Women According to the Law

The readings in Kaiser and Marker pages 49-59 solidify the social presence of the church in Kievan Rus’ society; specifically in the way that women were treated. The most evident is the definitive distinction between “good” and “evil” women. Good women were characterized by their attentiveness to the Christian faith and their strict adherence to social principles; Evil women were those who strayed from the church and asserted their social independence. Even the way that these laws are writhed prove how male- centric the society was. Every law is geared towards the man, and in situations where the male is punished the prince offers punishment whereas where the female is punished she is punished by her husband (page 52, law 37). On the other hand, there certainly are some surprising laws that protect the women and her personal choice. For example, if a girl wishes to marry (or wishes not to marry) but her parents make her do the opposite of her wishes and she causes harm to herself her parents must accept responsibility. It is unclear on whether they simply accept responsibility or must allow her to assert her own wishes, but this still provides some insight into the value of the woman’s choice.  However, there is no way to ensure that these laws were held up in society or just looked at as if the women who enacted these laws were considered “evil” women who were too independent from a male’s rule. In addition, many laws that would appear to be protecting women were simply created to protect their societal role- their ability to care for children (and not respecting their own lives).

With God On Our Side

One of the most prevalent imageries depicted through the course of these stories is the inclusion of God and religious allusions, but specifically in the context of good and evil. This is especially noticeable when discussion battles, where the writers of the story (supposedly those who survived and flourished after these events) had God backing them and their cause; while the others were backed by evil. This is exemplified in multiple stories, such as on page 22 when the author claims that “While Vladimir was desirous of attacking Iaroslav, the latter sent overseas and imported Varangian reinforcements, since he feared his father’s advance. But God will not give the devil any satisfaction. For when Vladimir fell ill, Boris was with him at the time.” This shows that the author believed that what happened in history occurred because God was backing these results. Similarly, on page 25, “God had let loose the pagans upon us because of our transgressions, the Russian princes fled and the Polovtsians were victorious.” This exhibits both values because it shows the prevalence of religious thinking in the interpretations of the people of the time who were experiencing those events. In terms of power, it showed that the leaders of the time were thought of to have the backing of the Gods, and that they themselves (and their decisions that they made for their population) were blessed to a certain extent. Evidently this altered over time as the populous gained more control of their leadership, but for some time the decisions of the leaders were the only decisions acceptable backed by the Gods.

CIA Intelligence Assessment: Rising Political Instability Under Gorbachev

3 Points:
  1. December 1988, Gorbachev delivered a “watershed” speech at the United Nations that demonstrated his growing liberalization efforts. All of these efforts would create a less intrusive force in the eastern bloc, as shown be attempts to decrease the military forces prevalent there and the amounts of armaments used.
  2. President Bush saw these as empty promises; pointing out how despite the perception that Gorbachev was creating opportunity for the people in the Soviet Union, their standards of living remain very low- similar to as they were under Stalin. He says that economic issues (he frequently describes it with the word “stagnate”) and political differences from what the people enjoyed under Brezhnev, has caused unrest within the people.
  3. Bush predicts that this unrest from the populous will cause a threat to Gorbachev’s control, and that “the next several years promise to be turbulent” because of the idea that there will be a split in leadership under Gorbachev between those that want to continue these reforms and those that do not.
2 Questions:
  1. Why did the Bush administration think that accepting Soviet reforms would “divide the US from its NATO allies” if they should also want a less aggressive military presence from the USSR?
  2. What was the Soviet response to this criticism of their leader and his liberalization efforts?
1 Observation:
  1. Even when presented with liberalization from the USSR, the United States and its NATO allies still appear to distrust the sincerity of it. The description notes that the Bush administration was divided on whether to accept these as genuine efforts or to question if this was simply a ploy to make the US more accepting of Soviet actions. After creating a “strategic review” of the foreign policy on this issue, it is evident that the US determined a cautious stance towards these actions, overall questioning the efforts of the USSR to alter its stances from the past.
Link to the specific section: http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/348

National Organization for Women- Statement of Purpose

Three Points:

–       Says that the social restraint of keeping women in the home has been surpassed by the increased life span. Since women can live longer, the majority of their life is not spent raising children and thus they have the capacity to strive for more personal accomplishments other than domestically. In addition, technology has reduced the work in the home as there are less” chores” for women to do. This allows for women to expand from previous societal restraints because there is more time and opportunity for them to excel outside of domesticity.

–       NOW wants more federal backing for the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 so that women are not discriminated against in the work place. They state that this has occurred numerous times, and despite legislation, has yet to be addressed to the full extent that it needs to be.

–       They show many statistics in higher education and higher power jobs that show the disparity between men and women- women making up 51% of the population but rarely having jobs that pay well and that give them societal power (for example, at this time only 4% of all lawyers were women). This causes them to call for more educational opportunity for women and more jobs that would allow them to claim as equal members of society to men.

Two Questions:

– How did the feminist movement in America affect similar movements globally, and how did those other movements play into American feminist identities?

– Was the reaction of men towards feminist issues more accepting and supportive than in the past, or was there still resistance?

One Observation:

– I think it is important to see how the feminist movements work alongside the Civil Rights Movement for racial inequality. Both being subjugated to unfair social standings and inequality from the white male led governing body, on many fronts they were able to support each other and stand in solidarity for equal treatment. Specifically in the Statement of Purpose from the National Organization for Women, they discuss the double victimization of black women in society, and how they are being undervalued by two different aspects of inequality in America.

Survival in Auschwitz

Three Points:
  1. In these camps, one of the largest barriers between those living there was language. Most of them had Jewish background and many of them were educated; however, there was little access to communication. Not only did this make work more difficult when listening to the commanders who spoke German and the other workers that one was working with, but also an enormous feeling of isolation.
  2. The demoralizing of the people in the concentration camps proves to be one of the founding steps in the process of their success. Levi often discusses how the process would make the officers go out of their way to demean the people coming into the camps, such as when they would have to stand naked for hours when waiting to enter the camp. Not only did the Nazis make their presence known through physical trauma towards these people, but in addition they made sure that their living circumstances were all they could think about.
  3. I was surprised to hear that people within the camps were not always aware of the extreme circumstances there. For some time, Levi was unaware about the crematoriums and how prevalent the Germans used them in the concentration caps. The Germans attempted to keep the prisoners in the dark about as many things as possible, but specifically this surprised me because of how frequently they were used.
  1. I was wondering more about the levels of hierarchy in the concentration camps, specifically the kapos. How did their roles affect the way that they were perceived by the other prisoners, and how were they perceived by the Germans running the camp?
  2. Levi mentions that he would rather have disclosed his religion than his political affiliation. However, in Levi’s youth, he participated in the Avanguardisti- a section of the youth organization run by the Italian fascists, Opera Nazionale Balilla, for 14 to 18 year olds.  Was there any possibility in using this to cover up his political affiliation to avoid being taken?
When Levi publishes this book, it was through a small Italian publisher. However, as the book grew in popularity and fame he expanded through Europe. When he began the translation into German in 1961, Levi apparently was very careful on which German publisher to use, and was supervising the whole process. Most importantly with his decision to maintain a part of this process was his introduction written specifically for this version to the German people, condemning them for what they allowed to happen. We discussed in class how after WWII many Germans denied knowledge of these events or participation, and Levi immediately shuts that down by investing the time in forcing these people to acknowledge the actual horrors of the war.

Hitler Speech- April 12, 1921

Adolf Hitler Speech- April 12, 1921

3 Substainative points:
“We are already a colony of the outside world.” Hitler displays the opinions of many Germans when he says that Germany no longer had the ability to work for itself. Not only were they subjected to the conditions of Versailles without input, but those conditions have allowed the suppression of their entire work force. “The product of Germany’s work thus belonged, not to our nation, but to her foreign creditors,” shows the angry sentiments of Germans towards the other European nations- an anger that would only grow towards an outburst of war.

“‘ Christian capitalism’ is already as good as destroyed, the international Jewish Stock Exchange capital gains in proportion as the other loses ground.” Hitler is attempting to rallying the majority of German people- people who were Christian- by helping them push off the blame of the failure of their economy. This was a targeted outlet for Hitler to chose because of the prominent anti- semitism already in Europe and because of the blame that the German people desperately wanted to rid themselves of (after the Treaty of Versailles expected them to accept all of the blame from WWI).
“There are only two possibilities: either victory of the Aryan or annihilation of the Aryan and the victory of the Jew.” Hitler views democracy as a Jewish idea and that it is not something that belongs in Germany. When discussing political ideas, he sees democracy as the “destruction of Aryan leadership,” and hence with its association with Judaism he rejects it.
2 questions:
If the reparations against Germany after the Treaty of Versailles weren’t as harsh, would the stability of the country have allowed an over powerful leader such as Hitler?
Hitler’s idea of “National Socialism” seems to bring together the right and the left, of which he condemns both initially, capitalizing on the state- promoting ideas of each. However, he also states that one should not associate with the party of compromises. He is not attempting to compromise between the two, yet the aspects that he wants to incorporate are key aspects from each. To what extent did this appeal to the public affiliated with these parties because of his use of their past ideas, and to what extent was this viewed as a purely unique idea?
1 interesting point:
This entire speech is Hitler taking the anger of the German people and focusing it on specific aspects of society. Yes, there was prevalent anti- semitism in Europe and there certainly was hatred for the creators of the Treaty of Versailles, but what made Hitler’s propaganda so powerful in his speeches was his ability to rally a people to only focus on those aspects of pure emotion. The German population was highly educated, and yet through all the trouble of the times and his personal abilities he was able to override that sensibility and key in on their frustrations with the treatment of Germany..

Abdication of Tsar Nicholas II (March 15, 1917)

Author- Ruled from 1894- 1917, during his rule there were many military encounters (loss of the Russo- Japanese War, World War I involvement that caused 3.3 million Russian deaths), during his rule the 1905 Revolution occurred which created the 1906 Russian Constitution known for limited the power of the monarchy and instating the Duma, violence towards those politically opposing him (ex. supporters of 1905 Revolution)

Context- Abdicated after being imprisoned in him home with his family during the 1917 February Revolution
Language- Talks up the victory of Russia and its greatness, uses language to make it seems as if he willingly and by his own volition decide to abdicate for the good of Russia
Audience- A declaration to the people of Russia over the change in power, one last message to prove that he governed for the good of Russia and should be perceived that way in memory, asks the people to abide by the new ruler who he named (Mikhail Alexandrovich, who would lead along with the Provisional Government)
Intent- To formally abdicate and remove himself from power, to potentially save his life and those in his family from the violence of the revolutionaries holding them, to pass leadership to his brother (who found out about being the successor- rather than Nicholas’s son who he initially chose- through this declaration)
Message- Nicholas was making one last act of good for Russia (he “owed to our people the close union and organisation of all its forces for the realisation of a rapid victory” in WWI along with their allies), Russia would be victorious and that the people should continue to support and have faith in the Russian government by supporting the newly selected leader

Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal (1896)

Author: Peter Kropotkin was a Russian philosopher, evolutionary theorist, and economist, promoter of anarchy- communism (looks to abolish capitalism, the state, and private property and promote common ownership in production), influenced by Pierre- Joseph Proudhon and John Stuart Mill, wealthy upbringing but rejected his “princely” title at a young age, influenced by republican readings and his time working under Tsar Alexander II, spent time working alongside the International Workingmen’s Association and other anarchist associations and was imprisoned for his activities
Context: Tsar Nicholas II had his formal coronation to Russian leader in 1896, Tsar Nicholas had previously turned down attempts for some democracy and stated that he would do everything to maintain an absolute autocracy
Language: Asks many questions in the beginning to force people to think critically about their society and these issues, his writing is not advanced and is at a level that is easy for most to read
Audience: The common man, he uses his simple language to express to all the issues with the current state of society and how much bettered all would be without certain institutions
Intent: To make people question the institutions of society which they take for granted and assume need to be in place (ex. questioning the usefulness of the police by showing how they have missed opportunities to protect the people)
Message: That men are corrupted by the institutions and that without these unnecessary objects of society there will not be places to harbor “coercion” (ex. that state- run prisons have allowed for many crimes to occur within their walls), believes that institutions only cover up the issues within society and that they do not address the needs of the people, without the institutions people would more easily be able to address the root of human issues and create a better “means for preventing anti-social acts”

John Stuart Mill and Utilitarian Equality

Author- John Stuart Mill, lived from 1806- 1873, English philosopher, member of British Parliament, firm believer in utilitarianism, wife Harriet Taylor Mill was a women’s rights advocate and aided in his writings

Context- Written in 1869, the belief at the time was that women were subordinate to the men in their lives, not much support for women’s right to vote
Language- Attempts to apply logic to the situation, since he is making claims that there is no evidence behind not giving women rights he works towards creating a humanitarian angle that shows the logic behind equality
Audience- Written to enlighten the public but also to gain support in Parliament, he was in the minority when attempting to pass women’s rights into British law
Intent- Mills saw that the public believed that women were not able to accomplish as much as men and attempted to explain that they have never been given opportunities to show otherwise, wanted to convince the public (and Parliament) that women deserved similar opportunities to exhibit their equal societal worth
Message- Mills’s belief in utilitarianism is the root behind all of his claims in this writing, he believed that intellectual and voting opportunity would create a better society for everyone where everyone could defend their rights, he wanted to show that individual development would raise society overall
“That the principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes–the legal subordination of one sex to the other–is wrong itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement; and that it ought to be replaced by a principle of perfect equality, admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other.” – Mills
This quote directly proves his utilitarian point- of- view regarding this issue as he specifically says that not allowing the advancements of women is detrimental to humanity as a whole. His argument revolved around how women deserved these rights and giving those rights is a societal duty to increase the standard of living for everyone.

The Theory of the Leisure Class

Author- Thorstein Veblen, American sociologist and economics, grew up with a lot of familial emphasis on education and caused resentment for “conspicuous consumption”
Context- 1899, takes place during the Gilded Age of America (economic boom that brought many immigrants from Europe)
Language- matter- of- fact language, extremely critical
Audience- became and instant success, highly praised, meant to be widely read
Intent- to shows the superficiality of the societal trend and to show the societal rift between those that can afford luxury items and those that produce the items (how that impacts class perception)
Message- criticism of how materialism of luxury goods became a symbol of wealth and of “conspicuous consumption” (displaying luxury items to maintain social status), uses dress as an example of display of goods to indicate one’s status