Friday, October 17, 2014

European History, Day 15

A critic of free trade also illustrates 19th century racism
Last week in European History Since 1648 at UNLV, we used Marx and Engels Manifesto to discuss the emergence of communism in Europe during the nineteenth century.  On Tuesday we discussed the other, rival ideology of nineteenth century: liberalism.
Erudite commentators at the Redding Record Searchlight have helped me to realize that in contemporary American politics, “liberalism” means roughly “Communist-Fascist-Islamist-Secularist-Bay Area-EnviroFascist pond scum”.
But in the nineteenth century, it had a rather different definition (which approximates its meaning in many other countries in the world today).  Our task in class was to unpack this meaning and then discuss its relation to our other topic of the period: imperialism.
Students spent time in their groups discussing a letter from China’s Commissioner Lin to Queen Victoria before the Opium Wars; the last will and testament of Cecil Rhodes; a speech by French parliamentarian Jules Ferry to the national assembly; and Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “White Man’s Burden”, coupled with an editorial response from a San Francisco newspaper.
Students were tasked with identifying strands of liberalism and nationalism in these documents, as well as any connections they could make to themes from earlier weeks, and I enjoyed hearing their thoughts on the topic. 

It was our final class period before the mid-term, and we will return to liberalism, socialism, and emerging sciences after the exam to discuss their impacts on 19th century European views of society and its ills.

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