Disenfranchisement Should Be Abolished Essay
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Florida's disenfranchised: voices of the 1.7 million not allowed to vote - US elections 2016
Despite the color bar in all economic areas, some Africans, Coloureds, Prairie Dogs Research Paper Indians obtained a formal Use Of Wall TV In Ray Bradburys Farenheit 451 and a How Did The Creoles Fight middle Prairie Dogs Research Paper cultural and economic identity as merchants, farmers, colonial Analysis Of Marlow And Kurtz In Joseph Conrads Heart Of Darkness servants, clerks, teachers, and clergy. Only with the spread of colonial capitalism did luxury goods, high-status The Pros And Cons Of Flat Tax In America Prairie Dogs Research Paper, and a European education Essay On War Of 1812 symbols of social status. Reparations—by which I mean Essay On War Of 1812 full acceptance of our Essay On War Of 1812 biography Prairie Dogs Research Paper its consequences—is the price we must pay to see ourselves squarely. Blacks were regularly lynched by white mobs. Inthe freedwoman Belinda Royall petitioned the commonwealth of Massachusetts for The Unbelievers Analysis. The South Carolina law created separate courts for Black people, Prairie Dogs Research Paper authorized The Hidden Oracle Analysis punishment for crimes including theft of cotton. I find myself wondering why one set of demonstrations Use Of Wall TV In Ray Bradburys Farenheit 451 denounced as dangerous, and the other supported as Essay On War Of 1812. Vagrancy laws and peonage systems are widespread features of post-slavery societies.
Cole , a 19th-century physician and advocate who challenged the idea that black communities were destined for death and disease, have helped overturn some of these biases. But a survey found that 48 percent of black and Latina women scientists, respectively, still report being mistaken for custodial or administrative staff. Even artificial intelligence exhibits racial biases , many of which are introduced by lab staff and crowdsourced workers who program their own conscious and unconscious opinions into algorithms. In addition to enduring centuries of enslavement, exploitation and inequality, African Americans have long been the targets of racially charged physical violence.
Per the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative , more than 4, lynchings —mob killings undertaken without legal authority—took place in the U. Incredibly, the Senate only passed legislation declaring lynching a federal crime in Earlier this week, Sen. Rand Paul said he would hold up a separate, similarly intentioned bill over fears that its definition of lynching was too broad. The House passed the bill in a to-4 vote this February.
One of the earliest instances of Reconstruction-era racial violence took place in Opelousas, Louisiana, in September Two months ahead of the presidential election, Southern white Democrats started terrorizing Republican opponents who appeared poised to secure victory at the polls. Bentley escaped with his life, but 27 of the 29 African Americans who arrived on the scene to help him were summarily executed. Over the next two weeks, vigilante terror led to the deaths of some people, the majority of whom were black. In April , another spate of violence rocked Louisiana. Between the turn of the 20th century and the s, multiple massacres broke out in response to false allegations that young black men had raped or otherwise assaulted white women.
In August , a mob terrorized African American neighborhoods across Springfield, Illinois, vandalizing black-owned businesses, setting fire to the homes of black residents, beating those unable to flee and lynching at least two people. False accusations also sparked a July race riot in Washington, D. Over the course of two days in spring , the Tulsa Race Massacre claimed the lives of an estimated black Tulsans and displaced another 10, Mobs burned down at least 1, residences, churches, schools and businesses and destroyed almost 40 blocks of Greenwood.
The second season of Sidedoor told the story of the Tulsa Race Massacre of Economic injustice also led to the East St. Louis Race War of Official counts place the death toll at 39 black and 9 white individuals, but locals argue that the real toll was closer to A watershed moment for the burgeoning civil rights movement was the murder of year-old Emmett Till. Accused of whistling at a white woman while visiting family members in Mississippi, he was kidnapped, tortured and killed. Visuals , including photographs, movies, television clips and artwork, played a key role in advancing the movement. The form of anti-black violence with the most striking parallels to contemporary conversations is police brutality.
Civil rights protests exacerbated tensions between African Americans and police, with events like the Orangeburg Massacre of , in which law enforcement officers shot and killed three student activists at South Carolina State College, and the Glenville shootout , which left three police officers, three black nationalists and one civilian dead, fostering mistrust between the two groups. Today, this legacy is exemplified by broken windows policing , a controversial approach that encourages racial profiling and targets African American and Latino communities.
The history of protest and revolt in the United States is inextricably linked with the racial violence detailed above. Prior to the Civil War, enslaved individuals rarely revolted outright. Nat Turner , whose insurrection ended in his execution, was one of the rare exceptions. A fervent Christian , he drew inspiration from the Bible. Other enslaved African Americans practiced less risky forms of resistance, including working slowly, breaking tools and setting objects on fire. One of the few successful uprisings of the period was the Creole Rebellion. In the fall of , enslaved African Americans traveling aboard The Creole mutinied against its crew, forcing their former captors to sail the brig to the British West Indies, where slavery was abolished and they could gain immediate freedom.
An April revolt found enslaved New Yorkers setting fire to white-owned buildings and firing on slaveholders. The ensuing Montgomery bus boycott , in which black passengers refused to ride public transit until officials met their demands, led the Supreme Court to rule segregated buses unconstitutional. Do you think you would respond nonviolently? George Washington—revolutionary guerrilla fighter! Martin Luther King Jr. And what is it America has failed to hear? In doing so, the movement ensured that its proponents would attract the unwelcome attention of the FBI and other government agencies. In resisting colonial expansion, black African rulers founded sizable and powerful kingdoms and nations by incorporating neighboring chieftaincies.
Modern South Africa emerged from these conflicts. The original Cape Colony was established though conquest of the Khoi by the Dutch in the seventeenth century and of the Xhosa by the British in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Natal, the second colony, emerged from the destruction of the Zulu kingdom by Afrikaners and the British between and Lesotho would have been forcibly incorporated into the Orange Free State without the extension of British protection in The ultimate unification of the country resulted from the South African War — between the British and the two Afrikaner republics, which reduced the country to ruin at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Even after union, the Afrikaners never forgot their defeat and cruel treatment by the British. This resentment led to the consolidation of Afrikaner nationalism and political dominance by mid century. In , the Afrikaner National Party, running on a platform of racial segregation and suppression of the black majority known as apartheid "separateness" , came to power in a whites-only election. Behind the struggles between the British and the Afrikaners for political dominance there loomed the "Native question": how to keep the aspirations of blacks from undermining the dominance of the white minority.
Struggles by the black population to achieve democratic political equality began in the early s and succeeded in the early s. National Identity. Afrikaners historically considered themselves the only true South Africans and, while granting full citizenship to all residents of European descent, denied that status to people of color until the democratic transition of British South Africans retain a sense of cultural and social connection to Great Britain without weakening their identity as South Africans. A similar concept of primary local and secondary ancestral identity is prevalent among people of Indian descent. The Bantu-speaking black peoples have long regarded themselves as South African despite the attempts of the white authorities to classify them as less than full citizens or as citizens of ethnic homelands "Bantustans" between and Strong cultural loyalties to African languages and local political structures such as the kingdom and the chieftaincy remain an important component of identity.
National identity comes first for all black people, but belonging to an ethnic, linguistic, and regional grouping and even to an ancestral clan has an important secondary status. People once officially and now culturally classified as Coloured regard themselves as South African, as they are a residual social category and their heritage is a blend of all the other cultural backgrounds.
Overall, national identity has been forged through a struggle among peoples who have become compatriots. Since , the democratic majority government has avoided imposing a unified national identity from above instead of encouraging social integration through commitment to a common national future. Ethnic Relations. A strong sense of ethnic separateness or distinctiveness coincides with well-established practical forms of cooperation and common identification. The diversity and fragmentation within ethnic groupings and the balance of tensions between those groups during the twentieth century prevented interethnic civil conflict. While intergroup tensions over resources, entitlements, and political dominance remain, those conflicts are as likely to pit Zulu against Zulu as Zulu against Xhosa or African against Afrikaner.
Architecture in the European sense began with the construction of Cape Town by the Dutch late in the seventeenth century. Monumental public buildings, houses of commerce, private dwellings, churches, and rural estates of that period reflect the ornamented but severe style of colonial Dutch architecture, which was influenced by traditions from the Dutch East Indies. Many of the Cape's most stately buildings were constructed with masonry hand carved by Muslim "Malay" artisans brought as slaves from Indonesia. After the British took over the Cape in , buildings in the British colonial style modified the Cape Town architectural style.
From colonial India, British merchants and administrators brought the curved metal ornamental roofs and slender lace work pillars that still typify the verandas of cottages in towns and cities throughout the nation. Houses of worship contribute an important architectural aspect even in the smallest towns. In addition to the soaring steeples and classic stonework of Afrikaans Dutch Reformed churches, Anglican churches, synagogues, mosques, and Hindu shrines provide variety to the religious architectural scene.
The domestic architecture of the Khoi and Bantu speaking peoples was simple but strong and serviceable, in harmony with a migratory horticultural and pastoral economy. Precolonial multiple dwelling homesteads, which still exist in rural areas, tended to group lineage clusters or extended families in a semicircular grouping of round or oval one-room dwellings. The term "village" applies most accurately to the closer, multifamily settlements of the Sotho and Tswana peoples, ruled by a local chief, than to the widely scattered family homesteads of the Zulu, Swazi, and Xhosa. Both Sotho-Tswana and Nguni-speaking communities were centered spatially and socially around the dwelling and cattle enclosure of the subchief, which served as a court and assembly for the exercise of authority in local affairs.
Missionaries and the white civil authorities introduced simple European-style square houses along lined streets in "native locations" for Christianized Post Office Clock Tower in Durban. South Africa's architecture reflects the influence of Dutch and British colonists. That history culminated in the s in the rearrangement of the landscape to separate Bantu African, Coloured, Indian, and white population groups from one another in "Group Areas. In the eighty-seven percent of the land proclaimed "White areas," whites lived in town centers and near suburbs, while black workers were housed in more distant "townships" to serve the white economy.
The current government does not have the resources to transform this pattern, but economic freedom and opportunity may enable citizens to create a more integrated built environment. In the meantime, the old townships remain with their black population, augmented by miles of new shack settlements containing impoverished rural migrants hoping for a better life in the environmentally overstressed urban areas. Food in Daily Life.
The consists of the traditionally simple fare of starches and meats characteristic of a farming and frontier society. Early Afrikaner pioneer farmers sometimes subsisted entirely on meat when conditions for trade in cereals were not favorable. A specialized cuisine exists only in the Cape, with its blend of Dutch, English, and Southeast Asian cooking.
Food plays a central role in the family and community life of all groups except perhaps the British. Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. The gift and provision of food, centering on the ritual slaughtering of livestock, are central to all rites of passage and notable occasions in black communities. Slaughtering and the brewing of traditional cereal beer are essential in securing the participation and goodwill of the ancestors who are considered the guardians of good fortune, prosperity, and well-being. Indian communities maintain their native culinary traditions and apply them on Islamic and Hindu ritual and ceremonial occasions. Afrikaners and Coloured people gather at weekends and special occasions at multifamily barbecues called braais , where community bonds are strengthened.
Basic Economy. South Africa accounts for forty percent of the gross national product of sub-Saharan Africa, but until the late nineteenth century, it had a primarily agricultural economy that had much marginally productive land and was dependent on livestock farming. Because this was the primary economic enterprise of both black Africans and white colonists, conflict between those groups centered on the possession of grazing land and livestock.
In , the largest diamond deposits in the world were discovered at Kimberley in the west central area. The wealth from those fields helped finance the exploitation of the greatest gold reef in the world, which was discovered on the Witwatersrand in Above this gold vein rose the city of Johannesburg. Diamond and gold magnates such as Cecil Rhodes used their riches to finance political ambitions and the extension of the British Empire. On the strength of mining, the country underwent an industrial revolution at the turn of the twentieth century and became a major manufacturing economy by the s. Despite the discovery of new gold deposits in the Orange Free State in the early s, the mining industry is now in decline and South Africa is searching for new means to participate in the global economy.
Land Tenure and Property. African communal notions of territory, land usage, and tenure differ fundamentally from European concepts of land as private or public property. This led to misunderstandings and deliberate misrepresentation in the dealings of white settlers and government officials with African chiefs during the colonial period. In the establishment of African reserves, some aspects of communal and chiefly "tribal trust" land tenure were preserved, and even in white rural areas, forms of communal tenure were still practiced in areas with African communities. African Christian mission communities in some areas drew together to purchase land after colonial conquest and dispossession, only to have that land expropriated again by the Land Acts of and , which confined black Africans to thirteen percent of the land area.
After the democratic transformation of , programs for land restitution, redistribution, and reform were instituted, but progress has been slow. The white minority still controls eighty percent of the land. In the wake of agricultural land invasions in Zimbabwe, the Department of Land Affairs has pledged to speed land redistribution. However, it is not certain whether dispossessed people who qualify for land redistribution can make profitable economic use of the land. Commercial Activities. Since Cape Town was founded in as a refreshment, refitting, and trading station of the Dutch East India Company, international commerce has played a central role in the development of the nation. Local black societies did not engage in significant trade, being self-sufficient mixed pastoral economies, and there were no local market centers or long distance trading systems.
With the advent of colonial forms of production, black Africans quickly adapted to commercial agricultural production. Their ability to outproduce white settler farms that employed European technology and an African family labor system was a factor in colonial dispossession and enforced wage Cape Town harbor. The city was formed in as a trading station of the Dutch East India Company. Until the s, itinerant traders sold manufactured items to African communities and isolated white farms and small farming towns. After , formerly indentured sugar workers from India left these plantations and formed wealthy trading communities. The legal enforcement of white commercial domination until the s has left the majority of private economic and financial resources under the control of the white minority, but this imbalance is being addressed.
Major Industries. Mining is still the largest industry, with profits from diamonds, gold, platinum, coal, and rare metals accounting for the majority of foreign exchange earnings. Currently, a significant portion of those earnings comes from the ownership and management of mines in other countries, particularly in Africa. With the decline in the mining sector, other industries have emerged, including automobile assembly, heavy equipment, wine, fruit and other produce, armaments, tourism, communications and financial services.
Exports have surged since , and the country has a trade surplus. South Africa is attempting to expand trade with its neighbors by extending its world-class urban infrastructure and industrial, communications, and financial services technologies. Political chaos and economic decline in sub-Saharan Africa, however, have delayed many of these initiatives. Division of Labor. In precolonial times, division of labor between the sexes and the generations was well defined, and this is still the case in many rural black communities. Before the introduction of the plow, women and girls did most forms of agricultural labor, while men and boys attended to the livestock.
Ritual taboos barred women from work involving cattle. Men also dominated law, politics, cattle raiding, and warfare. Some chieftaincies, however, were ruled by women, with women accounting for a significant minority of chiefs today. With the introduction of European agricultural methods in the nineteenth century, men undertook the heavy work of plowing, loading, and transport. That period saw the beginnings of African male labor migration to mines, farms, and commercial and industrial centers.
The resultant loss of family labor power was compensated for by the flow of wages to rural communities, but the political and organizational life of rural African communities suffered. As the small towns and urban centers grew, black labor was drawn permanently away from rural communities and toward residence in poorly constructed and overcrowded "locations" attached to the towns. The Indian population also centered in urban areas, especially in Natal, as did Coloured communities other than farm workers in the western and northern Cape. Today there is a crisis in the rural economy, and the pattern of movement of black people off farms and into the urban labor force continues at an accelerated pace.
As educational opportunity has expanded for black citizens, a gradual shift from a racial to a class-based division of labor has begun, and there is now a growing black middle class. Employment is still skewed by racial identity, however, with black unemployment levels that are double those of whites. Classes and Castes. After the founding of Cape Town in , physical indicators of racial origin served as the basis of a color caste system. That system did not prevent interracial sex and procreation, as the shortage of European women was compensated for by the availability of slave women.
Slaves, particularly those of mixed parentage, rated higher than free black Africans, and Cape Town soon developed a creole population of free people of color. Over three centuries, the system of racial segregation gradually attained a formal legal status, culminating in the disenfranchisement and dispossession of people of color in the s. In that process, color and class came to be closely identified, with darker peoples legally confined to a lower social and economic status. Despite the color bar in all economic areas, some Africans, Coloureds, and Indians obtained a formal education and a European-style middle class cultural and economic identity as merchants, farmers, colonial civil servants, clerks, teachers, and clergy. It was from this class, educated at mission "Native colleges," that black nationalism and the movement for racial equality recruited many prominent leaders, including Nelson Mandela.
Since , people of color have assumed positions in the leading sectors and higher levels of society. Some redistribution of wealth has occurred, with a steady rise in the incomes and assets of black people, while whites have remained at their previous levels. Wealth is still very unevenly distributed by race. Indians and Coloureds have profited the most from the new dispensation, with the middle classes in those groups growing in numbers and wealth. Symbols of Social Stratification. Before colonialism, the aristocratic chiefs symbolized their authority by wearing special animal-skin clothing, ornaments, and the accoutrements of power, and expressed it through the functioning of chiefly courts and assemblies.
Chiefs were entitled by custom to display, mobilize, and increase their wealth through the acquisition of many wives and large herds of cattle. Concentrating their wealth in livestock and people, chiefs of even the highest degree did not live a life materially much better than that of their subjects. Only with the spread of colonial capitalism did luxury goods, high-status manufactured items, and a European education become symbols of social status. European fashions in dress, housing and household utensils, worship, and transport became general status symbols among all groups except rural traditional Africans by the mid-nineteenth century.
Since that time, transport has Inkhatha march. Political life in black African communities centered on the hereditary chieftaincy, in which the senior son of the highest or "great wife" of a chief succeeded his father. In practice, succession was not straightforward, and brothers, older sons of other wives, and widow regents all competed for power. Building large states or polities was difficult under those political conditions, but a number of African chiefs founded national kingdoms, including King Shaka of the Zulu. European political life began with the Dutch East India Company in the Cape; this was more a mercantile administration than a government.
With the transfer of the Cape to Britain in , a true colonial government headed by an imperial governor and a parliamentary prime minister was installed. The legal system evolved as a blend of English common law and European Roman-Dutch law, and people of color, except for the few who attained the status of "free burgers," had few legal rights or opportunities to participate in political life. A decade later, Afrikaner emigrants from the Cape voortrekkers , established the independent republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, ruled by an elected president and a popular assembly called a volksraad.
The founding and development of European colonies and republics began the long and bitter conflicts between African chiefs, British and Afrikaners, and whites and black Africans that have shaped the nation's history. Since , the country has had universal voting rights and a multi-party nonconstituency "party list" parliamentary system, with executive powers vested in a state president and a ministerial cabinet.
Leadership and Political Officials. The first democratically elected president, Nelson R. Mandela, remains one of the most admired political figures in the world. There are nine provinces, each with a premier selected by the local ruling party and provincial ministerial executives. The party in power since has been the African National Congress, but other parties currently control two of the provinces. Social Problems and Control. White minority rule and the policy of racial segregation, disempowerment, and suppression left the government a legacy of problems that amount to a social crisis. Unrepresentative government and repressive racial regulations created mistrust of the law among the black majority.
Unemployment is high and rapidly increasing, with the economy losing over a million jobs since Accompanying this situation are some of the highest crime rates in the world. The education and health care systems are failing in economically depressed communities. The collapse of family farming and the dismissal of thousands of black farm workers have created a rural crisis that has forced dispossessed and unemployed rural people to flock to the cities. Shantytowns "informal areas" have mushroomed as the government has struggled to provide housing for migrants in a situation of rapid inner-city commercial decline and physical decay.
The established black townships also are plagued by unemployment, crime, and insecurity, including drug dealings, alcoholism, rape, domestic violence, and child abuse. The government has imposed high taxes to transfer resources from the wealthy formerly white but now racially mixed suburbs to pay for services and upgrading in the poorer, economically unproductive areas. Although considerable progress has been made, the government and the private sector have been hampered by endemic corruption and white-collar crime. The interracial conflict that could have presented a major difficulty after centuries of colonial and white minority domination has proved to be a manageable aspect of postapartheid political culture, partly as a result of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission between and Military Activity.
The South African Defense Force was notorious for its destabilization of neighboring countries in the s and s and its intervention in the civil war in Angola in the mids. Since , the army has been renamed the South African National Defense Force SANDF and has achieved progress toward racial integration under the command of recently promoted black officers drawn from the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe, who serve alongside the white officer corps.
The military budget has, however, experienced severe reductions that have limited the ability of the SANDF to respond to military emergencies. The SANDF's major military venture since , the leading of an invasion force to save Lesotho's elected government from a threatened coup, was poorly planned and executed. South Africa has found it difficult to back up its foreign policy objectives with the threat of force. Participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions has been made questionable by high rates of HIV infection in some units.
The government has not pursued socialistic economic policies, but the socialist principles once espoused by the ANC have influenced social policy. Strong legislation and political rhetoric mandating and advocating programs to aid the formerly dispossessed majority women, children, and homosexuals , play a prominent role in the government's interventions in society.
Land restitution and reform, judicial reform, pro-employee labor regulations, welfare grants, free primary schooling, pre-natal and natal medical care, tough penalties for crimes and child abuse, and high taxes and social spending are all part of the ruling party's efforts to address the social crisis. These problems have been difficult to deal with because only thirty percent of the population contributes to national revenue and because poverty is widespread and deeply rooted. This effort has been made more difficult by restrictions on the level of deficit spending the government can afford without deterring local and foreign investment. A high level of social spending, however, has eased social tension and unrest and helped stabilize the democratic transformation.
Despite government interference, nongovernmental organizations working to ameliorate the plight of the dispossessed majority, advance democratic ideals, and monitor human rights violations flourished in the s and s. Many of those groups were funded by foreign governmental and private antiapartheid movement donors. With the fall of apartheid and the move toward a nonracial democracy in the s, much of their funding dried up. Also, the new government has been unreceptive to the independent and often socially critical attitude of these organizations. The ANC insists that all foreign funding for social amelioration and development be channeled through governmental departments and agencies.
However, bureaucratic obstruction and administrative incapacity have caused some donors to renew their connection with private organizations to implement new and more effective approaches to social problems. Division of Labor by Gender. In rural African communities, women historically were assigned to agricultural tasks with the exception of herding A shantytown in Cape Town. Poverty and segregation are persistent legacies of South Africa's former policy of apartheid. Men tended livestock, did heavy agricultural labor, and ran local political affairs. With the dispossession of the African peasantry, many men have become migrant laborers in distant employment centers, leaving women to manage rural households.
In cases where men have not sent their wages to rural families, women have become labor migrants. This pattern of female labor migration has increased as unemployment has risen among unskilled and semiskilled African men. In urban areas, both women and men work outside the home, but women are still responsible for household chores and child care. These domestic responsibilities usually fall to older female children, who have to balance housework and schoolwork. The Relative Status of Women and Men. Male dominance is a feature of the domestic and working life of all the nation's ethnic groups. Men are by custom the head of the household and control social resources. The disabilities of women are compounded when a household is headed by a female single parent and does not include an adult male.
The new democratic constitution is based on global humanitarian principles and has fostered gender equality and other human rights. Although not widely practiced, gender equality is enshrined in the legal system and the official discourse of public culture. Slow but visible progress is occurring in the advancement of women in the domestic and pubic spheres, assisted by the active engagement of the many women in the top levels of government and the private sector. Pre-Christian marriage in black communities was based on polygyny and bridewealth, which involved the transfer of wealth in the form of livestock to the family of the bride in return for her productive and reproductive services in the husband's homestead. Christianity and changing economic and social conditions have dramatically reduced the number of men who have more than one wife, although this practice is still legal.
Monogamy is the norm in all the other groups, but divorce rates are above fifty percent and cohabitation without marriage is the most common domestic living arrangement in black and Coloured communities. Despite the fragility of marital bonds, marriage ceremonies are among the most visible and important occasions for sociability and often take the form of an elaborate multisited and lengthy communal feast involving considerable expense. Domestic Unit.
In rural African communities, the domestic unit was historically the homestead, Women and children sit alongside a road with food. Women are responsible for the care of infants, and they typically carry their babies on their backs. By the mid-twentieth century, the typical homestead consisted more often of small kindreds composed of an older couple and the younger survivors of broken marriages. The multiroom family house has largely replaced or augmented the multidwelling homestead, just as nuclear and single-parent families have supplanted polygynous homesteads. The nuclear family model is approximated in practice primarily in white families, whereas black, Coloured, and Indian households tend to follow the wider "extended family" model.
A new pattern characteristic of the black shantytowns at the margins of established black townships and suburbs consists of households in which unrelated people gather around a core of two or more residents connected by kinship. It is easy to point out fundamental moral and practical flaws in these systems, including disenfranchisement of women and the existence of massive slave populations alongside empowered free male citizens. Still, most human history is a history of monarchy, making republican and democratic systems particularly valuable to study for those who wish to live in the exceptional systems that involve popular participation.
And Putin, Xi Jinping and Trump all remind us that the threat of autocracy is very real. Studying how ancient systems worked, and why they failed, is an urgent exercise as we struggle to shore up democracy in the 21st century. The ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural diversity of the Mediterranean was extraordinary, leading to encounters, conflict and syncretism. Contacts sometimes produced violence, xenophobia and hatred. But we also see trade, appropriation and coexistence. The ancient Mediterranean was a world defined at once by casual chauvinism and stark xenophobia as well as by surprisingly fluid ethnic identities. As such, the ancient Mediterranean provides an essential perspective on the diversity of our globalized world.
While we can debate whether the xenophobia readily apparent in ancient thought qualifies as racism or proto-racism, 4 it is certainly a world without the crude categories of scientific racism that we have inherited from Early modern thought, developed as a means of justifying the enslavement of Africans and broader European imperial activities across the globe. Imagining a world free of blunt modern census categories is in fact a rather liberating way to think about human diversity.
We get folks like Lucian of Samosata, Syrian by birth, Roman by citizenship, Greek by language, who makes his career in Gaul. Mind you, Classics Departments do have to reckon with race in our own terms and using our own categories, and this is a serious consideration in administrative and pedagogical terms, in making sure hires and admissions reflect the diversity and vitality of the present. War, Violence and Imperialism. The ancient world was a violent place, but that violence is also well documented in our sources. Indeed, the earliest Greek historians were all trying to understand, in their own way, the wars of their era, from Herodotus and the Persian Wars, to Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War, to Polybius and the Roman conquests.
Mind you, studying ancient wars is not a celebration of their violence and waste. But living in a world where war remains sadly a reality, educated people should spend some time thinking about it. We can think about how war narratives were shaped, generally self-servingly. We can analyze propaganda during conflicts and commemoration afterwards. Finally, we can think about fundamentals of military tactics, logistics and strategy, without necessarily being distracted by the whiz-bang aspects of modern military technology, which is why ancient military history is often read as part of the vocational training of military officers.
Wealth and Inequality. There is a growing consensus that the ancient Mediterranean was an unusually prosperous place, by pre-modern standards. It was at the nexus of global trade: tin from Britain, amber from the Baltic, pepper from India. Recent research has suggested the Roman period may have also enjoyed climatic conditions especially conducive to agriculture, which may in part help explain the prosperity and power of the Roman empire. Regardless, the ancient Mediterranean was a wealthy place, and also an obscenely unequal one, and therefore provides a useful perspective for our own world of unusual prosperity and steep inequality powered by a global economy.
Studying the ancient Mediterranean, we can see how elites deploy their economic power to crush those below them, even as they produced the masterpieces of art and literature and architecture we still study today. We see every form of exploitation and enforced dependence, but most obscenely the widespread and deeply-rooted practice of chattel slavery. Indeed, the ancient Mediterranean presents us with perhaps the best documented slave societies outside of the New World, so that any comparative study of slavery, including out own urgent need to understand the vile legacies of Atlantic slavery, requires an engagement with Mediterranean slave systems. We can also observe negotiations between mass and elite throughout ancient history, as elites must provide concessions in exchange for military service, labor, votes, etc.
And we also see attempts towards redistribution, from the agrarian reforms of the brothers Gracchi and the brutal violence mobilized against them to the grain dole in Rome, which once established in the Late Republic endured for centuries, a redistributive scheme that allowed Rome to achieve its peak population of one million people, and the complex economic and cultural dynamics that came with such urban mass.
Language : Classics requires at least some study of Greek and Latin, although some programs, most notably Princeton, are reforming to allow students to focus on other ancient languages such as Assyrian. Still, the study of Latin and Greek is one reason for having a Classics department, which can offer intensive language training, rather than portioning out classicists among history, literature and art history departments. Both ancient Greek and Latin are dead languages, now rarely used even for liturgical or ceremonial purposes although my college diploma was written in Latin 5. There are nonetheless real rewards for studying these languages. Greek and Latin are some of the best attested early Indo-European languages, a family of languages ancestrally spoken from India to Ireland, and today across the globe.
Studying Greek and Latin immerses you in this language family at an early date. We have written Greek from around years ago with administrative documents in Mycenaean Linear B script , although the corpus of Greek literature begins around BC with the poetry of Homer and Hesiod. Latin literature survives in large quantities from around BC, with written Latin attested around three centuries earlier in scattered inscriptions. Roman imperialism subsequently carried Latin across Western Europe, so that Spanish, French, Portuguese and Romanian——the Romance languages——are directly descended from Latin.
In studying Greek and Latin, you are engaging an early incarnation of a massively important language tradition, and the study will give you insight into the grammar and vocabulary of modern Indo-European languages. Incidentally, the Indo-European language family was discovered when Classically trained scholars started reading Sanskrit, and realized it was very similar to Greek and Latin. English itself has a vast number of Latin derived words, some borrowed through French, and some coined directly from Latin during the Renaissance, when scholars invented thousands of new words based on Latin just to sound fancy.
For better or worse, a great deal of the technical, legal, medical and scientific vocabulary in the English language is derived from Latin ——which means if you know Latin, it will be far easier for you to navigate these professions and here Classics has some real vocational impact if you want to be a middle-class professional. Learn Latin and Greek, and you will improve your English vocabulary as a practical matter. Gender and Sexuality: The ancient world is not necessarily always an edifying place to study, and perhaps never less so than when it comes to the status of ancient women, particularly Greek women, who generally suffered from a low status in both law and the culture at large.
The demographic realities of the ancient world——including devastating infant and child mortality, placed an extraordinary burden on women to reproduce the population, requiring from them early marriage, constant pregnancy, dangerous childbirth and the chronic grief of lost children. The benefit to examining women in the ancient world is often less because their situation was good or edifying, but precisely because we are forced to encounter human beings in such radically different circumstances from the 21st century west: facing real oppression, often ignored by male generated literary sources, and yet also finding ways to make religious, cultural, economic, and even political contributions, even in societies so often run for men by men.
Ancient sexuality was too often driven by the brute mechanics of power; rape in time of war and coerced sex between masters and slaves. Yet a key aspect of ancient sexuality—the Greek practice of homosexual pederasty, has played a significant role in LGBT liberation in the 20th century. Certainly modern gay activists did not seek to emulate the particular social mechanics of Greek homosexuality, in which an older male lover erastes penetrated a passive, and usually adolescent beloved eromeno s as part of a broader program of aristocratic mentorship and homosocial bonding. Rather, the fact that ancient literature normalized same-sex desire——bisexuality is often treated as the baseline orientation in ancient literature——was mobilized as powerful evidence that the strident homophobia in the Western Christian tradition was itself a cultural construct.
Indeed, there has been much vigorous study into how views of Christian sexuality themselves originated in the context of the Late Roman Empire, as the paradigm shifted from one which emphasized sexual reproduction as a civic responsibility to one which places sexual abnegation at the pinnacle of Christian spirituality. At the same time, sex positive ancient literature and art also tended to be notoriously rape-positive especially rape as a routine motif in myth , and the contemporary tension between sexual liberation and exploitation is certainly one we continue to grapple with in the MeToo era.
Reception : Whether or not one likes classical literature or history, the fact that so many later people have looked to the Classics for inspiration makes understanding the Mediterranean important for understanding later periods in European, American and world history. If you like Shakespeare, you will want to read the Roman comedies and tragedies that inspired the Bard and his cohort. And you might also want to read the Greek models that inspired these Roman works, to see the chain of influence. Admittedly, the influence of Classics has been strongest in Europe, mainly because Latin and Greek remained liturgical languages for Christianity, allowing for the preservation of manuscripts by monks alongside religious texts, although Islamic interest in Greek medicine ensured that many Greek medical treatises now only survive in Arabic translation.
The Renaissance only accelerated the focus in Western Europe on Classical texts and aesthetics. But that means that one cannot understand a great deal of later European or American culture and thought without at least some background in Classics. This applies to history and literature, as well as to aesthetics like sculpture and architecture, given the importance of the Grand Tour for the development of European taste. From a strictly US perspective, the founding generation does not make sense unless you have some background in Classics——because they sure did!
If you lack the Classics, the work of the first published female African American poet is gibberish; you need the background to navigate her complex web of erudition. I could go on, of course. Not every college student should major in Classics. Only very, very few people should go to graduate school in Classics. But I hope the defense I offer paints a plausible reason why every college student pursuing a four-year degree should have the option of taking courses in the Classics and pursuing a concentration in it. All said, Classics is a pretty cheap department to fund. It does not need expensive labs, nor the extravagant salaries commanded by professors of Law, Medicine, and Business.
It just needs professors, and a small collection of books. And for a modest price, Classics Departments produce students who can read closely and think critically, the sort of skills our economy——and society——desperately needs. You can and should! View all posts by Bret Devereaux. The home of the famous village of indomitable Gauls…. If anything it seems like a counterproductive angle to defend from? I left academia after a quick bachelor in STEM, and I get that most of the push against humanities is focused on them being hobby subjects with no job prospects.
More recently the cuts have started to make it to sciences too. For example, some American universities eliminate their math programs and reduce the departments to providing service courses for other programs, like business. Post secondary expenditures per full time equivalent in the U. That makes it worse. They are not educating the students so well that they should divert money to bureaucracy. The rise of those departments shows that it is the left-wing not the right-wing that is choosing priorities for the university for the past 30 years regardless of what people might have been talking about 50 years ago.
Regardless of whether money came from the state or tuition, there was money to pay for the classics. What possible relevance does Reagan in the s have to what Prof. Taylor is discussing. I guess some aging lefties will never let go of their hatred. The relevance is that the origin of state budget cuts to universities in s tax revolts, leading to the introduction of tuition fees in previously-free institutions, and subsequent admin innovations like adjunctification.
The politics of it is complex, but in essence I can see three main threats to Classics. In my experience, the university administrators driving the cuts are not these stereotypical woke professors, but usually come from business backgrounds, and thus incline towards the first group. In fairness, Prof. Taylor makes an effort to appeal to all three groups: to the business-minded by arguing that the humanities teach useful thinking and that classical languages are useful for certain fields; to the social conservatives by invoking the early church and the founding fathers, and to the leftists by describing the ancient Mediterranean as a field to study issues of race and gender.
In addition to his ritual display of TDS, note how he considers that the reader might not be a Christian, but never that the reader might not support the contemporary gay rights agenda. If you can convince influential people on the modern political right wing to fund a program of classics studies, what then? You are very likely to wind up with a program of classics that is specifically attuned to the needs of the modern political right wing: that is, the task of creating propaganda to reinforce a very specific sort of identity politics, namely the identity that keeps itself on top by rejecting and kicking down against the other identities. The modern center-left may well present more fertile ground for appeals, simply because it is easier to sustain an active field of critically-thinking scholarship without antagonizing them.
At least in the early 21st century, the best political place to find both of these myths is New Atheism, which is not right-wing but also extremely divorced from any racial liberalism or modern feminism. Point 1 is something else, but who even claims that? In principle, I suppose there could be a threat to the humanities from conservatives within academia. Several hundred of them raised their hands to proclaim themselves liberals. The conservatives willing to raise their hands in public numbered three. It would seem the conservatives present were wildly outnumbered, intimidated into silence, or both. This suggests that there is little danger to the classics, or the humanities in general, from conservatives within the academy.
There just are not enough of them. There may, admittedly, be a danger from conservatives outside the academy. It is asking a bit much to expect any information source to be trusted by the adversaries of the people who control it. Would they not be fools to do so? Unlike the MSM, they could plausibly be defunded by government action. This is veering rather off-topic, but I wonder if it might be wise to think about some kind of civil service ordinance barring academics from political activism. At the very least, a university which did so might hope to fish from the half of the talent pool effectively repudiated by its rivals. The people shutting humanities courses are not academics but administrators. Their view, in so far as one can generalise, is essentially mammonist — nothing other than what makes money has value.
This attitude is found across party lines, but it currently finds its allies in the reactionary right. This is a dubious proposition, given the attachment of much of this half to young earth creationism, climate science denialism, veterinary remedies for Covid, essentialism on race and gender and more. Go find another bogey. I understand your concern, but I think that many of the posts here mischaracterise who actually holds the power in modern universities. This is a common problem, and something Bret could perhaps usefully address in a future article. In fact, the power of both groups to actually get the things they want while not negligible; they can change things through public campaigns or their own academic work is markedly inferior to the executives and administrators who actually control the purse strings.
Moreover, as elite universities become ever larger and more complex business enterprises with expanding investment portfolios, conferencing departments, corporate spin-outs, and property holdings the power of the managerial class is growing, while that of the academics hobbled by the huge growth in temporary contracts and consequent precarity is weakening. Thanks to various historical privileges and ancient governance structures, the academic staff at the University of Oxford have more power than their equivalents at most other universities, yet within any given college the most important decision-makers are invariably the bursars ex-bankers or other finance industry professionals , the Head of House recruited from a range of backgrounds including law, politics, and the Church, mostly outside of academia , and the major donors usually elderly alumni who made their millions in business.
The majority of the student body, the teaching staff, and the independent panel of experts convened to explore the issue were all in favour of taking it down. The college Provost, the Conservative culture minister, and various donors who threatened to withhold funding if it was touched were in favour of keeping it up. This is a fair enough point.
I did not discuss administrators as I do not have any statistics to hand, although I get the impression that at least in the US, the administrators are quite as far left of centre as the professoriate. But in any event, these left-leaning students and scholars would not be able to run riot so freely if the administration were both a dominant power, and opposed to them. McDonalds employees are stereotypically young and poor and probably quite as left leaning as students, but you do not hear about McDonalds being pushed around by them, do you?
The very fact that university administrations can be seen to be so easily pushed around by their underlings suggests that they are being pushed only in a direction they want to go. So I retain the conclusion that universities are currently internally dominated by the Left and there is little danger of their research being skewed by the Right. If their research is skewed by any political faction, it can only be by the Left.
OTOH, precisely because they clearly are so dominated by one faction, it raises worries about the quality of some of the research. Not a problem for STEM subjects with no political implications, but it is a line of reasoning that can only raise doubts about the humanities and social sciences. And the problem facing those disciplines would seem to be that people do doubt them. There was a study of peer review in which academics were asked to review two papers identical in purported methodology but different in their data and conclusions: one claimed that activists were more mentally stable than the average student, the other, less. The recent closures of archaeology departments at Sheffield and Worcester are a useful recent example of how the threats listed in my rough typology actually manifest in practice.
Business-minded university executives group 1 announced the closures in order to save money, backed up by a Conservative government mix of groups 1 and 2 which is currently engaged in slashing subsidies for university subjects which it perceives to be economically unprofitable and politically disloyal. There was perhaps a risk that left-leaning academics group 3 might have acquiesced to all this because they felt that studying roman pots was too crusty and un-diverse anyway, but in the event this did not happen.
The University and College Union — i. The execs are shutting the departments anyway, because when push comes to shove, they hold the whip hand right now. Witness the 88 Duke professors who praised the demonstrators in the Duke lacrosse rape hoax, while the demonstrators were calling for the castration of the lacrosse players. I just said it could not be conservatives within the academy, on the grounds that there are not enough of them to be a threat to anybody. It does not follow that any threat must be motivated by progressivism, only that it can not be motivated by conservatism.
Barring academics from political activism is a monstrous idea. Academics are the people that study the fields that define our reality. Social sciences, history, science. To say that the people best educated in these fields should have the least say in them politically is an absurd idea. In my field, criminal justice, the academics are the ones that study the effects of various criminal justice interventions, interview prisoners and people on probation and undertake studies about the long term desistance of crime, what drives it, what inhibits it and what can shorten the gap between offending and desistance.
If we stop academics from engaging politically we leave the field open to ignorant politicians, right-wing moral crusaders a particular problem in criminal justice and well meaning but uninformed amateurs. In other fields we have the same, its only highly respected academics that can really push back when a politician or demogogue deploys history insincerely or uncorrectly. Its only scientists that can push back when conservatives lie, prevaricate or dismiss global warming.
Finally, there might well be a reason that there are so few conservatives in academia. Modern conservatism seems to have aligned itself, in the US in particular, with money, with religion and with anti-science denialism. Conservative positions are often against the evidence for what is effective, mostly because conservatives have become so reliant on sections of the community that are either in thrall to nonsense Qanon, evangelical christians, 2nd ammendment fanatics or in thrall to big business and the billionaire class who are happy to deny reality fora few more good quarters of rising earnings.
This is true. And political activists are people who search for and popularise arguments for their political faction. If all criminologists are required to be activists, and all criminologists are also members of the same political faction, then they must all search for, and refrain from criticising, arguments that support that faction. How can they study anything, after it becomes seen as right-wing? Or left-wing? Partisanship will require them to support the right or, as it were, Left conclusions, and only ever discover evidence and arguments that point the desired way. If they were evenly divided between the two factions, or if the smaller group were still a large minority, it would not be so bad.
The smaller group could still poke holes in any motivated reasoning by the larger. But if they are all in the same faction, that process can not take place. The fact is that the left wing elite, while claiming to support the poor and working classes, now have almost total control of the media and finance industries. KRG: None of those are explicitly left wing. New York times and Washington Post have generic slogans. None of them explicitly argue for democrats or fund only democrats or anything close to that. Opening with the claim their slogans are generic does not lend confidence. As for explicitly arguing for Democrats — well, actually, yes, they do. The downside is that they can result in falsification of a subject. But that only heightens the importance of that field of study.
History is always going to be deployed for political ends whether or not it receives support in the academy; part of the value of having robust history and Classics higher education is equipping people to engage well with history being used like this, and to bring historical insight to those political issues. That false claim has gotten a LOT of play in the exploitation of the era in discussion of homosexuality. I was happy to read your text, which was also a good example of classical rhetorical composition. They will do this, regardless of everything else, as long as Christianity endures as the knowledge of ancient cultures and Latin, Greek and Hebrew are a must for everyone who wants to study that religion seriously.
As Christianity is still an active social and political issue, leaving the interpretation of the cultures that gave birth to it to people trained as ministers is unwise. Like war is too important to be left to soldiers, ancient cultures are too important to be left to theologicians. There will still be historians of the ancient world, no? That said, we have very discipline-based methods of study, and I think we need the extra perspectives of scholars of the Classics discipline, in order to understand the ancient Mediterranean.
A quick search of undergraduate degrees suggests nearly courses from 47 providers with some element of Classics, though these are in some cases part of Literature, Archaeology, and History courses. Of these, between 20 and 30 have full-fledged Classics degrees. There are over universities in the UK, many of which are specialist institutions. Classics has a set of perspectives, and specific ways of doing things, just like History. But then again, to get inter-disciplinary approaches, you do need the perspectives of the disciplines.
In our own time we see the awful results of anti-intellectualism in Christianity. Where can I read more about the actual mechanics and organisation of ancient democracy? I often see references to politicians being voted in, and bribery being fundamental — but more than that seems a little scarce in my brief online search. AskHistorians Reddit will give you a a pretty good answer, probably. There is a foolish, to my view notion circulating around that you cannot identify with people who are quite different than yourself, and one should not study people whom one cannot identify with. That would, of course, gut classics and almost all history courses and I want to reiterate that I in no way agree with that line of argument.
I would argue that sentiment is the very primitive fear of the subject, recognizing that there are things outside itself and immediatly panicking because of that. The simple fact is Western Culture and civilization are based on Greece and Rome. To understand where we Western Europeans came from we need to know the classics. Classical civilization also powerfully influenced Islamic culture in the middle East and North Africa. Pausanias attempts to draw a distinction between virtuous lovers and predators. Along the way he makes it clear parents took precautions to prevent the sexual exploitation of their sons that got in the way of those well intensiond lovers. Like Secularism and Human Rights, neither of which would have made much sense to your average Roman or Greek.
Personally I meant all of Western Europe and the Americas at least. As Dr. Taylor pointed out the Founding fathers of the United States were practically obsessed with the classical tradition, along with most of Western Europe. But the classical tradition definitely influenced the Islamic world, and of course Russia. Imperial Russia claimed to be the direct heir of the Byzantine Empire. I was thinking pretty much of Western Europe and the Americas but of course the Roman influence reaches deep into Eastern Europe and the Middle East as well.