Tag Archives: historical terms

Historical Term: Anarchism

“Anarchism (deriv. Gk. anarchia, non-rule) Doctrine advocating the abolition of all organized authority, since, in the words of Josiah Warren, ‘every man should be his own government, his own law, his own church.’ The first systematic exposition of anarchy was William Godwin’s Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793–which claimed that since men, when given free choice, are rational, sociable, and cooperative, they will form voluntary groups and live in social harmony without state control of the institution of property). Such a situation would be achieved not by revolution but by rational discussion, Pierre Joseph Proudhon (1809-65),  a French economist, elevated anarchism to the status of a mass movement in Qu’est-ce la propriete? (What Is Property?), published in 1840. In it he concluded that property is theft and that ‘governments are the scourge of God.’ He urged the establishment of non-profit making cooperative credit banks to provide interest-free capital. He disapproved of violence and of organized groups, including trade unions. These ideas were combined with a revolutionary philosophy by communistic anarchists, including the Russians Michael Bakunin (1814-76) and Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921), who favored ‘direct action’ by the workers to topple the state by all possible means, including assassination. In 1868 anarchists joined the First International, which was later split following conflicts between Marxists and the followers of Bakunin. Anarchists were later responsible for the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, King Humbert of Italy, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, President McKinley of America and President Carnot of France.

Anarchism differs from communism in its opposition to the state and its refusal to form political parties. Not all anarchists advocated violence. Philosophical anarchists such as the American Henry Thoreau (1817-62) were primarily individualists believing in a return to nature, nonpayment of taxes and passive resistance to state control. Leo Tolstoy (1828-1916) professed a Christian anarchism, believing the state to be inconsistent with Christianity and holding that refusal to pay taxes, render military service or recognize the courts would topple the established order. Such ideas influence Gandhi. In Spain the anarchists actually participated in government (1936-7) but the conflict between anarchists and communists within the Spanish Republican ranks during the Civil War, together with the mounting prestige of Soviet Communism between 1941 and 1948 led to a decline in the international influence of anarchism. But in the 1960s anarchist sentiment revived in the student movement’s revulsion at capitalism, coinciding with disillusionment at Soviet foreign policy. In recent anarchist movements such as the Baader-Meinhof group and Italian Red Brigades, terrorism is prevalent.”

Excerpted from: Cook, Chris. Dictionary of Historical Terms. New York: Gramercy, 1998.

 

Historical Term: Activists

activists Members of a political group prepared to take action as opposed to those whose membership is passive, involving only, for example, payment of membership fees. In the 1960s and early 1970s the term was applied widely to those members of left-wing and youth ‘movements’ who attended demonstrations and rallies, usually against US involvement in Vietnam, or more generally against various aspects of Western capitalism.

In the 1980s, the term has been used in the UK mainly to describe members of constituency Labour parties who have sought to reform the party’s procedures and inject a more socialist element into its policies.”

Excerpted from: Cook, Chris. Dictionary of Historical Terms. New York: Gramercy, 1998.

Historical Term: Bicameral

“Bicameral Parliament with two chambers or houses, such as the US Congress with its Senate and House of Representatives, and the British Parliament with its house of commons and House of Lords.”

Excerpted from: Cook, Chris. Dictionary of Historical Terms. New York: Gramercy, 1998.

Historical Term: Blockade

blockade: Action to prevent supplies reaching an enemy, either by placing ships outside its ports, troops outside a city or cutting off traffic across a country’s borders. Under international law a neutral merchant vessel attempting to breach a blockade may be confiscated by the blockading country. The tactic was first attempted in the Napoleonic wars when Britain’s navy blockaded France, Portugal, and Spain. A recent naval blockade was imposed on 12 April 1982 by Britain on the Falkland Islands to cut off supplies to Argentine troops occupying them; it was lifted following the retaking of the islands by British forces in May and June 1982.”

Excerpted from: Cook, Chris. Dictionary of Historical Terms. New York: Gramercy, 1998.

Historical Term: Autarky

“Autarky (deriv. Gk autarkeia, self sufficient). In economic terms, a policy aimed at total home-production to the exclusion of imported goods. Pre-World War II Germany’s search for a blockade-proof economy provides a good example of economic autarky.”

Excerpted from: Cook, Chris. Dictionary of Historical Terms. New York: Gramercy, 1998.

Historical Term: Black Consciousness

Black Consciousness: Movement in South Africa formed to reestablish black people’s confidence and pride. It was banned by the South African apartheid regime and its leader Steve Biko died under suspicious circumstances while in police detention on 12 September 1977 at the age of 30.”

Excerpted from: Cook, Chris. Dictionary of Historical Terms. New York: Gramercy, 1998.

Historical Term: Recall

recall: Political process similar to reselection, except that the local party can demand a representative to appear before it and explain its actions whenever it chooses, that is, during the lifetime of a parliament and not only at the end of his term of office.”

Excerpted from: Cook, Chris. Dictionary of Historical Terms. New York: Gramercy, 1998.

Historical Term: Rastafarianism

Rastafarianism: Movement originating in the West Indies which takes its name from Ras (a term of respect in Africa) Tafari Makonnen (1892-1975) crowned Emperor of Ethiopia with the title Haile Selassie in 1930. Haile Selassie has a mystical role in the cult as has Ethiopia itself: as the one part of African that was never colonized, it is seen as the spiritual home of the black man. Life in the West Indies or in Britain is seen as time in Babylon by analogy with the sufferings of the Israelites as slaves in exile.”

Excerpted from: Cook, Chris. Dictionary of Historical Terms. New York: Gramercy, 1998.

Cultural Literacy: Weimar Republic

While its importance is undisputed, and indeed as a moment in cultural, social and political history it it rife with concepts students ought to understand, I nonetheless remain sceptical, based on my experience, that this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Weimar Republic will be useful to many social studies teachers. A

As always, if it is useful to you, I’d be very interested in hearing about that.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Jerry Seinfeld

While I have to assume that Seinfeld remains in syndication, new episodes left the airwaves long ago; in fact, the last episode was broadcast over 20 years ago on May 14, 1998. Since he remains something of a global cultural icon, this reading on Jerry Seinfeld and its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet might remain of interest to students.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.