Perestroika and 100 wilted flowers

Perestroika and glasnost  were terms Gorbachev used to embody his cultural reforms and openness to Western influence. The Chinese, too, had a period of openness. In 1956 Mao said that,  “The policy of letting a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend is designed to promote the flourishing of the arts and the progress of science.” This “100 Flowers Movement” was ended in 1957 with political persecutions. Both Communist powers handled political dissonance in the second half of the 20th century differently, with the USSR embracing and the Chinese silencing controversy.  Though, to look at it all now, the USSR has been disbanded and China is still heavily controlled by a limited ruling class.

In 2009, Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov with a button that said “Peregruzka — Reset.” The word peregruzka, presented in the Latin and not the Cyrillic alphabet, would translate as “overload” instead of “reset”. Lavrov noticed the error immediately. Given this anecdote, should the United States continue to remain closed to foreign influences and cultures? Russia had a period of openness and voluntary consumption of foreign goods, whereas China had tried to limit all culture through administrative measures. Can the United States thrive on their genetically modified single-crop harvests, or will they eventually need to open themselves up to the world’s hundred flowers?

The American and French Revolutions: Complaints and Proposals

The differences between American and French complaints and proposals lie in the extent to which each is valued: The Americans focused more on complaints while the French focused more on proposals. The Declaration of Independence, written by the Americans, and the numerous French writings such as the Decree Upon the National Assembly, The Declaration of the Rights of Man, and What is the Third Estate were all written to propagate governmental change, and were concerned with the overthrow of oppressive rule. The manner in which the French and Americans carried out their written outcries was different; however, it was through their differences that they helped each other gain independence.

It can be said that the Americans were first enticed to rebel against the British by the French. French political philosophers published writings on liberty that inspired American writers to do the same, spreading a rebellious spirit amongst the American people. Ultimately, the Declaration of Independence was written, primarily as a list of complaints against the British King but also as a declaration of the natural rights of man: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. While the Declaration of Independence was a public outcry that represented the free spirit of the Americans, it lacked any real solutions to governmental problems and therefore was not directly constructive in causing governmental reform.

The Declaration of Independence, nevertheless, inspired the French to take action as well. There were many writings produced that not only declared natural human rights, like the Americans, but also provided clear proposals to reform government. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen was, as the title suggests, a declaration of man’s natural rights; however, it attempted to expand upon the central rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, producing laws that would enforce them. The Third Estate’s Decree upon the National Assembly proposed an entirely new component of government: a legislature that would represent the interests of the people.

The French were more constructive in their fight for freedom, while the Americans were more aggressive and inspirational. Because of their differences in regards to how they fought against their oppressors, the French and American peoples formed a symbiotic relationship. The French, through their writings and proposals, inspired the Americans to stand against the British through the Declaration of Independence, which inspired the French to propose governmental reformation. Through their combined efforts, as well as different approaches towards freedom, the American and French were able to attain the goal of freedom they so ardently desired.