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Month: October 2020

Blog Post 10/7

Zinn does a good job explaining the interest levels of World War 1, which is something that never got explained to me. I knew that the Woodrow Wilson stated at the beginning of the war that the United States would stay neutral; however, once Germans attacked the US ships, the United States entered the war. I thought that once this happened that the people of the United States would come together and mostly be on the side of fighting. Zinn makes it clear that the war was actually not popular with most of the people in the United States and that most people did not volunteer to join the military. This war was needed on both an economic standpoint and a unity standpoint, which both did not fully go the way it was supposed to.

In the Crash Course video, John Green talks about how World War 1 is one of the most interesting topics to talk about. He goes on and talks about who is to blame for the war. Green states that “The German character isn’t to blame for WW1 and in fact, no national character has ever been to blame for any war.” I thought this was interesting since when learning about wars, blaming the aggressors is normally how I was taught it but apparently that is not always the case.


Blog Post 10/7

I find it interesting how Zinn is almost always defiant towards the stances of the government.  And, a lot of it is with credence, Zin realized that the government uses war in order to serve its own needs.  As, “War is the health of the state”  While its own citizens are dying in a war between almost all nations their governments are thriving.  In America Zinn claims that we didn’t go to war out of a need to protect our citizens but because of, “The balance of power and economic necessities.”  Further, “But by 1915, war orders for the Allies (mostly England) had stimulated the economy, and by April 1917 more than $2 billion worth of goods had been sold to the Allies. As Hofstadter says: ‘America became bound up with the Allies in a fateful union of war and prosperity.’”  So, Wilson entered the war out of spite, and because of economic interests.  And, while the US was ultimately successful I think we all agree it’s not worth it for 116 thousand Americans to die out of economic interests.  

Zinn takes the stance of popular resistance like many socialists during this time.  And, Zinn realizes that the war was massively popular during this time.  Mostly because of the booming economy, which is basically the reason why we entered the war.  But, Zinn claims this is mainly because of government propaganda.  Writing, “The government had to work hard to create its consensus. That there was no spontaneous urge to fight is suggested by the strong measures taken: a draft of young men, an elaborate propaganda campaign throughout the country, and harsh punishment for those who refused to get in line.”  Wilson realized that if the war was unpopular they would be largely unsuccessful, as public opinion is everything in a democracy. 


Blog Post 10/7

As the Crash Course video heavily argued, it is impossible to place the full blame on any one country. A Serbian shot Archduke Frans Ferdinand, but Austria-Hungary was the one to declare war on Serbia, but Germany gave Austria-Hungary a blank check, declared war on Russia and moved through Belgium (which brought Britain into the war), but Russia was the first to mobilize. The US was initially neutral, which is wildly uncharacteristic if you consider America’s global position later in the twentieth century. 

I don’t think that you can really blame anyone for World War I. The countries of Europe were itching to show off their military, form alliances, practice imperialism and boost nationalism. Apparently a war was the best way to do this. One of the most surprising things was how little the United States wanted to do with it at first. 

Zinn describes how President Woodrow Wilson had promised that the U.S. would stay neutral.  This changed when Germans sunk the Lusitania, which killed Americans, effectively bringing the U.S. into the war (even if the economics were more attractive than avenging the dead Americans). The war was not extraordinarily popular in the United States. W. E. B. Du Bois thought that America was exploiting the world. Most citizens were against the war as well, which prompted the U.S. to pass the Espionage Act (punishing anti-war speech), which more or less stepped on the First Amendment, despite arguments saying that it didn’t. 

The world was a mess when the war ended in November of 1918. The U.S. was no exception. Anti-Immigration sentiment was growing even more. A bomb set off in front of the Attorney General’s home only made matters worse, and prompted the government to deport immigrants that were for property destruction. Two Italian immigrants (Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti) were charged for a murder and executed, with their background (immigrants) leading to their accusation. The war may have helped the economy, but it did not help society.


10/6 Blog Post

When reading about America’s connection around the world a couple things stuck out to me. When thinking about countries inability to function within isolationism ideals a couple things struck me. I initially thought that the struggle to be a self sustaining nation was something that was understandable for small countries that might not have developed a strong and highly functioning system of trade within their country. Or maybe depending on their geographical location production of essential goods might not have even possible. When thinking about the United States however, I just assumed we of all countries could most certainly live self sustainably. What I learned is that for first world, major world powers like America, isolationism is nearly impossible. I think for a place like the US, there are a great deal of countries that rely on trade for their economy to flourish. America itself even relies heavily on countries like China for the production of the majority of goods sold in the United States.

Zinn breaks down the false sense of unity within the global power that is the United States. The ability to aid countries around the world should in fact bring the country together, but in reality it tears the country apart. Due to the United States constant role in foreign affairs I believe it has lost sight of some of the issues that Americans face at home and within communities. I believe in the majority of the work that the US does outside of the country, but I believe that we must first formulate plans and have conversations as to how we can help improve our own affairs while still being able to provide for nations outside of the US. I think it all comes down to balance, and the United States hasn’t quite figured out the perfect combination of both foreign and domestic affairs just yet. Someday I am hopeful that we will.


Elina Bhagwat Blog Post 10/7

Something that stood out to me very early on in the reading was how interconnected the world is and how much of an influence globalization has on the world. Even when a country intends to stay neutral in a global crisis, it’s difficult for an isolationist policy to actually occur. Especially when it comes to a powerful country like the U.S. who had been claiming neutrality but was actually supporting one side of the conflict, it is hard to stay out of these major conflicts. The fact that the U.S. was supplying war materials to Germany’s enemies shows the importance of trade and industrialization. The U.S. becoming involved was in some ways an assertion of dominance as a global power with a strong and stable economy. Knowing that the First World War resulted in the Great Depression and stock market crash is interesting to look at in comparison to the successes of the United States prior to this. This is where more class conflicts come into play. As Zinn says, capitalism creates “a safety valve for explosive class conflict” (p. 363).  It’s interesting how so many historical events all relate back to class struggles and socio-economic development. It seems that any conflict that occurs at a global scale can result in shifting classes and economic statuses because of how interconnected the world is and how economies rely on each other.

Zinn’s reading is also interesting to compare the statuses of several groups in different countries. The United States clearly had higher levels of racism and different standards of living. Zinn says that “American capitalism needed international rivalry” which creates an “artificial community of interest between rich and poor” (p. 363). I think this means that because the United States is constantly competing with other global economies, there becomes a sense of unity within the country. However, this sense of unity is false because there is so much economic disparity and wealth gaps within the country. This became more evident after major conflicts because the country unites while the conflict is current but then frequently results in a worse internal economic situation such as the Great Depression. Now, citizens are fighting for jobs and economic disparity is even worse which diminishes any sense of false unity that may have been present previously.


Propaganda and Stories 10/7/20 Blogpost

The immense amount of propaganda used to begin, and continue, the United States’ involvement in the war for mainly economic and political reasons sounds almost unprecedented in the modern era. Although I previously knew both the “real” reason for the beginning of America’s involvement, trade and allyship with England and its counterparts and the “fake” reason, the Lusitania, I was still shocked by the amount of government pressure placed onto Americans. My favorite part of how Zinn tells this piece of history is by mixing in the smaller stories of rebellion, that people would have been talking about and passing around, in with the more major and recorded parts of history, therefore making me feel involved and connected to the past. The most compelling anti-war stories to me were that of Kate Richards O’Hare of the socialist movement and Eugene Debs. 

Kate Richards’s small act of rebellion in the Missouri state penitentiary added to the humanistic aspect of the war that the Socialist Party was trying to represent. The United States tried painting the war as a war for the soul of the nation, but what many would consider the “soul” of our nation today, rural Americans, and farmers did not see a good reason to join. The United States government attacked this issue from every angle like legislation, songs, publications, gatherings, speeches, ads, businesses/unions, and more, just as their opposition was doing. This reminds me a lot of modern politics and government tactics, but obviously with a different context. Today we interpret hundreds of different things that could, and probably should be considered propaganda but we just see regular publications. How crucial is propaganda for running a country during a time of emergency? Is having a “unified country”, through intimidation and indoctrination, or is it more important to support American allies in terms of enacting war? Would/could the same type of propaganda be used even with social media today?


Mia Slaunwhite – 10/7/20

John Green states, “The topic of who started World War I remains one of the most controversial and interesting topics to discuss” (00:52). John Green also states the fact that we immediately begin to think about Germany, “ore more specifically, German militarism” (01:08). From World War I to World War II Germany is most plausible to the cause of both. John Green mentions this idea of “the glory of war”, this made me think back to after the Civil War when the confederates composed this idea of the lost cause. Wanting to be the best and be on top generates these ideas of fighting and getting revenge. The public figure of a nation causes people to associate them with a certain stereotype.


Wilhelm became the public eye of Germany. Political cartoons were created. This idea of Wilhelm on the front caused many to believe that the Germans were eager for war. In most cases, I can assume that a lot of the citizens of Germany probably did not exactly want war.


John Green goes on the explain that if this person/country didn’t do XYZ and this person/country did XYZ then World War I could have been prevented. But many humans want to be the best and want to have the most land and want to be the strongest that World War I was bound to happen regardless. It is hard to say who really started World War I because the countries in the beginning all wanted something they did not have. “The decision to go to war was ultimately in the hands of a very small group of diplomats” (09:13). The war was decided by a few but then would affect millions. People’s lives were taken, families separated, and many other negative factors, but the ones who decide to go to war—well they don’t exactly have to physically go to war and stand on the front line. Their lives were protected. It is not the people to blame for the start of the war, but it is the individuals to blame.


Blog Post 10/07/20

Today’s reading from Zinn furthered the points we have made in class about classism in American society. In the lead up to America’s involvement in World War I, President Woodrow Wilson declared — to the approval of many Americans — that the United States would not involve itself in the European conflict. However, by 1917, the United States had entered the war on the pretense that Germany had attacked American ships whereas the British, French, and Russians had not. Zinn describes that Wilson’s reasoning for justifying the war was flimsy because the attacks on Americans on the seas were not the President’s true motivations. Instead, Wilson used the German attacks to join the economically advantageous side of the Triple Entente. Indeed, Wilson was waiting until the election of 1916 to make the politically unpopular decision. When he did, Wilson — as well as prominent banker J.P. Morgan — envisioned an alliance with the economic power houses of France and Britain to be the key out of an economic slump. While on the face this appears to be a classless policy, Zinn is quick to explain that the average American did not gain much from the increased production as a result of the war. W.E.B Dubois, along with others, criticized the role that the rich had in encouraging the war. Examining US diplomacy today would likely reveal a similar criticism. In hopes of maintaining peaceful relations with its allies, the United States will sell American-made weapons and military equipment. These weapons can easily lead to the rapid militarization of regions such as the Middle East; however, American corporations and the economic elites who run them benefit from these sales. Like during World War I, the elite social classes still make decisions that harm the lower classes and only provide minimal gain to the masses.


Due to the influence of the economic elite in the decision to go to war, it is not a surprise that socialism gained greatly in popularity after the US declared war; meanwhile, the backlash against the movement and its free speech reveals how rooted classism is in America. As opposed to capitalism, socialism argues against the creation of socioeconomic classes. Instead of separating people by their economic success, socialists believe that all citizens should matter equally in the eyes of the state. Thus, when citizens reasoned that the American economic interest and involvement in World War I did not outweigh the human cost of war, people began to vehemently speak against it. Instead of hearing the people, however, the US pushed forward with the war and instead focused on limiting its citizens from criticizing the war. The fact that the United States openly forbid the free speech of its citizens in favor of a war filled with economic interests reveals the importance of socioeconomic class in American society. Indeed, in order to line the pockets of American corporations and investors, the United States put lower class lives on the line and arrested those who spoke in dissent. As Zinn notes at the end of the chapter, while American Capitalism was supposed to eliminate classes, World War I highlighted the class tensions in American society.


Blog Post for 10/7

The ideas in this chapter of The People’s History of the United States, one again talk about the class conflicts. The involvement of the US in the WWI was something that divided the nation more than united it. The efforts of the government, with newspapers and advertisements to unite the people created an even worse sense of community because of their extreme punishments for any opposition to the opinion of the government and the upper class. WWI was just another example of how much power the wealthy held, and how the lower classes suffered from it. The lower classes were the ones that were actually going to battle, when they didn’t even want to be in the war in the first place. The interesting part to me is how this percentage of people, these wealthy individuals, have such an effect on the country and the economic and political state of things, when the lower classes, the majority of the country hold no power.

In the opening paragraph of the chapter, Zinn mentions how in Europe, with the war “governments flourished, patriotism bloomed, class struggles was stilled” (359). So then, why did it enhance almost all these problems in the United States? Class struggles got even worse, and socialism grew in an effort to stop the war. Only the economy seemed to get better, helping those wealthy. What surprised me even more is how the government handled this class conflict. The Espionage Act seems outrageous to me, for punishing someone so cruelly for voicing their opinion. There must have been a reason the government was so worried about people opposing the war. Zinn also mentions how even before we were involved in the war we were sending ships full of supplies and weapons to German enemies, which in itself makes us involved. Then how we lied about the Lusitania cargo adds to the idea that the government had an ulterior motive for their involvement in the war than the rest of the nation. 

This constant divide between the wealthy upper classes and the middle and lower classes has been evident all throughout history, although it seems to get worse and worse. During WWI it seemed to be much more political than it had been in the past, when most of the problems were race related. This recurring theme is still present today, although it seems that more and more people are gaining a voice and being heard, not just the wealthy class and government.


War is the Health of the State 10/5 Tommy Bennett

The first amendment of the United States Constitution was intended to protect Americans’ right to say whatever they want, practice whatever religion they wish, protect freedom of press, and defend peaceful protest. Does this amendment truly protect individual American’s rights if it can be taken away at the moment citizens truly need it? This kind of injustice is exactly what the vague language used in the creation of the Espionage Act of 1917 allowed to happen. Since the early 20th century, one of the main goals of the United States government has been to prevent the spread of socialism throughout its population. Preserving capitalism is in the best interest of the people who hold power within the United States government, as well as those who hold influence over those “leaders” through economic means. By making adverse opinions to the war illegal, the United States could also effectively silence socialists of the time and that is exactly what they did. Through propaganda they were able to equate being a socialist with being anti-American, and could therefore unjustly arrest socialist leaders with the support of the general public. It is disgraceful that the supreme court didn’t recognize the law as completely unconstitutional in the Schenck case and it is clear that checks and balances failed those who stood in opposition to the government when they needed it most. While it is extremely difficult to anticipate censorship, I do believe that social media and increased communication through technology makes it more difficult for the government to silence its people. Although all Americans need to stay vigilant that the government or other powerful groups don’t use their resources to obstruct the 1st amendment.


The US used the propaganda to make it seem as though the war was the just thing to do and to claim it would be “The War to End All Wars” when in fact their reasoning was capitalistic as is the usual of the government. The US was making so much money through supplying the allies, but were still shocked when Germany refused to acknowledge their neutrality. You can’t both supply one side and claim neutrality. It is debatable whether Germany was justified or not in sinking the “Lusitania”, but the United States was somewhat responsible for their involvement in the war and had no right to act as though they had done nothing to provoke the attack. Additionally, once the war began, the people who acrued wealth were, per usual, the wealthy. It would appear to be true that the poor fight the rich people’s wars.





10/7 Post

In this Zinn chapter, the role of war in a country’s success is analyzed.  It is hard for me to believe that a war is good for a country, but after reading this chapter I feel that I better understand why war is so prominent throughout history.  If a war is supported by a large proportion of people, then the war could be effective in uniting a country under one common goal.  Zinn’s argument behind Wilson trying to find a way to get into the war is very interesting.  The United States of America entered the war over something so irrelevant when looking at the impact of joining the war, so it definitely makes me wonder if Wilson used the minor German submarine attack as a way to start a war and save the American economy.  I also find it interesting how war has played a war in politics.  I believe a war decision should not have anything to do with politics, because political games should not be played when deciding whether or not millions of people need to die.

The crash course on World War I expresses the point that European countries found a sort of glory in going to war.  I believe this connects very well to our in class discussion about exceptionalism.  People of a country would definitely feel stronger about participating in a war if they thought their country was the best.  This leads me to believe exceptionalism can be very dangerous.  A government would feel more inclined to go to war if it was known that the people would fight for the cause no matter what.  This can prove to be detrimental to society, because of the excessive amount of wars that would be started.  I also find it very interesting how wars can be traced back thousands of years.  There is a cause and effect to everything that is done throughout history, so it is difficult to truly blame one person or country.


Isa Keetley 9/7/20

Zinn’s chapter “War Is The Health Of The State” was very interesting to me for many reasons. Something that I never knew the extent of was the suppression of people’s right to free speech. Which was carried out by the Espionage Act, which prohibited people from speaking out against the war effort, as that would be considered treason.  While I knew that during war times propaganda was common, I was unaware of the lack of regard for free speech rights. In the US at the time, many middle and lower class people, whether a part of the socialist party or not, opposed the war. Debs, a prominent man in the opposition effort said, “The master class has always declared wars; the subject class has always fought the battles” (367). The sentiment of this statement was nothing new; we have seen this idea repeated throughout history. The people that opposed the war rejected the draft and were often jailed. I then ask, why was this blatant violation of the constitution allowed?

Through Zinn and the Youtube video, “Who started World War I” I learned more about the US motivations and involvement in the war. While I did have some previous knowledge I was never certain exactly how we came to be involved in a war in which President Woodrow Wilson originally promised the US to stay neutral. Two of the main reasons for involvement were the desire to become more involved in foreign markets and the spread of capitalism. Wilson also went back on his promise to remain neutral when Germany sunk one of his ships carrying military supplies to help England. After this, Wilson joined the war effort and these anti-war protests began in the US.


War is the Health of the State 10/5/20

Zinn’s Chapter “War is the Heath of the State” discusses American involvement in World War 1 while the  Crash Course Video “Who Started World War 1” discusses the cause of the War as well as where we place the blame.

In Zinn’s chapter I found it surprising that the government held so much power in declaring war, while the people seemed to be forced to support it. “Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully cause of attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty in the military or naval forces of the United States, or shall willfully obstruct the recruiting or enlistment of service in the US…two months after the law passed, a Socialist named Charles Schenck was arrested in Philadelphia for printing a distributing fifteen thousand leaflets that denounced the draft law and the war.” (Zinn 365) Here a man is getting arrested for speaking out against the government’s decision to go to war. This is crazy to me. In the United States we have freedom of speech but people during WW1 and even now people still debate if this is act is a  crime similar to”free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic” (366), or if this is a violation of our rights as US citizens. I find it distressing that the government held/holds and exerted/excerts so much power. It feels more like communism than democracy to me when the government decides we are going to war and the people (who have no say) are obliged to support the decision. Whats more surprising is that, “The Espionage Act… has remained on the books all these years since WW1, and although it is supposed to apply only in wartime, it has been constantly in force since 1950.” (366) Does the government have a right to enforce war and to hold all of this power? How is government power different during war time? Was the government justified in this behavior during World War 1?

The crash course video all raised an interesting question for me. Greene discusses how it is normal for people to associate characteristics with a whole country. Traits like militarism, nationalism, authoritarianism, etc. For example during World War 1 thinking everyone in Germany wants war. This is strange to me. Why do we attribute characteristics to whole countries? Is it because of relation identification? Since we are unfamiliar with different people and different parts of countries we stereotype what we know? How does this affect things like war and global relations?

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Blog Post for 10/7/20

In chapter 14, “War is the health of the state,” Zinn discusses the beginnings of WWI and how America became involved. President Woodrow Wilson had originally satiated that he wanted America to stay neutral in the war. This changed when Germans announced they would be sinking any of American’s submarines that tried to bring supplies to them. Wilson used this as reasoning for why he must “stand by the right of Americans to travel on merchant ships in the war zone” (361). Zinn implies that this was an excuse as he discusses the unrealistic thought that America would be neutral, when they were sending war materials to German enemies. That in and of itself is inserting America into the war. Zinn somewhat implies that Wilson used this as an excuse to join the war, due to other intentions. This also goes along with W.E.B Du Bois theory, that capitalism is insincere because it is protecting class conflict. Zinn writes, “American capitalism needed international rivalry – and periodic war – to create an artificial community of interest between rich and poor, supplanting the genuine community of interest among the poor that showed itself in sporadic movements” (364). Basically, Zinn believes Wilson wanted the war in order to prolong and support a separation of classes, but used the Germans saying they’d sink any of their submarines, as an excuse to insert America. I thought this was an interesting view, but after reading a lot of Zinn’s book by now, I’m not really all that surprised.

The other thing I thought was interesting about this chapter was the Espionage Act. This was used to stop anyone from interfering with the war. Zinn discussed that even if they weren’t presenting danger to anyone or the war, anyone who spoke out or wrote something about the war, could be imprisoned. Zinn brings up an interesting point when he says, “But was not the war itself a ‘clear and present danger,’ indeed, more clear and more present and more dangerous to life than any argument against it?” (366). I thought this was very interesting, because he’s completely right. Arresting people for speaking out against the war, and saying they are presenting danger, is kind of ironic when there is a world war going on. Zinn discusses the country tightening their control over citizens and says that the country has never been so highly policed than it was during this time. And yes, during a world war, you probably need control over citizens, but Zinn also brings up so many points which point to the fact that Americans were somewhat forced to support the war.


War is The Health of The State – 9/7

Zinn’s chapter “War Is The Health Of The State” was especially interesting to me. This chapter discusses America’s involvement in World War I, and how the government controlled the media and speech of citizens to paint a certain patriotic picture of the war.

Entering World War I was publicized as an act in response to the sinking of the Lusitania, which supposedly had been carrying innocent American citizens. This was a lie. The Lusitania was actually heavily armed. The Lusitania’s “manifests were falsified to hide this fact”. This truth was shocking to me because I remember being forced to memorize in my history class that the killing of innocent cargo on the Lusitania was the reason America entered World War I. The actual reason was much less driven by morals and instead by the greediness for new foreign markets that America could attain through the war.

Citizens were cleary opposed to the war, but through the Espionage Act, they were forcefully silenced. The nation was left to only be represented by “military bands, flag-waving, the mass buying of war bonds” and support for the draft. In my history class, we briefly touched on the Espionage Act and given the example of Charles Schneck, but that was the only example of anti-war efforts we were given. It made it seem that the majority of American citizens were not adamantly against being a part of the war.

A common theme in how we are taught history that I am noticing is we like to portray the nation as always being on the same page and constantly preach ideals about unity. Not only that, but history tries to illustrate that the side of controversial events that has the most support, is the side rooting for the United States government. This could be why American history does not portray the anti-war side of WWI as the majority -when it in fact was-  since it would undermine the perception that the majority of America is on the government’s side.


Blog Post 9/7

I am becoming less and less shocked as I read more of the Zinn chapters because of the continuation and repetitiveness of numerous dangerous ideals of people in power throughout American history. It is clear to me that the federal government and businessmen in the US blatantly prioritize and force on the American public notions of imperialism, economic and political prosperity, bloodlust and war efforts, American exceptionalism, the American savior attitude, and lastly, the American paradox of democracy and equality. All of these ideas are present in the propaganda surrounding the US’s involvement in World War I and were the key motivators of politicians and businessmen alike to enter the war. The backlash against the war made me feel proud of the American public for standing up for what they believe in even when the consequences were so grave and often deadly. It is even nobler of them to speak up given that throughout history the lower classes have been constantly pushed down by the people in power then unjustly asked to fight for America. The lower classes picked up on the fact that they weren’t fighting for their own rights or freedoms, they were fighting for the upper classes to maintain their power and status.

I was especially impressed with the women of this time period and it was pleasing to have their voices be heard in historical texts. One quote, in particular, stuck out to me from anarchist Emma Goldman who was incarcerated for opposing the draft. She said, “Verily, poor as we are in democracy, how can we give it off to the world?” (Zinn, p. 372). This quote struck me because it reminded me of the current state of our nation and the world in terms of climate change. Climate change is becoming an increasingly severe global issue and the US is doing nothing about it in our own country, let alone extending our money and power to countries in desperate need like Bangladesh. This directly relates to Goldman’s quote that sheds light on the myths behind American exceptionalism and this savior attitude that the majority of the US believes in. If we have so much unrest in our own country that we refuse to acknowledge, how do we expect to have the capability to help other nations? Further, deep down the US doesn’t even want to help these countries in terms of battling climate change because businessmen and politicians firmly believe that it wouldn’t be economically or politically wise and beneficial to them. Several American paradoxes are so overwhelmingly apparent in Goldman’s quote regarding World War I and the current state of Climate Change around the world.

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10/7 “War is the Health of the State”

In Chapter 14, “War is the Health of the State” Zinn discusses World War I, how the United States got involved and many of the feelings from Americans towards the war effort. The U.S wanted to remain neutral in the European conflict, but our supply ships being sent to England triggered intervention. Americans did not rush to enlist and a major surge in propaganda and laws forced many to enlist. The Espionage Act created great controversy within the U.S because it was prohibiting people from refusal of duty and questioned peoples’ rights of free speech. This creates a sense of conflict because people were truly scared to be drafted into the war or did not want to support the war, but if they did not then they were arrested and prosecuted under the Espionage Act. 

It must have been very confusing during this period because the government was trying to create national morale in support of the war, but they were also prohibiting any disloyalty or opinions against the war. This effort to prevent any sort of negative message was widespread throughout American society such as in the post office where they were taking away privileges from news sources that posted anti-war messages, and schools and universities were also discouraging opposition. A quote that stood out to me was, “The courts and jails had been sued to reinforce the idea that certain ideas, certain kinds of resistance, could not be tolerated. And still, even from the condemned, the message was going out” (376). This was interesting because it shows that when people are forced not to do something, they often can find another way around it. The messages and resistances still got out even with all of the government controls, rules, and threats.


Episode 13

Leadership and the Humanities Podcast
Episode 13: The Great War

The Great War, so-called at the time because no one could believe that anyone would be so stupid as to engage in a massive international military conflict to the same degree ever again, completely changed the way people thought about and engaged in warfare…

Visit Blackboard/Podcasts to listen.

Download here for 10.30 class.

Download here for 12.00 class.

The following works were used in this podcast:

Editors. “Russian Revolution — Britannica Academic,” 2019.

Ray, Michael. “Weapons of World War I.” In Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed September 26, 2020.

Royde-Smith, John Graham. “World War I — Britannica Academic.” In Encyclopedia Britannica, 2020.



blog post 10/7/2020

Today’s readings reminded me of two recurring themes in this class. The first, that those who want a war typically have those less fortunate actually fight the war for them. We are often told that it was courageous, brave, strong spirited Americans that stood up to fight in WW1. While without a doubt, there was a huge portion of these types of individuals do so, we get a different point of view in Zinn’s reading for today. He highlights the fact that some Americans were deathly afraid of fighting in the war, even going to the extent of mutilating themselves so they were unable to be drafted. Along with this, there was a common theme of conflict of interest. Jeannette Rankin, member of the house of representatives, is quoted as saying “I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for the war” (Zinn p 372). It is this difficulty that led so many Americans to struggle with going to fight for their country. In a land of freedom, Zinn did not make it seem like Americans had much of choice in terms of their personal decision to fight in the war.

The second theme I noticed in this reading is the theme that we often unite ourselves by finding a common enemy to direct our attention towards. Zinn quotes Joseph Tumulty, Wilson’s advisor, as saying “the conflict between Republicans and Democrats was unimportant compared with that which threatened them both.” (Zinn p. 375). Another example of this can be found on page 363 where Zinn refers to thoughts from DuBois as he says “American capitalism needed international rivalry- and period war- to create an artificial community of interest between rich and poor, supplanting the genuine community of interest among the poor that showed itself in sporadic movements” (Zinn p. 363). Zinn argues here that in order to suppress the poor, who may have different opinions and goals of the wealthy elite, American wanted to find a common enemy to direct its energy towards, that will distract the poor with fighting the war, and give credibility and authority back to the officials in power at the time. This was the best alternative to dealing with these uproars from the lower and sometimes middle class, as opposed to having the disagreements and opposition arising domestically.


William Coben Blog Post

The readings for this class period focused on the challenges and struggles that different ethnic groups in America face. After the conclusion of the reading, I was left thinking about the concept of identity and how that can be a problem for many identity insecure Americans throughout the nation. With modernization, technological innovation, and globalization, identity can be a difficult thing for people to deal with as there are fewer concentrated groups of individuals like there were prior to western expansion and the discovery of the new world. Back prior to the discovery of the west, it was extremely common for people to spend the entirety of their lives in the same place that they were born. While that occasionally happens in today’s world, it is much more uncommon as work, travel, and exploration leaves people “homeless” in the sense that they are not forcefully rooted in one area because travel and movement are so accessible. The reading discusses Anzaldua being caught between identities and the difficulty and struggle with not being pure blood. Being able to identify with a culture, a language or a group of people is a fundamental human necessity that many immigrants ethnically foreign people struggle with and the reading discusses this idea in depth through the story of Anzaldua.

The chapters from How the Other Half Lives recounts the struggles that immigrant populations often face when migrating to America. In the readings, the Chinese ran small shops in an attempt to provide for themselves, and the Italian immigrant population was forced into highly demanding jobs in return for a ruthlessly low amount of pay. In order to cope with these poor conditions of labor and status in the social hierarchy that endures in American culture, the two groups of people turned to addiction. Italians used gambling and the Chinese, opioids that did detrimental harm to both communities. In response to the cultural problem, the communities were deemed degenerate and dysfunctional in a sense and were looked down upon by American culture. The assumption of degenerateness was challenging for these two populations to overcome. Presently, we see this endure in the black community as the gang-banger and drug dealer stereotypes in a way encourage the black youth to conform to societal constructs and partake in actions that are harmful to society as a whole; that is problematic.






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