Power Struggles Present in the Declaration of Independence and The Third Estate

The Declaration of Independence clearly establishes the kind power the United States is looking for through a representation of Britain’s tight control. The Declaration of Independence exemplifies how the king caused “repeated injuries and usurpations” (Blaisdell 64) as well as acted in every way “which may define a tyrant” (Blaisdell 66). The United States is looking for a government that allows power to be given to the people. The authors of this document believe that men are born with certain rights, and in order to protect those rights, the people should have a say in the government. The Declaration of Independence goes on to state that is the “Right of the People” to alter the government if the government were not working or becomes “destructive” in any way (Blaisdell 64). The main intent behind this document is to stray away from the “absolute tyranny,” and create an inclusive government where the people’s voices are heard (Blaisdell 64).

Sieyès argues over power among classes in his What is the Third Estate? He argues that the privileged have set limits to the third estate, stating, “you can go so far and no further” (Blaisdell 72). However, Sieyès points out that it is the third estate that occupies certain jobs that keep society running as it should, therefore, the third state is everything and should have more rights. Sieyès goes on to claim that the privileged do not help society because of its “idleness,” but are granted certain rights because of their place in society (Blaisdell 73). Sieyès continues, stating that nobility has special rights making them “a people apart in the great nation” which forms the separation of powers between the third estate and the nobility (Blaisdell 73). Sieyès believed the nation would be better off without the nobility because the third state held society together.

The Declaration of Independence and the Third Estate

The Declaration of Independence discusses the reasons why the United States decided to break off from England and become its own nation. This document discusses how it is a government’s responsibility to protect certain rights of the citizens: “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” (Blaisdell 64). If a government does not protect these rights, then it is the rights of the governed people to “abolish it, and to institute new Government” (Blaisdell 64). The British government did not protect and uphold these rights of the people; rather, it caused a series of “repeated injuries” and established “absolute Tyranny over these States” (Blaisdell 64). The writers of the Declaration were clearly not satisfied with the government and how it protected its people. Therefore, they intended to create their own new form of government, which would do a better job in helping its citizens instead of merely ignoring their concerns. In this case, political power is created through a new form of government with different branches, such as a Representative House, Legislature, and Judiciary powers.

In France, the citizens also were not satisfied with their government. The Third Estate of France is described as “everything;” the people of the Third Estate are the commoners (Blaisdell 70). Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes, author of What is the Third Estate? describes how the Third Estate is a complete nation by itself. In order to be considered a nation, it must provide “private activities and public services” (Blasdell 71), which the Third Estate does provide. For example, it must provide public services such as “the army, the law, the Church, and the bureaucracy” and private activities such as merchants, families who work on land, and the sale of goods (Blaisdell 71-72). France cannot run without the Third Estate and would ultimately do much better without the first two estates. The French are concerned with establishing their own rights: “Liberty, Prosperity, Security, and Resistance of Oppression” (Blaisdell 80). The French were less interested than the Americans establishing a new form of government that protected the rights of the citizens; rather, they concentrated on establishing a government that kept part of their old form of government and bashing the rest of their government.

State of the Fascist State

In Leeds’s The Fascist State, the public acts and social requirements of Italian Fascism are explored in minor detail. Within the text we see various accounts of the principles held dear to the fascist government and the policies Mussolini implemented (often in bizarre and ludicrous ways) in the attempt to realize those principles.

Perhaps the most intriguing segment of the chapter is the bit about the “battle of natality”; that is, Mussolini’s attempts at increasing the population of Italy by providing incentives for his people to procreate. While this might seem initially like a valid method of bolstering a country’s power (by equating manpower with national capacity), to me it appears contradictory to Mussolini’s claimed intent with fascism. With Italy already “small and thickly populated”, in order for there to be space for the extra twenty million citizens Mussolini projected would exist within twenty years the nation would have to expand, whether it be by diplomatic annexation or conquering- though neither tactic was a priority in Mussolini’s Fascism. ((Leeds, The Fascist State, 40.))

This oversimplification of a national element and the resulting misdirection of procedure was typical of the Partito Nazionale Fascista, however, which never quite understood how to utilize the immense control it had over its subjects in a productive manner. The nonsense of Mussolini’s policies is indirectly referenced in The Fascist State as well; his triumphant claims of being “aristocratic and democratic, reactionary and revolutionary, legalistic and illegalistic” really convey nothing more than the frequent dichotomy between his government’s aims and its methods.

Are children raised by nations?

My task for class tomorrow is to lead a discussion on the relationship between the “nation” and the child, and so I will begin that discussion in this post. After reading Stearns book “Childhood in World History” I walked away with two major conclusions, and many minor ones.

Although I already suspected this, I concluded that the nation (meaning, for the most part, the government) has an incredible influence on the concept of childhood within its borders. Stearns outlines several shifts in global history that heavily impacted childhood across the globe, and I think that governments were responsible for many of these shifts. Industrialization, for instance, was the reason that in the 19th Century  children began working jobs just like adults, and industrialization was strongly supported by governments.  So too were further technological advancements in mechanization, which resulted in machines displacing children from the work place. And so childhood shifted yet again to emphasize school rather than labor. Governments had a huge role ushering in this new age of childhood that focused on schooling. Japan created a mandatory education system by the turn of the 20th Century. The Japanese government believed that their population would be of no value if it was illiterate, therefore the future wealth of the country depended on the education of children. Governments also sought to control how adults conducted “parenting,” especially because these cultures believe in the innocence of children at birth. The corruption of a child comes from ill-treatment at the hands of adult and bad societal influences.

My second conclusion is this: because of the influence a government has on childhood within a nation, it is only logical that the concept of childhood differs from country to country. In some cases, like amongst Western countries, these differences may be slight, however I am certain they exist. This ties back to readings from last week that highlighted geography as a key determinant of childhood. Each government, backed by cultural traditions, has tried to maintain some aspects of their traditional way of life or their ideological thinking that they believe is important for society to keep, and these cultural nuances are different everywhere. For the Soviet Union, they wanted to stress Marxism in the classrooms and instill a sense of duty towards the collective good, meaning the state. China, Japan and the Soviet Union all, to a certain degree, stressed a sense of loyalty or duty to the state, however in Japan it was more in line with nationalism than with Communist ideology.

The role of the state with regards to the development of childhood should not be overlooked; in fact, I think the answers to many “whys?” and “hows?” can be found by looking towards the nation.

State-Building in Post-Kievan Rus’

These readings illustrate the diverging types of states that developed after the fall of Kiev, and geography is a main factor in the separation of different governments.  Novgorod and the north attempted to establish restrictions to princely power and set up a system of elections and assemblies to limit the influence of the elites.  In the southwest, the elites had more power than the prince, who was subject to the will of the boyars.  Finally, in Moscow and the northeast, princely power grew and became more entrenched as land rights were transformed into personal property.  These documents demonstrate the way in which each area was reevaluating their relationship with the state, and this was responsible for bringing about new requirements for good rulers that protected the new form of government.

On thing that stood out in all three readings was the relationship of Christianity to the state.  In the Treaty of Novgorod, the document protecting property rights had to be sealed with a kiss to the cross so that the prince would be held accountable to God if he broke the treaty.  In the Galician Chronicle, the underlying message was that good rulers are Christian because God favored the devout and helped them to achieve their status.  Finally, in the will of Dmitrii Donskoi, he condemned any that violated the testament to be judged and punished by God.  Because Christianity had already spread throughout Rus by the time of the fall of Kiev, it seems that it played a much larger role in the state than it had at the beginning of the Kievan state.  Whereas princely law and church law were once separate, now we seem them becoming combined.  The separation between church and state jurisdiction is now blurred as things once under state jurisdiction, like private property, are now answerable to God.