Children of the War

The drive for the collective propagated the Soviet image during World War II. In his article “Between Salvation and Liquidation,” Furst notes that images of crying, bedraggled children could be found between posters of heroic soldiers and dutiful citizens. The presence of street children and orphans was not to be blamed solely on their parents; the Soviet Union, as a collective, was at fault. Therefore, it was the duty of the Motherland as whole to find a solution. Thousands of prospective foster-parents flocked to orphanages, eager to play their part in vanquishing Germany. But were the children really better off with unqualified, duty-bound parents? There is no doubt that the vast majority was physically better off in their new homes; begging is not a consistent food source. However, most of these children carried psychological scars unimaginable to those untouched by war. They deserved a second chance, a fresh start with loving parents who could care for them unconditionally. Clearly, by the number of reports of both runaways and foster-children with “nervousness,” their psychological states were not being well looked after. So did families feel obligated to adopt children? Did they reluctantly take in little girls and boys into homes where they played second fiddle to biological children? Did the Soviet state’s efforts to encourage adoption help or hurt the waifs and orphans?

Militant Suffragist

Author: Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928) was British political activist who advocated for women’s suffrage, lead the suffragette movement, and eventually succeeding in winning women the right to vote in Britain. In 1878 she married Richard Pankhurst, who supported and encouraged her activism, and she was known for her militant approach to suffragism.
Context: Militant Suffragist was a speech delivered by Pankhurst in 1913 as part of her speaking tour through the United States. At the time, U.S. suffragettes were beginning to experiment with Pankhurst’s militant strategies, and the women’s suffrage movement was undergoing a period of revitalization.
Language: The language is concise and accessible, and Pankhurst takes the tone of a General addressing her soldiers in preparation for what she dubs a “civil war.”
Audience: Pankhurst’s audience is an assembly of American women’s rights activists and others interested in her ideas on the suffragette movement.
Intent: Pankhurst’s primary intent is to assert her dedication to the women’s suffrage movement and reinforce the severity of the war that women’s rights activists are facing. She maintains that she is not speaking to advocate for women’s suffrage, but rather to fight and possibly die for it.
Message: The message that Pankhurst conveys is one of frankness and gravity. She is intensely determined to fight for her rights and seeks to mobilize American women into doing the same. She emphasizes the the time for advocacy has passed and that women across the world have entered into a period of civil war. Women must be willing to die for their rights or they will never realize them.

Things to Come

Things to Come is a 1936 movie adaptation of the book, written by H.G. Wells. This movie continues Wells’ tradition of using powerful science-fiction stories to critique politics. Things to Come focuses on the possibility of war, and the devastating effect it will have for the next century, on England and the world.

There is one powerful scene that can be used as metaphor for the 20th Century till, and beyond, 1936. During the early stages of the war, an enemy pilot who is gassing the country is shot down, and then is promptly attended to by the protagonist, John Cabal. They bemoan the necessity for battling each other, and the enemy eventually dies of gas poisoning, after giving away his gas mask to a young girl whose family he might have killed. This scene exemplifies the rapid rise of the modern state in the 20th century. The state had so much power and influence that they could send ordinary men into battle without their consent and desire. After the carnage of the First World War, the power of the state continued to increase as it controlled economic aims for revival. The movie reflects this increasing power, as years into the future the only widely available goods are weapons, rather than consumer goods.

Progression and Regression in “Things to Come”


What do years of war bring? What do years of peace bring? William Cameron Menzies’s film, Things to Come, based on a novel by H.G. Wells, shows these two extremes in a dystopian future. After extended war, the human race reverts back to barbarism and no longer know how to fly planes. After extended peacetime, humans make too much progress, and the object of life is not progress, it is living. Either way, too much regression or too much progression will cause humans to lose sight of what it means to live.

In Everytown, during the long war, they cannot fly planes because they have no oil or gasoline. If we are not careful about our resources and finding alternatives to fossil fuel, this could become reality in the twenty-first century. In this way, the film is warning us of the dangers of mass destruction and mass war. On the other hand, the film warns that two much progress can take away from life and actually make us less human. So what is the message that one is supposed to take away from the film? Everything in moderation? War is bad, but so is scientific and technological progress?

Ironically, both in the time of war and in the time of peace, authoritarian leaders rose to power. There was the barbaric “Chief”, and there was the forward-looking Oswald Cabal. These leaders also have similar mindsets. The chief wants to conquer the hill people, while Cabal wants to conquer the moon, then the universe.  Is this a comment on the nature of rulers, regardless of outside influences? What is the film attempting to get across to its audience?

Georgian Presidential Election

In case you’re a bit under informed, the state of Georgia has not held Presidential elections in a second attempt to secede from the Union.  I’m talking about the small nation-state of Georgia, which held presidential elections on the 27th of October. Georgia is located on the southwest border of Russia in the caucasus region and its relations with Russia have been strained, at best.

In August of 2008 the two countries, along with the separatist provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, fought in a 5-day war that ended up being a huge embarrassment for Saakashvili, the Georgian president at the time. Although the events leading up to the war are somewhat complicated, what was obvious was Russia’s intention of ending Saakashvili’s rule and installing a new president. They were unsuccessful in 2008, but on November 13th they will achieve just that: Saakashvili will step down and make room for Georgia’s new president, Georgy Margvelashvili of the Georgian Dream Party.

Russia may finally be rid of Saakashvili, but it warns that Georgian-Russian relations will not see drastic improvements anytime soon. If citizens on both sides of the border were hoping for a detente of sorts with the new president, they may have to wait a while.

Side note: the Georgian Dream Party is supposedly named after this Georgian music group’s song of the same name:

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You may not understand a word, but it does show some beautiful Georgian scenery.

Mussolini’s Warmongering Fascism

In Benito Mussolini’s What is Fascism, the dictator attempts to define Fascism by casting it against what he sees as changing world politics. He describes Fascism to be the new man’s type of government, a drastic shift away from the 19th and 20th century’s swing towards liberalism and democracy. He breaks Fascism also from the supreme left of Marxism. He goes on to describe Fascism as a fast, warmongering – along with an exceedingly nationalistic core – belief system.

Overall, Mussolini’s message comes across very similar to his Italian acquaintance, F.T. Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto in its aggressive warmongering and nationalistic message. Mussolini immediately describes the “manly” Fascist ideal of war as a perpetual means not to an end but instead to as an integral part of a political institution. In historical perspective, this idea of the Fascist war as a necessary part of Mussolini’s new direction for Italy is another sharp change from Italy’s previous policies. Prior to the war in Europe, Italy had been unable to show any regional dominance or evidence of successful imperialism. Mussolini, in his concluding remarks of his work, discusses this idea of expansion. His attempts to suppress the Libyan revolts and take Ethiopia were both examples of his attempts for regional hegemony in Africa. While it was obviously followed by World War II, these early imperialist tendencies set the example for which he argues so clearly argues for.

Overall his work describes a strict clamp down on individual freedoms and a severely increased importance of the state and its needs. The warmongering part, similar to the Futurist ideal is only one facet of the Fascist ideology used to increase Italian power. This drastic shift from the rest of Western Europe towards an idea of “perpetual peace” with a league of nations calls into question the Italian motivation to become so radical. The idea of Fascism as a change away from the left and the right calls into question the deeper social cultural situation of Italy at the time for both the genesis and peoples’ rallying around this system.