Essays

The Genesis of Solidarity: The Trinity of Wałęsa, the Workers, and the Church

Lech Wałęsa’s autobiography, A Way of Hope,offers a unique first-person perspective from one who has shaped the history of modern Poland. It traces the emergence of a moral dimension and authority by Wałęsa, and explains the distinctive structure, principles, and success of Solidarity. As the titular “Genesis” might suggest, Solidarity is seen here through a distinctively Christian lens. The Catholic Church offered an inclusive and universal structure based on morality and solidarity, one that Wałęsa was quick to associate with and could use to reconcile the workers’ divisions and surmount the state’s authoritarianism. Catholicism had the powerful benefits of an omnipresence and omnibenevolence, of an alluring virtue in both past and future. There is then, an amorphous and indistinguishable trinity between Wałęsa, the workers, and the Church that explains the particular genesis of Solidarity as it arose.

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Essays

Maoism and China: How Mao Zedong Thought United and Divided a Nation

When the People’s Republic of China was founded, Mao Zedong was faced with a nation divided on every level, having been ravaged by a century of external foreign invasion and internal civil wars. Like Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor, Mao Zedong had the difficult task of consolidating and unifying China ahead of him. Maoism should be seen in the context of this unifying task: Mao Zedong Thought was the political and ideological fruit of Mao’s efforts towards a unified nation.

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Essays

The Politics of Islamic Immigration: How Muslim Identity and Citizenship Reversed Societal Models in Germany and France

Introduction

The twenty-first century in Europe is increasingly concerned with Islam on all fronts. On an internal, domestic political level, Muslim populations in Europe are growing and entrenching at an unprecedented rate. Islam’s relationship with the West and Europe has become particularly relevant and scrutinized with the September 11 attacks in 2001 and the attacks on the London bombings in 2005, particularly because these attacks were attributed to Muslims fighting in the name of Islam. It should be emphasized that this is not simply a security concern over violence, but a much deeper cultural and identity crisis, which has been dubbed “Islamophobia” or “Eurabia.”

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Essays

Text and Topography: The Agency of Yseut and the Queen in Nature

Béroul’s The Romance of Tristran and Marie de France’s Chevrefueil both use the natural world to explore the complex relationship and power dynamics between the respective two lovers. However, their approach in text and topography is very different, heavily influenced by their respective genre and structure. Romance is a more “primitive” fabliau, expansive and external, while Chevrefueil is a more “courtly” Breton lai, focused and internal. The scope of the topography matches the scope of the text: thus, the natural world for Romance is likewise large, with multiple characters and actions that are explicit and literal, while the natural world in Chevrefueil is small, with only Tristan and the queen and actions that are implicit and symbolic. Nature can primarily be seen as a male space, created and sustained by the male characters, but this does not mean the power dynamic is tipped towards Tristran or Tristan. The text and topography in both stories are nuanced in their exploration of the two lover’s relationship, and there is a subtle undercurrent of female agency that reveals the relationship to be more symbiotic and reciprocal than initially evident. Romance and Chevrefueil are a sort of human geography: text, topography, and the two lovers are mapped, and their mutuality and equality elucidated. For convenience’s sake throughout this essay, Tristran and Yseut will be used to describe the two lovers in Béroul’s Romance while Tristan and the queen will be used for Marie’s Chevrefueil.

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soviet collectivization propaganda poster
Essays

In the Shadow of the Soviet Structures: Transformation Crisis in Russia and Europe

The transition from communism to capitalism following the revolutions of 1989 was unprecedented.1 Generally speaking, post-Communist states suffered a transformation crisis in moving from state socialism and a planned economy to a free and global market, resulting in hyperinflation, unemployment, and lower standards of living. Why was this?

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