World History Terms
Table of Contents
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- Modern Temporality
- British Liberalism in India
- Commodity Fetishism and Race (Soap)
- Human Exhibitions/Sara Baartman
- Ypres/Gas Warfare
- Mass Culture and Production
- Soviet Socialism
- Fascism/Sacralization of Politics
- Modernity and the Holocaust
- Related Free History Essays
Panopticon is a project for prisons that was developed by the English philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, in the early 19th century. As planned by Bentham, a warden in the prison should be able to monitor every aspect of a prisoner’s life. Bentham’s panopticon was considered a pioneering project in the prisoners’ punishment that improved the process of correcting the criminals. Architecturally, Bentham’s panopticon is a round shaped building with inner walls made of glass. The guard is in the center of the panopticon and can see all the prisoners. Meanwhile, the prisoners cannot see him; therefore, they cannot determine whether he is looking at them at the moment or not. The main idea of panopticon was to create in the prisoner a feeling of constant monitoring from the outside. According to the idea of Bentham, such feature of panopticon was to make prisoners better and make the process of correction faster and more effective. Presidio Modelo, a prison in Cuba is a perfect example of Bentham’s panopticon; Fidel Castro was kept here in 1953-1955.
Capitalism is a socio-economic system based on the private ownership and market economy. In various currents of thought, capitalism is defined as a system of free enterprise, as well as a development stage of the industrial society. At the end of the 20th century, capitalism entered another phase of its development, which is called the mixed economy, post-industrial society, and information society. In Marxism, capitalism is seen as a class society based on the private ownership of means of production and exploitation of the wage-labor capital. Capitalism replaced feudalism; in turn, capitalism and socialism are believed to precede the first stage of communism. The main features of capitalism are the dominance of the commodity-money relations and private ownership of the production means and developed the social division of labor, as well as the transformation of labor power into a commodity. In such a manner, the main aim of the society is to work for the sake of the capital creation and receive wages for the work done.
The radical upheaval that took place in the minds of philosophers due to the process of industrial civilization focused on the problem of the ideological debate of the category of time. In a series of previous opposition pairs of the sublime and profane, heavenly and earthly, ideal and material, perfect and imperfect, divine and human, absolute and relative, true and false, the time was associated with the second element in each pair of the opposites. Time was considered mortal. In the modern discourse, scientists refuse claims for the attainment of absolute truths and rush in pursuit of the relative and practically useful knowledge. Now, they insist on the status of the temporary worldview. Today, time is considered a genuine and basic characteristic of being. It offers much more than a simple empirical fact that the objects of the material world, such as plants, animals, the pyramids of Egypt, even ridges, and starry worlds, for example, are not eternal.
British Liberalism in India
In the middle of the 19th century, England took a leading position as the world’s richest and most industrially developed power. One of the decisive factors ensuring the achievement and preservation of Britain in this situation was the presence of its colonial possessions in various regions of the globe. They provided it with cheap raw materials, manufactured goods markets, and additional opportunities to invest its surplus capital. One of the largest British colonies was India. Its active territorial conquest was under a special control of the British government. The country had a vast territory with the population of about 150 million people. In 1857, the English contemporary wrote that India was of a much greater value to the UK than all its other possessions taken together. However, until the middle of the 19th century, the economic exploitation of the colonies followed the principle of a simple tax collection. Besides, the economic policy, carried out by the East India Company, was limited and focused on ensuring a high level of revenues to the treasury. Most social reforms focused on religion, traditions, and customs, and did not affect either the economy or social structure of India.
Commodity Fetishism and Race (Soap)
Marx was the first philosopher who formulated the doctrine of the commodity fetishism. The ommodity fetishism is a process, by which people present their social relations as if the latter are the things. This doctrine is connected with the proposed distinction between Marx’s earlier production of anything for own consumption and production of goods as objects for the exchange. Since producers do not contact with each other to exchange their manufactured products, there are no social relations among them except for the actual sharing of these items. The last starts its functioning as a substitute for social relations. The theory of the commodity fetishism and associated notion of the reification are widely used as a basis of the theory of ideology and law. It is alleged that many forms of consciousness in the capitalist society are a fetish. The race that appeared due to this phenomenon has the main idea of the perfection and reaching the ideal form. A good example is soap that nowadays, is considered an essential in any house with a long list of beneficial and useful characteristics.
Human Exhibitions/Sara Baartman
In 1907, six villages were built for the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale exhibition; they depicted the life of different corners of the contemporary French colonial empire. The exposition included Madagascar, Indo-China, Sudan, Congo, Tunisia, and Morocco. Villages were built to re-create the life and culture, as they were in their original habitat. The architecture and agriculture were also fully reconstructed. Moreover, people, brought to Paris from distant areas, inhabited all replicas. One of the most famous inhabitants of the exhibition was Sara or Saarti Baartman, also known as the Hottentot Venus. She was born in South Africa in 1789, and in 1810, she was taken to Europe. Sara Baartman was exhibited to demonstrate her huge buttocks that became a subject of caricatures, under the slogan ‘the greatest monstrosity in the world’. In 1814, her owners sold her to the traveling animal show where she was placed in a cage next to a young rhinoceros. A year later, French doctors examined her body and named it the African natural misunderstanding. In 1816, Saarti died for unknown reasons. Later, Napoleon’s surgeon examined her corpse and decided to make a plaster cast of her body and genitals; woman’s brains were preserved in alcohol. These parts were put on public display in the museum.
One hundred years ago, Ypres became a place of the bloodiest battles of the First World War. The city’s name has gone down in history. It became synonymous with one of the most dangerous toxic substances. On 22 April 1915, German troops for the first time in the history used chemical weapons by conducting a gas attack with chlorine. Two years later, they used here another gas. It was even more terrible and poisonous substance called the mustard gas, which later received its modern name in honor of the Belgian city of Ypres. The consequences of the attack proved devastating. Depending on the wind direction, chemical weapons made numerous people die in a terrible agony on both sides: those of the enemy side and their own soldiers. Being inaudible, invisible, and, in most cases, deadly, this poison gas is not only a terrible weapon in the physical sense (the chemical agents are capable of destroying a huge number of soldiers and civilians) but also a severe tool in psychological terms as fear of the terrible threat contained in the inhaled air inevitably caused massive panic.
Mass Culture and Production
Mass culture is a set of cultural phenomena of the 20th-21st centuries. It is characteristic of the modern society, with its high level of communication and information systems including radio, television, the Internet, mobile communications, high degree of urbanization and industrialization, as well as alienation of an individual, loss of individuality, and selfishness. It is generated by the technological progress, mass inflow of the rural population into the city in the 20th century, and the destruction of the closed rural communities. This concept describes the features of the cultural values production in the modern industrial society with the term of mass consumption. Subjection to it is the fact that the mass production of culture is understood by analogy with the continuous conveyor of the industry. Popular culture offers the averaged model of the human social inclusion mechanisms, focuses on the averaged level of development of the most popular consumer culture, and creates a single emasculated cultuure of destroying traditional values.
Dadaism or Dada is the name of a phenomenon in the avant-garde literature, visual arts, theater, and cinema arts. It exited from 1916 to 1922. It emerged during the European and American art development, as a protest against traditional moral and cultural values and rejected the academic painting. For the first time, Dadaism has declared itself in 1915 in Zurich. The name Dada was picked up accidentally by choosing the first name in an opened book. Nevertheless, Dadaists did not develop their distinct artistic style. They rushed from one extreme to another, trying to shock complacent onlookers by any means. The favorite genres of Dadaism include installation, collage, and ready-made creating things and expositions that were difficult for understanding for the bohemian society and onlookers. Dada rapidly became popular in New York, where Marcel Duchamp headed it. Dada had a significant influence on other trends and surrealism, in particular, by its commitment to absurdity and fiction, as well as abstract expressionism and conceptual art.
Socialism is the accumulation of capital, but for the purposes different from those of capitalism. Soviet socialist ideas included maximization of free time, employment increase, improvement of the human desire for beauty and harmony. Thus, the essence of socialism is the democratic way to choose the mentioned needs that must be met by the appropriate distribution of resources. Therefore, socialists denied any attempt to raise the issue of the elimination of the dominant capitalist system with all its regional and basic invariants. From another point of view, once the Soviet society was essentially capitalist, the application of ideas of socialism was clearly premature, due to the fact that the political leaders of that time agreed to continue operating the laws of the capitalist economy. In such a way, the nationalization was neither deceived nor canceled, but merely made their influence hidden as unobtrusive appearance. Nevertheless, it was no less effective.
Fascism/Sacralization of Politics
Fascism is a political movement that arose in the period of the general crisis of capitalism and expressed the interests of the most reactionary and aggressive forces of the imperialist bourgeoisie. Fascism in power is a terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary forces of the monopoly capital that was carried out in order to maintain the capitalist system. An important feature of fascism is the use of the extreme violence for suppressing the working class and all working people to a militant anti-communism, chauvinism, and racism. There was a widespread use of governmental monopolistic practices of economic regulation, as well as maximum control over all forms of the public and private life of people. It includes mobilizing and political strengthening a part of the population in the interests of the exploitative system by the use of nationalist and social demagogy. With the initiation of sacralization of politics, the almighty power of a person overcomes the loneliness of each follower; consequently, he receives a complete social protection. Leaders are considered heroes and half-gods what makes them able to promote any possible ideas that would lead to the total control of the main leader.
Modernity and the Holocaust
Sigmund Bauman, unlike most philosophers, does not believe that the Holocaust was an abnormal phenomenon. He understands it as an aspect of the modern rational world that is normal in many ways. The truth is that each element of the Holocaust, as well as each piece of circumstances that made it possible, was normal in the sense that it fully complies with all that is known about the civilization, its main essence, priorities, and inherent vision of the world. Thus, according to Bauman, the Holocaust was a result of modernity, and neither a result of its collapse nor a special path chosen within it. Between the Holocaust and modernity, there was an elective closeness. Holocaust includes the application of the basic principles of industrialization in general, and the factory system, in particular, for the destruction of a human being. Auschwitz was also the continuation of the ordinary modern factory system. Instead of the production of goods with raw materials, there were people. The death was the final product; the number of units per day that equaled the number of killed people was carefully noted in industrial control tables.