Religion in Battleship Potemkin

Traditionally, when people are in unsatisfactory situations, or are unhappy with their lives, they turn to religion. The Communist Party flips the notion of religion as a solace on its head, and preaches that religion is what keeps the lower classes appeased and prevents them from taking down those that oppress them. In Battleship Potemkin, directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein, this Communist ideal and its merits are displayed.

The film takes place during the 1905 Revolution, in which the lower classes rallied together to fight the Czar. The most interesting thing, to me, was the portrayal/the importance of religion in the film. Before the mutiny on the ship takes place, a sailor breaks a plate that has “give us this day our daily bread” in-scripted on it. During the mutiny, a priest stands in the way of the sailors, siding with the captain and the officers. In this way, religion is shown as a proponent of the Czar and his authority. Distain for religion is  a large part of Communism, which, at the time that the film was made, was the political ideology of the Russian government. The film was ostentatiously about the 1905 Revolution, but it was really a way to enforce the views of the Communist party, and reiterate the reasons why Russia turned to Communism in the first place.

Because they both morphed into authoritarian states, German Fascism and Russian Communism are often look at as similar forms of government; they are not. The film shows this when a Russian aristocrat says “Kill the Jews”, and all of the lower class people attack him for this comment. In Russia, everyone was supposed to be equal, and religion and ethnicity were things to be forgotten with the rise of Communism. In Russia, it was the rich and privileged who were hated, regardless of ethnicity and/or religion. In Germany, it was quit the opposite; the Germans wanted to racially cleanse their country. As Mazower explains in Dark Continent, “the law no longer protected the rights of jews and gypsies, as well as “degenerate” classes of Aryans” in Nazi Germany (Mazower 33).

This film illustrates why Communism was appealing to the Russian people. The brutal actions of the Czar’s regime are connected to religion, and both the regime and the church must lose their power for the people to gain theirs. Battleship Potemkin reminds the Russian people of the camaraderie they share under the rule of the Communist government.




The photo above explains how sustainability is connected not only to the environment of a city but also to it’s social and economic health.Therefore, sustainability is not just an environmental problem that be fixed by powering down electric devices and using methods of transportation that do not harm the environment. Sustainability involves more than just the environment around us. It involves living within the limits of what our planet can afford to give us and distributing its resources with everyone. One definition of sustainability is “Understanding the interconnections among economy, society, and environment”.  Without understanding these connections and limits, our future suffers as we deprive others of resources we have misused.

Sustainability is the linking of our social, personal, and environmental health in order to provide a healthy future for generations to come. We need to provide resources to others and care for our world. We need to help our communities by making them healthier, environmentally, socially, and economically. Without these connections in our cities, our towns, our nations, we waste the resources of our planet.

Cultural Sustainability

My favorite definition of sustainability that I found was from the Free Dictionary.  Sustainability was defined as “to keep in existence, maintain.”  This definition was my favorite because it was the most inclusive one I could find.  Many other definitions spoke specifically about the environment.  While sustainability is most commonly used in reference to the environment and a “green” lifestyle, it can also be used in an economic or cultural sense as well.  I will be focusing on the cultural definition of sustainability.

In terms of culture, sustainability refers to maintaining certain cultural markers, such as language, traditions, ancestry, and religion.  Some of these can be very positive, such as keeping a language alive, or participating in a family ritual.  A negative example would be forbidding intermarriage as a way to continue “racial purity.”

Since the English began to rule Ireland, the Irish Gaelic language has been in steady decline.  Even in the Victorian Era, James Joyce wrote about university students enrolling in Irish classes to keep the language alive (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man). Today, according to a census reported in The Guardian, about 25% of the Irish population speaks Irish, which is odd, considering it is officially the country’s first language.  While some of the Irish refuse to speak a language other than English, in Irish speaking parts of Ireland, Irish Gaelic is taught in schools.  According to the Irish Central website, the number of Irish speakers is on the rise.  This is due to people wanting to preserve this language, an example of cultural sustainability.  Just as we try to conserve natural resources, Irish speakers are trying to conserve their language.  

The other example of cultural sustainability I will use is quite different.  This is because it is a movement to revive something that has been arguably gone for thousands of years.  The pagan revivalist movement is a movement dating back to the 1950s, that is attempting to revive the various world pagan religions that disappeared after the rise of Christianity.  Religions such as Druidry, the ancient religion of the Celts, or Greco-Roman beliefs are being followed by some people in modern society, particularly in the UK and US.  Some people are trying to revive these old religions because they identify with the culture that used to practice them.  For example, a German or German-American may worship the old Germanic or Viking gods.  Others just find a spiritual truth in these ancient practices.    While this example is not the most well-known, I find it extremely interesting, because it is a movement to resurrect a religion believed to be extinct.   Which brings up a question:  Does sustainability encompass not just keeping in existence, but bringing back to existence?

So, while one can maintain resources and economic structure, one can also maintain languages and religions.

Sustainability: Systems-style thinking and our Native American past

Sustainability is a word that is thrown around today with increasing frequency but too seldom pinned down and thoroughly defined.  In searching for a comprehensive and appropriate definition, I found many attempts too limiting, incomplete in scope.  With each consecutive search, more questions arose and the task grew in complexity.  I will not be able to define sustainability in entirety today, but I believe there exists essential terminology that cannot and must not be ignored in a conversation on the topic, pillars of the sustainability discussion, if you will.

First, sustainability is not exclusively an environmental concept.  Let us call a bathtub filled with water ‘a stock of water.’  If the plug is pulled, the water will run out and the stock is depleted. This is an outflow. If, however, the faucet is turned on so that the inflow of water exactly matches the outflow, the stock is said to be in a state of dynamic equilibrium. The stock of water inside the bathtub is maintained, and the system should be described as sustainable. This is a small example and ignores the original source of inflowing water but illustrates an important point: sustainability must be framed within a systems-style of thinking; considering inflows, outflows, and resources, often limited ones at that.

Two more integral aspects in defining sustainability are resourcefulness and forward thinking.  The three together help explain why I chose the picture below, the face of a Native American man’s face depicted through the earth’s terrain and animals, as my representation of sustainability.  I believe many of the Native American tribes adeptly prescribed to sustainable living practices, whether socially, commercially, or environmentally.  They were resourceful by using every part of the animal they killed, wasting nothing.  They left little footprint ecologically, living in modest structures made of biodegradable materials and used fuels negligibly detrimental to the surrounding environment.  They lived this way because they maintained a systems way of thinking.  They, unlike their white European counterparts, understood that they were just a part in the greater system of Mother Nature, one cog in the machine of natural forces maintaining dynamic equilibrium.


The Iroquois, in particular, were very forward thinking.  In my research for this assignment I came across the concept of seven generation sustainability, an ecological concept practiced by the Iroquois that urged the current generation to live in a manner beneficial to those seven generations removed from the current one.

(Taken from Wikipedia)

Oren Lyons, Chief of the Onondaga Nation, writes: “We are looking ahead , as is one of the first mandates given us as chiefs, to make sure and to make every decision that we make relate to the welfare and well-being of the seventh generation to come. . . .” “What about the seventh generation? Where are you taking them? What will they have?”


To view my inspiration and read further, visit the sites below.

Define: sustainable


Sustainability encompasses so many things: from science, technology and nature down to small things such as recycling, reusable water bottles and turning off lights in empty rooms. The push for sustainability is a call to re-learn how to live within our means on this planet–something we have forgotten. But I see the most important aspect of sustainability in the photo above: teaching the future leaders of the world to be accountable for our environment so that our progress in sustainability efforts can be sustained in the decades to come.

A quick “define: sustainable” search in Google turns up this response: able to be upheld or defended. Our efforts to live green cannot be upheld if we do not teach the future generations how to do so. Earth cannot be defended if our society, particularly youth, is not educated. And so I believe the most important definition of sustainability is this: to educate the public on living green and living within the limits of Mother Nature.



Sustainability: Internalizing the Economics of Society

“An activity is sustainable when all costs are internalized, because if the costs are too high, the activities stop. Low gas prices lead to more Hummers; taxing gas in some fashion to pay for environmental remediation makes sense, and is a pro-sustainability approach. This version of sustainability applies not only to the environment: labor practices are unsustainable if they breed unrest (or revolution) or fail to develop the labor force; additives that extend product shelf life are unsustainable if they diminish human life; corporate presence in a town may be unsustainable if the tax breaks that attracted the facility mean that it is not paying enough to keep the community thriving.” –Christopher Meyer (HBR Blog Network)

Sustainability, although typically used as an environmental term, can apply to all aspects of society. I find that the quote above accurately depicts the definition of sustainability, as it refers it as a much broader concept. Specifically, this article elucidates sustainability as a solid economic foundation. Sustainability is examined from an environmental standpoint while still mentioning the pertinent economic underpinning. The author also talks about the correlation between demand for products and the cost of those products. A particularly interesting segment of this author’s definition is the discussion of labor practices. It is intriguing to look at sustainability from a labor perspective, for this is the groundwork of a functioning and prosperous society. However, as the author mentions, a prosperous society does not necessarily equal a sustainable society. The key is to keep costs internalized and to avoid an overbearing corporate presence. This is sustainability.