European Progress

Much like Europe in the mid-nineteenth century, the United States believed that women should continue to be confined to managing the household in the mid-twentieth century.  In response, the National Organization for Women developed in 1966 and spoke out against these injustices and  lack of progress made in the United States.  In their mission statement, the National Organization for Women compared the lives and opportunities of American women to European women, claiming, “We believe that this nation has a capacity at least as great as other nations, to innovate new social institutions which enable women to enjoy true equality of opportunity and responsibility in society, without conflict with their responsibilities as mothers and homemakers.  In such innovations, America does not lead the Western world, but lags by decades behind many European countries,” (3). It is clear, through this excerpt of their mission statement, that opportunities for European women had increased dramatically since Sanford and Beeton wrote their pieces on the ideal middle-class woman in the mid-nineteenth century.  Moreover, because European women were not confined to their households like they had been, the National Organization of Women took note and believed that the United States lagged “decades behind many European countries.”  Furthermore, this organization rejected, “the current assumptions that a man must carry the sole burden of supporting himself, his wife, and family, and that a woman is automatically entitled to lifelong support by a man upon her marriage…” (3)  As indicated, more European women became less dependent on their husbands in the mid-twentieth century, as they were encouraged to join the workforce and step outside the confines of their household.

The progress made by European nations in regards to women and their newfound role in society can be boiled down to two aspects: the golden era of socialism in Europe and constant warfare amongst European nations.  Before the start of World War I, many European nations produced socialist thinkers who argued for the rights of European women and workers.  Due to the success of these socialist thinkers, “new social institutions” were formed throughout Europe, allowing “women to enjoy true equality” and become more than household managers.  Secondly, European nations constantly fought with one another during the early twentieth century; these wars included the Morrocan Crisis, Bosnian Crisis, World War I and World War II.  Due to these wars, European men were constantly gone, leaving women without the “lifelong support by a man upon her marriage.”  In fact, due to their constant absence, women were the one’s carrying “the sole burden,” for they had to support themselves as well as their children financially and domestically during times of war.  In these times, European women proved themselves to European men; for they displayed their ability to manage a household while maintaining an everyday job typically reserved for men.  In conclusion, European nations progressed more quickly than the United States in regards to gender roles because of the success of socialism and the constant involvement in warfare; which allowed women to prove that they carried more value than simply being domestic workers.

Surviving Auschwitz

In “Survival in Auschwitz,” Primo Levi spoke to his experiences in an Auschwitz concentration camp for ten months.  As the title suggests, Levi spoke to how he managed to survive in such awful conditions.  Early on during his time in Auschwitz, Levi spoke to a time in which he was thirsty and opened the window, hoping to snatch an icicle.  However, a guard on duty quickly took the icicle away from Levi. When he asked the guard why, the guard responded, and said, “there is no why here,” (29). From this experience, Levi learned, “in this place everything is forbidden, not for hidden reasons, but because the camp has been created for that purpose.  If one wants to live on must learn quickly and well,” (29).  With this, it became clear that one way method of survival in Auschwitz was to never question guards, for questioning was a sign of disrespect.

Another example that Primo Levi gave in his account is that “everything is useful,” (33) and “the value of food,” (33).  Levi argued that in order to survive, a prisoner must understand that “everything is useful” because prisoners were not given much and it was imperative to hold onto the things you did have.  Furthermore, Levi argued that prisoners must be aware of their surroundings and hold onto their possessions, for “everything can be stolen,” (33).  This was especially important for prisoners, for they were not given much and if you had something stolen from you, that could mean the end for your survival.  In regards to “the value of food,” Levi argued that food was crucial because food was hard to come by.  With food being so hard to come by, Levi argued that prisoners must “scrape the bottom of the bowl,” (33) for that food had to sustain you for a day’s work.  Lastly, Primo Levi spoke against the idea of hygiene.  The reason?  Levi believed that taking the time to wash yourself simply was not worth it, for you were wasting your energy when you could have been resting.  Ultimately, Primo Levi and his account provide tremendous insight on what life was like in Auschwitz and how best to survive such terrible conditions.

Keynes and the Treaty of Versailles

In reading the “Treaty of Versailles,” it becomes clear that the idea behind the treaty was to limit the powers and territories of Germany and have them surrender during the Great War; making them go from a very powerful country to a very weak country in the blink of an eye.  In his piece titled “The Economic Consequences of the Peace,”, English economist John Maynard Keynes spoke to the negative effects that the Versailles settlement would have on the nation of Germany.  Keynes’ highlighted that Germany would lose “her colonies, her merchant fleet and her foreign investments,” (Keynes) after signing this treaty.  Furthermore, due to these losses, Keynes argued that the industry of Germany will “be condemned inevitably to destruction,” (Keynes) and made it clear that German citizens will suffer many deaths due to the poor quality of life that will occur once the treaty is signed.  And while Keynes believed that the next logical step for German citizens would be to move to other places, for no work would be available in Germany, “many countries and the most important ones will oppose any German immigration,” (Keynes) forbidding them to move out of Germany, for once the treaty is signed they would want nothing to do with them.

Keynes believed that if Germany were to sign the Treaty of Versailles, they would be making a rash decision and could “throw back human progress for centuries.” (Keynes)  Rather than jump at this idea of a treaty, Keynes believed that Germany should wait it out and see if something more favorable might pop up.  And while Keynes’ piece was passionate and provided key points as to why the German community should not sign the treaty, Germany ended up signing anyway, ending the misery that the Great War provided them.  In signing this treaty, the German population displayed the exhaustion that the Great War had caused them and proved that they were willing to give up many of their powers in order to end their involvement in the war.  Ultimately, I think the biggest takeaway from Keynes’ piece is that Germany was willing to give up all their powers and territory in order to get out of World War I.  This is important because it showed that Germany was weak and exhausted.  By displaying their weakness in signing this treaty, a man named Adolf Hitler was able to take notice and developed a plan that involved him taking over Germany; a plan that became successful and with his leadership, Germany became a rather violent nation and caused another World War to begin.

Comte De Saint-Simon


Author: Author’s name is Comte de Saint-Simon.  Saint-Simon is considered to be a French social theorist (Comte de Saint-Simon 1).  He was not in support of a Laissez-faire economy.  Instead, Saint-Simon wanted “an industrialized state directed by science,” (Comte de Saint-Simon 1).  Furthermore, Saint-Simon wanted industrialists to become enlightened and after their enlightenment, for he felt that they could help the poor.  He also fought in the American Revolution.

Context: The article does not say when exactly it was written, but on Encyclopedia Britannica they make mention of many of his works.  A few of his successful works were in 1803, 1814, and  1816-18.  It claims that his work in 1803 spoke to the importance of science, which this piece does. ((Encyclopedia Britannica, Henri de Saint-Simon)).

Language: Saint-Simon seemed to be challenging the way Europe currently stood economically when he wrote this piece.  The tone of his voice could be characterized as frustrated, for he was not happy with the way Europe continued to use this Laissez-faire attitude.

Audience: He claims that Europe relies on this Laissez-faire attitude and that it is considered to be “the inevitable solution,” (Comte de Saint-Simon 2).  Saint-Simon disagreed with this point and wants Europe to change their ways.  Due to the fact that St. Simon disagreed with this Laissez-faire mentality and constantly mentioned “honest and hard-working men,” (Comte de Saint-Simon 2) as “innumerable victims,” (Comte de Saint- Simon 2) it seems as though Saint-Simon was speaking to the masses, as he wanted them to change their line of thinking and stop going along with the Laissez-faire attitude.

Intent: As stated above, it seems that Saint-Simon’s intent was to encourage the masses to look around and see how they were being manipulated by the Laissez-faire economy and his piece showed a way in which they could improve the European economy.

Message: Laissez-faire is defined as, “policy of minimum governmental interference in the economic affairs of individuals and society,” ((Encyclopedia Britannica, laissez-faire)).  However, while many Europeans found this to be “inevitable solution,” Saint-Simon disagreed and stated that a Laissez-fair economy created a “struggle to the death,” (Comte de Saint-Simon 2) mentality amongst Europeans.  Furthermore, by creating this mentality, Saint-Simon claimed that while some individuals may be successful, “the price is the complete ruin of innumerable victims.”  In fact, because many working men become “innumerable victims,” Saint-Simon claimed that this caused people to go to the endth measure, for “more than honesty and hard work are needed,” (Comte de Saint-Simon 2).  Saint-Simon concludes that when working men see that hard work does not get enough done, they resort to deceitful tactics and become “lost to humanity,” (Comte de Saint- Simon 2).  Therefore, because working men, seeing that there hard-work was useless, turn to drastic measures and lose their humanity.  This, Saint-Simon argued, is a major problem occurring in Europe and will only be fixed if the Laissez-faire economy is done away with.

His solution to this, was, as the introduction stated, “an industrialized state directed by science, and an enlightened class of industrialists to address the needs of the poor,” (Comte de Saint-Simon 1).  While this solution had flaws, for Saint-Simon acknowledges these very flaws in his introduction, he believed that a state which was directed by science could not be any more flawed than a Laissez-faire economy, which continuously hurt the humanity of Europe and brought chaos to Europe.


*Once again, I had trouble with footnoting.  Below are the sources I used for the Context section and Message section.*

“Henri de Saint-Simon”. Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.       Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 05 Feb. 2015 (context section)

“laissez-faire”. Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 05 Feb. 2015. (message section)

The French Revolution and its Impacts

Throughout class this week, we have looked the French Revolution and how the revolution shaped French culture and politics.  Yet before looking at how the revolution shaped this new France, one must understand the reasons why people started to believe in the revolution in the first place.  One of these reasons was Maximilien Robespierre, author of The Cult of the Supreme Being.  In this piece, Robespierre justifies the revolution for he claims that the Supreme Being “did not create kings to devour the human race” (Robespierre 1), which was what the Crown was doing to the native French people.  Furthermore, Robespierre claims, “O generous People, would you triumph over all your enemies? Practice justice, and render the Divinity the only worship worthy of Him,” (Robespierre 1) and “Frenchmen, you war against kings; you are therefore worthy to honor Divinity,” (Robespierre 1).  Here, Robespierre is trying to fire up the native peoples and explain to them that the Supreme Being would want them to overthrow the King, for if they did they would be found “worthy to honor divinity.”  Lastly, Robespierre does a tremendous job because he is purposefully ambiguous by never mentioning God; for he appeals to both believers (for they think the Supreme being is God) and atheists (for he claims that all people are meant to help one another).  By appealing to both believers and non-believers, Robespierre is able to unite the people of France through his work, firing everyone up about fighting back against the Crown.

Once the revolution was under way, the French experienced many changes involving their culture and politics.  In order to change their culture, frenchmen and women deemed it necessary to eliminate their past and start over.  In order to eliminate their past, one can argue that they took extreme measures.  For instance, children would not be named Louis, Henry or Francis, for those represented old France and the evil rule known as the Crown (this can be seen as both cultural and political change).  Continuing this pattern, the French eliminated bishops, kings and queens as chess pieces and playing cards; for it brought them back to the Crown and their rule.  Furthermore, the French changed their salutations all together and vowed to never say the words, “obedient and humble servant,” for the believed that they were not subject to the King and his rule anymore.  While these actions may be considered somewhat radical of the French, it was deemed necessary for the fact that they have lived under the Crown for so long and this was a way in which they could start over, forgetting about their troubled past with the Crown.