Week Two Reading Reflection

At the core of the articles assigned this week is an attempt to explain and better understand the current political climate and “rise” of the alt-right and white supremacy. In the article Birth of a Nation by Amy Kaufman, the history of the KKK and the embrace of medievalism allows for insight into the psyche of the modern white supremacist. Current events, such as the election of Trump and the embrace of his campaign “Make America Great Again”, have been labelled as anomalies in American history, but this is simply not true. As demonstrated with the rise – and fall – and rise again of the KKK, progress and racial equality in the United States has not been an “unbroken upward trajectory,” but rather a slippery slope along which small progress has been made.

Political nationalism, as outlined in chapter one of The Myth of Nations by Patrick Geary, has further strained relationships between groups of peoples by stressing their differences instead of their similarities. It has allowed for politicians to take advantage of historical grievances and use them as tools to create solidarity amongst people of a certain geographical area against a common enemy. As we have seen in North Korea, many of the devoted followers to the oppressive regime are united by their distrust of Americans after their role in the Korean War. Another example, though there are many throughout history, would be the Germans who were united under Hitler by their beliefs about Jews and the importance and superiority of the Aryan Race. Despite the hardships they may face underneath the rule of their often-authoritarian leaders, many will suffer through it for the perceived benefits of their people and their nation. Large numbers voted for Trump not necessarily because they liked him, but because they believed he would save their country and right past wrongs (in other words, “Make America Great Again”). The end justifies the means, even if people suffer along the way; the common humanity between groups has been dissolved during this pursuit of greatness.

It could be argued that Trump is a consequence of the Obama administration: just as white supremacists were fearful of not being at the top of the “hierarchal ladder” after the Civil War, white supremacists were currently terrified of losing their dominance after two consecutive terms of an (arguably successful and well-liked) black president. It seems that many alt-right view the Trump-era as a necessity in order to protect their beliefs and to restore “order”. Many cry that there has been an assault on their country through the establishment of programs like Obama-care and the acceptance of refugees from countries that are not predominantly white. Just as there were perceived injustices then, like the supposed rape of white women by freed slaves, there are perceived injustices now. Terrible inaccuracies such as an increase in crime after accepting Syrian refugees and claims that Mexicans and “illegals” are stealing jobs from Americans have allowed fear to grip a large section of the population. This, in my opinion, highly motivates the actions and beliefs of many of these alt-righters and has fostered animosity and hatred, while also allowing those who already had bigoted opinions to feel more lax and comfortable about expressing those opinions. In the United States we have seen the rise of groups such as the Three Percenters, who claim to have their roots in the American Revolution and similar groups in Europe. Yet, even in Canada we have seen our own rise in arguably alt-right groups, like the Sons of Odin – we cannot state that this is simply an American and European phenomenon.

At the root of the issue is the inclination to categorize based on the things that divide us, instead of the things that unite us. This must be addressed before we can see any permanent and substantial changes. The question is how do we go about changing something that is all most people have ever known?

Jay Countaway

Biography

Hello everyone, my name in Riley Bowman and I am a third-year Political Science student with a focus on International Relations.  I chose international relations because as the world moves into the future domestic politics start to take a back seat to the far reaching international treaties, coalitions like the EU and trade agreements.  Current events that spark my interest are Canada’s cross border relations with the United States and the sudden world obsession with cryptocurrencies.

I originally took this course because it was call “selected topic in polisci” so I thought it would cover a wide variety of topics that dominate the current political landscape.  When I learned it would be covering populism in history I was intrigued because of the rise of far-right parties across the globe and the alt-right in America.  I hope to learn how these parties and movements became prominent and the rise of the fascist governments of the first half of the 20th century was facilitated.

I look forward to providing analysis of the readings assigned for the course as well as reading everyone else’s and responding.  As a person, I love to consume content of all kinds whether through books, TV, movies, music, podcasts, and news.

 

 

Week 2. First Responder Commentary

In Patrick Geary’s Myth of Nations, he argues that the ideas European nations and ethnicities are created by the study of the language spoken in a specific geographic area by a group of people or tribe. I do not agree with the premise of the book because the language and culture are predominantly imposed by a conquering force. These conquering people/tribes over many years incorporated and assimilated the more numerous peasant class into the stronger and more dominant culture. A few examples cultures taking over are Merovingians, the Spanish conquest of South America, and the Turkish conquest of Hellenic Anatolia. However, this is not always the case. Various communities have stayed relatively homogenous in their customs, traditions, and languages. The best example of this is the European Jews. For most of their history in Europe, Jews maintained a unique cultural, religious, linguistic, and ethnic identity inside of the more extensive European culture. I do think that as Patrick Geary states religion plays a huge role in the division of people groups. This idea of beliefs dividing populations can be seen in the article written by Amy Kaufman. Amy Kaufman mentions in her article how the Ku Klux Klan used views born in the middle ages to further a political and racial agenda. They used ideas of the crusades, defending a princess’s virtue, and taking oaths to protect their mostly protestant values. I think her correlation is very weak. She does not take into consideration that the KKK was not only a white supremacist cult but also a very openly anti-Catholic organization. All the knightly orders of the middle ages were Catholic. They were a sort of warrior monk of the time. I also find the fact she is citing the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) only weakens her points. The SPLC has become very discredited in recent times. Using its position to brand “hate groups” to those it disagrees politically rather than on an objective basis.

Hello, My Name is…

Hi everyone! My name is Zoe Favrin. I am a fourth year student in Public Affairs and Policy Management. I’m originally from Guelph, Ontario, but there’s nothing like studying politics in the nation’s capital! Ottawa has truly become my second home.

In an ever changing world, especially given the tensions we are seeing in the world around us, it can be overwhelming when understanding the motives behind it, and most importantly, how we can approach it. As someone who is very into law, especially looking into the mens rea, I really want to understand some of the broader concepts, both politically and socially, of these shifts. For me, this class perfectly complements a law class I took about conservatism, again with a focus on current populist movements.

On a lighter note, I have always been a history geek. Some of the favourite eras to study include ancient Egypt and 17th century revolutions. Throughout my university career, both in history courses and others, I love being able to make connections. Other fun facts, I love to dance, am addicted to coffee, and love fashion!

Looking forward to a great semester!!

Zoe

Week 2 Reading Reflection

At issue this week, is the discussion of how ideas about the medieval period have been incorporated into popular discourse. There are two main ideas that are relevant from this week’s readings. The first is the borrowing of chivalric values from the middle ages and the problems that lie with this. The second is the idea of the constructed nation, and how the use of texts and ideas from the middle ages help in the construction of these groups.

It is important to consider how ideas of chivalry affected the actions and ideas of groups, such as the KKK, as mentioned in Amy Kaufman’s article. She discusses the idea that these ideas are appropriated in order to make the members of these organizations feel more secure because they are looking back and dreaming of the patriarchal society of the Middle Ages. However, it is important to look at how these ideas have been taken out of context, warped and applied in ways that are not in keeping with historical fact.

This leads to one of the other main themes that I saw in these readings – the construction of groups (as nations, or social groups) based on “facts.” It is clear from what Patrick Geary says in both his article and podcast that these ideas are constructed to suit certain groups, and by extension disadvantage others. If we understand these histories as being constructed we must ask ourselves: who is telling this story, and to what end? It seems to me that the ultimate goal of these narratives is control and to assert that control by creating an identity.

My Introduction

I am an english exchange student from the reading History and Latin at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. I arrived at Carleton University in September 2017 to complete one year away from Edinburgh to broaden my intellectual sphere and to do as much travelling as possible.

I am an avid sports player and fan. I came to Canada mainly to snowboard wherever possible.

I am originally from Bath in the south-west of England. This is where I established my love for the Latin language as it is an incredibly beautiful Roman city, built on a hot spring, making it a Roman bathing town. From this, I also developed a love of history, but focussed more on recent history. I particularly enjoy studying 19th and 20th century European history, up to present. There are such a wide array of sources on so many mediums available now that did not exist in earlier centuries. This gives an incredibly broad scope for discussion and analysis, which can become limited and dominated by assumptions. Within this timeframe, my preoccupation has been with political and economic history in Germany and the US. I find the creation of new nations and national identity extremely intriguing.

The element that drew me to this course the most was the analysis of articles from present newspapers and journals. I think it is very important to engage with current affairs in order to understand the discipline of history. This is incredibly interesting time in politics, with Trump as President of the US and the Catalonia dispute, and in history for the future, with current the nuclear crisis. I look forward to discussing these issues with similar like minded people in the class and working together to understand such complex issues.

Introduction

Hello! My name is Morrigan, and I am a fourth year student who is majoring in English and doing a minor in History. As someone who is in the last semester of their undergrad, I thought it would be useful to take classes, like this one, that help me to better understand the current state of the world and how we got to where we are today.

My interest in history and literature stemmed from my love of reading, which is something I plan on doing a lot more of once I am finished school and have more free time. Some of my favourite books include Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Jane Austen’s novels, and of course the Harry Potter series. I also enjoy historical fiction and fantasy, which could explain my interest in real history.

My academic interests generally lie in the ‘long’ 19th century (approximately the time from the French Revolution to WWI) – many of my favourite books are from this period. However, I enjoy all types of history and literature. I like the way that literature and history allow us to understand other perspectives, and for me, especially the experiences of women in history. I find it important to understand precedents in order to understand why we are where we are now.

I am looking forward to the issues that will be discussed in this class because they will help me to understand the present. I am hoping that understanding the past as it relates to populism will make the path forward a little more clear. I also am interested in understanding how the political and social tensions we feel today reflect those of the past. Overall, I hope that this class will help us understand the past so that we can learn from it, and hopefully not make the same mistakes

Also, here is a link to my personal blog: https://morrigansinsights.wordpress.com

-Morrigan

Intro:

I am in the last few classes of my degree, therefore, it seemed like an optimal time to take some classes that both are electives, and develop a personal curiosity.  I have been working in social work and social services for the last ten years, and currently have a management position managing several staffing teams in an emergency shelter. Working within addiction, mental health, various forms of abuse, and other destructive behaviors people routinely engage in, has definitely influenced my world view, and view on human nature in general. My academic background is psychology and its biological underpinnings, however, I like to think I am a diligent student of history and geography. It may be mundane to some, but I see history as a long, unbroken, historical narrative based on human action followed by social or systemic reaction.

I am currently engaged to a truly wonderful woman. I enjoy archery, shooting, being in the woods, Jeeps, and I am an avid collector of antiques.

I took this class because it spoke to the political, and legal conflict I see in the media every day, and to be honest, I do not fully understand. The nations that constitute the post-war order are portrayed to be under attack both externally, and internally. In the western media populist leaders seem to advocate not trusting judiciary, the press, other branches of government, and calling for the jailing of political dissent. All this is predicated on the premise that migration, legal liberalism, constitutional and human rights, are synonymous with terrorism (or crime), wasteful bureaucracy, and human rights no longer needed.

I am looking forward to learning more about this phenomena, as well as the many points of view this class will bring forth. I feel this plurality will add depth and understanding to the complex historical, legal, and political issues we will be discussing, because the truth always resists simplicity.

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

To begin with, I am pursuing a major in History, I have already obtained a Japanese minor and I am in the beginning stages of getting a CTESL certificate for teaching English overseas.

Some would consider it pretentious to point out that I want to be a novelist, but that is exactly what I am going to do here. It is my life’s ultimate ambition. So far, in my third attempt to write a novel that would actually be worth reading, I have written approximately 10,000 words of acceptable quality (in my opinion).

…I have rewritten that second paragraph four times and I still find that it sounds pretentious. Oh well.

My pen name, as garish as it sounds, can be explained by pointing out two things about myself: “Nikolai” comes from my love for Russian novelists and “Narcisse”, which I nicked from a character on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, comes from the fact that I am an overly opinionated man with a big mouth, a combination which has led some to think of me as being narcissistic. You can decide whether that is accurate. In class, I respond to the name Julian.

As far as history goes, I have come to adore East Asia (Japan in particular) after taking practically every course that Professor Jacob Kovalio has offered. My general interests are somewhat scattered–the French Revolution, the Jacobin Terror, the disaster at Chernobyl, Nazism, North Korea, The Crusades, the dangers posed by religion in modern society, the impending arrival of artificial intelligence, the music scene in Manchester from the 1970s through to the 1990s, et cetera.

The people whose work I admire (whether it is artistic or intellectual) are Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Douglas Murray, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, George Orwell, Saul Bellow, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ernest Hemingway, H.P. Lovecraft, James Joyce, Bret Easton Ellis, Ian Curtis, Noel Gallagher, Nicolas Winding Refn and Stanley Kubrick (to name a few).

My blog, called “Atrocity Exhibitionist”, can be found here:

https://atrocityexhibitionist.wordpress.com

I think I have written enough here, don’t you?

NN

 

Rebecca Sekine Bio

Hi! My name is Rebecca Sekine and I am a third year double major in History and Humanities. I’m from Burlington, Ontario and moved to Ottawa in 2015 to pursue my undergraduate degree here at Carleton. I hope this class will help me gain a comprehensive comparison between different examples of populism in history.

Who am I as a historian? I became entranced with history at a very young age through the “Dear Canada” diaries at my public library, where I became fascinated with topics such as the Titanic, the Spanish Influenza, and the First World War. My particular field of interest lies in ancient civilizations, early modern thinkers, and the very early 20th century.

Who am I as a person? I grew up a figure skater, I love to draw and paint, and I have a love for the theatre. I am an avid reader and my favourite genres are science fiction, fantasy, and romance. I would love to get to know everyone in this class! I work at Rooster’s Coffeehouse on campus, come visit me anytime!

https://rebeccasekinehistory3907b.wordpress.com Here’s a handy link to my personal blog