a sense of self-fulfillment, stripping of the normal human-being of all basic desires and needs that we would want to the dead core: from love, lust, intelligence, curiosity, leisure, to simply leisure and acceptance. This is key, because Orwell shows that if a dissident is cruelly punished and showed to his deepest fears, he is a weak and helpless figure, accepting many contested truths amongst society and by the government itself. If this was expanded within history itself, Hitler’s Nazi Germany or Maoist China would be prime examples, as the young students at the Hitler Youth, together with the peasants were the main targets. When someone has little knowledge or exposure of the outside world intellectually and politically, they are easily manipulated and converted on who is the public political enemy and be despised, increasing the incentives to be exterminated as the outsiders found in the Jewish community and intelligentsia.

Finally and perhaps most significantly, one key theme is how can Big Brother be related in reality terms. Big Brother, as previously mentioned, can be a totalitarian and authoritarian figure, who can control different relative truths in order to indoctrinate the masses – be it any dictators throughout history: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Franco, Mao… In relative terms, Big Brother can really be any dominant country in the world, but instead of doing a tireless point of using the US or China, or indeed the British and French Empires, or any of the G8 or G20 countries nowadays, exploiting one another for resources. Drawing from recent affairs, Snowden challenging the whole American set-up in the world or the WikiLeaks mastermind found in Julian Assange. Who are we, the general population to trust who in the absolute truth? Who governs the true information? Why should we accept what we are given in a society, or should we simply not intervene in our opinions and become a robot, loyal and periodic?

Ultimately, this really depends on two factors – whether the country is in an external force, in a power struggle for world dominance or hegemony as a world police, or internally, as a totalitarian and dictatorship rule to control the masses, as a collective cause to satisfy the leader in rule. Sure, I could give the Arab Spring, the Eastern Bloc, the South American countries as examples to emphasise my point, but what I want to propose is the imprint the idea of how exactly this book is definitely relevant to many cases throughout history, or indeed the present current affairs, in understanding how many thought perceptions and de-education, is tend to be perceived or manipulated. So I end this complicated book with an open-ended answer, and leave you, the reader to draw possible connections with these rules and hegemonic powers. This book was truly an eye-opener, and did make me understand better the darker side of totalitarian rule that was once used under Maoist rule in China. Anyway, till next time – as I will soon be starting my summer job. I will try my best to update my blog in the near future – if you have not already read my other articles, do check it out on the navigation boxes on the left. Cheers and hope you liked your read once again! ūüôā

References
[1] http://www.whale.to/a/orwellaaaa.jpeg
[2] Orwell, G., “Introduction”, 1984, (1954, London, Penguin Books)

Food profile: the chili pepper

[1] Remember. The smaller the chili is, the hotter it is! 

Hello there! Hoo hoo! Hot, hot, hot! Get me some water! Yes, as the title evidently suggested, I am doing a similar task as before, and I am continuing with another food profile – the chili pepper itself. I will analyse the origin, nutritional properties and history of the ingredient. Then, I will incorporate a few recipes to finish off the article. Again, if there are any commentaries you like to add below, please do so. Good reading to you!


The chili pepper originated from Central and South America, and was introduced to South Asia by Portuguese and Spanish traders, together with Arab merchants during the early 16th century. Interestingly, India is now the largest producer of this! There are many different types of the chili pepper or the Capsicum family, ranging from sweet all the way to spicy. Nothing too new there. In fact, it has been noted that Mexico and Northern Central America is the birthplace of the Capsicum annum (ranging from bell peppers to hot chili peppers), whilst South America was that of the Capsicum frutescens (this is more of the spicier type). [2] However, it must be noted that there are many families that pop up depending on the geographical region you are using the chili pepper itself. For example, in India, 


Also, chilis are measured in Scoville heat units (SHU). For example, a normal bell pepper that you put in your salads are 0; a jalapeno one is 2,000 to 4,500 SHU units; and finally, the Mexican habaneros consists of 200,000 to 500,000 SHU units! [3] Here comes the toilet break any time soon…


Nutritional information 


Chili peppers have a substance called capsaicin, giving it that distinctively spicy flavour. By consuming it, capsaicin is known to be an anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic and cholesterol-reducing agent. Moreover, with a high level of minerals found in chilies Рpotassium and iron, for example, this can help regulate heart rate and blood pressure. [3] 


It also contains Vitamins A and C –¬†both antioxidants which help the body in different ways. On the one hand, Vitamin A helps the body to prevent getting serious effects that can be a side-effect from stress. Conversely, Vitamin C contains collagen, helping the body structure to regulate better flow of blood throughout the body, giving it immunity to diseases and protection against scruvy (teeth problems). [3]¬†


Recipes 


1) Grilled Shrimp 

A very simple marinade that you can make beforehand. All you need is a grill and a brush with oil (remember, that that is a top secret to keep the shrimp meat nice and juicy inside). Again, I offer an Asian marinade that is versatile to many different seafood or meats. This can be served as a starter, on a barbecue day with some green salad dress with a simple vinaigrette. You could go creative and even make your own Thai red curry shrimp rice, topped with a fried egg and spring onion. Class. 

 

  • 3 tablespoons of light soy sauce¬†
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce¬†
  • 1 chili pepper¬†
  • 1 teaspoon of caster sugar¬†
  • 1 spring onion¬†
  • 2 cloves of garlic¬†
  • 1 small part of ginger¬†
  • Ideally for 3-5 prawns each (so that all the flavour can be properly macerated)¬†

 

2) Chili Con Carne

Another simple recipe that is house-pleaser and body-warmer during those cold winter nights. You could even have it during the summer days if you are really in the mood! 

 

  • Half an onion¬†
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 400g of minced beef
  • 400g of tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato pur√©e¬†
  • 2 tablespoons of ketchup (if you like it sweeter rather than spicy)¬†
  • 2 teaspoons of chili sauce (again to your preference)
  • 1 can of kidney beans¬†
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)¬†
  • (If you are really feeling it, you can top it off with some grated mature Cheddar cheese)¬†
  • 75g-100g of Basmati/Thai rice for one person (use this as a measure for the number of people you are cooking for) ¬†

Effectively, the chili pepper is a versatile and healthy ingredient that can be used in many Oriental and Meso-American dishes. This originates from the Iberian and Arab traders that brought the much-coveted spice to the shores of South Asia. Now, the chili pepper is incorporated in many different types of dishes, varying in levels of spiciness. Moreover, you get critical nutritional content, like Vitamin C and potassium, which are critical for regulating blood circulation and immunity to diseases. I once remember watching a television programme on Discovery channel, about curry making and the Indian chef would explain that spice brings colour and soul to the person eating it. With different colours that you can use with your ingredients, it is truly a delight to view and consume. Do try out my recipes or this could always be an inspiration for you to think about different types of dishes that incorporate the chili pepper itself Рbe it Vietnamese, Cantonese, Thai, Malaysian or Indian. Hope you liked your read again, till next time! 


References

[1] http://www.adobenido.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/2chilis.jpg

[2] http://www.kew.org/plant-cultures/plants/chilli_pepper_history.html

[3] http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/chili-peppers.html

Food profile: the ginger

[1] One very important ingredient in many South East Asian cuisines. 

 

Welcome back again, o’reader. I am digressing from the purely history, politics and international relations related articles to a more readable topic. I am returning to the food profile and this time analysing the origin, properties, history of the spice itself and a few recipes to finish it off. As usual, if you think there is something that can be improved, then feel free to comment below. Otherwise, I hope you have an enjoyable time on my blog once again!

 

The ginger, a bizarre-looking spice looking rather like a clustered bunch of insects. Admittedly, it is not the most appetising ingredient ever, but what you can do with it¬†might¬†convert you! It is believed that the ginger was first recorded by the Indians as¬†Sanshrit, which translates as “horn root”, effectively describing its shape and form. [2] This was a very common spice in tropical Asia, used initially by the Indians during the 4th century A.D onwards in meat dishes, drinks and pastes. Through trade by Arab merchants, the spice was extensively brought to Asia and Africa during the 13th and ¬†14th century. [3] Similarly, Marco Polo, through his travels eastwards in Asia and particularly in China, brought ginger back to Europe, a once vanished delicacy from the fall of the Roman Empire. [2]

 

As mentioned above, the ginger is a herb, spice and medicine. It can be a remedy to boundless diseases or minor problems like: stomach and bowel problems, diarrhoea, nausea, coughing, reduces chances of diabetes and osteoporosis, improves health in case of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. [4, 5] This is because one of the main essential oils, gingerols, is effective with its anti-inflammatory, pain-killing and anti-bacterial properties in the intestines. Moreover, it has a chemical compound called zingerone, useful as anti-bacterial element against E. coli found primarily in diarrhoea. [6]

 

Whether it is Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Malaysian or Indian, the ginger is the rock star of the show. Below is a traditional Thai green and red curry paste you can easily make. You could add any meat you like to it – be it pork, chicken, beef or fish. If you prefer it as a vegetarian dish, why not try bell peppers, potatoes, spring onion or carrots? Apart from this very orthodox stance, I have also provided some new ideas to cure your sore throat or as a simple Chinese dessert.

 

Green/Red Thai curry paste 

1 stalk of lemon-grass

1 small piece of ginger

3 tablespoons of fish sauce

2-3 green/red chili (depending on your spicy level tolerance)

1/4 of lime juice

1 teaspoon of brown sugar

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup of coriander

(+2 tablespoons of tomato purée Рif you decide to make your red Thai curry paste)

 

[7, 8]

 

Medicine/Simple Chinese dessert/dish

Traditionally speaking in Chinese cuisine, like the garlic clove as I wrote before, you can boil a small portion of chopped ginger with some rock sugar until the sugar has dissolved. This is a herbal drink to clear your coughing and throat problems. Very simple and cheap РI highly recommend it!

 

With this in mind, you can expand this syrup with boiling some tong yuen or glutinous rice balls (usually filled with sweet peanut, red bean or black sesame stuffings)!

 

If you prefer savoury foods, you could always use ginger apart from your onions and garlic in your first stages of stir-frying or even for marinating your meats or fish, whichever you prefer! Here is an example:

 

Meat marinade

2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce

2 tablespoons of light soy sauce

Small portion of ginger

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon of caster sugar

1 teaspoon of corn flour or starch

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Chili flakes (if you like it spicy!) 

 

How to choose a ginger 

In order to choose the best piece of ginger, try to search for a shiny and earthy looking ginger, with a good smell. However, if you find it to be too wrinkled or dry, that is a no-go!

 

In conclusion, the ginger is a very Asian ingredient that is used widely in curry pastes and simple meat or vegetable dishes, across the continent since the ancient times in India. Through trade, this ingredient expanded to across the world, making it a popular yet a delicacy for savoury and sweet dishes. Moreover, apart from this, it is advantageous of consuming ginger, as it consists of critical essential oils or chemicals like gingerol and zignerone, its cleansing, anti-bacterial and pain-killing properties, it is a flexible ingredient that can be used many Asian or European recipes. Right, that is it from me this time round – I hope you enjoyed your read and see you next time! ūüôā Be sure to comment below if you think it can be improved.

References

[1] http://www.larkcrafts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Ginger1.jpeg

[2] http://homecooking.about.com/od/foodhistory/a/gingerhistory.htm

[3] http://www.kew.org/plant-cultures/plants/ginger_history.html

[4] http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/961.html

[5] http://www.healthaliciousness.com/vegetables/ginger.php

[6] http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/ginger-root.html

[7] http://thaifood.about.com/od/thaicurrypasterecipes/r/greencurrypaste.htm

[8] http://thaifood.about.com/od/thaicurrypasterecipes/r/redpaste.htm

Has decolonisation positively impacted former colonies in the present times?

 

[1] Franz Fanon, a renowned anti-colonial Franco-Algerian political activist and philosopher. 

Many countries across the world has been under some type of formal or informal colonial rule at one point in their history. Whether it has been a British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese, German, Russian colony, a country has always been affected positively or negatively. In this article, I wish to use the three main global empires and their colonies – 1) British, 2) French and 3) Spain, as a medium to analyse the whether decolonisation process has been positive or negative within the overall economic, political and social situation. This will be discussed in each of the three respective colonies: 1) South Africa and Hong Kong, 2) Vietnam and New Caledonia and 3) Cuba. Again, I do appreciate your support and any comments for improvement with this very article is more than welcome.

Like always, before we begin the analysis, it is always important to comprehend the definition of decolonisation itself. ¬†According to¬†Oxford Dictionary, it is “when a state withdraws from a colony, thus leaving it independent” [2]. Furthermore, it is paramount to consider the level of improvement or faltering in a decolonised country. As you may know by now, I do always like to write controversial articles by mainly ¬†posing many key questions to myself and to you, the reader. There are a web of questions that branch out: are the colonies still pretty much the same as it was during colonial times? Should we return to colonialism? Why should these countries stay as they are, as decolonised states? What positive or negative impacts have further emphasised this idea?

Franz Fanon 

As you may know, Franz Fanon was a political activist and philosopher of Franco-Algerian descent, who was dogmatic about the elements within anti-colonialism. Having been born and raised in the French colony of Martinique, together with the fact that Fanon had participated in the Second World War and Algerian War in 1958, this had greatly influenced Fanon’s ideals when writing his critique of racism and colonisation in¬†Black Skin, White Masks¬†[3].

Certainly, the title itself poses much significance in understanding Fanon’s stance. He argues that there is a relationship between the coloniser and the colonised, or indeed the black man in a ruling white class, is to be deemed as a norm. Despite initially considering himself French, the French racism had made Fanon disappointed, believing that this was detrimental to many Africans’ psychological health and well-being [3]. ¬†With this in mind, Fanon also argues that speaking French makes the colonised community more immersed into the colonisers’ culture, or indeed in the imagery, wears a “white mask” to conceal its own native opinions, almost blocking its projection of traditional opinions [3]. This is significant as by doing so, this is a negative impact of decolonisation, and prohibits the black man from having his own subjective views, as it has been already heavily influenced by the white and racist perspectives.

So how useful is Fanon’s argument in understanding the impact of decolonisation? Personally, I feel that Fanon definitely has a point, but having written his work as a manifesto, there has been some limitations into its feasibility. The colonised people who live in France and its colonies can still project its own ideas in French about its own native country. Simply because speaking a foreign and adopted language does not necessarily mean to conceal one’s identity or freedom of opinion. It is true that there are customs and traditions that the colonised subjects are to conform to within society, as the mask imagery suggested earlier.

However, this definitely depends on the period and the level of force used by the colonists. This is significant, as this is another example of negative impact within decolonisation, as illustrated through the film Entre les Murs or The Class. It shows that it can be a difficult situation with cultural identity in many adopted countries, where the colonised population or immigrants feel detached from the roots, unsure of their original footprint within the society. If you have not watched the movie itself, I do recommend you watching it to further understand my point. 

 

1) British colonies

[4] South African apartheid: the division between native blacks and the Afrikaans population caused major uproar throughout the continent and the world. 

South Africa

South Africa – imagine a bottle of old red wine, the residue never quite leaving the bottom of its container. Same can be said about what was left of the Anglo-Dutch colonialism in South Africa, and its overall negative remains of decolonisation. After many transitions in and out of decolonisation, firstly in 1934 from British rule, South Africa was finally decolonised in 1994 [5]. However, the remnants during the colonial times continued to stain the country socially and politically. This was and is still one of the richest and most powerful African countries, and yet frequent problems of corruption, racism, trailing towards extremist ideals of apartheid result in killings across the black and white population.

Decolonisation has definitely had a positive impact on South Africa, as it drove out the repressive white colonial rule by the Afrikaans and British governors. This was significant, as this meant white domination rather than having a more equal society. Despite the fact that not all racism and forms of decolonisation is eradicated, Nelson Mandela has improved the situation dramatically. Mandela was heavily involved with the African National Congress (ACN), as he fought for a multi-racial society in South Africa. This was significant, as this effort was repressed by the National Party and apartheid effort, forcing Mandela to trial and his eventual imprisonment in Robben Island prison and Pollsmoor prison during the early 1960’s onwards until his release in 1990 [6].

With such a recent process of decolonisation, South Africa has indeed come a long way in its rehabilitation. With the introduction of being included in the BRICS summit, the football World Cup of 2010 and more policies under Jacob Zuma, this is significant, as this is indeed an example of positive impact in the decolonisation process, meaning that the country is able to compete on a global scale economically and politically, whilst still fighting for more equality amongst the various races in the country.

Hong Kong 

With Hong Kong, the decolonisation process is interesting in its own right. Since the handover to China in 1997 and one of the latest British colonies to decolonise, there has been and still an ongoing identity crisis amongst the Cantonese local population – whether to return to the more stable, but regulated British government, or the more authoritarian and Communist rule of the mainland as a Chinese province.

The population has replicated many Western styles and attitudes in all three of social, political and economic areas from the British rule. For example, under the Basic Law, China has recognised the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, allowing Hong Kong to freely improve or alter any rule of law independently for 50 years since its handover to China from Britain in 1997 [7]. ¬†This is significant, as this shows a positive impact that Hong Kong is able to govern itself with its own ideals and incentives, despite having the mainland Chinese government imposing increasingly more restrictions on its freedom of speech and policy-making. This is a complicated situation, where again, many citizens are divided on the loyalty of either the British or the Chinese mainland. For more information, do check out my¬†previous post about Hong Kong and its identity during and post-colonialism.¬†

2) French colonies

[8] Many French architectural buildings show remnants of its colonial past in Vietnam Рbut how does it compare now? 

Vietnam 

Since the Vietnamese victory in Franco-Vietnamese War, the country has been able to reestablish itself to secure a better politico-economic situation. It must be considered that with the combined Vietnamese effort from the Vietminh and Vietcong, this successfully defeated the French colonists in 1954 and the American effort to prevent another domino from falling, at the end of another proxy war in 1973. This was key, as Vietnam was left heavily crippled economically as a heavy consequence of the war effort [9].

However, since the late 1980s, the Vietnamese government has introduced more free-market reforms and Western styles of economy and policy, attracting more foreign investment. This has made many Vietnamese nouveau riche population confident in spending their money, particularly in big-name brands like Louis Vuitton and Burberry [10]. This is significant, as putting problems of democracy, capitalism and inequality aside, this does show a positive impact of decolonisation, where the Vietnamese economy has been running more smoothly with higher expenditure from the general population.

New Caledonia 

New Caledonia is a more recent international and political affair that has caused extreme controversy within the French overseas government and the UN. Since the late 19th century, New Caledonia became an important French outpost in the Polynesian Islands, primarily to raise competition within the region against the British colony in New¬†Zealand. There has been a divided opinion between self-independence and loyalty since the 1970s, the UN has heavily suggested a referendum by the natives of the Pacific island, offering ideals of “sovereignty, freedom and greater autonomy from France” [11]. This is another example of negative process of decolonisation, where the country is again tied between freeing itself from a patriarchal colonial power or whether to retain its much sought-after independence. As shown, many countries are too anxious about not having the protection of an overlying power, as it has become to dependent on its resources and aid to function stably and effectively.¬†

The French government responded with a very protective stance and argued it was a central part of its republic, much like the Netherland Antilles or the British Caribbean Commonwealth territories. There has been a complicated and prolonged process and impact of decolonisation, where many leaders within the region particularly New Zealand Prime Minister¬†Malielegaoi, has demanded the Pacific Island to find the most suitable way to solve the problem of independence in the country [11].¬†The question still remains, will the island ever become independent? If so, will there be or is it necessary to have another revolution to topple the government? Only time will tell…

3) Spanish colonies  

[12] The Cuban War of Independence (1895-1898) posed another historical that weighs the feasibility of colonialism. 

Cuba 

Cuba is a negative case of the decolonising period under the American intervention in the Cuban War of Independence and Spanish-American War. With the Spanish being increasingly more aggressive in their pursuit of riches in Cuba, this had significantly handicapped the autonomy of the nation. At this particular time, the US were aiming to achieve a proper overseas empire particularly within the US Frontier and the Mexican-American War [13]. Having gotten defeated in the Ten Years’ War against the Spanish, the Cubans’ incentive for independence did not die out – instead it persevered, where it had become more and more dependent on American economic wealth and aid for their lucrative business in cane sugar production. This was significant, as this meant a rather controversial situation, where Cuba, like many South American countries was swinging from a ruling country to another, dictatorship and authoritarian rule, ultimately not retaining its independence [13].

Sure, America’s intervention and political aid had been crucial in maintaining a stable country in Cuba through the Platt Amendment. Yes, under Batitsa and Castro, there were more acts to draw foreign influence within the country particularly from America and the sugar production, aiming towards a nationalist and sovereign country [13]. However, by leaving colonial rule and foreign aid, Cuba has struggled immensely, even more so under the allegiance towards the USSR during the Cold War, for purchasing its 5 million of its sugar and subsidising the country $100 million worth of Russian technology [13]. Was the USSR not another country hovering above Cuba, not allowing itself from independence? By now, Cuba was far too reliant on USSR, a subordinate to her Cold War capitalist rival in the US, to successfully survive industrially and economically, where self-determination was still questioned until late into the 20th century [13].

In summary, many countries have been under colonial and foreign rule. I have used the British, French and Spanish empires to discuss the level of impact in their respective colonies. On the one hand, countries like Cuba and New Caledonia have been ruled so much that it has become over-reliant on its patriarchal country, thus a prolonged struggle and anxious approach towards its self-autonomy and independence once and for all. This is further hardened by many years of dictatorship driving out many intellectuals to make it consistently competitive and stable as a country socially, politically and economically. On the flip side, Hong Kong and Vietnam have been increasingly more competitive and successful, despite having driven out their respective British and French colonists. They are able to shoulder the burden many economic issues themselves, with many encouragement of the free-market and capitalist policies in the¬†nouveau riche¬†or the practise of the Basic Law, in Vietnam and Hong Kong’s case. This could perhaps be a showdown between the true controversial debate of the effectiveness within capitalism and socialism themselves, but that is for another day’s worth of discussion. Finally, in South Africa’s case, many social problems, unfortunately, still continue to linger on, as there are many cases of cross-racial murders every year. Certainly, the sooner this problem is completely rectified, the better. However, that being said, South Africa has seen many positive outcomes of the decolonisation process. This is highlighted in the battle for racial equality against apartheid mainly by Nelson Mandela and the ANC, which has transformed a country to become more economically and politically powerful on the global stage, particularly with its recent inclusion into the BRICS summit. Thank you for your support and do comment for anything¬†you find¬†needs to be improved. Till next time and all the best! ūüôā

References
[1] http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_meiqlbph2G1qh48heo1_400.jpg
[2] http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/decolonize
[3] http://postcolonialstudies.emory.edu/frantz-fanon/
[4] http://espressostalinist.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/apartheid-signs-in-south-africa-1956_jpg.jpg
[5] http://africanhistory.about.com/library/bl/bl-Independence-SA2.htm
[6] http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/people/nelson_mandela
[7] http://www.gov.hk/en/about/abouthk/facts.htm
[8] http://cdn.c.photoshelter.com/img-get/I0000elVmJj0McKI/s/900/900/Woman-way-market-selling-banana-Hoi-An-Vietnam-Francis-Roux-NOI-Pictures-4141.jpg
[9] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/asia_pac/05/vietnam_war/html/introduction.stm
[10] http://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id=3640240&page=1#.UcMUa_k3uSo
[11] http://inside.org.au/highjacking-decolonisation-french-polynesia-at-the-united-nations/
[12] http://www.spanishwars.net/img/spanish-american-war.jpg
[13] Williamson, E., The Penguin History of Latin America, (Penguin Books Ltd., London, 2009)

 

To what extent is La Francophonie a neo-colonial institution?

[1] Map of the La Francophonie –¬†current and former¬†participatory states.

Before I leave for Germany tomorrow on a trip, I thought I would return with a blog post about something historical and political again. This time, as you can see, I am going to be analysing how¬†La Francophonie¬†could be considered as a neo-colonial institution.¬†I must note that I am not here to glorify this institution in its prestige, but I am here to discover and learn something and hopefully, by doing so, help you understand something as well.¬†I hope you like my post and have fun reading – as usual any comments for improvement is much appreciated ūüôā

I have already mentioned my love for empires before, and this is like no other topic for me. It is needless to say that when you look at the map covering the countries within this organisation, you basically see the remnants of the former ‘First’ and Second French Empires. Under La Francophonie, we have 77 participatory countries respectively, spanning from the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania. The main idea of these institutions are primarily to connect Francophone people together, tackling economic, social, political and environmental problems on a bigger, more globalised scale, promoting notions of democracy, free trade and justice. Recently, there has been a polemic about the abuse of human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, thus challenging the liability of its membership in the Francophonie. [2]

Firstly, we could say that La Francophonie is purely an exmaple of neo-colonialism, as it tries to assert power over former territories. For example, the French Empire used to rule over Pondicherry in India. This is significant, as the Indian government are seriously considering to be part of the French institution, but with Canada in a similar situation of having a dual identity tugging between the Anglo-French influences, does this not equate to more competition for sphere of influence and eventual internal conflict? Would Pondicherry prosper better, because of its relatively small size, as a condominium or another federal state, sharing power ‘equally’ and constitutionally in theory, amongst national government and¬†La Francophonie itself? If we shift our attention to another European power in India, namely Goa under Portuguese rule, has the Indian Prime Minister at its helm, but it does retain some form of Portuguese law and autonomy, within it since its decolonisation campaign around the 1960s [2].

At first, La Francophonie was once built around the idea of promoting cultural and educational similarities, say through cultural and sport competitions like Jeux de la Francophonie, where the countries would be administered by Paris. However, in recent summits amongst the Francophone countries, Guinea-Bassau, Mali, Madagascar have left the institution, feeling it was becoming too political and influential in its domestic affairs [4]. This is significant, as we could say La Francophonie is a neo-colonial institution, where France sees the importance of retaining its African members, as there are many foreseen statistics that by 2050, approximately 85% of the 750 million Francophone speakers will be of African origin [3]. With many civil and political unrest in the aforementioned colonies, this perhaps explains the tightening of foreign affairs in establishing socio-political order against the Malian rebels recently?


An example of La Francophonie not being a neo-colonial insitution could be explained through the observatory states. There are many observatory states in Balkans and from other empires РSpanish and Portuguese in Uruguay and Mozambique respectively. In these countries, poverty and post-colonial effects whether it was under the imperial powers or under the Communist sphere of influence, has drastically struck the economy. This is significant, as in Mozambique, we have an example of a country being tormented under civil war and only its recent democratic turn of government in 1994. There are many more investors from Brazil and China, who are injecting billions of dollars in its rich coal and gold resources [4]. However, with France and Britain under their respective institutions, the question remains of who is the dominant and most influential politico-economic power in the south-east African country itself.

Another example of La Francophonie not being purely a neo-colonial institution can be shown through its administration. Unlike its British counterpart which has the Queen has its main figurehead, La Francophonie has Abdou Diouf as Executive Secretary, former Senegalese president as the head, whilst Jacques Legendre is at its General Secretary. This is significant, as with the different styles of government amongst the British and French, the former having a monarchical and the latter having semi-presidential elements, this shows more equality and shift of being a neo-colonial administration.

In conclusion, La Francophonie,¬†like other colonial powers, say the Portuguese under the Communities of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) and the British under the Commonwealth of Nations, is trying to preserve its former French colonial interests and entities around the world. It has to be remembered that French, despite being overshadowed by English, Mandarin and Arabic as the three most dominant languages in the world, remains as one of the most important countries in Europe, if not the globe itself. There were recent politico-economic alliances with some Francophone countries or regions like Qu√©bec, and at times, a more isolationist role in other former colonies, but it cannot be mistaken that France’s main political influence and area stays in the African continent due to its ever increasing French-speaking population. However, until the French government has realised to carefully divide the social and political benefits and interests for its participatory countries, there might be even more states deciding to disband from La Francophonie. Does this potentially mean a return for any of the three countries (Guinea-Bassau, Mali, Madagascar) who left the institution in the next summit in Dakar 2014? Will another civil war stir up in preventing the togetherness of the organisation itself or will stability be maintained properly and fairly? Hopefully, time will tell. Hope you had a knowledgeable read here, till next time and see you soon! Have a good easter ūüôā Peace!

References 

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Map-Francophonie_organisation_2012-fr.svg

[2] http://www.thelondoneveningpost.com/africa/harper-wants-francophonie-summits-held-in-democratic-countries/3/

[3] http://mmascgoa.tripod.com/id12.html

[4] http://www.fides.org/en/news/32434?idnews=32434&lan=eng#.UU8fmRzwmSo

[5] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/27/mozambique-africa-energy-resources-bonanza

How has historical factors affected food in France, Italy and Britain?

[1] The variety of foods throughout our history Рwhy has it turned out this particular way? 

I have always been passionate about cooking as well as history. Those who know me well, recognise the fact that I was sitting on the fence when I was thinking about what to do with my main two passions in life. From the blogs you have previously read, they have been individual articles regarding history or food (the food profiles), but this time round, through deep inspiration from family and friends, I have decided to marry the two components together. The accolade should really go to them here, with many brainstorming ideas that really helped! Anyway, I will use historical factors that have affected these European countries including France, Italy and Britain, specifically because I am partly Franco-Italian, and partly because I was always intrigued to discover the history behind the food itself in all of these places.

 

French cuisine 

 

[2] An exmaple of the type of food you might find at a top-end French restaurant. 

When you enter in a typical French restaurant around the world, you see pieces of nicely sliced poultry, roasted vegetables, all neatly presented and a generously drizzled sauce to enhance the flavours. This was down to an evolution of processes and influences. This all started with the legacy of Catherine de Medici during the 15th to 16th century, who introduced many of her native Italian and Renaissance traditions to France. [3] Despite the chaos found during the period of the Wars of Religion, where Catherine was juggling between the powerful forces of the Catholic House of Guise, the French Huguenots and the weary eyes of other European countries, by introducing highly-skilled Italian chefs in France, this significantly improved the level of food and ingredients, into a more elegant affair [3, 4].

 

Furthermore, the Ancien Régime saw many skilled craftsmen plying their trade in what was known as haute cuisine, where there were guilds mainly around the city of Paris [5]. This was significant, as this allowed different entreprises to, on the one hand, sell crops or raw materials and the other, to sell ready made meals, almost like a modern catering business we have right now with many top restaurants. Moreover, the chefs would have to follow particular traditional methods of cooking aimed at pleasing the King himself Рof which, three virtuous chefs have revolutionised the style and ideals of French cooking; de la Varenne, Carême and Escoffier.

 

One of the chefs to change French cookery was Francois-Pierre de la Varenne. During the 1600s, he introduced his philosophy of santé, modération et raffinement or health, moderation and refinement [6].  This was significant, as it was believed de la Varenne changed the way of presentation and simple use of ingredients. He was also perceived to have invented the béchamel sauce and some type of papillote [6]. A béchamel sauce is essentially a savoury roux sauce that can be used for vegetables or meat dishes. Equally, a papillote is a way cook an ingredient, say fish or vegetables, wrapping it up in a piece of paper. This is primarily aimed to preserve its flavours by slow cooking.

 

The next most important French chef was Marie-Antoine Car√™me. Having been living under the chaos of the French Revolution, Car√™me preferred to use his nickname “Antonin” – probably because of his first name sounding a lot like the Austrian queen, Marie-Antoinette [7]. ¬†He tried to modernise the mode of cooking, by introducing many reforms like white uniforms and tall chef hats. This was important, as this promoted cleanliness and professionalism [7].

 

Finally, the most significant French chef to grace its gastronomy has been Auguste Escoffier. Like Carême, Escoffier worked in many countries throughout various wars namely the Napoleonic Wars, through countries of the Congress of Vienna and the Franco-Prussian War in this case [8]. Escoffier is remembered as the main pioneer to revolutionise the usage of the menu itself, the mode of cooking and organisation within the kitchen and the restaurant themselves. This was significant, as using faster service or service à la Russe and à la Carte menu, this brought more efficiency and authenticity within the restaurant and kitchen together [8]. Instead of using overly extravagant garnishes, Escoffier tried to simplify the amount of things occurring on a plate of food. By doing so, he tried to promote the idea of seasonal ingredients and the use of lighter sauces to further satisfy his customers. More importantly, Escoffier introduced separate and individual stations within the kitchen, for example, starters, mains and desserts, essentially to further increase the efficiency of the service even more [8].

 

Italian cuisine 

 

[9] The traditional ingredients that are found in many rustic Italian dishes. 

We then move onto France’s south-eastern neighbour, Italy. Until Italy’s unification in 1861, Italy was always separated into many provinces or city-states – due to political, commercial or religious reasons. However, the type of food still remains different by regional Italian food since the ancient Roman times. I remember once watching Jamie Oliver’s show on the television, and he would make gnocchi with these grandmothers in the middle of the streets. One thing that striked me and the host himself, was the fact that every street all had an individual sauce to prepare their own pasta, rather than a common one representing the region as a whole. Bolognese over here, with cream and mushrooms over there, with anchovies and capers down there…a true mosaic. Perhaps that is the true beauty of the cuisine itself, a lot of chefs and cooking shows always reiterate the fact that a dish must be cooked with¬†fresh ingredients. Bring out the flavour. Make it with passion. I can almost hear¬†Gennaro Contaldo¬†(part of the¬†Two Greedy Italians¬†and¬†Jamie Oliver¬†series) say it time and time again.

The regional differences in every dish can be brought out in…well, the regions itself. Take for example, three fundamental Italian regions that is almost always on the menu. Bolognese, Napolitana and Firenze. Bologna has always used more meats in their dishes; Napolitana uses anchovies, garlic, chilis and capers more readily as it is more southern and influenced; Florence has always used tomato, basil and maybe even cream or chicken stock as key components to many staples found in pasta or pizza. But why do Italians eat pizza, tortellini, pasta, bread based foods? Who is it influenced from?¬†

Many history books have analysed the importance of the great Marco Polo, who travelled the distance to China and brought back many replicas of the technology and foods he had found. I was brought up to understand that the navigator had copied the Chinese version of dumplings, rice noodles and pizza and brought it back to his homeland. However,¬†recently and interestingly enough, many different archaeologists have argued amongst them about the feasibility of this myth of the great Venetian traveller, where¬†some¬†even stated that there was a huge possibility that Polo had compiled many false stories¬†and facts of the East in his work, “A Description of the World” and “The Travels of Marco Polo”.¬†

Whatever the truth, there can be no denying of the importance of the trade and commerce that the Venetians and Genoese merchants had brought back to the Italian cuisine. During the 11th to 15th century, both of the regions had the benefit to be bordering the sea, with many trade routes connecting to the Mediterranean and the Atlantic itself. This was significant, as this meant that many key ingredients such as wheat for Italian staples, wine, salt for food preservation and flavouring, and most of all, the use of chili, that we associate with some parts of Italy like Sicily and Sardinia [10, 11]. For example, the Spaghetti Siciliano has olives, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and red pepper flakes Рa true summery feel to it, that resonates its rich past under Venetian and Genoese rule. 

 

British cuisine 

 

[12] Arbroath smokies – a way of preparation passed down since the Vikings times. ¬†It doesn’t always have to be about fish and chips!¬†

You may wonder why I have decided to explore British cuisine, but after all, this is the marriage of food and history. Britain, as we know it today, is England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland [13]. The Romans, German tribal unit or Saxons, the Vikings, the Danes and the Normans have all set their footprint one way or another. What must be said is the different types of foods and processes that each type of people brought to the fore.

 

Apart from constructing important roads that connected major cities together, the Romans brought with them various ingredients to British cuisine. Major ingredients included cherries, cabbages and peas [13]. Instant ideas of fruit cakes or puddings, traditional cabbage and peas sides to a large pot of Lancashire stew sounds readily and typically English.

 

Then you have the Germanic tribe, the Saxons. Apart from being a conquering tribe, the Saxons brought many herbs to flavour and marinate stews [13].

 

The Vikings were a tough nomadic bunch, known for their travels to America in what is known as Newfoundland in Canada today, and infamous their brutal methods of burning houses when invading a country. However, they did bring two major cooking methods in smoking and drying fish and meats [13]. For example, the Arbroath smokie in Scotland is an example of the true flavour of the Vikings. Or the York Ham that is smoked with the sawdust of oak tree that you find so readily in Christmas [13].

 

The Normans, under William the Conqueror, did bring many modes of ‘Anglicisation’ in terms of social and political ways throughout the British Isles. Nevertheless, what we might not know is that the Normans encouraged the consumption of wine and many common meats such as mutton and beef, together with citrus fruits particularly oranges and lemons [13].

 

During Tudor times and through to the great success of the British Empire, many more ingredients began to flood in due to many commodities found in trade. There were ingredients from all over the world; spices from the Far East, sugar from the Caribbean, coffee and chocolate from South America, tea from India, potatoes from America [13]. This feat in empire-building can be best illustrated in one of the most famous British classics Рthe Christmas pudding. Originally, when the Christmas pudding was invented in the 14th century, it was based on the usage of beef and mutton with fruits, an almost Moorish type of dish. Despite the ban by the Puritans in 1595, the revival by King George I in 1714 made it quite similar to the ones consumed currently [14]. Certainly, there are many ingredients such as sugar, cinnamon, raisins and other dried fruits. This is significant, as this shows and celebrates the fruitfulness that the British Empire has brought in abundance.  

In conclusion, history, as we have seen, does certainly play a role within each country’s food. France has seen many Italian influences introduced by Catherine de Medici, the genius of de la Varrane, Car√™me and Escoffier, all play a massive role to shape the modern French fine dining that we find in many top Michelin-starred restaurants nowadays. Equally, with the commercial strength of the Genoese and Venetian trade merchants, together with the continuing importance of the different regions of Italy since the ancient Roman times, each part of the country is unique in preparing its famous staples and dishes. Finally, Britain has been more influenced by its rulers throughout history, each bringing their own brand of cooking and ingredients to the British palette. Moreover, the success of the British Empire has brought more vibrancy and exotic ingredients to modern British dishes as we have seen in the Christmas pudding. Thank you for reading, and as it is soon time for me to return home and maybe work, I will try my best to update my blog as much as possible in the near future.¬†I hope to incorporate more of history and food articles in my blog, so if you did enjoy your read, do stay tuned and all the best! ūüôā

 

References 

[1] http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_jcR4N3X9eWU/TBspJyj-HNI/AAAAAAAACc4/wt2SbXS85wE/s1600/Kitchen+still+life.jpg

[2] http://www.theinternationalkitchen.com/tik_content/images/saveur/food3.jpg

[3] http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/catherine_de_medici.htm

[4] http://www.personal.psu.edu/srh122/French.htm

[5] http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=bSuAyMNantQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=french+cuisine&hl=en&sa=X&ei=mlazUdLCIcqT0AWXpYC4Aw&ved=0CFsQ6AEwBw

[6] http://www.cooksinfo.com/francois-pierre-de-la-varenne

[7] http://www.cooksinfo.com/marie-antoine-careme

[8] http://www.worldculinaryinstitute.com/A_escoffier.html

[9] http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/62403000/jpg/_62403584_italianfood_thinkstock.jpg

[10] http://www.venicethefuture.com/schede/uk/164?aliusid=164

[11] http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5575/

[12] http://s0.geograph.org.uk/photos/36/19/361994_5f35a299.jpg

[13] http://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/History-of-British-Food/

[14] http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/pudding.shtml

Are socio-political revolutions the best way to shape a country?


[1] Vive la France! Vive la patrie! We have seen many revolutions in the world, but is it really the best way to shape a country?
Welcome back, I really hope you enjoyed my last read. I have now reached a bit more than 600 views in around a year, and I am hoping to continue that to even more due to your support. Here is a word of gratitude from your respective blogger.

Look at the French flag. Look at the American flag. It is painted blue, white and red. The true colours that connotes symbols of liberty and the nation itself. Here stands the people, the toppled monarchy and the blood we have spilled to reach here… Throughout history, there has always been a revolution that shaped the country both positively and negatively. I will use many different types of revolutions throughout history to analyse this subject; the American Revolution of 1775-83, the French Revolution of 1789-99,the Chinese Cultural Revolution of 1949 and more recent revolutions especially those of the Eastern Bloc under Gorbachev’s democratic reforms. Apart from more socio-political sense of revolution, it is fundamental to consider Marxist revolution as well. As usual, any comments for improvement are welcome.

Before we commence with the analysis of various revolutions, it is important to understand the term revolution itself. There are two senses of the word itself, and according to the Oxford Dictionary, it is either “a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system”, or rather in Marxist terms, “the class struggle which is expected to lead to political change and the triumph of Communism”. [2]

Now that we have briefly comprehended the term itself, let us ease into the revolutions themselves. I have dissected the revolutions into specific sections – ideological early modern and modern to make my point easier to understand. I have also tried to go all around the world to try and emphasise my point further. Let us start with the nucleus of the revolutionary idea within Marx and Engel’s ideological philosophy.

1) Ideological


[3] The Marxist theory envisioned by Marx and Engels revolutionised the way society is and was structured.
1.1) Proletariat revolution – Marxist

Apart from discussing socio-political factors of revolutions throughout history, it is also important to consider the ideological side of revolution itself under the guidance of the two German greats – Marx and Engels. On the basis of Marxist theory, social revolution will take place, where the dictatorship or dominace of the proletariat will rise up against the bourgeoisie, essentially transforming society, forcing the elites to fuse into the working class as well [4]. There is an argument that a social class is necessary, as once the elites are eradicated, another one would take its place. This is key, as this would mean a pendulum swinging between a centralised or decentralised government on who and which class is the dominant force, ultimately in socialism or democracy [4]. Moreover, this would question the social relationship between us human together, as it is difficult to achieve democracy and equality together as you could see in my previous post about whether celebrities deserve to have astronomical amounts of salary.

2) Early Modern


[5] One of the most iconic paintings depicting the American Revolution with Washington at the Americans’ command.

2.1) The American Revolution

With the American Revolution, this was essentially a battle internally and externally – one amongst the Loyalists and the Revolutionaries, and the other against the British Crown under King George III. There were different motives, but perhaps the nationalist sentiment was overwhelming under the tutelage of the Founding Fathers of the United States – John and Samuel Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Under George III’s reign of the Thirteen Colonies, there was much debate over his reliability as ruler. Many politicians locally in Britain were concerned with George III’s relaxed and nonchalant attitude, who lacked the political shrewdness that his predecessors left the sub-continent. [6] This was significant, as this meant major policies were out of his control and left to his advisors – namely Lord North. This was significant, many strict policies, for example the Stamp Act, Boston Massacre, Tea Party, Coercive Acts, were all “touched off [with] a heavy flurry of pamphleteering” [7]. This discussed many Anglo-American differences in vain and anger, which encouraged for a reconstruction of a new government.

More importantly still, however, the Americans were helped politically and militarily aided by the French government under Louis XVI and Marquis de Lafayette. With the defeat at the Seven Years’ War, France wanted to revenge against Britain for the losses in colonies and in prestige. This was significant, as this meant a heavy collaboration amongst the Franco-American forces, effectively to weaken the British influence in North America. After allying themselves together, the Franco-American forces under General Washington and Comte de Rochambeau agreed to collaborate in Chesapeake Bay against the British forces under Lord Cornwallis’ command. With heavy bombardment and stranding of the British commander, this was significant, as the British government hesitantly signed the Treaty of Paris in 1783, effectively granting independence to the Americans [8].

Despite the fact that America was now independent, it was still very much under political turmoil particularly under the Article of Confederation. There was a key divide within the American government over the problem of slavery. On the one hand, the Quakers were favouring a more sympathetic role and acted decisively to abolish the commerce altogether in areas like Rhode Island and Vermont. This anti-slavery sentiment was fundamental, as it encouraged the establishment of the Anti-Slavery Society later in 1831. [9] Nevertheless, this did split the northern and southern states even more, as the north required increasingly more people to work in newly industrialised areas, whereas the south was far more reliant on agricultural production. [9,10] This conflict over slavery continued under Abraham Lincoln and the Union Army against the Confederacy army was significant, as this implies how revolution could be hapless and a long process of struggle on a country showed in a country. However, it must be noted that despite the act of slavery, the black population continued to struggle socially and politically until the 1960’s, in acts of equal human rights in the South. Thus, this questions the true significance of a revolution and its positive impact within a country, particularly if it leaves a nation in an eternal struggle as shown here and in many cases hereafter.

2.2) The French Revolution

Despite the success that France had brought to the United States in making it an independent country, this greatly affected itself economically and socially. Tables were turned – from success plunging into failure. According to many sources, the French government was now heavily bankrupt. This was significant, as King Louis XVI and his advisor Necker continued to tax the peasants, and favoured the aristocracy within the social and political domains. Consequently, this ended in social unrest and a lot of revolts throughout the nation. For example, one of the first and most significant revolts against the Bourbon monarchy was the Women’s Revolt to Versailles. The women demanded the “Baker, the Baker’s wife and the Baker’s son”, as an attempt to protest for more bread or food from the monarchy. This was key, as this meant that showed the discontentment from the local people, and the ineffectiveness of the government. This social chaos did force the King to be evacuated with his family, and to have the National Guard to try and repress the peasants. [11]

The political situation intensified under the role of Robespierre and the Great Fear. Robespierre had a prominent role within the National Convention, prompting the execution of the Bourbon monarchy under Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. This was significant, as in spite of the eradication of tyranny and a declaration of France as a republic, Robespierre and the Jacobins became the dominant forces in France [12]. Unfortunately, however, Robespierre abused that power and became the tyrant himself, spreading the ‘Reign of Terror’, essentially putting any anti-revolutions like Danton at the expense of the guillotine. This was key, as there were increasingly more conspiracies to assassinate Robespierre, where on 27 July 1794, after a struggle, the mastermind himself was critically injured by a gunshot and was executed subsequently [12].

This revolutionary sentiment found in a nucleus exploded throughout Europe, primarily under Napoleon’s influence and the Napoleonic Wars. Throughout Europe, there were countless political and military battles between pro-monarchy and anti-monarchy countries (which were few and far between)! This included Prussia, Austria, Russia and Great Britain all favouring their monarchical forms of government, whilst the likes of France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands were on the opposing side. Despite Napoleon Bonaparte’s best efforts to restore a competitive stance against Great Britain, the Wars of the Sixth and Seventh Coalitions proved to be overwhelming. This was significant, as the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium had shown the grandeur of Europe against Napoleon himself, forcing him to surrendering on 15th July, 1815 [13]. Thus, Napoleon was exiled in Saint Helena as we know, and the Bourbon Monarchy under Louis-Philippe or Louis XVIII was restored, despite parity in France and further revolutions in the 1830 Revolution to again overthrow the monarchy. This was key, as this shows the instability and chaos that revolutions can cause to a country and with many conflicts internally and externally within France, due to colonial and governmental problems. It was not until after the Bonaparte legacy after Napoleon III was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, that Adolphe Thiers was the first statesman to take over the socio-political scene in France, and restore relative stability over the French people [14].

3) Modern


[15] The rapprochement between then US president Reagan and Russian president Gorbachev, was another significant event in history.
3.1) Communist China

We now turn our attention to Asia, where a fundamental revolution can be found in the Cultural Revolution of 1949 in China. After the victory against the Nationalists or the Guomintang (GMT) in the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the Communists gained control of the entire Chinese country, forcing the GMT to reside in Taiwan. As a result, China was renamed as the People’s Republic of China or PRC. [16] This was significant, as the Communists had a lot of control and influence from the peasants across the country, which previously was corrupt with bribery under the reign of the Chinese Generalisimo or Chiang Kai-shek.

With this monumental support from the peasants, the Communists started to capitalise on this domain – reshaping the Chinese social and political fronts. For example, under the Cultural Revolution, Mao had introduced what was known as re-education, where many people, including “counter-revolutionaries” and the bourgeoisie were sent to the countryside to be “de-educated” or publicly humiliated by the general public. This was significant, as this was paradoxical because it destroyed the intelligentsia as the main social class, so critical in any country’s development socially, politically and economically. [17] Consequently, the country stagnated in effective economic policies, as the Great Leap Forward clearly showed. Certainly, Mao wanted his people to be industrially self-sufficient against the rising powers in the United States and Germany at the time, but without true expertise to guide the peasants to find and manufacture key resources, the whole process was a failure.

3.2) Eastern Bloc – glasnost and perestroika
After succeeding Khruschev, Gorbachev was a far more liberal leader in the Russian Communist Party. Compared to the iron fist that was imposed by Khruschev and Stalin, Gorbachev worked more freely and cooperatively with his American counterpart, Ronald Reagan, in what was called the rapprochement process. Gorbachev realised, unlike his predecessors, that if the USSR were to compete against the US and the world, it must go through the ‘democratisation’ transition. [18] This was significant, as through the two main policies – perestroika and glasnost, the main problems of poor standard of living and lack of freedom from a strict centralised government were to be rectified. Perestroika was to restructure the economic issues and to rely more on market forces, whilst glasnost was to enforce a more decentralised forms of government and higher ‘democratisation’ within the USSR and beyond in the Soviet controlled Eastern Europe [18]. For this reason, this time of ideological change or revolution introduced by Gorbachev can be seen as positive, as it made the Soviet people freer and more inclusive and aware within the society as a whole, striving towards a more democratic rather than Communist ideal that was previously championed by Khruschev and more predominantly by Stalin himself.

Therefore and in conclusion, if we apply the Marxist idea of a controversial replacement of the ruling class or elites within society as part of answering the question, let us break down each of the revolutions individually. Essentially, there has been a recurring pattern throughout all the revolutions – they were all against the elite class or patriarchical figure in a dictator, tyrannical or monarchical rule.

Thus, this was significant, as there were more incentives to struggle for the national independence, striving towards autonomy, self-determination. This was key, as this could be seen as a positive effect in a revolution, where take the US as an example, allowed it to have more freedom and more inclined in its national and foreign policy since the Independence Wars against Great Britain. In the same positive light, Gorbachev had introduced two main policies – perestroika and glasnost, as a form of socio-political revolution. This was significant, as it enforced and reformed a more democratic, individualist, liberal society for the Russian and former Soviet republics, effectively allowing it to fit more appropriately in the global scale against its American and Western counterparts.

However, a revolution could also leave a country continuingly in socio-political chaos, unrest and instability, as France had shown with many transitions between a Republic and a monarchical rule, throughout its history with the French Revolution and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. This was key, as without time as a factor, the country could still be in a negative transition and to be an adult country by itself. Similarly, in the case of China and the Cultural Revolution, this completely altered and left a legacy in which the way people are behaving, as there was an incentive to ‘de-educate’ the intelligentsia or the ruling bourgeois class by public humiliation or by re-educating fields. This was significant, as this shows how revolution is not effective, as it forced the Chinese nation to struggle when Mao introduced the Great Leap Forward, lacking critical expertise to successfully compete against the industrial superpowers found in the US and Germany.

Effectively and what must be noted, is that every country, be it young or old, will go through this transition of revolution if needed to struggle for more autonomy and self-determination from the general public. However, to effectively function on a global scale, it needs time to recover and to restabilise itself. For example, the West has reasonable amount of time with around 150 to 200 years since its last major revolution, whereas younger countries found in the Arab, African or Eastern European countries do not have time on their side as they are recently struggling or in transition of a revolution. Consequently, these types of countries need it to grow and recuperate from the effects of revolution itself. That is it from me, and I sincerely hope you enjoyed your read again. Thank you very much for your support! Bye now ūüôā

References
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[13] http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/napoleonicwars/p/Napoleonic-Wars-Battle-Of-Waterloo.htm
[14] http://www.nndb.com/people/550/000101247/
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