Posts tagged history
Posts tagged history
A lot of folks are posting about the Tiananmen Square massacre today, of course. I thought we should share it too, but I wanted to write a little bit about what was explained to me about what happened in the spring of 1989 that the western media often overlooks.
I am a 1.5 generation Chinese American leftist. I was two when the massacre happened. My sister had just been born. My father, who immigrated from China to Hong Kong when he was a toddler to escape the Cultural Revolution, and then Hong Kong to the United States to go to college, tells me he was seeking work in China around this time.
Several summers ago, when we were traveling together in China, he told me about what he understood about Tiananmen Square from his perspective as a young, newly naturalized American citizen who still had deep ties to the motherland. He told me the sense of unrest was not just about state control of the media and politics, but a sense that the state was also imposing capitalist reforms on the Chinese economy without input from the people, and with clear preferential treatment for party cadres and others who had an “in” with the powers that be. Students were upset and anxious about what looked like unilateral decisions about the future that weren’t just about opening markets, they were about neoliberalising the country.
When I think about what’s happening in Istanbul, Turkey, I can’t help but think about this. When we remember Tiananmen Square, I hope we remember that this wasn’t necessarily about the struggle of democracy versus Communism, but that it was about people who wanted to take part in determining the future of their country, and who rejected nepotistic neoliberal reforms. Just like with the media narrative around Gezi, American audiences risk being turned around. A million people don’t turn out and go on hunger strikes against their own self-interest. There’s more to this story than meets the eye.
Remember Tiananmen, but remember it for what it was: young Chinese students and workers resisting their country “modernizing” in the age of Reagan, the godfather of neoliberalism. This is the same ideology that young Turkish students and workers are resisting in Istanbul. It’s the same ideology that has decimated the U.S. economy and that we resist when we say “another world is possible.”
When we ask why the Chinese government still hasn’t admitted that Tiananmen even happened, we should remember that China today is just as cutthroat and capitalistic in some ways as the United States is. They have delivered on neoliberalism, but in the style of an autocratic state, where nepotism and party connections had more to do with business success than anything. Students and workers in China in 1989 were emphatically saying no to this system.
- “Sure, Hitler did terrible things, but you have to admit he was a brilliant man!” I have to do no such thing. He was a shiftless, self-absorbed layabout who found pontificating and rabble-rousing easier than doing actual work. Like many essentially worthless human beings, he did have a great deal of skill in manipulation, which enabled him to draw people in and use them, but I don’t call that genius.
- “The Nazis eliminated unemployment!” Any improvements the Nazis made in the German economy were short-term and unsustainable. Unemployment was eliminated in a manner of speaking — by running up ridiculous amounts of debt, cutting wages by 25%, and interning or declaring ineligible a sizable portion of the work force. Rationing began in 1937, two years before the invasion of Poland — a healthy peacetime economy does not have rationing. Their economic model relied on taking over other countries and stealing their resources — it was the only hope they had of making up the deficit.
- “The Nazis were brutally efficient!” Nothing the Nazis did was even remotely efficient. Hitler’s idea of governing was to put businesses and state departments in direct competition with each other for his personal favor. This resulted in massive corruption, bureaucratic bottlenecks, and an untold waste of time and resources. The economy wasn’t put on a full wartime footing until 1942 because no one was able or willing to do so.
- “Okay, maybe Hitler wasn’t that smart, but he was still a military genius!” Germany’s military successes during the first half of the war can best be explained by their choice of opponents — most countries were hopelessly overwhelmed, while France not-so-secretly wanted to be Germany’s girlfriend — and by the skill of the senior officers who came up through the old imperial system. When faced with opponents who actually had their shit together (and in the case of Soviet Russia that’s being charitable) Hitler’s vaunted strategic abilities were shown for their true worth — little to none.
- “Nazi science was phenomenal!” Please stop learning things from History Channel specials about “Hitler’s UFOs.” The Nazis sucked as bad at science as they did at everything else, in large part because they outright rejected a lot of theoretical advances as “Jewish science” and drove some of their greatest minds out of the country (who promptly came to the US). There’s a reason we developed the atom bomb first, and it’s because we had all their best scientists and they were left with the time-servers and jackboot-lickers.
- “But if they hadn’t invaded Russia they would’ve won the war!” Anyone who offers this as a counterfactual has completely failed to understand what Nazism was about, and it bugs the shit out of me. This wasn’t some accidental miscalculation. It was actually the entire point of National Socialism, the entire point of the whole war — carving out “living space” in the East. Was it a stupid thing to do? Sure! But here’s the thing you need to understand about the Nazis: hatred always won out over practical considerations. They hated Russians, they hated Communism, they wanted to destroy Russia’s Jews, and they weren’t about to let silly things like “reality” or “good sense” get in the way of their glorious destiny. It’s the same thing as rejecting good science because it was developed by Jewish people. They didn’t give a shit about objective reality; all they cared about was the glory of the German race and the destruction of all others. If you don’t understand this, you will never understand Nazi Germany, and you will continue to swallow lies like the ones listed above.
tl;dr: Nazi Germany was a huge fucking mess from beginning to end and anyone who says otherwise is totally ignorant and very likely a Nazi apologist.
Raden Ayu Kartini: Why she kicks ass
- She was a prominent Javanese and Indonesian national heroine, who was a pioneer in the area of women’s rights for Indonesians.
- She was born into an aristocratic Javanese family when Java was part of the Dutch colony of the Dutch East Indies. Kartini’s father, Sosroningrat, became Regency Chief of Jepara. Kartini’s father, was originally the district chief of Mayong. Her mother, Ngasirah was the daughter of Madirono and a teacher of religion in Teluwakur. She was his first wife but not the most important one. At this time, polygamy was a common practice among the nobility.Colonial regulations required a Regency Chief to marry a member of the nobility. Since Ngasirah was not of sufficiently high nobility, her father married a second time to Woerjan (Moerjam), a direct descendant of the Raja of Madura. After this second marriage, Kartini’s father was elevated to Regency Chief of Jepara, replacing his second wife’s own father.
- Kartini was the fifth child and second eldest daughter in a family of eleven, and was born into a family with a strong intellectual tradition. Kartini’s family allowed her to attend school until she was 12 years old. Here, among other subjects, she learnt to speak Dutch, an unusual accomplishment for Javanese women at the time. After she turned 12 she was ‘secluded’ at home, a common practice among Javanese nobility, to prepare young girls for their marriage. During seclusion girls were not allowed to leave their parents’ house until they were married, at which point authority over them was transferred to their husbands. Kartini’s father was more lenient than some during his daughter’s seclusion, giving her such privileges as embroidery lessons and occasional appearances in public for special events.
- During her seclusion, Kartini continued to educate herself on her own. Because she could speak Dutch, she acquired several Dutch pen friends. One of them, a girl by the name of Rosa Abendanon, became a close friend. Books, newspapers and European magazines fed Kartini’s interest in European feminist thinking, and fostered the desire to improve the conditions of indigenous Indonesian women, who at that time had a very low social status.
- Kartini’s reading included the Semarang newspaper De Locomotief, edited by Pieter Brooshooft, as well as leestrommel, a set of magazines circulated by bookshops to subscribers. She also read cultural and scientific magazines as well as the Dutch women’s magazine De Hollandsche Lelie, to which she began to send contributions which were published.
- Her concerns were not only in the area of the emancipation of women, but also other problems of her society. Kartini saw that the struggle for women to obtain their freedom, autonomy and legal equality was just part of a wider movement.
- Kartini’s parents arranged her marriage to Joyodiningrat, the Regency Chief of Rembang, who already had three wives. She was married on the 12 November 1903. This was against Kartini’s wishes, but she acquiesced to appease her ailing father. Kartini’s only son was born on 13 September 1904. A few days later on 17 September 1904, Kartini died at the age of 25. She was buried in Bulu Village, Rembang.
- Inspired by R.A. Kartini’s example, the Van Deventer family established the R.A. Kartini Foundation which built schools for women, ‘Kartini’s Schools’ in Semarang in 1912, followed by other women’s schools in Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Malang, Madiun, Cirebon and other areas.
- In 1964, President Sukarno declared R.A. Kartini’s birth date, 21 April, as ‘Kartini Day’ - an Indonesian national holiday. This decision has been criticised. It has been proposed that Kartini’s Day should be celebrated in conjunction with Indonesian Mothers Day, on 22 December so that the choice of R.A. Kartini as a national heroine would not overshadow other women who, unlike R.A. Kartini, took up arms to oppose the colonisers. In contrast, those who recognise the significance of R.A. Kartini argue that not only was she a feminist who elevated the status of women in Indonesia, she was also a nationalist figure, with new ideas who struggled on behalf of her people, including her in the national struggle for independence.
Honoring OUR fallen warriors: General Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman, an escaped slave herself, helped free more than 300 Black people during 19 missions on the Underground Railroad. With her comrade John Brown she recruited forces for the attack on Harper’s Ferry, and later served as a spy for the Union Army during the civil war. She devoted her later years to fighting for the rights of women and former slaves.
Ottoman metal-thread embroidered external curtains made for the door of the Holy Ka’aba
for those not in the know, night witches were russian lady bombers who bombed the shit out of german lines in WW2. Thing is though, they had the oldest, noisiest, crappest planes in the entire world. The engines used to conk out halfway through their missions, so they had to climb out on the wings mid flight to restart the props. the planes were also so noisy that to stop germans from hearing them combing and starting up their anti aircraft guns, they’d climb up to a certain height, coast down to german positions, drop their bombs, restart their engines in midair, and get the fuck out of dodge.
their leader flew over 200 missions and was never captured.
how the fuck is this not taught in every single history class ever
girl pilots (◕‿◕✿)
girl pilots killing nazis ✧･ﾟ: *✧･ﾟ:* \(◕ヮ◕✿)/ *:･ﾟ✧*:･ﾟ✧
But, remember, women never did anything in history.
Zacarias Moussaoui nearly received the death penalty for conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.
The rise of genocidal Buddhist racism against the Rohingya, a minority community of nearly one million people in the western Burmese province of Rakhine (also known as Arakan), is an international humanitarian crisis. The military-ruled state has been relentless in its attempts to erase Rohingya ethnic identity, which was officially recognized as a distinct ethnic group in 1954 by the democratic government of Prime Minister U Nu. Indeed, in the past months of violent conflict, beginning in June 2012, the Rohingya have suffered over 90 percent of the total death toll and property destruction, including the devastation of entire villages and city neighborhoods. Following the initial eruption of violence in western Burma, several waves of killing, arson, and rampage have been directed at the Rohingya, backed by Burma’s security forces.
— Dr. Maung Zarni, Buddhist Nationalism in Burma
One of my 308i students asked me the following question: if North Korea had continued to practice Buddhism, would they be less violent. I responded with a brief explication of the North Korean cultural situation, indicating that I was not an expert, and why that question was built upon orientalist assumptions about Buddhism.
The above came in as part of my explication following the “North Korea” question: essentially I presented a history of Buddhism and Buddhist nations as not inherently less violent because they are Buddhist. Burma was an example, as was Japan during World War II. Buddhism, like Shinto, Confucianism, and other Eastern religions are not immune from providing the impetus for, and support of, aggressive military actions.
If any of my followers are interested in Buddhism and conflict, I’d suggest reading the following:
Buddhist Warfare by Michael K. Jerryson and Mark Jurgensmeyer
Buddhism and Violence edited by Michael Zimmerman
In Defense of the Dharma by Tessa Bartholomeusz
I’ve created these flyers for a school activist project where I bring more attention to the women in history that have been forgotten or ignored. This blog will be an extension of those flyers where I post longer biographies of these women and other bad-ass women like them. Too often women’s achievements have been pushed aside, either by others in their lives, or else by the historians who choose to ignore them. This tumblr is dedicated to celebrating them and bringing their achievements to light!