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Retrospect

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Come rain or shine... EYer \ 'Pd-'~ shows the History Soci,ety have an action packed semester in any weather WHAT HAVE the history society been up to tllis semester? A better question might be what haven't we been up LO? \">'e'w welcomed many new members and celebrated th e new academic year pmperly "ith lots of events. Our s tall at the Fresh er Fair was very popular. A highlight from Fresher's Week was our Meadows Picnic, which had to be relocated to the Loft Bar at Tc"iot due to the un e;-cpected nun; it was th e only day in flre~hc rs Week that it rained but we soldiered on an d enioyed the winning combination of pints and fairy cakes. ''''c've also wnved goodbye to the rabbi.! warren that was the \ Villiam Rob ertson Building. H opefully we'll bave got ou r bearings by the tim e Lhe next issu e comes out' We'll miss wa.lk­ ing down tlle wrong set of stairs and having no idea where you've ended up, as well as being either freezing or boiling depending on what level yu u're on, but we' re sure we won't be crying for too much longer. You may h,we heard that the history

society posed for the annual READ Calendar, along with many other societie~s including the girls hockey team and the gang from Fresll Air. 'The charity, who produce a naked c.'llendar each year, raise mon ey for the ren ovation of libraries in Uganda and Tanzan ia, and to send thousands of bo ok~ each year to these countries. We were n ervous but privileged to take part. V'"e d isc ussed th e calendar in many, many committee meetings, but the day finally dawned and the nerves set in. Luckily for all of us, the studio was suitably warm for nudity in October and we survived. In order to truly rep­ resent th e History Society our props were suitably themed with a vintage telephone an d typewriter, along with the Am erican Com titlltion and vari­ ous swords, all used in the hope of protecting our modesty. Then came th e official unveiling of tbe calendar. We steeled ourselves for the launch - aided by some necessary Dutch courage! The night went really

well at TIle Hive, with hrilliant raffl e prizes and a computer screen project­ ing our photos throughout th e nighL Get in contact with READ aDd pur­ chase a calendar soon - apparently they are likely to sell out, althou gh our modesty depen ds on refutin g this' We've also been keeping up our links witll H ilitoric Scotlan d and tak­ ing members to both Edinburgh Cas­ tle and Lilllitllgow Palace. Both sites were amazing, but very different and gave us a great inSight into Scottish hi$tory. 'We enjoyed the sunshine at Edin­ burgh Castle and urrived just in time to hear the one oelock gu n go off. al­ though we weren't entirely prepared for it and people did scream in fear, but I won't incriminate certain com­ mittee mem bers. After we got over the shock of the canon we enjoyed looking at tlle Scottish Crown Jewe1 ~ and then headed down to the castle dungeons to leaf!! about the prison­ ers of war. Our t.rip to Linlithgow Palace was

another case entirely, as we battled against rain and wind but were not defeated. We gOI th e Unlithgow train and found Oill wa), to the Palace, al ­ th.ough possibly not by the quickest route. Linlithgow gave us an insight into the fourteenth cen tury and we came to th e conclusion that they should consider lighting the old fire ­ places in order to warm the visitors up. The weather cleared so that we were able to take a stroll around tllt' loch and cnjoy being out of the City for a few hours. ext semester we've got trips planned to Slid ing Castle and hope­ fully a day trip to St. Andrews. Watch tbis space' It ha~ been something of a busy sem ester where the social calendar was concerned. O ur pub scrawl was a great success with various history re­ lated pu ns and slogans being written all over people. Favourites included "I like to party like its 1776" (Amt'l'lcan revolution reference there if you're wondering) We made it to four bars, starting at Teviot and ending the n ight dancing at 1he Hive. We represented the History Society at the Society and Sporf~ Fund raiser which was a great fun for all who went. Sadly we lost out on the main prize to various sports teams. but E USA did givc us a pound tor every person we got through the door. Last year we donned togas, wrule this year we plumped fu r the beard. Everyone embraced the theme by varying de­ grees, some opting fur the handlebar mo ustache, while the more outra­ geous of us went with full bushy "Cap­ tain Birdseye" beard. NeA1 issue we'll be able to give you a full update on the Annual Christm as History Ball which is being held at TIle Caves and is likely to be a huge success and a fabulous night will be had by all! Until then, keep a look out on our facebook page and various messages from the department about our upcoming events.


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AS WRlTERS of h istory, th e Retro­ spect tea m a re u sed to comm enti ng on the successes o f o th ers, Histo ry is littered with winners of great ac­ claim, awa rds and achieve m ents, many of whi ch we have read ily observed. app re ciated and wriI ten about with interest. 'n lis M ay, Ret­ rospect o ffi cially m ad e it s o w n his­ tory, as it was n amed 'B est Maga­ zine' in The Herald Stude nt P re Awards 2010,

The awards ceremon)" which took pl ace in Glasgow's C en tre fo r Contemporary Art s, s aw a celeb ra­ tion of Sco tl an d's fine st st ud en t jo urnalism . a mo ngs t w h ich RetJ'O­ spe ct was p rou d to be COlUlted, The

ni g h t was a n ac kno wledgme nt of young tale nt across seveml fields of journalism, from 'Best Sports Writer' to 'Best Publi cation', Speak­ ing to The Herald, Dr, G ill Stewart, SQA's D irector of Qu alifications, sa id "t he.se awards really s howcase th e great tal e nt of student journal­ ists in ScotIan d:' W ith free-flowing bar and plenty of complim en ta ry can a pes . the a t­ mosphere was jovial a n d everyone was very suppo rtive of each other's work , I nd eed, the standard was high , as Scotland's best and bright­ est celebrated the ir ta le nt s in a n ight honourmg th e grea t and ever grow­ ing prese nce of stud ent media, Our ed itorial tea m we re present to r eceive the ir awardand we r e im ­ pressed by th e level of profession­ alism of the other candidates and the creative talen t on display, In the categor y of 'Best M agazine" Retro­ spect faced great com pe ti t ion; with excell e nt entries from Glasgow U n ivers iry's m agazines GUM a nd Qmlm ica te, Th e judges acknowl­ ed ge d tbat the stan da rd was high, an d th at it h ad been a great year for m agaz.ine publications in Scottish ni vers ities, Retrospect's triu mph at tbe cer­ e mony reflected a ris ing public inte rest in academ ic Journal s, Ac­

k n owledged by the judges as hav­ ing I1lare se rio us content t-han it s comp etitors, Retrospect's ach ieve­ men t can be viewe d as part of t h e growing trend towards greater pub­ lic interest in th e academi c ge nre, Misa Klim es , then editor in chief, was p resen ted \vith a week's intern­

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6 WHAT BEITER combination than

free food and a film at Frankenstein's? The University ofEdinburgh's History Society held its first film nigh t of the year on October 6th and was pleased to welcome plenty of new tiaces. We had all gathered. hu ddled into the basement of Frankenstein's and out of sight from the hideous weather. The nights screening was to be Frost/ NIXon, a popular choice with first and second time viewers alike. But before the film began, members refuelled on a selection of free dishes, with burg­ ers and chips being the finn favour­ ite. Thanks to the Fra.nkenstein cards, there were plenty of enticing drink deals to be had and the society settled down comfortably on the lower fl oor in preparation for the movie. Frost/Nixon, directed in 2008 by Ron Howard, is an account of the legendary interviews cond ucted by David Frost, talk show host, with the former US President Richard Nixon. Initially, Frost's determination to stage these inte.rviews and to extract a confession from Nixon regarding his role in the in taolOus vVatergate scan­ dal, seems ridiculous. His big gam ­ ble, costing him thousands of dollars, appears to be litrle more than a chal­ lenge to satisfy his ego. However, by the end of the fllm it is clear that he

Retrospect moment. Michael Sheen's imperson­ ation of Frost as a smooth, care-free and daring television presenter con­ trasts "'rith, Oscar nominated, Frank Langel1a's portrayal of an ageing, al­ most tragic Nixon who is presented as riddled by suspiciolL The result is an entertaining and thought-provok­ ing dranla about the power of televi­ sion over politics. This su.cccssful film night was a re­ laxed evening enjoyed by many from all years and will be repeated in the near futu re!

Alice Pease recounts a night of film screenings and free food. with society members


7

History in the News DErAlIJNG the 0:­ perinces of Channel ]sland resi dents who chose to resisit Nazi occupa­ tion during the second Wod War, have been re-discovered. 'Thrown into suitcases and stowed in the back of a wardrobe, these papers are considered to be the m ost im­ portant archive material to be un­ earthed concerning the occupation. The islands were occupied by azi forces between 1940 and 1945 and with one German guard to eve­ ry three residents, m ass.ive resistance was difficult. Despite the improbable success of such act ion, lhese hid­ den documents reveaJ the unusually silent and oft en symbolic nature of the resistance that islanders partici­ pated in. Compiled by a resident, Frank Falla. these documents tell of the harrowing experinces many inhabit­ ants faced. Some were forced to listen to fell ow prisoners being decapitated by guillotine in German prisons.

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AN ANaENr Roman village has been unearthed in the parkland of a stately home in West Lon­ don, in the unlikely surround ­ ings of modem -day suburbia. Archaeologists excavatin g on the outskirts of the histor ic Syon Parle. Estate discovered a stretch of Roman road and the foundations of some dwellings. Alongside the remains of the road were over 11 ,5DO pottery fragments. a large number of coins, a Bronze Age gold bracelet and a lava stone quem . The road that was uncovered is beHeved to have been one of the most impor tant, linking Londinium with SildlCster. It is reckoned that th e vil­ lage supplied the metropolis as well as existing as a a resting place for travel­ lers, giving insight into the way that the city interacted with and was con­ nected to the country at large. 1he Museum of London Archae­ ology an: thrilled at the d iscoveries and believe that there is much to be learned about the daily lives of those livingj ust outside Roman Londiniwn.

WiIl EUis

HISfORIAN KF.IIH Jeffrey has been granted unprecedented access into the previously classified ilk'S of the Secret Intelligence Service. more commonly known as Ml6. It is the first, and only, official history of the sha dowy goverruneJJt agency, the ver y existence of which was not fo rmally acknowledged until 1994. Owing to the high ly se.nsitive nature of some of the doc umenta­ tion, Jeffrey's history only covers a forty-year period of the agency's background, from its initial found­ ing as the Secret Servi ce Bureau in 1909, until 1949. The lucky histori­ an recently described the archives to which he had access as "a cornuco­ pia.. an extraordinary Aladdi n's cave of h istorical mater i als~ His book reveals often overlooked episodes in the history of British es­ pionage. such as the thwarting of an attempted Communist revolution in Brazil in 1935. and the controversial 'Operation Embarrass: documenting both the successes and the failures of British intelligence th roughout the first half of the twentieth century. Gregor Donaldson

Falla himself ""'liS deported after organ ising a clandesti ne newspaper designed to deliver updates about the war once radios were con fis­ cated in 1942. Irate by the lack of recogn ilion that resistors received after the war, Falla compiled the papers after the Br itish government received compensation from Ger­ many in the 19605. Testimon ies of the suffering endw'cd by resideJ1ts have led to calls for a memorial ded ­ icated to those who strove to resist occupation. These docum ents also provide eveidence cont rary to tra­ ditional interpretations that suggest islanders corroborated too easily.

Catherine Me Gloin


Retrospect

8

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FOR STUDENTS and schola rs aJ ike. Edinburgh Uni versit y Press j wi del ), regarded as one of the best acad em ic publish ing offices in th e oun try. Having been publishing an d p ublicising high qua li ty aca ­ demic bo oks for almost fif1)' years, the Press is celebrating it's successes both internati o nally a nd at hom e. In the midst (I f this great ~ucccss , C hief Executive, Timo thy Wrigb t. taJks t, Retr(lspect abo ut the h istory of the press and what the futu re ho lds. Edi nbu rgh Univers it y Press, founded over fi fty years ago, is a wholly own ed subSidiar y of th e University of Edinbu rgh . 1 hough the co npan)"s m ain business is the publishing of textbooks and sup­ plem entary textbooks. the rol es that the Press plays ran ge across d iffe rent academic areas. The pub­ lish ing of textb ooks sen'es an edu ­ cat ional role, the p ublica tion of scholarly works and mo nograph serves to help the advance m en t of k.n owledge, wh ilst the p ub]jcalion of works of re fe ren ce su pport both holarl y and educational util ity. The comp:my also boaSL~ a portfolJ or over thirty jou rnals,

The Press's chosen fiel ds of pub­ lish ing are American Stu di es, Clas­ 'ics, Film Studies, M edia & Cultural tu dies. History, Islam ic St udies, Lan guage and Linguistics, La\\', Lit­ erary Stu dj es, PhUosophy, Politics, and Scottish History. The Press is well eqlllpped to serve the hu man­ ti es departmen ts, pu blishing on an xtensi ve range of subjects a nd top­ ics. The Press's pu blishing is recog­ nised as being of the high est q ual ­ ity. It is a monitort'd by th e Un iver­

sity's Press Committee, whi ch has to approve a ll titles proposed for p ubli cation. The sale o f its publica­ tio ns is increasingly intern at ional, enhan cing the Un iversi ty's global image, and reflecting well o n Scot­ land itself. In th e year ended 31 July 2009, over 50% of the press's rev­ enues were outsid e th e UK, mark­ ing a Signifi cant profit outside o f the University itself.

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uppor ting its internation al CO ll ­ necti ons is th e Press's close rella ­ tionship with other acacemic pub­ lishers.The press has a nehvork of dis tr ibutors' worl d wide includiJlg pa rtn erships with the University of ew So uth "Vales in Sydn ey, and most importantly a lo ngstanding relationship with Columbia Uni ­ versity Press in th e Unitcd States of m erica. TIle maiJl objec tives of the p ress are fourfold. Firstly, it con trlbutes significantly to knowledge tTansfer and the di sse mination of the resu lts f scholarly research.!t also contrib­ utes Significantly to the education of uni\1 ersity st udents and others. By Ll'laintaining its position as the leading university press in Scotland, it con tri butes to th e dissemination of scholarly work in Scottish his ­ tory ,md other Scottish subjects and on co ntempo rary Scottish issues. Lastl y, the presitige of the conpan)' nhances the univerSity's reputa­ tion internati onally through the acknowledged high quality of its p ublishing. The key objecti Ves se t by th e Trus­ tees for the year we re to increase th e to tal income of the Press through co ntill uing to p ubli sh hi gh quality

books and subsequ entl y in crease the gross and net m arg ins. These ove rall objectives are supported by a nUJ11ber of detailed targets whi ch are monitored by the Trustees on a regul ar basis. In its fifty ycar hi story. Edinburgb Un iversity Press has achieved great

thi ngs. From high prestige to hi gh saJes repor ts , the intern ation aJ suc­ cess that tb e press is now enj oying was only to be expected. It's great prestige is an honour for th e com­ pany and the University alike, as t.he Press was un doubtedly made for success.


9

eat Odessa in

the middle

Varvara Bashkirova reminds us of the person al consequences of history CATHERI NE THE Great fou nded the city of Odessa in 1794, when she decided that a port on the Black Sea wouId be a wise in vest­ ment. She invited architects from all over the world, and it resuIted in a beau tiful southern citywith an extremely diverse populati on and culture- albeit mostly Russian. As a new centre of culture and trade it soon became the fourth largest city in the Russian Empire. I was born here, hut nowadays I cannot go to the cinema to watch a film in Russian nor can I listen to the radio in Russ ian , and most cer­ tainly I wouI d not be able to study in Russian. How did this hap pen? During my fath er's childhoo d he heard only Russian or Yiddish spo­ ken on tbe streets. He never spok Uk.ra inian; I only learned it in school. There were some Ukrain­ ian programmes on television , but they were not my favourites, so, living in the south of th e country, my contact with the language was lim ited to three hours a week. I rem ember the day a wom an came to our school with a lecture about how great Ukrai ne is. In itial­ ly, we did not pay her much atten­ tion, but as ber lecture grew m ore ridiculo us, my classm ates could not help laughing. She argued that Ukrai.nian is m OTe beautifu l than Russian-I sti.ll do no t kn ow how she measured tb at. Wb at we loved the most was her ea rnest claim that Jesus was Ukrainian. It was 'proved' by the studies of a historian who clai med that Buddha was Ukrain ­ ian , too. It was the year we sto pped learning Ru ssian literature. Gogol and Pushkin, both of whom created some of their best works in O dessa, were now considered to be 'foreig n writers: The best part was th at we still studied them in our foreign lit­ erature co urse, but in translation, wh icb was much harder to under­ stand th an the original Russian. After th at, everythi ng ch anged quickly. Our history teacher was forced to teach in Ukrainian un d er

th e threat of being fireQ . She did n ot speak it, having lived all her life in Odessa. Before, education was mostly in Uhtainian anyway, but once it was forced we hated it. What happened to the cinemas was even more ridicul ous. By forcing the Russian population to speak Ukrainian, the gove rnm ent made dozens of cinemas ba nkrupt. As \,Vestern films had never bee n translated in to Ukrainian before, it suddenl y came to light that man m ode rn words Simply didn't ex­ ist in Ukrainian . But this did not stop the 'patriots' -they started in­ ve nt.i.ng words. It was so contrived that we wen t to the cinema once and ended up laugh ing all the way thro ugh.

Additionally, in science and tech­ nology, Uk rainian is quite behind. 111at is why l11y frie.nd, who is stud ­ ying progra mming in Ukraine, is always com plainin g- when writ­ ing essays the words he nee ds to use simply do not exist; t hey can not be found in any of the diction­ aries. Southeast Ukraine, with its pro­ Ru ssian attitude, cont rasts to th e western part of th e country. 20 per cent of the population in Lvov, a western city, have a negative opinion of Russ.ia. This is a res ult of history. From 1919- 1936 west­ ern Ukraine was a part of Poland, whilst the southeastern was part of Russia. Western Ukraine, more agricultu ral and rural than the east is wh ere Ukrai nian tra ditions an d language have been strongly main­ tained. Many of th e southeastern cities, on the contrary, were and always have been Russian . Cri­

me a is an obvio us example haVing existed as a Russian territory si nce 1794. On 19 Feb ruary, 1954 it was transferred from the Soviet Un­ ion to Ukraine as a gift. I wo uld imagine it was quite a surprise for the local population to 'm ove' to a different cou ntry with out realis­ ing. Ukrainisation was much mor, tangible there, as 90 per ce nt of the Crimean popu.lalion was Russian. For iJ1stance, they were not capa­ ble of watching Ukrainian films , as they didn't kn ow the language. In othe r words , western Ukraine feels strong antipathy to the pro-Russian East for bei ng 'unpatriotic: whilst eastern Ukrain e feels the sam e to the anti-Russian West for imposing on them an alien lan gu age. Most Easterne rs admit the necessity of knowing an d do know Ukrain i.a n. However, they also argue that they should be allowed to choose be­ tween the languages. Such a sharpened situati on can be partly explained by th e constan t changes in the government. After th e 2004 Orange Revolution . re· lations with Russia significantly worsened, thus reviving the bis­ torical conflic t. 111ere were fig hts on the streets and on the in terneL Friendshi ps broke down over the iss ue. Thi.s resonated deeply fo r Ukrain isation, which had affected

so many in th e east of Ukraine. ow that the government has changed to diametrically opposite sides by strengtl1ening relations with Russia, it seems like people can not keep up to date with the number of ideological shifts that th ey are supposed to accept every fo ur yea r~. The contlict ront.inues to deepen, as the government con­ tinuously changes its stance, hav­ ing only balf of the nation's support each time. I sti.ll visi t Odessa at least once a yea r. Walk ing along tbe streets I can sense the tension betwee.n the tradition al an d the in1posed. It is felt in quoti d ian things, such as street Signs. TIle. em blem has cbanged, but tbe beart of the cit)' is still the same. The city is its people, who keep the culture of their an· cestors. I kn ow it when I see flow­ ers laid i.n fron t of the mem orial to th e Ru ssian poet Alexander Push­ kin on his birth day. They say; "To Pushki ll., from the grateful citizens of Odessa, as it was constructed in 1889 solely from citizens' do ­ nations:' I know th at Odessa, like other southern ci ties, can never be· co me truly U kr ain ian, as it retai ns too much of th e historical and cul­ tural heritage it has received from Russia.


Retrospect

10

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THE 1707 Acts of Union have al ways been sources of great debate, and the topic's popularity is still present as the dlree hundred year old act continu to have repercussions today. AltJlough the union of Scotland and England may seem inevitable wiLh hindsight. Lhe lr um is Lhat it was an exLrnordi ­ nary alJiance. Simon Schama could not have been more correct when he described it as "one of the most aston­ ishing t.rnnsformat ions in Ew-opt'an histori' cotland and England possess rich, intertwining pasts. Competition. be it in commerce. politics or warfare. stemmed from the Mo nation's cul ­ tural differences. What could possibl)t give these two separate and tradi­ tionaUy competing naUons common ground upon which to un ify? There were three major fac tors involved: religion, external threats. and circulll­ lance. The 15005 saw sweeping change throughout Europe as the Reforma­ tion gained momentum, creati ng an upsurge of turmoil thar would take well over a century to abate. By the Uruon of the Crowns in 1603 both Scotland and England were largely Pro!t:stant countries. though disa­ gree ment over doctrine was fierce. The Bishops "Van; of 1639 and 1640 are merely examples of th ~ c()nflict that occurred anlongst Lhe various denominations Lhat considered them­ selves 'true' Protel.tants. 'OtherneSS: as explorcd by Linda Colley, gives us an inkling into Lhe

~

nattlrc of the second major factor behind unification. Shc states that 'otllerness' was defined as lin aversion to "militant Catholicism, or a hostile ontinental European system:' or, at its most basic level, external threats. ilh Lhe common ground of religion and a shared monarchy, Scotland and England were similar enough by 1707 to tee! jOiJldy threatened by forei gn powers. Traditionally these 'other:' were Roman Catholics and seen as the natural enemy. l1ljS, however. is a rather skewed view to take. For exam­ ple, tlle League ofAugsburg, of 'which both Scotland and England were a ke part of in 1689, included the staunchly tholic nations of Austria, Portugal and the Holy Rom an Empire, yet the nations of Britain certainly profited from beiJlg a part of this aliiance. Resistance to foreign threats, real or perceh·ed. also fostered id ea~ of unit}t amongst one very influential faction of society, the military. Scottish and English Regiments fought side b)' side throughout the Low Couotries, A1sace and the RhineJand in both the Nine Yeurs War and the War of the Span ish Succession, not only earning respect for aile another but laying me foun­ datioJlS of a 'British' army years before tlle Union ac tua lly took place. Whilst tlle Acts of Union officialI), merged Lhe Scottish and English arnlies they had actuaUy been fighting together [or decades. Success of the twin na­ tions when allied militarily would doubtless have smootJled tlle road to union, especially when tlloughts

of Empire canle to the forefront Full political union can perhaps be seen a the next logical step, yct circumstance would first need to take a hand in pro· ceedings. It did so in the late 1690s. 'Ihe Dar­ ien Scheme, an attempt by Scotland to break into the world market by establishing a small trading colony 0 11 the Isthmus of Panama, went hOrribly wrong. The nation was left teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Mem­ bers of the Scots nobility were forced to petition the English Parliament in Westminster for finan cial aid, and me whole debacle caused many of the ruling elite to believe that Scotland could never la), imperial found ations 'without aid [rom its (lId rival. Even by tlle early 1700s Scotland's economy was shOWing little signs of recovering from th e savage blow, wiLh tvtichael Fry pointing out that in 1704 the na­ tiOD "remaincd backward and with no financial markets of its own:' The deaLh of Scotland's global ambi­ tions and the severe damage dealt to its economy can UJcrefore be cited as among the primary short-term rea­ sons for the Un ion of 1707. VVilliam Ferguson's 1964 paper unea rthed tbe grave extent to which bribe.s had been accepted by Scottish noblemen in or­ der to help push tlle Union through Parliament. It is undcniable tllat for some expediency took the place of pride. t Lhe same time it would be a mis­ take to believe that only Lhe Scots no­ bles were responsible for selling their

country for English gold, as Burns wou ld have US believe. Christopher A vVhatley's Scots rlrld the Unioll ar­ gues that this point does not stand up to close scrutiny, nor does the argu ­ ment that Scots bargained away their Parliament for free trade. The bouts of insurrection throughout Scotland which fi)lImved in the inlmcdiate wake oflhe Union, including the infamous exccutions of two English sailors 0 11 trumped up charges of pm cy. would have been conSiderably more grievous had there truly been no support fix the move amongst the lower d Many of tlle more fa mous first-hand accounts, such as th ose of Daniel De­ foe, state d earl y that the vast majority of the nation was against the idea of Union. Yet Whatleys detailed study of numerous smaller primary accounts shows surprising apathy amongst many commentators that proves true, or at least militant. anti- Un ionist sen­ timent was not in the dear majority in Scotland at the time of the Union. The Acts of 1707, therefore, can surely be remembered as amongst tile most unusual Un ion ~ to have taken place in European history. Scotland and EnghUld. though they had many similarities. were stiUlargely au tono­ mous nations before May 1707. It took a century of religious and po­ litical upheaval, numerous external mreats and misfortu ne on a national scale to not only pave tlle wa), but ac­ tually bring about the Union. It was a omplex, rich and fascinating event which provides us witll one of the


11

RAT HER LI KE th l" m arri age of the owl and the pussycat, the civil pa rt ­ nership between Sco tlan d an d Eng­ land seemed an 'unli kely union' at the bme of its inau guration 1n 1707. Lord Bel havell's remark - "There's an e end to an c auJd sang" - see m s to capture the sense of loss o cca ­ sio ned by the termil1,ltion of Scot­ ti sh indep endence. Ho w d id some­ thing SO unpopul ar at birth survive for so long? The slow evolution of tl11.! Unio n deserves some attention. Th e Un ited Ki ngdo m of 170 7 was augmented in ]SO ] wi th the ad ­ dition of the island oj Irehu1d. In 1922, after ove r a century of un­ happy relations, Ireland was part i­ tioned and only six of th e thi rty­ tw o counties remai ned as par t of a r('bran ded Uni te d Kingd o m of Great Britain an d Northern Ire­ land. In its various incarnations, th e Un ion is now an 'auld sang' an d its m elo dy may be more dHnc ult to forget th a n is o fte11 assumed. If Scotlan d is no t qUite an addi­ tionaJ county of England, there are more similarities and links than Jll any are prepared to contemplate. There has been a massive move­ ment of people, in both directions,

betw een Scotland and England. The English in Scotland and the Sco ts in Englan d have integrated m ore seamlessly than aDY other mi n ori ty in eith er host so ciety. There ha ve been outbu rsts of S(O­ top hob ia but t.he), have not proved to b e a central fea ture of the An­ glo- Sco tti sh relati on ship, a nd the sam e can be said for Anglopho­ bia. Scotland bems a greater de­ gree of Similarity to En gland th.an an y ot her com pa rator. Although th is m ay be a pa rtial product of the Union it would not be quickly altered by furth er co nst itut ional chan ge, even ren ew ed Scottis h in dependence.. In deed, if Scot­ land.'s eighteenth and ni ncteenth cent ur y history cannot e nt ir ely be ex plained by reference to even ts of l7 07, the Union has increasingly left its imp ressjon on the twentieth cen tu ry - the Welfare State might be a n even grea te r symbol of the Unio n th an th e British Empire. Much recent comment about the Union has been peSSimistic and has sought reasons for its appar­ en tly likely de mise: an event wh ich, inconveniently, has not ye t taken place. D esp ite d evolut io n, perhaps

even despite the adven t of an SN P ad mi nistration in Holyrood, this may be t.h e w ron g question. It is tb e longevity, rathe r tha n th e fra­ gil ity, of th e Angl o-S co ttish Un ion whi.ch req Uires explanation . '1 his is not to say th at the Uni o n m ay no l flo und er in tbe [ ut u.re, perh ap s even the ncar future. Histor ians are no to riou sly ba d at peering into th e future, but one can confi de ntly p re­ dict the outbreak o f a fie rce debate between those who will a rg ue that the inh erent features of the Un ion sowed the seed s of its destruction over a lo ng p eriod; an d oth ers who will contend that the sunder­ ing of th e Union can be found in the consequences of the political dive rgenc e between Scotlan d and nglaJ1d since 1979. \,Vha tever happens to the Union it is vital that we do not fabricate a sense of denjal about deep-sealed and long ­ s tan din g Scottis h e nth usias m for it.

Ewe n Cameron is H ead of H istory at Edinb urgh Uni ve rsity. Hi s book

Impaled on a Thistle: Scotla nd si'l ce 1880 was released earl ier thi s year.

A strange survival

As a special fe ature Ewen Cameron provide s a scholar's perspec­ tive on th e en durance Great Britain and t he Acts of the Union


12 THE COLD War caused th e world's s uperpowe rs to forge some of h isto ry's m ost unlikely of u n­ ions. O ne such uni on was thaI of the USA w ith the leader of So uth Vietnam fro m ] 954 to 1963, Ngo Dinh Diem, an d one th at was ar­ guably the first step on the path to full-scale American military in ­ volveme nt in Vietnam. Following Fr ance's w ithdrawal from Indochina in 1954 Vietnam was d.ivided in two al ong the 17th Parallel, with H o Chl Minh's C o m­ m uni sts rulin g the N or th. and the French sponsored democrac y in the South, with nation al elections planned for 1956 to reunite the COUll try. Fearful of communism, the Eisenhower admi.nistration thre w th eir support be hind th e staunchly anti -co m mun.ist D iem in the bope that he would form a strong government that would be sympathetic to Ameri ca. The union would end al most a decade later in t he m ost ignom inious of ways. At fi rst th ere seemed to be several good reasons to suppor t Diem; he wa s zealously anti- communist but aho exceedingly nati o nalisti c an d anti-Frenc h m aking it easier for the Americans to supp o rt h im witho ut contradicting the i.f own an ti-im­ p eriali st rh etor ic. He had travelled widely in the US an d had expressed a desire to work with Americans to build a new Vietnam . However, from the start it was eVident that Diem's b elief in democra cy was d ubious as he stead fastly refu sed to co nfor m to American political ideals. The US

Retrospect had entered th e two world wars to. in President Woodrow Wilson's wor ds, "make the wo rld safe fo r de­ mocracy': wh ilst the confli ct wi th the Soviet Un io n was defi ned by Amer ica's beUef in democ racy an d capitalism. The US expo und ed the ideals of dem ocracy over th e tyran­ nies o f authori tarian gove rn men t, Diem refused to m ake democratic refo rms in hi s co untry.

\'1' hen D iem took p ower he faced a bar rage of problems: an under­ developed and antiquated gove rn ­ me ntal infras tructu re with staff who lacked experience in admin is­ tmtion; a co untry ravaged by war; a n immat ure agricult ural econo­ my. With US help Diem thwarted several attempted coup d'etats in th e first year of his presidency. An even bigger test of D iem's leader ­ ship arrived in 1955 willl the Sec t Crisis where the mllitarised sects the Cao Dru, the Hoa Hao and the Vl etn amese Mafia, the Binh Xu)r­ en, joined forces to wage wllr o n the government in Saigon. Die m looked to be lOsing co ntrol and at o ne point U.S. Ambassador to Vi­ etnanl , General Collins. convinced Eisenhower that Diem should be removed. A m irac ulous and un­ expected vi ctory agrunst the Binh Xuyen ensured Diem stayed in

power and retaine d Amer ican sup­ port. Encouraged b y the American delight at this victory Djem began to consoli date his p ower. W hen D iem rehlsed tJ) par tici pat e in the sched uled na tion al election s to reunite th e two Vietnams the US supported Il is decis io n to do so, effectively ensu ring tb e long ter m separati on between Sou th and Nor th Vietn am. The popular ity of the Co mm unist leader Ho Chj Mi nh meant he would have swept th ese electio ns, causing th e US to forego their politi cal b eliefs. With Diem established, th e US proceeded to pour ru d in to his regime, with $ 1 bill ion spent on eco nomic and m ilitar y assistan ce bet ween 1955-1 96 1. Diem's gov­ ernm en t squandered the aid, refus­ in g to refo rm the army and govern ­ men t to fit a democratic m odel. v\Thilst Diem prud li p service to th e Am erican's dem ocratic de­ m ands, reform \vas al ways an ill u­ ion . D iem and ru s three broth ers con trolled bot h the exec uti ve and the legi sla tive branches of govern ­ m enl - dissenters were immediate­ ly pu rged. Diem's poli cies towa rds the villages d isregarded cen tu r ies of tra dition and in dependence, stirring up d eep discon ten t. An y expression of th is was dealt with, as Geor ge H erring puts it, in "a man ­ ner that would have made J. Edgar H oover blan ch ;' as th ousands of disside nts were incarcerated in 're­ educ ati on centres'. Such was the US's fear of comm unism that th ey turned a bli nd eye to these arroci ­ t ies.

In 1960, the new Kenn edy ad­ min is tration inherited the commit­ ment to Diem, and with Kennedy's pled ges to "get tough" itwould have been impossible to withdraw sup­ po rt for Diem, and so the govern­ !Uen t in creased th e ai d to stabilise h im wh ils t begging him ineffectu ­ ally to refo rm. Most Americans at this time could not have even located Vietn am on a m ap, but th e issue was forced in to the nati on's consciousness ill May 1963 with th e Buddh ist Cri ­ sis. A devout C atholic, Diem had oppressed the Buddhist majority of the countr)'. Protests in the city of Hue saw governmen t troops fire into the crowd killing a number of protestors, sparki ng wid espread reaction around South Vietnam, cu lm in ati ng in the n otorious self­ im mo lation s of Buddhist monks whi ch h it headlines worldwide. ot only was Diem emb arrass­ ing the American governmen t on the in ternational stage, but with th e disastrous defeat at Ap Bac in January 1963 it became inc reasi ng­ ly app arent that Diem w as also an ineffectual bulwark against com­ muni sm' a fac t co m pounded by Diem's covert attempts to negotiate a settlemen t wi th Ho C hi M.in h. After the Budd hist Crisis, several generals of the South Vi etnamese army appro ached tlle US Amb as­ sador in Vietnam , Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.. abou t US reachon s to a military coup. Convince d that th e war against comm unism in Viet­ nam co uld not be won with Diem as leader, Lo dge replied that wruJs t they would not suppo rt a coup, they would do no thirlg to oppose it. effectively signing Diem's deat h warrant. Thus, on Novemb er 1st 1963, the gen erals successfully deposed Diem , who was then bru­ tally murdered in the back of a van after seeking sanctuar y in a Catho ­ lic chu rch. President Kennedy sa.id th at " ~iem is Diem and he's the best we've go \." Th is is an accurate swn­ mary of the unlikely alliance be­ tween D iem an d the US. Authori­ tarian and despotic, Diem was ana thema to the Amer ican politi­ cal system, but it was ironical]y the US's fe ar of another foreign politi ­ cal system on the left that caused them to create so unlik ely an alli­ ance.

Alex Thomson explores the ideological sacrifices of America's Vietnam policy

Better the Diem you know


13

Practical impiety IN 1536 an alliance was finalised that was met with disbelief and disgust throughout Europe. The union of France and the Ottoman Empire against their mutual en­ emy - Charles V - was the first al­ liance between a major Christian and nnn-Christian power since the crusades. Europe was on the verge of great change at the outset of the six­ teenth century. The introduction of gunpowder was revolutionis­ ing warfare and the printing press enabled the distribution of mate­ rial opposed to the ruling elite. The fiercely anti-derical speeches of Martin Luther and his sympa­ thisers initiated the Reformation, destroying the medieval idea of a united Christendom with the Pope as its nominal head. Increas­ ingly, European states began to act in their own interests and ignored the demands of the pope. Four great historical figures also came to the fore in the early 16th centu­ ry: Henry VII of England, Francis I of France, Charles V of Spain and Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire. The stage was set for a conflict that involved all the major powers of Europe; one in which the French were the fi rst to realise that the days of a un ited medieval Christendom were over.

By 1519, France was in desper­ ate need of allies. The domain of the Hapsburg ruler Charles V, who had inherited the rule of both the Spanish Empire and the Holy Ro­ man Empire, almost surrounded the French Kingdom of Francis I. The French also had to deal with Henry VIII's England, whose ar­ mies still remained in Normandy and coffers funded Charles' mili­ tary expeditions. To the French advantage a new power was rising in the East. The Ottoman Empire of Suleiman the Magnificent was expanding through the Balkans at an alarming rate and posed a great threat to the domains of Charles V. Yet an alliance with this major Islamic power was still considered blasphemous by the kingdoms of Europe as by acknowledging the existence of the Ottoman Empire the French were, in effect, accept-

ing the legitimacy of Islam. Prac­ ticality, however, often triumphs over ideology. Interestingly, both Francis I and Charles V had argued that if they became Holy Roman Emperor, for they were both candidates for the elective office, they would lead a Crusade against the 'Great Turk'. This promise invoked a desire to return to the perceived Christian unity of the Middle Ages, where the nations of Europe allied to take back the Holy Land. After Charles V took the title, however, Francis wasted no time in declar­ ing war on his fellow Christian nation. The subsequent invasion of Italy ended in disaster for the French at the Battle of Pavia, dur­ ing which Francis I was captured by the forces of Charles V. To se­ cure his release from prison Fran­ cis was forced to sign the humilli­ ating Treaty of Madrid, in which he renounced his claims to Italy, Flanders and Burgundy. Charles V had risen to unrivalled power in Europe. During Francis's imprisonment the French court had sent a dele­ gation to the court of Suleiman the Magnificent to discuss a treaty of friendship. These talks resulted in an alliance that was met with dis­ belief and disgust by the other Eu­ ropean states. Charles V began a vitriolic campaign of propaganda against the French, deeming the union "the sacrilegious union of the Lily and the Crescent." Indeed given that Francis had strongly supported a crusade against the Ottomans, a pretence he main­ tained even after the pact became

Hamish Kinnear discusses the unthink­ able Franco-Ottoman Alliance of 1536

common knowledge, an alliance with the Great Turk was not only unlikely, it was unthinkable. The alliance, however, held benefits for both parties. France was given an ally that posed a se­ rious threat to Charles V, for the Ottoman Empire of Suleiman the Magnificent was at the height of its power. Fresh from victory over the Egyptian Mamluke Sultanate, Suleiman wished to make himself Caesar of Europe. An alliance with the French was in the interests of the Ottomans as it provided them with a military partner and a fin­ ancier to help invade Hapsburg lands. More importantly for Sulei­ man, the alliance kept the states of Christian Europe divided.

Despite the reactions of horror to the Franco-Ottoman alliance that were evident throughout Eu­ rope the actions of other Christian rulers could hardly be considered pious. If a 'pious' ruler was one who acted for the unity of Chris­ tendom, engaged in crusading activities, and respected both the temporal and spiritual power of the Pope then Charles V and Hen­ ry the VII failed on all these re­ quirements. Admittedly Charles V spent much of his life fighting the

Ottomans but this was more for

the purpose of defence as opposed to a specifically offensive crusade. Henry VIII of England struck a blow to Christian unity by break­ ing away from the papal author­ ity and establishing the Church of England, allowing his marriage to Anne Boleyn. The greatest atroc­ ity occurred when the underpaid and mutinous troops of Charles V, in the search of plunder, sacked Rome and imprisoned the Pope. This event, more than anything else, signified the demise of medi­ eval Christendom. In this atmos­ phere of widespread anti-papal feeling the France-Ottoman alli­ ance comes as less of a surprise. The 'impious alliance' of the French and Ottomans, then, does not seem so scandalous when placed in the context of its time. However, it should come as no surprise that it was received in this negative fashion. There was evidently a form of European nostalgia for the days of the Cru­ sades in which Christendom was united in a common cause, even though the military expeditions to the Holy Land had only been se­ riously pursued centuf'ies before. Francis I's alliance with the Ot­ tomans was a stark indicator that the Crusader days were long past. War from then on became com­ mon between Christian States as a means to maintain the balance of power or achieve superiority in Europe. Christendom was fin­

ished. The 'unlikely' Franco-Otto­

man Alliance, however, lasted for

centuries.


Retrospect

14

c

e

Old Ship of Zion Catherine Me Gloin examines a widely forgotten aspect of American History THE STR.UGGLE for African­ American rights iJl the United States is a long and contested road. 'Ve are repeatedly exposed to narratives that stress key leaders and religio us f1 gure­ heads. Arguably, no discou rse would be complete without an analysis of tbe role of MartiQ Luther King Jr., the decisions of th e Supreme Court or tbe varying levels of comm itment that each president expressed throug hout this tuibulent ruld mythologised pe­ riod in Americ.'1!l history. However, one element of the strug­ gle for bLack dvil rights that has been often underplayed in popul ar accounts, increasingly based on bio­ grap hical and oral testimony. is the role of the new labo ur movement during the 19305 and J94Ds. In the space bern the post-World red scare, a reactionary phenomenon that disabled socialism as a tool for social advancement, bl'1Ck unjonisID, 3Jld potentially the Communis t Party, of­ fered African-Ameri cans a wllque opportunity to unite to fight oppres­ sion. Unionism offered the poorest black workers a political voice, one they fel t was [[lUted by elite, mi ddle­ class civil rights organisations, such as the NAACP. [n this respect. the Communis.t Party can be considered as a viable alternative for some groups within tll €' civil rights movement and as a suitablevehide for civil rights ad­ vancemel1t. The h istory of black organh ed la­ bour in the South has only begun. in the last thirty years, to receive du, attention in the historiography of American labour movem ents, gain­ ing increasing recogni tion from la­ bour and social historians. Perhaps it has traditionally been &i de-lin ed because of an ideological aversion to socialism deeply ingrain ed into the American psyche. Alternatively. its diminish ed prominence may be explained by the compl~'{ities of periodisation. It is com monly ac­ knowledged by maIl)' h istorians who dorninate the field of civil rights that the movement, characterised by cross-national di rect action, began in the late 19505. Morc specifically, the

birth of the movement is often seen as a consequence of the success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 and the Brown decision of the Supreme Court the pl.evious year. Thus, any event which pre-dates tJlis revered trajectory is generally dismissed as a pre-requisite and subsequently gar­ ners less attention than it perhaps warrants. The wi dening of industrial w1ionism to Southern blacks during the first half of the twentieth cen tury, has traditionally been treated as a pre-cursor: yet it deserves a more prominent position, not only for the wider organ isational implications it held f!.lr the development of the !llovement, but as acknowledgement afits improbable success.

'''far

N l a.n alysis of labour Qrganisation and class structure amongst the vary­ ing g roups active in the civil rights m ovem ent serves to convey what is ofte n lost: til e ti ght for equality was not solely [ought by bia.ck elites or enlightened whites, but poor work­ ing class African -Americans a1SQ played a lead ing rol e. These groups, although united in th eir cause, did not un iformly a gree at every stage bu t could be divided by societal cat­ egQries other than race. It is important to note that the Southern labour force were distin c­ tive in th eir anti-union tradition. Even as organised labour became increas.ingly entrencbed in the N orth (following the National Labour Rela­ tions Act, 1935). the South. as Robert Z ieger argues, rem ained an "anti-la­ bour island" Much of th"e historiog­ raphy stresses the traditionally Ilostile relationship between organ ised la­ bour and African-Americans. Meier

and Bracey assert that blacks were susp icious of wlions who typically discriminated against them. Thus, unionism was seen as the tool of white racist workers, rather than the site of tenlpered racial ,Ultagonisms in the hce of a common adversary ­ exploitative industries. The American Federation of Labour (AFL) support­ ed craft unions that created raCially exd usive ,iobs, often driving blacks fro m secured employment opport'u­ nities in order to give them to unem­ ployed whit es. A symptom of segre­ gateJ society, this was !lot a qUEstion of education, more a simple fUllction of the caste system in operation in the South that largely kept black labour unorgnnised yet was held as a necessi­ ty for business prosperity. Any efforts towards unionisatioJ1 were usuall thwarted by employer intimidation, police brutality or deep-rooted sus­ picions of unions. Moreover, a cheap and ready supply of white and black vmrkerswn ited the power of strike action; African Ameri cans had been used as strike-breakers ill the heavy ind ustries for decades, However, the 19305 heralded the widening of labour organisation, in part a response to post-World War I migration to northern industrial cities, persistent inequalities within some of the New Deal programmes and th e devastatin g financial impact of the Great Depression which was disproportionately felt by black work­ ers. Therefore, it may be argued that the erosion of the distinctive 'union free' character of Southern labour had begun. Attitudes towards labour organ i­ sa60n shifted during the 1930s. This may havc been a consequence of a more general swing to the left d ur ­ ing the period, as evidenced by the re-alignment of the black vote away from thc RepUblicans to\vards the Democrat Party. Mkhael Honey main tains that the late 1930s and early 1940$ promised huge change, a consegum ce of war, industrialisation and unionisation. The founding of organisati ons such as the Congress of Industrial Organ isations (CIO ) point

Lo increased co-open t-ion between Souther wh ite and black workers ruld an, albeit temporary, shift away from the attitudes of the segregation era. he CIO was born out of the hard­ ships of the depression years and its inter-racial organising strategy crul be ccn as c\ridence of a morc co-opera­ tive approach to labour organisat ion than is tradi tiol)ally given credit in the historiography. 'Ihe CTO sought African -American recruits and fo ­ cussed its unionisiog efforts on sec­ tors with large black work forces. such as steel and meat.ln their promotion of inter-racial un ionism, such or­ ganisatiom acted <\s a bridge between the black community and white workers, although this fun ction was more successful in the North, where African-Americans he1d a limited degree of political and economic power. Bi-raciaJ unionism provided the philosophy of equal rights, as well as the means to augment ~ocial conditions and alter the relationship between worker and boss, a source of daily oppression in the lives of many black workers. For African-Ameri­ can labour, this was a great step to­ wards achieving social and economic equality. However, no unionising organisa­ tion was free from tht! constraints of racist social customs, particularly in the SQuth, where union leaders would rather capitulate to opposition tJ1.an lose members and where white workers continuously strove to as­ sert their superiority over their black colleagues. In many ways, the CI achieved their initial economic goals and succeeded by 1940 in persuad­ ing whites to join and work alongside African-Americans. However, they failed to farce white elites to accept black. demands for an end to racial wage differences. Nonetheless, alli­ ances between black and white work­ ers, civil r ights groups and left-Wing New Dealers had been established, benefitting the African-Anlerican struggle against economic discrimi­ nation. 11le infl ue nce of the left was evid"e nt

ero


15

in the leading u.nions thal were also committed to equality. like the CIO, as well as the United Packin ghouse Workers of America who organised meatpackers in Chicago and Texas. Whilst these unions engaged a lot of black workers as members, they also had a significant communist pres ­ ence. The impact of the Comm unist Party and its role in intluenci ng both inter-racial unionism and the civil rights m ovement is a contentious is­ ue. Their rhetoric and its evolution, from calls for a separate 'Black Re­ public' to talk of a more united-front, is an area that provokes much con­ troversy. Was it conceived in order to subvert labour organisations directly or to control them from behind the scenes' Alternatively, a cynical \'iew of the motivations behind Comm u­ nist Part)' involvement can be tem­ pered. The Part), recognised th e rev­ olutionar y potential of industrial an d agricultural workers and thereforc, called for African- American sclf­ determination as a strategy whereby white American acceptance of blacks' right to self-government was the goal. Thus, white workers woul d be able to conquer their raci sm and a united working class would result. Trad.itional interpretations sug­ gest that unionism was treated with

hostility by all blacks; we must not be blind to tlle differences amongst the black community and the fact tbat they were far from a homog­ enous gro up. ""hils! the Communist Party becanle the rivals of the black elite arld middle-class organisations, such as the NAAC I~ the poor black working class were attracted to the ideology and the Party in incrcasing numbers throughout tlle depression and d uring the New Deal era . °They prO\ided the black working classes with an alternative vehicle for social protest. Furthermore, communism introduced many blacks to world politics, enabling them to place their own struggle in a global context, demonstrating the roots of poverty and ra05m. This educated the 'non -reading classes' and gave them a s ense of pride, something m any fel t was de­ nied to th em by tlle black eli tes of the AACP, whom it has been argued had unwisely assumed a pastoral po­ sition as spokesperson for all blacks. Moreover, the Party challenged both white supremacy and the bourgeOiS politics of the black mjddle-class. A. Philip Randolph - considered a sooalist and largely hailed as the spokesman for black workers after his success with the Pullman por­

ters of the 1920s and thc recogni tion of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters by tbe A FL in 1937 - attacked W.E. B. Du Bois and the NAACP for neglecting the needs of the African­ American in favour of bourgeois in­ terests. Fostering an atmosphere of debate and discussion, communism helped to educate and empower the black working-classes. For the black elites, it was an unwelcome SQurce of agitation. as communists began to enter into the realm of black bour­ geois politics. Thus, support for the Communist Party divided civil rights campaigners and highlighted under­ lying class antagoni~ m. The involvement of the commu­ nist-led ILD in the trial of the Scotts­ boro boys demonstrates the resent­ ments and the growing frustrat ion, with the NAACP and other black m iddle-class organisations. Failure to secure Significant fed eral anti -lynch­ ing legislation, ineffective in helping desperate blacks devastated by the depression and limited by thei r OWll political powerlessness ill the face of economic decline amongst tllCir own elite members. the NAACP's impo­ tence was made apparent during the 1931 Scottsboro boys' trial. In Ala­ bama, nine black men aged thirteen to n ineteen were charged with the

rape of two while women travelling on the san1e train as them and were tried, convicted and sentenced to death in three days. WhcU1C~r or not the IlD simply offered their support and advice. or they ID U$cled in with shrill bravado, their involvement earned the Com mullist Party black support. They were portrayed as defenders of the race, whilst wltites chose to view them as 'outsiders' an d defend­ ers of rapists. Interpretations of communism's impact o n the Q\.jl rights move­ ment d uring the 1930s var y. II may be maintained tllat membership to the Party an d adherence to com mu­ nist ideology was limited; ultim ateJy most blacks wanted to work within the American system and reap any benefits accrued hy the programmes of the New Deal. Africall-Americaru; were comm itted to these m e3!iur and Similarly to Presiden t Roosevelt, fe-clec tin g him for a th ird term in 1940. Thus. communism was a mar­ ginal force that many blocks chose to ignore as a veh id c for social protest. However, it is important to recognise its significance i.n the Lives of many African-Americans, who for the first time were organised in to tradeullions on relatively equal terms t() those of their whil-e co-workers and were able to understand their $truggle through the framework of a shared commu­ nist ideology. Communists fo rmed the central pillar to trade un ion ac­ tivism and 0 0 inter-raciali s.m. This new 'socialism in the barber shop: a broadened ID1d popular sense off self empowered many black v.'Orkers to fight against economic and social dis­ crimination in a way that seemed to speak m ore directly to them and their social standing than the rhetoric es­ poused by the black-bourgeoisie.

Bibliograpby Leslie H. Fish el Jr. 'The Negro and dle New Deal: in Twentieth Ce1ltury America: Recent Interpretations, ed. Bernstein and Matusow, (1 972) Robert H. Zieger (eei), Orga/l ised Labour in the TWeIIliel h Centw y Soulh. (1991)

Robin D.G. Kelley, Ha mmer and Hoe: Alabama Conlllllmists During the Great Depression. (l990)


16

Retrospect OFfEN OVERSHADOWED by the tumultuous events that were to weep Europe in the late 19305 and 194Ds, the Spanish Civil War (1936­ 1939) remairu a pivotal moment in twentieth century European history. TIle conflict divided fam ilies, towns and polarised. political opinion across the continent and beyond. It resulted in an estimated 500,000 deaths and witnessed the establish­ ment of a Fascist dictatorship in Spain under General Franco which ,'ould last for almost forty years. The conflict has been a fruitful jeC! of historical scholarship and many explanations as to why the fragile democracy of the Second Re­ public collapsed have been offered. Did the RepublJcaJlS Lose because of a lack of fo reign support given to them but that the Nationalists were lucky to receive, or was their defeat a result of the weakness of Republican militias oin the face of the discipline of the Spanish army? In order to ascertain which, if ei­ ther, of the aforementioned sugges­ tions W'dS most significan t, it is im­ portant to examine the patchwork of ideologies that the Popular Front composed of. the Marxlst POU1vl (Partido Obrero Unification Ma rx­ ista), Socialist UGT (Union General de Trabajores), Commun ist PSU (PartitSocialiSta UnificalCatalwlya), and Anardllst CNT (Conf-ederacion acional del Trabajo). Furthermore. the effect of foreign intervention on relations within the National Front and upon the contlict asa whole must be taken into consideration. From the outset. it would be fai r to suggest that the Republicans lacked the same opportunities as the Na­ tionalists. The material support offered by the Soviet Union W"JS ultimately to be a hindrance insofar as it catalysed factionalism within the National Front. In the opposite camp, Adolf Hitler was in reality not much more supportive of the Nationalists than foseph Stalin had been of the Republicans and it is like­ ly that he, like Stalin, merely wanted the war to continue as a distraction for the \"'estern democracies. Argu­ ably, it was MUSSOWli's support that would be key to the Nationalist side. He was adan1ant that the emergence of another Fascist state on the model of Italy could only be to his political advantage. As it turns out, Italy re­ ceived relatively little in return from Franco after the war. Despite the fact that the Repuhli­ cans were on the side of the legally elected government, they were ne\'cr allowed to purchase arms from the major suppliers. The United States was pursuing a policy of non-in­ tervention after World War I and

Britain and France followed suit, re1 uctant to upset the political sta­ bili!)' of Europe at the time. It was decided that neither side would be given military aid under the NOD­ Intervention Pact. However, this pact was then widely and blatantly flaunted by the dictatorships of Eu ­ rope: Italy, Germany an d the Soviet Union. The purchasing of foreign arms was poli tically charged as it was tantamount to subscription to the ideology of the dictatorship that was selling them. TIle fact that only the Fascist dictatorships of Europe a.nd the USSR were willing to so bra­ zenly ignore the Non-Intervention pact was to have an enormous im­ pact within the Spanish Left, as will be later discussed. The aid of the Soviet Union was useful to the Republican cause inso­ far that the weapons they provided were far superior to any the Republi­ cans already Pc)ssessed, whilst Soviet aircraft were used for reconnaissance missions which were central to the militias military tactics. However, the weapons were not given to all parties within the Popular Front but were directed at only a handful. Mostly they were given to the Socialists of the UCT and tlle Communists of the PSUC, which stirred discontent amongst the other parties who were using old and inferior weaponry to that of their fellow comarades.

The Civil War polarised Span isJ! political discourse into those who were opposed to Franco's regime and those who were not. The Republican fOrces, therefore, contained many disparate political groups, from moderate republicans to Anarchists, Trotskyites and Stalinists. Conse­ quently, the Soviet aid exacerbated internal tensions within the Republi­ can forces between the loosely asso­ ciated left wing political groups. The acceptance of Soviet weapons was a dangerous move as it allowed the access of agents of the Couummist Party of Soviet Russia into Spanish affairs. someth ing that was to prove decisive in the outcome of the war.

'j


17

The Spanish Civil War was a conflict which could be referred to as a battle between reactionary forces of con­ servativism and progressive revolu­ tionaries. Though m any have claim ed that the Nationalists were fasc ists, British \\Titer George Orwell, who was fighting in Spain at the time along side the Republicans , wrote of the Nation­ alists that their ideology was closer to that of feud alism. The Nationalists were composed chiefly of members of the army, members of the clergy, and leaders of international business, all united in their common distrust of the working classes. Their victory in the war would certainly jeopardise the liv­ ing conditions and dghts of working class peopl.e, resulting in the deterIora­ tion labour relations, a Catholic crack­ down of secularism, and the army would suppress any di ssent. In contrast to the Nationali.sts' clar­ ity oJ goals, the Republicans seemed to all be working towards different ends. TIle objectives of moderate re­ forming socialists and the Anarchist :NT were very difficult to recon­ cUe. Furthermore, the Soviet belief in a revol utionary vanguard instigat­ ing and leading the proletariat was at odds with populist movements such as Anarchism th at took hold in Spain. With such differences in pol­ icy it is hard to envisage what could force these parties to work together for any length of time. Part of the problem with compre­ hending th e Spanish Civil War comes from the spectrum of ideologies within the broad alliance of the Re­ publican forces. The ideologies were further apart than could be counte­ nanced and particularly so after the Conununist Party decided to impose itself upon the revolution that the Marxists and Anarchists were trying to fashion themselves in Barcelona. In his book Hom age to Catalonia Orwell describes Barcelona: '''Practically eve­ ry building of any size had been seized by the workers and was draped with red flags or with the red and black flag of the Anarchists. Every shop md cafe had an inscription saying it had been collectivised; even the bootblacks had been collectivised md their boxes painted red and blacK' The extent of the social change seems almost hy­ perbolic, particularly when O rwell stresses that "even the bootblacks" were part of a trade union. The Com­ munist Party however was to disrupt this "worker's paradise" in May of j 937, with the attempted reposses­ sion of a telephone exchange that was under Anarchist control. 111is sparked a conflict that lasted several days and threatened the stability of the entire Republic. General Franco, who said he planned it after the Comm unists

ran newspaper stories blaming the Marxists for starting the fight, used disunity in Barcelona to his own ends. Bei ng the largest p arty with the most well-developed press organisations, the Communists managed to direct the aftermath of the situation and use it to discredit a competing party. Disunity among the Republican side flourished as the AnarclUsts caught on to the Communist attempts to discredit the ]vIandst faction. Though they were not persecuted to the same extent, though their collectives were broken up to increase 'efficiency: they realised thal they were fighting for mebody who was n ot sympathetic of their ideology and who tney could not trust. The Republican t~1Ction's vigour started to deteriorate after the May D ays riot of 1937. One might ask the question; why did the Conununists try and repos­ sess an Anarchist building? It would be nai've of them to assume they could take it \vithout a fight. unless they disregarded the fact that all An ar­ chist doctrine of the em was against government coercion. It bardly seems that there might be any great gains in taking one building even if it did allow .Anarchists to ea,'esdrop on telephone conversations. The sudden megalo­ m ania of the Communists seems to have sprung from advice given by the Communist Party of Soviet Rus­ sia. The tactical value of the telephone exchange was not worth risking the integIity of the Republican coali­ tiDn. The PSUC's party line, that ''At present, nothing m atters but \vinning the war': is especially telling. Arguably it was the fragile alliance of circumstance within the Republi­ can movement, exacerbated by Soviet Aid that only reached certain fuctions, wbicb resulted in the collapse of the Span.ish Republic. Though the weap­ OIlS helped fOT a while, they could not Sllstain an entire nation with the limi­ tations placed upon their deployment. Anarchists did not trust the help of Soviet Russia and neither did they trust the Stalinist Communist Party of Spain o r any of its regional coun­ terparts. Tnere were other culprits howeveJ' in the defeat of the Second Spanish Republic. It would be wrong to suggest that disWlity on the part of the Republi ­ cans was all that pr even ted them from victor)l. The wider European context of the conflict was also fundamen­ tal in the collapse of the Republican Movem ent. Gen11any and Russia nev­ er gave sufficient help to either side to let it decisivel)' win at any pace but it appears that both used the war to their own advantage. Germany tested out their bombers on Spanish tovms such as Guernica and the Soviet Union

used the war as a distraction while it increased its level of militarization. In conclusion then, the conmct polarised Spanish political discourse around the two totalitarim cxtrerrti­ ties of Fascism and Stalinism. This resulted in an internally divided and factionalised Republicm force which struggled to retain its integrity in the fuce ofa destructive internal feud. The fe ud was sparked b)' th e actions of an external.government hence it ccruld be argued that the collapse of tbe second republic was was more to do \vith the international. context of the conflict, as it provided both the ex1:rem e ideoloh'Y and the cause of fTiction \vithin the Republican movement.

BibUography Qmell George, Orwell hi Spain, (Pen­ guin, London,2001) Thomas Hugh, The Spanish Civil War, 4th edition, (Pellguin, London, 2003) Beevor Anthony, The Battlefor Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939, (W&N, London, 2006) Taylor A.J.P., The OrigirtS of the Second World War, (Penguin, London, 1991)


18

Retrospect

Sh may be the Reason

Frances Rromagc! explores the often overlooked contribution of female scientists during the Enlightenment FOR MANY centuries befo re th e seventeenth, Aristotle's concep ­ tion of the bod y and the mind as insepa rable matte r domin ated Western thinking . It was used to justify the subjugation of wom en an d their subsequent excl us ion from so -called "masculine activi ­ ties". Anatomical differen ces and hormonal systems provi ded new rationales for keeping women below men in the intellectual hi­ erarchy. C hauvinism expressed it self in every walk of life, from religi on and education to science and medicine. Even the common ­ est of medical symptoms such as nerVOllsn ess, irritabi.lity and loss of appetite for foo d or sex were generally diagnosed in wom en as th e result of female "Hysteria" - a problem deriving from the " hys­ tna", or uterus. Science, which explored the worl d outside the domestic sphere, rem ai ned a n ex ­ clusively masculine disciplin e up until the eighteenth cent ury.

Then came th e Enlightenment. Enlightenment philosophers were infl uenced by De.s cartes' theori es on critical thinking and Lock e's empir icism, and , as a co n se­ qu ence, adopted a new approach to learn ing, one which promoted free in te ll ectual inquiry and re ­ jecled the influence of t he state an d religion. Des p ite the move­ ment's vast sco pe, few topic s were as vi gorously discus sed as the subject of female education. T he changing conception of the min d as no longer constrain ed by physical attributes op ened a new conception of the mind as a sex ­ less entity. Therefore, wom en's education became the subject of m uc h debate in polite society, spurring contribut ions from fe­ male and male thinkers on both sides of the discu ss ion. Wo m en's acc ess to scientific knowlc.dge proved particularl y controversial, as it cha lle nged a long-established perception of women's role as lim ­ ited to the domain of dom estic ity.

ow here has thi .~ challenge been so eloquen tly pu t as in words of British p oet Elizabet h Toilet, in her 1724 her poem "Hypatia": What cruel Laws depress the female Kind,/To humble Ca res and servile Ta sks confi/ld.. .! That haughty Mall, IIllriFal'd and alone,! May boast the world or Science all his owwl As barbarou s Tyrants, to secure their Sway, / Co nclude that ignorallce will best obey. Whilst men may have been "harbarous tyrants" and attempted to clamp down on women's par­ ticipation in scientific di sciplines, lu ckily th ey wer e not entirely suc ­ cessful in doing so. History pro­ vides LI S with a few precious ex­ ampl es l1f wo men who refus ed to bow to blind ignorance and tbus , su cceeded in rising above ama ­ teur status to become serious con­ tributors to the field of scient ific knowledge. Of these, the only one about whom much contemporary in­ formati o n as well as a substan­ tial body of original writings has survived is Emilie Marquise du Chatelet. She is most famous for having been "Voltaire's mistress" but in fa ct, this does great injus­ tice not only to he r independent character, but also to her intellec­ tual brillian ce and considerable sc ientific contribution. ""hilst she remain ed all bu t i.nv i.sible to histo rical aCCo wlts before her as­ sociation with Voltaire in 1733 , during tJ1e next fift een years of her life, she proved herself a wor­ th y match to the brillia nt French philosopher. Living ma inl y in Pa rh or in her country estate at Cirey, to where she retreated with Voltaire, she wrote and publish ed a book on the metaphysics of nat­ ural science, (in stitutions de phy­ sique), an essay on the nature of fire and neat ('pisse rta tion sur la nature ct propagation du feu') and two short pieces on the problem of me,ls u ri ng phys ical force. She also co- authored anonymously Voltaire's popularisation of Ne w­ toni an physic s, for which she was resp on si bl e for most of th e math­ ematical calculations, an d to top her num erous achieve ments. in 1748 she produced a translation of Newton's PrincipiI! ma themati ­ ca with a commentary which was pu blish ed posth Wll ously and is stil.1 used as the stand ard transla­

tion of h is work in France today In 1835, th e Royal Astro no mical So ciety in Londo n made a brea.k­ through by awarding honorar y m ~m b ers hip to a woman , Caro­ lin e Hers chel. She became famous for her di scove ry o f nc w nebu lae in 1783 (An dro me da an d Cetus) and for bei ng the fi rst woma n to di scover a co m et. In hOnOltr of He rschel, the SOCiet y m ade what was perhaps th e fi rst sta temen t on equal oppo rtu.uities in scie nce: "While tests of astronomi cal merit sho uld in no case be applie d to the wo rks of a wom an less severely than to th ose of a man , the sex of the form er shou ld no lo nger be an obstacl e to her receiving any ac­ kn owledgem ent wh ic h might be hel d du e to the latter." But whi lst mo dem biograp hers have us ed th ese numerou s "firsts" to turn Caroline Herschel in to a fe male icon of sci ence, it is importan t to note that s he wa~ rewarded not for h er own discoveries but be­ cause sh e recorded. co mpi led and recalc ulated th ose of her brother, 'vVilliam Herschel. The very natu re of he r brothers' research concen trated on collect­ ing and classif)Ti ng large numb ers of stars. and in th is, Ca rolin e's catalo guing skill s were of ceot ral importanc e. Lacking her pati en ce and meticul ous att ention to de­ tall, he became heavily relia nt on her sci enti fi c inpu t. Therefo re, her im portance in he r brot her's research was far greater than mos t of the ir conte mpor aries realised, yet she n ever theless allowed her efforts to furth er his rep ut ation.

Finally, th e faScinatin g case of Laura Bassi (1711-177S) shows how some rare women were able to forge th ems elves a career in scientific fields during t he En ­ lightenm ent. Bassi was gifted with a capacity for learning consi d ­ ered so extrao rdillar y i.n a wom an that it ju stified a concessio n for a

university degree in phil osophy. Thereafter, she was awarded an entrance to Bologna's lstit.ut o delle Scicnze, later to be admitte d as an honorary member of the college, and fl na Uy assigned the position of lecturer in physics at the pres­ tigio us Universi ta eli Bologna, the first of its kin d in Eu rope. Schol­ ar ~ from a U over Eu rope would atten d Bassi's lectu res on Newto ­ nian physics and sJle became the envy oflea rned women across the contin ent. These scientific women came fre)m up per or middl e cla ss back­ gro unds and wh ilst th eir ach ieve­ ments we re not replicated to the same extent by wom en in the low­ er echelons of society, a degree of sci entific and p ract ical k no\vledge never theless took hold. Daughters of clergymen , particularly in the dis senters' tnl ditio n, and certain widows who were made to tak e up their husband's tra de after th ei r death became learned women and hi ghly ski lled. T he famous case of lI'lada me Cliquot, who in 1805 took over h er husband's company after h is death, is a ch ar ming ex­ ample. Hi s enterprise, whi ch had ee n variously involved in bank­ ing, wool tradi ng and Champagne produ cing th ri ved un der h.er di ­ rec tion and eventu ally became th e brand La Vcuve C liquol. She is directly acc red ited will) a great breakthro ugh in champagne han ­ dling t hat mad e mass prod uc tion of th e wine possible an d estab­ lished the produ ce r's reputation of excellence, which continu es to th e present day. T hese examples demonstrate th at women we re capable of tak ­ ing part in scie ntific debates and d evelopm ents, but it should be stressed that their contr ibution was li mited. Wo men's access to sci entific knowledge was depend­ ent on wealth, class and , cru cially on an association with men who would encourage scientific en ­ deavours. This last condition is all the more important wh en one considers the institution ­ alised chauvinism that women continu ed to ex perience during the eighteenth century. Through­ out Europe with the excep tion of orthern Italy, un i\7ersi ties and scientific aca demi es such as the Ro ya l In stitution in London were closed to women.


19

Furthermore, whil st the enligllt­ enm enl undeniably brou gh t an improveme nt to the fe ma le co n­ dition , entrench ed con servati sm in contemp orary attitud es, eve n amongst enlightened th inkers such as Rou sseau, m eant that fe­ male scientists were not only ex ­ tremely rare but al so str uggled to be acce pted in m al e- d ominat ed circles. T llere wa s a general lac k or even absence of formal rec()g­ nit ion of women's invo lvement in scientific publications. For ex ­ ample, Marie Lavoisier, th e gifted wife o f Fren ch chemist Antoine Lavo is ie r in now re cog-ni sed as having carried out man y calcula­ tio ns a nd observations in he r hus­ band 's Elements of Chemistry. The original m an uscript of h is work contai ns ev id ence of her notes and comments, yet th e printed versi o n fail s to ack n owledge her contribution entirely. Eve n in be tter-do c umen ted cases such as that of Lavo is ier, it very difficult fo r the modern -day h isto rian to pin -point the individu al accom ­ pli shments female scientists in coll ab orative works. However, one can argue quite

confidently the instrume ntal rol e that women p layed in th e di s­ sem in atio n and subsequ en t ad­ van cement o f sci en t ific ideas . T hey were g rea t m ediators , often tra nslating, simplifying and illus­ trat ing com plex scienti fic works. Their versions of the se texts were generally a.imed at a fe mal e read ­ ership, a n otable exam ple bein g EmiJie d u Chatelet's translation of Francesco Algarotti's Ne wtoni­ (Ism for Ladies (1737). These were often rea d in wid er circles as they were clear, illustrated and easier to understand. T hi.s helped the sp read of scientific id eas, th e im ­ plied message being that if science was s imple enough for a woman to unde rs tand, than anyone co uld un d erstand it. Furth e rmore, women facilitated th e popula ri sa ­ tion of science by ho sting disc us­ ~ion s in salons, or holdin g p rivat e exhibitions in their hom es where gues ts co u ld apprec iate an d m ar­ vel at discoveri es s uch th e Leyden jar and static electrici ty. These so ­ cial gatherings were particula.rly important when one considers science and the En lightenm e nt as a wider social phenom enon,

as opposed to a string of isolated discove ries mad e by individual, mal e scientists . There is a tragi C eleme nt un ­ derlyin g thi s whole s to ry. Recent studies led by hi storian s, such as Patr ic ia Far a , have attempted to give a cle.arer and fairer in terp re ­ tation of women's contribution to science d uring thi s p er iod. H oweve r, history has b ee n unfair and inse nsi tive in its re.pre senta­ tion of female sc ientists. C onsid ­ er ing the wea lth o f literature on Science a.nd Enlightenment, it is quite re m a rkabl e th a t so little na.s b een written about the wome n who took part. Giv·e n th e s parse­ ness of original sources a nd the strong m a le bias wit h which most existing d oc umentatio n is writ­ te n, it is very difficult, impossible perhaps, to accu r ately assess the Signifi ca nce o f women's contribu­ tion to the s cientific fi eld. Fe mini sts have often rewrit­ ten the story of the se women to underline independ en t achieve ­ me nt s and contributions mad e in a bid to break down prej udic es ag ain st their se.x. But when do es a shift of emphasis become an exag­

geration, a disto rt ion;> Scientific women have been concealed for so long that it is very tempting to tum them int o un su ng heroin es . It would be unju st to retell these wo m en's stories in a way which forces them to conform to the ideal s of m odern d ay fem inists. Alte rna ti ve.!y, we mll st appreciate their contr ib utions on their own meri t.

Bibliograpby Fara , Patricia, Pandora's Breeches, Women. Sc.ience & Power in the Enlightenm ent (Grea t Britain: Pimlico, 2004) Gardiner, Linda, Wo men ill Sci­

etlce. From: French Women al7d the Age of El7ligiztenmellt, ed. S. Spencer, (USA : Indi ana University Press, 1984 ) Bragg. Melvyn, P. Fa ra, K. O' Brian & j. Hawley, In Our Time: Wo men alld Science ill th e E11ligi7tenll7 ellt. LondO/l (BBC Radio 4, 4th vemb er 2010)


20 THE CURRENT' involvement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organ isation (NATO) in Afgh.mistan is the latest in a long series of attempts by various foreign powers to subjugate, pacify and govern the area effecti\'ely. Rather thall the clear-cut contlict between the forces of liberal democracy and backward, theocratic autocracy, as portrayed by some media news out­ lets, the reality is tbat there are several regional and in ternational powers that have a stake in tile outcome of this situation. These include but are not limited to the NATO-led Internation­ al Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the current Afghan government, the Taliban. a1-Qaeda, various warlords with tribal and ethnic differences, the government of Pakistan and its Inter­ Services Intelligence (lSI). .Each of these organisations has different ob­ jectives concerning tile result of the Afghan conflict. Consequently. they eam have unique and complex rela­ tionships with one another and these are often prone to change. depending on the advantages that alliances and treaties can provide. NATO involvement in his contlict may be called into question as a result of judging its complexities through a lens of moral relativism. Some people may doubt why NATO invaded in the first place, what the reasons are for the continuing occupation and whether these motivations are congruellt with the initial invasion. Additionally, the relationship between tile leaders of the Taliban and al-Qaeda are sometimes less than transparent due to the na­ ture of tl1ese clandestine organisations an d the difficulty in obtaining current, valid data on eilheL Perhaps the most Significant as well as the most fickle of all the players in this 'Great Game' is Pakistan. Officially designated in 2004 by Presidellt Bush as a "major non-NATO al ly" but also frequently accused of harbouring and funding members of the current an ti-govern­ ment Afghan insurgency. including members of tile Taliban, the interests of tl1C Pakistani government and it: military establishment can be espe~ cially difficult Lo pinpoint. In this part of the world, it can be very difficult to know who one's allies are and how long they will re.Il1ain so. In a region shaped by confl jct. the saying "the en­ en1Y of my enemy is my friend" only beginS to describe the intertwined re­ lationships between the various forces at work. A great deal of tI1.e interaction be­ tween tI1e afore.ll1entioned nations and organisations that \ve see in Af­ ghanistan today was catalysed by the Afgha.n-Soviet War (1979. 1989). The Soviet invasion in 1979 was prompted by a request from the President of the tben-communist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan to help quell unrest and maintain

Retrospect their grip on power amidst a growing insurrection. The Soviets responded by invading, murdering the President ofAfghanistan, as well as his son, and installing a new, quasi-puppet head of government ill Kabul. In the context of the Cold War, thjs can be see.n as an effort on the Soviet Union's part to protect their regional interests by retaining a friendly government in the region. ll1e US administration aw an opportunIty to destabilise the Soviet Union by drawing them into a protracted contlict by aiding the anti-government forces. Most nota­ ble amongst these insurgents were the muiallideen. or "those engaged in jihad:' President Reagan called th men "freedom fighters" engaged in a fight against an "evil empire" in what was portrayed as a black and white conflict. Under Operation Cyclone, lTlMly militant Islamic groups were ftUlded, trained and armed by the CIA with the intent of unleashing them against the Soviets and their support­ ers. The consequences of aiding these fighte rs are still being felt today by everyone in Afghanistan and indeed, around the world.

The appeal to jOin the mujahideen drew many fro m across the Muslim world to fight against the atlleist So­ viets. Perhaps the most notorious of these men was Osama bin-Laden. who is also controversially alleged to have received US weapons in the fight against the Soviets. The manner in which these insurgent groups were supported was a major factor in their subsequent evolution throughout the 1980s. Direct US involvement in the Afghan-Soviet War ,vas not an option; thus, third parties were often used

to train and equip the mujahideen. Most important was tbe Pakistani lSI, whicll received aid from the United States as well as other Islamic states, most notably Saudi Arabia, who were fearful of Soviet expansion as well as anti-communist. The Pakistani lSI redistributed funds to the insurgents who most closely fit the ideological mold of the Pakistani leader, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Zia-ul-Haq, criticised and accused of being a Sun ni dictator, diverted fun ds and weapons to insurgent groups who were more religiOUsly extremist. He was able to exploit his pOSition in excl1ange for substantial American economic and military aid. A heavy reliance on Pakistan to decide where to mete out aid, strengthened hard-line elements of the mujahideen. For example. Pakistan routed a dis­ proportionate amount of aid to a man called Gulbuddio Hekmatyar. who has been critiCISed for killing other muja ­ hideen and attacking civilian popula­ tions, including shelling Kabul with American-supplied weapons, causing around 2,000 casualties. According to journalist Robert Kaplan, Pakistan chose to support Hekmatyar because he would be almost totally dependent on Zia-u1-Hag's patron age due of his lack of widespread popular support in Afghanistan itself and he would theoretically be easier to control. Au­ thor Peter Bergen wrote: "b), the most conservative estimates, US$600 mil­ lion in American aid, passed th.rough Pakistan, went to Hekmatyar's party [which] had tI1e dubious distinction of never winning a significant bat­ tic during the war, training a variety of militant lslami.sts from around the world, killing significant numbers of mujal1ideen from other parties, and taking a virulently anti-Western line. In addition to hundreds of millions of dollars of American aid, Hekmat­ yar also received the lion's share of aid from th.e Saudis:' Conversely, Ahmad Shall Massoud, another anti-Soviet fighter would later go on to lead tile Northern Alliance against the Tal iban in tbe 1990s, re­ ceived virtually no ai d from the Unit­ ed States through Pakistan because he wa~ deemed C 'too independent" TIus

was despite the fact that the was by far the most successful mujahideen cam­ mander in battle against the Soviets, he did not resort to the drug trade in order to ftmd his movement, like Hek­ matyar did, and was less religiously e>..tremisL Consequently, Massoud is almost universally regarded as the most morally upright mujal1ideen commander. He was even nominated posthumously for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. After the withdrawal of the Soviets from Afghanistan, Massoud "'a5 of­ fe red pmver whim he used to help broker a peace accord between the various factions who had fought the Sm~ets. The anly fighter to refuse \vas Hekmatyar, who bombarded Kabul with rockets in an attempt to seize total power for himself and establish a fund amentalist rslarnic state. He told one New York TImes journalist "[Afghanistan] already had one a.nd a half million martyrs. We are ready to offer as many to establish a true Islamic Republic:' He was eventually ousted from Afghanistan by Massoud and the Pakistanj government had to look elsewhere to .fin d a warlord who would further their regional interests. lbey found this in the Taliban. Crit­ ics of America's dependence on Pa­ kistan to redistribute financial aid to anti-communist forces have said that it contributed to radical Islarnisation of Afghanistan as well as the weak­ ening and near-diSintegration of the Atghan state. It is ironic to think that American aid to independence fight­ ers probably played a part in the Tali­ ban's takeover of most of Afghanistan in 1996. Due to the inability of the new Af­ ghan government to provide any real security to the Afghan people, chaos largely ensued and a civil war broke out in 1992. Hekmat)'ar and other warlords, supported by countries who saw a chance to furtl1er tI1eir 0"'"'11 strategiC interests during tills time of instability, sum as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Uzbekistan and Pakistan as well as the subsequent v.~thdrawal of American aid and attention, precipitated this conflict. These various fonner muja­ hideen factions failed to establish any kind of coherent, unified government.

'Great Game' tactics


21 Instead, they dissolved into petty tribal warlords who used their previ· ous training and experience fighting the Soviets to carve out their own fiefdoms. Along the Pakistani· Af· ghal1 border the Taliban movement emerged, led by a mullah called Mu­ hammad Omar. Mullah Omar is a quasi-legendary figure of whom very little is actu ­ ally known. No official photos exist of him but he is said to be about 2 metres tall and missing an eye, reported to have been extracted by Soviet shrap­ nel. Backed militarily by the lSI an d students from several madrasas in northwest Pakistan and financially by Saudi Arabia and Osama bin-Laden, the Taliban was able to capture Kabul in 1996 and establish a fun damental­ ist Islamic regime over most of Af­ ghani~tan and providing a haven for other similarly minded Islamic fun ­ damentalist groups such as al-Qaeda. However, despite a great deal of ideo­ logical similarity between these two organisations. they \.vere not always so d osely aligned. Journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave interviewed Mullah Omar in early 2001 and was surprised by the hostility he expressed for bin-Laden. He goes on to say "there is strong evidence that in the late 1990$ Mullah Omar tried 10 crack dovm on Mr. bin­ Laden's activities - confiscating his cell phone, putting him under house arrest and forbidding him to talk to the press or issue fatwas. But then, as the Taliban were deliberating about how to 'disinvite' their troublesome guest after 9/ J1, the United States in­ vaded, bombing th em into a closer al­ liance with al-Qaeda:' This assertion is reflected by former National Secu­ rity Advisor to President Carter, Zbig­ niew BI7.Czinski, when he said of the Afghan people: "they're fighters, and

they prefer to be independent They just happen to have a curious complex - they don't like foreigners \\~ th guns in their country!'

Meanwhile, still without western aid or a Significant alnOwlt of attention. Massoud was resisting the spread of Taliban power an d the influel)ce ofPa­ kistan on Afghan politics. In the area controlled by Massouds Northern Al­ liance, women were able to work and go to school, they did not have to wear the burqa, and while he resisted the Thliban he also tried to convince them to engage in the democratic political process. Despite his sterling creden­ ti al.~ and the nobility of his cause, not much was done to attempt to amelio­ rate the lot of the AfglW1 people llntil the terrorist attacks of September 11 , 200 ) forced the \¥est to intervene. In­ terestingly, during the spring of 200 I Massoud had warne<.! the United tates that he had intelligence regard­ ing all impending attack by al-Qaeda. He also told the European Parliament that without aid from Pakistan the Tal­ iban was bound to collapse because of discontent amongst the Afghans with the heav),- hal1ded authoritarian rule that they were living under. He was murdered on September 9, 2001 by suspected al-Qaeda operati ves. As most will know, the ISAF invaded Afghanistan in October 200 I to appre­ hend Osama bin-Laden and remove

the Taliban from power. One cannot help but imagine that if Massoud were still alive or had been heeded and aid­ ed in the decades past when he warned the west of the evils of men like Hek­ matyar, bin-Laden and Muhammad Omar, the Taliban might no longer he the insurge.nt force that it remains today. Strangel y, the ISAF seems to be doing its best to recreate the very conditions that brought the 1hlib3.11 to power in 1996 by courting various former mujahjdeen leaders to police theiI home districts, thereby compro­ mising the central government's power and legitimacy. Also, the ISAFs strat­ egy depends very heavily on Pakistani co-operation, whidl again eflectively allows the government of Pakistan to dictate a great deal of how successful the west is in defeating the Taliban, de­ spite the fact that members of the Tali­ ban aI·e operating out of Pakistan with relative impunity. Interestingly, US ecretary of State Hilary ClintoD has stated that one of Washington's goals in Afghanistan is to "reintegrate" the ~moderate" clements of the Taliban into the Afghal1 government, despite journalist Thomas Barn ett's assertion that negotiating with the very people the US set out to remove will effective­ ly allow a repeat of the latter half of the 19905 al1d usher in another civil war with Pakistan backing the Taliban. The recent past of Afghanistan leaves many ql\estions fur historians and strategists: Is the West repeating the same mistakes that the Soviet Union made' Ifso, is Afghanistan dOODled to undergo the same degree of upheaval and '....ar that it did in the 1980s and 1990s7 Why did NATO fail to sup­ port Massoud in his efforts against the Taliban in the 1990s or at Jeas! heed his advice? If the Taliban's existence in AfghanistaJ1 was so unpalatable, why

is it tolerated in Pakistan, a theoretical ally in the war on terror? In one sense, things have changed in Afghanistan since in the 19805 in that many former allies are now toes and former foes have come together to fight common enemies. But in another, they have stayed the same: contlicting nations and organisations are fighting one another to r influence in Afghanistan with very destructive results. So much depends on the friends that NATO hooses and supports during its lim­ ited time in Afghanistan. Let us hope, for the sake of the Afghans, that they are not the same ones that the US sup­ ported throughout the) 9805. In this part of the world, odd couples Call lead to confljct with global cansequences.

Bibliography Kaplall, Robert SoldieT's ofGod : With 15lamic Warriors ill Afghallistall and Pakistan, (New York, 200 1) Bergen, Peter L , Holy war. Inc. : imide tlte secret world of Osama bill Lndim, (New York, 200 I) http:// n ew~.bbc. co. uk

http://www.time.com http://www.economist.col11 hltp:llwww.activistmagazine.com ,leiner, Tim (13 March 1994). "Blow­ back. from the Afghan Battlefield': The

New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com http://www.cfr.org

jj

~

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22

YUG OSLAVtA IS often v iewed as an anachronism, a state without a nat ional basis whi ch suppressed its constituent nat ions who have hi s­ tOrically h ated ea.c h other. This atti ­ tude inevitably is fost ered with ret­ rospect, however in th is article we intend to view whether or not there is a case for it. V'le aim to acJlieve this by spot lighting two periods of Yugoslav history, th e in itial Yugo ­ slav slate's conception in 191 7 , an d the break- up of Yugoslav p olitical unity in the 14th C ongress of the League of Communists of Yugosla­ via in 1990 .

\Ale must first say something on union s in general. before looking at Yugoslavi a in particul ar. \,Ve argue that there are two cri teria whi.ch any successful union must fulfi l in order to create a workable state. llle abilit y of the constituent nations to ide nti fy with the supra-state is required. This en ta ils a common perception that the supra-state exists for the ben­

Retrospect

elit of its constituen ts, and defends all members' interests.Secondly, a p ercei ved e conomic and pol il.icaJ adv~ ntage to maintaining the lIn­ ion i ~ desirable. In ess en ce that the nati ons are stron ger together than they are apart a nd t here is thought to be a clear mate rial ad vantage to being economically in tegrated. There are many other case-speci fic fac tors which will have an implica­ tion on a union's success or failure; h.owever, we argue that o th er factors are Signific ant because ot' how they impact on one or both of these two points. It is worth rem inding ourselves of the Europe in wh ich the first Yu­ goslav state existed. The Balkans was emerging from the dom inance oJ two empires: Austria-H ungarian and the Ottoman. In this world im­ perialism was stil l politically accept­ able to promote, and the idea that a nati on was not ready for statehood an d shou ld exist as a veiled vassal under the term "protectorate" was common. Of th e Yugo slav nations, Serbia had an independent history tretching back less than a century, an d, with the exc epti on of Mon­ tenegro, no other futlue state had experien ced modern in depend ­ e nce. At thi s ti me n ation alism wa. only very tentatively m ov ing from the prescrve of th e li terate ed lIcated

elite, no more than 20% of the pop­ ulation in Dalmatia, to the masses. "llie primary objective fo r C roat and Sloven e nationalists was th e throw­ ing o ff of Habsb urg rule, and th ey looked to Serb ia fresh of the back of two m ajor m ilitary victories in th e Balkan Wars (1912 & 1913) to achieve this. Serbian foreign policy had been djctated for nearly a cen­ tury hy the desire to have all Serbs within their state. It is th erefore unsurprising that d uring the First World War, triggered by a Serbian nationalist in the Habsb urg Em­ pire, th e Corfu D ecl arati on (1917) should be made by a gro up n am ing itself the Yugoslav Commi ttee. Key points of the declaration in­ cluded: I. The State of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, who are also known by the name... Yugos lavs, will be a free ... indivisible territory... with the Karagorgevich ISerbian royal family ] dyn asty, which has always shared the ideals ... of tb e nation in placing ... the nationa l liberty and will at its head. 3. This State will have one coat-of­ ,U'Il1S, only one Hag, and ont' crown 4. 111e four different flags of the Serbs, C roa ts, and Slovenes will h ave equ al righ ts ... 5. The three national denomina­

tion s .. are all equal before the law ... 6. 111e two Cyrillic and Latin al pha­ bets also have tbe sam e rights ... 7....The O r thod ox, Roman Catho ­ lic. an d M ussulman IMuslim] reli ­ gions ... will be equal ... 9. The territory of the Serbs, Croat s, and Slovenes will comprise aU the territ ory where our nation lives ... 13 . ... Thus th e united nation of Serbs, Croations, and Slovenes will form a state of twelve million inhab­ itants. This State will be a guarantee of tJl eir nationa l independen ce ... an d a powerful rampart agai nst the pressure of the Germans ... Th e di$tinction made between 'nation' and 'nationa.1 denomination' imp lies that the Yugoslavs are one nation, of three con stit uent pa rts; as opposed to three nations, hut one state. The refore, the decl aration s tates as fact a contentious issue. It promotes essentially the stan dpoint of classic n inteen tb century nation­ alism that peoples of shared lan ­ guage, culture and history have the righ t to form distinct and eth nically h omogenous nation stales. How­ ever, whilst promot ing thi s idea, it tacitly recogn ises tbe di ffi cu lty of this in respect to Yu goslavi a. It is debatable to what extent a people who officially had three eth­ nic names, fOllr flags and th ree reli­ gions CaIl be cons idered one people. Th ere is even conside rable debate as to wh at ex tent the territory of Yu­ goslavia was linguistically similar at this time. Wh en one considers that m any late n ineteenth cenhlTY think­ ers envisaged Bulga ria as a mem­ her of a future South Slav statc the declaration becomcs more fra ught with dilti culties. Again , con text is paramo wlt. The docu ment comes from Corfu afte r the Central Pow· ers invasion of Se rbia ended in Serb evacuatioll, an d Austrian and Bu lgarian occupation. Th ose who ma de the declaration could not have anti cipated the emasculation of the Habsbu rg Monarchy a ft er the First World War, and in this context it is clearl y explicable wby South Slavs from the Au stro -Hungarian Empire should identify with Serbia and attempt union. 1hcy eq ually could not have anticipated a Europe largely free from fear of invasion, and t.herefore did not think much for the prospe cts ot' an independent Croatia or Sloven ia. In an imperialistic climate the tendency wa ~ toward larger states, and an aspirational nationalism flourished in territori es which had known no independence for cen ­ turies. Therefore, the admiration and desire for union with Serbia is entirely understandable, and could


23 eyen be considered the most geo-po­ liticalJy sound move to make. Furthermore, the fourteenth Con­ gress of the League of1'ugos]av C am ­ mlln ists raised two key issues; he Eu ­ ropean Community, ~o on 1.0 be tlle European Union. and the fall of Eu ­ ropean C(lm m unism . The breakup of the Warsaw Pact helped to speed up an al ready apparen t process of democratisation. However, the EC is argu ably th e m ore im portant fac ­ tor. 1l1e EC carried an a5SlU1lIlCe that W3]" at least in 'Western and Centra l Europe, was extremely unlikely. as was the th reat of domination. ln stead there was the prosp ect of joining one of the largest single markets in the world, an d the promise of develop­ ment aid. -rhe EC offered an alterna­ tive to economi c union with the rest of Yugosla\~a . This allure should not be un derestimated for the debt-laden Yugoslavia oftlle 19808, and referring back to om criteria for a successfu l union our second point is of para ­ mOLlnt importance here. Sloveni a in 1989 provided 25 peT cent of tbe federal government of Yu­ gosJ;l\~a's budget, whilst containing ouly 8 per cent of tbe tot al p opula­ tion , 1his in evitabl y begged the q ues­ tion did Slo"enia need Yugoslavi a? There were now gen uin e argu ments to question the economic or political necessity of un.ion. However, it is debatable whether an economic a rgument will ever be a conclusive o ne, as the majority of the populati on will not kn ow th e statistics. What is significant is the manner ill which economic fa ctors interplay with others. Th e identity of the Yugoslavs post-World War Two is a di ffi cul t issue wi th no conclusions. Yugoslav cen su~es show that m ore people in 1989 identified them selves as Yugoslav than at any other lime, but this still only made up less than 10 per cent of the tot-al population. It is likely that the experience of World War Two destroyed any chance of a unitary Yugoslav state. Th e N azi ­ backed Independent State of Croatia cast a shad ow across the decades re­ emerging in t he Serb m edia of the early 90s. whkh often cast the na­ tionalist C roats as Fascists. Eq ually C roats did nor enjoy the memory of the Serb-dominated Kingdom of1'u­ goslavia, viewing tlle <lttempts of the monarchy to replace all the nationa li ­ ties with Yugoslav as Serb national ­ i~srn , In this context a federal system of the typ e created by Tito was argu­ ably the only option, although it has often been commented t hat Tito may have been the only one who could have beld it together. It seems od d that out of a statt' origin ally called Th e TG ngdom of tb e Serbs, Croats, an d Slovenes, six sepa­

rate successor states have emerged, but this is a clear in heritan ce ofTito's policy toward tbe Yugoslav nationali­ ties. Unlike th e monarch ist attempt at a un itary state, Tito created a fed­ eration of five republics. In order to m ake the Serb majorit y m ore man­ ageable he split Serbia from what had been known as So uth Serbia, now th e FYR of M acedonia, and created two autonom ous regions, Vojvodina with its H ungarian m inority. an d the ma­ jority Albanian Kosovo. Tito's policy in cluded how ethnic expression was to be regulated, promoting smaller nationalities wh ilst suppressing the larger ones. For instance in his sup­ port of a separate Slavic Macedonian identity he offset Bulgarian and Serb nationalism, whilst snubbing G reek territorial claims. What is today the Mace donian language is mutually in­ tel ligible with that of western Bulgar­ ian, and variou, nationalist groups have portrayed the people as Weste rn Bulgarians, Southern Serbs, Slavi­ cized Greek~, o r Slavic Macedonians separate from all three. 1l1ere are no conclusive answers. By January 1990 tbe Yugoslav

Com munist League kn ew that it had to cope with a period of reform, but there was 110 consensus on the solu ­ tio n. By this time the 'one people, man)' tribes' concept of the fi rst Yu­ goslavia wa~ so heaVily discred ited as to be defunct, even TitQ's ' brother­ hood an d unity' catchphrase had lost ,m y truth it may have had. Since Tito's death ethnic politics steadily began to domin ate the Yugoslav political scene, and phrases sllch as 'Greater Serbia' re-emerged . The three key delegations at the congress were the Slovenians, the C roatians and the erbians. Slovenia was more afilu­ ent and more liberal than the rest Yugoslavia, and had come with a list of constitutional amendments de­ signed to make Yugoslavia a looser confederation. "The Slovene commu­ nist party had already changed its nam e to the 'ZKS - Party of Demo ­ cratic Refonn' in the month before the congress, only keeping the token acronym (or League of Com m unists of Slovenia. C roatia was tbe second largest republic and contained a si ze­ able Serb min ority, however, in th e

or

years and months leading to the con­ gress C roat nationalisIll was la rgely muted. 'Th is has been seen as evi­ dence of the effectiveness of T itoist repression. However, it also shows that tbe break-up of Yugoslavi a was not ~1 foregone conclus ion. vVe should not fall into th e trap of anachronism , expect ing extreme nationalisms even at this d ate. just because of what developed later. It was not until the month after the Congress that the first meetin g of the Croat nationalist 'C roatian Demo­ cratic Union' took place, Serbia had been going thwugh a period of in ­ te.nse nationalism since Slo bodan Milosevic had come to power in 1987 on the back of crisis in Kosovo. Milosevic is a di fficult character to understand, va rio usly cast as an ex­ treme nati onalist or a power bungry pragmatist. Regardles5, be success­ full y used national ism, took conl1"01 of the Kosova n, Vojvo di n and Mon­ tenegrin pa rties, and then chan ged th e constitution of Serbia. Th is meant that Milosevic could guarantee their votes as well as Serbia's, and came to th e congress with constitutional amendments designed to strength en the Yugoslav central government. In the event the congress did n ot lasl long. Each Slovenian proposal was voted down to cheers from the Ser­ bian representalives. eventually lead­ ing to th e Slovenes walking out to more applause. Th e Serb attitude an d voting m,ljority without the Slovenes prompted the Croats to leave as weli, opeJling th e door to Yugoslavia's col­ lapse. As iJlevitable as Yugoslavia's dis~ integration looks in retrospec t, we should never view it as such. It is a poignant ill.ustration of the mistakes not to make when building a wlion ­ state. The Kingdom of Yugos.lavia launched itself on the wrong foot, ro­ mantic nationalism created a uni tary state with a weak constitutional mod­ elthat proved unable to cope with its constituent nati o n a liti e~. Even the horrors o( the Second World War did not destroy Yugoslavia; it is interest­ ing to Dote that lhis period is often referred to as a civil war. The Yugo­ slav Fede.ration was much more likely to succeed, but failed to understand its own ethnic make- up. For all Tito's ahility to control the state, his su p­ pression of the larger nationalities directly led to the Serb nati.onalist resurgence of the 19805. Communist states have histo rically been weak at providing long term fi nancial se­ curi ly, and whatever 'Brotherhood and Unit)' may have existed proved unable to weather the dire financial straits of the late 19805. O ne C3J1I10t isolate a pOint of no return, or a key guilty party, but it is diffiClllt not to

"ee the 14 th Congress and MlJosevic's action s as of paramoLlnt importance. However, these are both results of a reality rather than e.xplicit causes. Yugoslavia failed because of its handling of identities, not beca use of the identiti",_, them selves. If a na ­ tion is unable to express itself pub­ lid)' within a union- state th en one can expect they would be unlikely to subscribe to the supra-identity. In the fi nanciall y secure Tilo era, bol­ stered by hL<; personality, th is did not mean the end of the state. bu t when financial hardship ~et ill long dor­ nant nationalisms rose the stronger. Milosevic himself is something of an enigma, but th e fact he was able to dominate the ethnicaUy Serb repub­ lics an d provinces signalled the real­ ity of the situation. In the end it can be argued that YugoslaVia did not fail because it was made up of suppressed nations th at historically hated each other, but because there was no clear defi nition of what it meant to be a Yugoslav. Underpinning national identities are shared myths of origin , and a convic­ tio n of a shared experience of history. Th e words 'm yth' aDd 'conviction' are all important, as perception is ulti­ mately what will win out and in Yu­ goslavia any th oughts of shared iden­ tit)' ultimately di d not , as opposed to could not, emerge.

Bibliography Christopber, Yugoslavias Bloody Col/ap"e: Callses, COllrse and COl/sequences, (I 995, Hurst)

Bennett,

Benson, L. YugoslaVia: A COllcise History, (2001, Palgrave) D ragnich, A. N. , The Fir,,1 Yugoslavia, (1983, Hoover) lsakovic, Z. Jdentity alld Security ill Former Yllgosiavia, (2000, Ashgate) jovic, D.., Yugoslavia: a State thai lVithered Away, (2009, Purdue) Lampe. J. R., Yugoslavia as History: Twice there was a Coulltry, (2nd eein. 2000, Cambridge) Sekulic, Massey & Hodsoll, 'Who Were the Yugoslavs? Failed Sources of a Comm on Id entity in the Form er Yugoslavia: in A merica n Sociological Rc'lIiew, VoL59, (Feb., 1994) pp.S3· 97, Silber. L., & Little, A., Tile Death (!( Yugoslavia. (1 1)95, Penguin)


24

Retrospect

assesses the value of Clifford Geertz's theory of culture in historical scholarship


25 AS DiE scope of wh at is deemed a valid fi eld of h isto ri cal stu dy expands, the b oun daries b etween hist or y an d anthropology have become m ore porous and increas­ ingly overlapping. Both di scipli nes have benefited en o r mousl}' fr om frui tful intellec tu al cross- pollina­ tion. Whilst the impo rtati on of anthrop olo gical techn iques an d methodologies has proved usefu l, esp eci a.l ly in th e fie ld of cultural history, the m eth od ologies an d con cepts sb o u.l d be utili sed gin­ gerl y a.nd self-con sciously in th e process of historical sc holarsh ip. 'v" h ilst all owing anth ropology to dictate what is stu d ied certai nly i dangerous, inco rp oratin g theo ret ­ ical meth odolo gies an d co ncep ts of culture to reform th e m eans by wh ich we study hi stor y can prove, if modified, ve r y useful. O ne o f th e most si gni fic ant cross fe r til isa­ tio n fro m an anthropologist iJlto hi, tory is tlle cLlllt ribu tion mad e by Clifford Geert.z, to the exte nt wh ere h e has been desc ribed by some as so methi ng of an 'a mbas­ sador fro m anth ropo logy' to an un de.rstandin g o f culture as a semi otic system . By li mit in g what is imp() rted from anthrop ology to cultu ra l theo r y o f Geertz, we ca n onl )'" speak of a par tnership b e­ tween Histo ry and Ant hro pol ogy if we aSS llme th at Anthropology retains its mono poly of the con ­ cept of cul ture and its Tole with in a gi ven society. This is n ot to suggest th at Geertz's theo ri es sho uld not he imported in to h istorica l stud y un­ mo d ified, nor that e. ve ryt hi ng he ha.d to S3 Y on the subject of in te r­ disciplinary study is w ithout fau lt. Many of h is theories need exten ­ sive reworking to be fa cto red into mo dern histo ricis m and , for th at matter. modern an thr opology. Fo r example, the task of the ethDogrn­ pher. as envisaged by Geertz, is to con fr ont 'the sam e gra nd reali ties that o Lhers- Histo ri ans, econo­ mists, political scienti st$, soci­ ologists- co n fron t in more fatefu l sett ings'. If the ethnogr ap her is defin ed by his study of 'ext remely small matters' and the histo rian by what in the past is 'grand' ; any at­ tempt to base an in terd isciplin ary app ro ach on such rigid and dated di scipli n ary bou ndaries of anthro ­ pology an d hi stor y can trivia.! ise t11 e obj ect of stud y . if we chose to d efi n e anth rop ologically aware h isto ry as th e h istor y of what Geertz term s 'obsc ure' cul tures , we ru n th e ri sk of creat ing h ie rarc hies of bis toricaJ stud y by deem ing the hi story of thes e comm unit ies as no t worth y of in clus io n within h is 'grand realities' oEmo re t rad iti on al schools of historical th ought. This

underst an d ing of ethn og rap hi ca l­ ly-influen ced h istory is ex tremely dated: the jou rnal Ethn ohistory proclaimed its devot ion to 't.!l e do cum entar y his to r y of th e cul­ tu re and movem ents of prinlitive peopl es' in its fi rst iss ue in 1955 . Thi s co ncep t of a useful part ner­ ship between h isto r y and anthro­ p ology sho u ld be co n sidered an an ac bro n ism an d dul y relegated to tbe pas t. PlaC in g a society or culture as inferior or un de rd evel­ op ed wh en co m p ared to an other is an h igh ly poli ticized ter m an d by defi n ing t he history of m argi.n ­ alised or peripheral gro ups previ­ o usly t.!lo ught to be beyon d the pale of 'emp irical' histoq' in th is man ner we run th e ri sk of crea ting a sense of hi sto ricaJ 'o tllern ess' wh.ich is ill heren tly infer ior as it is ex pliCitl y d efined as ou twit h th e 'n orm al', traditio n al hi sto rica l n ar­ rative. Th is epistemological con ­ dem n ati on of a cultu re reinforces m iscon cep tio ns con cernin g hi er­ arch ies of cu ltu re, It places 'regu­ lar' histor y, the history o f 'grand rea lities' to paraph rase Gee rtz, upo n a h igher tier tban th e histor y o f margi nali zed or geo graphicall y d ista nt 'triba l' ~ocieti es , the sort of grou ps th at Eth nohistory deem ed 'p rimitive' ill the introduction to th e fi rst iss ue of th e journal ill 1955. By exten sion, t he nati on s and poli ti cal or so cia.! b odies that are the p rodu cts of 'gran d' his tory are p laced above t he marginali zed groups in t he p resent.

O f co urse, th is argum en t rests a co nce ptio n of wha t a fm itful interdiSCipli n ar y stud y bet wee n hi stor y an d anthropology co uld ac hi eve and an especiall y anach ­ ron istic view of ant hrop ology as exd usively concern ed with iso ­ late d and tr iba l societ ies . Perhap s as a respo nse to t.!lcse co n cerns of writ ing from such a polit ic ized p ersp ecti ve anth ropolo gists, ha ve sin ce grea tly expan de d thei r scope of wh at constitute s legi tima te 0 11

stud y. Thi s p erh aps ca n be con ­ tributed to th e d l angi ng p olitical an d intellectual land scape t hat Gellner alluded to when he sng­ gests that Positi vism is a fo rm of imperial ism, th at 'objectiv e fac ts and generaliza tions aTe th e tools of d omination'. The concep t of an id ea li st, obj ective und erst nnd ing o f a culture and l he wes tern cla im fo r this objective understand ­ in g, can b e see n as in extrica bl y li nked to Imp eriaJj stic di alog ue, res tin g, as it does, on th e assum p­ ti on that the 'western' m od e of co mpreh enSio n and co nsc io us­ ness is th e mind 's defa ult sett ing, rather th an a co ntinge ncy. TIle co ntin ge nt nature of mo des of hum an und erstandin g is all ud ed to by Geer tz. and is impli cit in hi, th eo ri es of meaning. Hence th e n arrow topical scop e of histor y and ant.llropolog y an d th e impos i­ tion of a sing ular an d supposedly obj ecti ve re alit y is, fo r Ge lln er, a tool of oppression. RealiSi n g th at t hi ~ criticis ms arc bas ed upo n an outd ated un dersta ndi.n g of wh at histo ri ans and anth ropologists stu dy and to e nvisage an inle rd.is­ ciplin ary mean s of in vestigatio n bu ilt on th e bas is of a th eo retical framework imported from cultur­ al ant h ropology for investigating a cul ture, ra th er th a.ll allmving an arch aic m odel of anthropol ogy to di ctate what is to be studi ed. As suggested previously, an th ro ­ polog y can p rove to he a use fu l p artner to hi sto ri cal scholarshi p is n ot thro ugh what is to be stu d ied but how. Bro ad ly speakin g, Geer tz advoca tes a new unde rstan din g of culture as a symboli c system of meanin g, t hereby facilitating an exa m ina ti on of th e symbolic di ­ m ensio n of social ac t ion to aJl ow t he h isto rian a great er understand­ i.n g into th e Sign ificance of certain ac ts. Whilst thi s p artn ership be­ tween h istor y and anthropolo gy has p roduced insightful wo rks, such as Na talie Ze mo n Oa\' is's 1] l e Return of Mar ti n Guerre an d Ro ber t O ar nton's The Great Cat M assacre, it too is not without its dangers. However, unlik e a union betwee n histor y an d an thropol­ ogy th at stip ul ates what is to be studi ed, tb e d angers ar e m erely in ­ grained rath er than in trinsic and can b e overcom e. Gcc:rtz's un ­ derstandin g of culture is se miotic and attempt to u nderstand cu ltu re is all inter pret ive, rat her than an anaJ yti cal ac t. A cult u ra l sy m bol, or an asp!'c t of a cultural sy m bol, is defin ed by Gee rt z as 'tan gible formatio ns of n oti ons, <Ib stra c­ tion s fr om ex p eri en ce fi xed in perceptibl e fo rm s' and condi ti on our m eall S of experience. C ultu ral mean in g, for Geertz, is embodi ed

within pu bli ca.l.ly ava ila ble sym ­ b ols. Therefore, aD att empt to ga in an u nde rstandin g of the syste m of mea nin g. or even an und erstand­ ing of th e operation of Geertz's sym bols \\fithi n th c system, wo uld a llow deeper inSight into th e Sig­ nificance of ce rt aLn hi storica l acts which invoke or pert ain to, th e aforemen tioned system of mea n ­ ing. Cu lture. in thi s und erstand­ ing, becomes the mean s till'ough wh ich ma n kind und erstands the world arou nd th em, by establish­ ing m eta phorical relations b e­ tween signifi efs and utilising signs and metaphors to medi ate th e world around them.

There ar c probl cms with Gee rtz's theor y. which has im plicati ons for how it can b e successfully im port­ ed into hi storic al st udy. Cultur al sign ilie l"s are prese nt ed as hav ing fixed mea n ing, for e.xa m ple, h is semin al ess:Iy Notes on a Balinese ockfi ght sugges ts th e cockfight is a means o f expression of Bal­ inese soc ial hi erarch y an d statu s. It is fro m the asserti on of a fi xed and d irec t rel ati onship between signi fier and sig niti ed tha t th e problem s ar ise. The impli cati on of th e asserti on of the stabil ity of symb ol ic mea ning is that culture is static an d unc hanging. How can a cult ural syste m change if it s constit uent sym bols are fixed in m ea ni ng' It is exceedin gly d iffic u.lt to reco ncile Geertz's presentati on of culture as an abistorical entity and cultural signifi ers as lllo nose­ mous with th e implication th at cultural systems are the pri mar y determin ant of all reali ty, histori ­ calo r ot h erwi se, and thus are th e engine of hi stori cal change. Pu r the rm ore, Geertz's repre ­ se ntat ion of Bali nese cult ure in otes on a Bali nese Cockfi ght cann ot claim, as Gee rtz does,th at th e cockfi gh t is a metaphor for ali nese culture as a whole. 111 cockfi gh t cann ot be, as Geert7. s uggests, a symb ol wh ich 'fo rms and discovers' Ba li nese society's tem per wh e.n by hi s own admit­ ta.nce. only men of ce r tai n social stand ing are all owed to engage in cockfig htin g whi ch Ge ertz be­ lieves hol ds litt le fU Il cti on a] va lue an d op erates pri marily on the )'TTlbolic level. Women, children, and


26

Retrospect other marginalised groups are treated as peripheral or insignificant They have little or no involvement with the cock­ fight and so are denied incorporation \\~ thin the cultural system a~ imagined by Geertz. As well as painting an overly simplified picture of Balinese rulture and denying the subaltern partidpation \~thin rills overly simplified picture, the belief in a single, unitary cultural system for a single society. Creating an artifi­ dal sense of a singular, unltary culture associated \~ a given society homog­ enizes intemal rultural difii!rcncc and can become a means of enforcing or­ thodoxy, espedall), ifthe singular culture created, in rills case formed around the Io/mbolic value of the cockfight, is that of the social elite, as in the case of Balinese village life. Sewell goes as far to suggest that the reason that many contemporary anthropologists are uncomfortable with the teon 'culture' as it is often employed in efforts to impose a certain coherence upon rultural practice. In e.xplaining cultural diiference at an inter-sociallevcl, Gccrtz can be accused of pla)'ing down the intra-sodal cultural cliffercnces. However, both of these problems when trying to fushlon a means of un­ derstanding past cultures can be over­ come by deco~tructing Geert7.s overly rigid symbolic system of culture. B)' recognising the multifaceted, poJyserrUc and highly contextual meaning of cer­ tain symbols. we create the possibility of nwnerous cultures within an indMdual society; competing, overlapping and, when scrutinized by anthropologists and historians, allowing tbe recovery or creation ofa more democratic picture of the past than would have been possible if the past cultural system was understood to have been singular. furthennore. an understanding of cultural systems as fluid and plural alJows us to examine systems which exist on a trans-societal and sub-societal level. not only freeing us from an understanding of a single 'culture' relating to a single sociel)\ but allo~ng the exarrUnation of As William H. Sewell noted, the con­ cept of multiple fluid cultural structures is capable of explaining the existence of subjects m th a ",.jde variety of interests, capabilities and knowledge on the as­ sumption that subjects are formed by structures. CoUapsing the binary oppo­ sition of symbol and concept into chains of subjective meaning can also allow us to recondle the idea of culLural systems as the primary deteJminant of reality and allow tor that system to change and develop over time: rultum! systems are created and recreated through human action. In fact, use of the word 'creation' in this context is suggestive of a sense of causation and is misleading. Perhaps it would be more constructive to describe the relationship between material and conceptual realityas simultaneous. Since the meaning of the constituent symbols ~thin the encompassing system is sub­

jective and contextual, recreations or en­ actments of a.UturaJ systems in differing chronological conte>..'ts result in a fluid and dynamic cultural system, or plural­ it)' of systems, mthin a given society. partnership behveerl anthropology and history is perhaps too loose a term to describe the utilisation of a concept ofculture as plural. fluid and competing structures whidJ act as the primary de­ terminant of our reality and our ability to conprehend the world around us. What constitutes history and anthropology now encompasses so much that to ques­ tion the extent one discipline can pr<rve useful in partnership lo the other seems a redundant question. The answer I have suggested, that ahea~ modified system of cultural understanding based loosely upon the theories of Oifford Geertz, ~ upon the assumption that anthro­ po]ogy has a monopoly on theories of cuIrure. GeertU; theory of culture is of value in as much as it stipulates that our means of undemanding the world is fa­ dlitated through rultural symbols. This has value not only in historical scholar­ ship. emphasising the significance ofacts that pertain to these cultural symbols, but impliciJ. in this stateJnent is the assertion that our own means of comprehension is,as William H Sewell su~ted, not necessary but a contingency. This is of enormous value of historians when in­ vestigating the past an awareness of the impossibility of a positivist and objec­ tive understanding. In fact, it denies the very existence of such an wlderstanding rather than imagirung it as some W)­ reachable ideal wbich, although it can­ not be achieved. should nonetheless be strived towards. Some may argue that the lesson of subjective modes compre­ hension is as much a contingency and a product of a specifie mindscape as an)' other means of comprehension yet this does not undennine thevalidityn of the statement: this criticism of the coolin­ gene)' of means ofunderstanding based upon fluid and plural rultural systems relies upon the very assertion it attacks to validate ilsel£

Bibliography William Ii. SewelL Logics ofHistory S0­ cial TIJeOry and Social Transformation, Chicago University Press (2005) IctoriaE.BonneJ and Lynn Hunt (eds). Be)umi the OJitural 7iun; New Dirc:.c­ tions i ll the Study ofSociety and Culture, University ofCalifornia Press (1 999) Clifford Geertz TIle Interpremtion ofCul­ lures, Basic Books (2000)

Ernest Gellner, Pas!modemism, Reason and Religion, Routledge (1992) Kirsten Hastrup Routledge (1992)

Other

Histories


27

eVleW

THE FOCUS on the mam moth fig­ ures of Hitler and Stalin in history frequently overshadows the men, women and children who lived be­ tween their empires. Their domestic policies have been analysed count­ less times, but we rarely hear the his­ tory of the geographical intersection ravaged by their ambitions, nor do we consider the individuals affected . In his book Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin, Timothy Snyder aims to redress the balance as he identifies today's Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and eastern Bal­ tic coast as the forgotten battle­ ground of conflicting ideology. World War Il took a dispropor­ tionate amount of victims from these 'bloodlands' and the new an­

gle from which Snyder attempts to approach his topic is reflected in the startling statistics he presents: "During the years that both Sta­ lin and Hitler were in power, more people were killed in Ukraine than anywhere else ill the blood lands, or in Europe, or in the world'~ In this book, Snyder argues that the symbiotic relationship between H itler an d Stalin was played out in the region he is focusing on. When domestic poliCies for either dictator went awry the 'bloodlands' took the blow. These countries were either purged as convenient scapegoats or drained od their natural resources to supplement shortfalls in the moth­ er-countries, Germany or Russia.

\Vhen Russia experienced famines due to the failures ofcollectivisation, half of Ukraine's harvest was forCibly requisitioned. This led to the "great­

est artificial famine in the history of the world" in Ukraine during 1933. Snyder notes that this great Ukrain­ ian famine was used by Hitler in h is election campaign to illustrate the failures of MaLXism , to great effect. Snyder'S book is undoubtedly riveting, fast-paced and well-re­ searched. He is particularly adept at explaining vast chunks of his­ tory in an authoritative and con­ cise manner, the introduction be­ ing a superbly succinct summary of the lead-up to World War II, which sets the scene for the analy­ sis of the 'bloodlands' excellently. The book is extremely rich as complex ideological theory alld broad contextual overviews are interspersed with quotes, diary ac­ counts of victims and even verses from traditional peasants' laments. We also learn about culture specific reactions to the policies of Hitler and Stalin, for example Ukrain­ ian peasants feared joining the col­ lectives as they believed that the), would be making a pact with devil However, Snyder's book seems to primarily focus on Ukraine and Poland, neglecting the rest of the countries defined as being part of the investigation at the outset, such as Belarus and the Eastern

Baltic states. At times the focus on the 'blood lands' themselves is lost in the contextualisation. At times the book feels ILke an ac­ count of Hitler and Stalin's domes­ tic policies - debatably topics that have been exhausted historically.

To the reader it seems that the sell­ ing point of this book was identified wrongl),; its unique interest lies not in the examination of the 'blood­ lands' but in the vivid portrayal of the trials and tribulations of indi­ vidual victims. Snyder's work is an interesting new approach to the history of a region caught between two ideologically opposed dictators, united for a short while by both an unlikely strategic allia.nce and a to­ tal disregard for the lives of those who lived between their domains.


Retrospect

28

RESET

lUN, rt.'u",. ""'0 AMurCA'S FUTURE

M ERICAN POLlCY in th e i\1 id ­ dIe Enst is d o omed to failu re lln ­ less pa radigms are s h ifted, at least in th e vie w o f Th e N ew York T imes' former bureau chief i n Turkey, German y a nd N ica ragu a, Steph en Kinzer. III his new work: Reset:

hall , 1ilrkey, llnd America's Fu ture, Kinzer add resses tb e las t century of Turki sh an d Ira nian hi story whilst focasing espeda Il )' on American invol vement in the region , argu ­ ing that a hegemony established by th ese three states wo uld not be as u nlikely as so m e migh t th ink. In a refres hingl), clea r mid struc­ tu red work, Kim~e r fir~ l se ts out hi s view of the modern histor ies of Iran and Turkey. foc usi ng on the ir d emocrati c movem en ts ,u ld hi storic t ies with the West. The democ ratic societies that flo ur­ islwd at certa in periods in Iran and Turkey's hi stories were , th e au thor argu es, an internal project, rather than imposed h y Western idealists.

Ind eed. Am erica a nd Britain were sh own to have dDne m ore to stille democr ac y in Jra n than any other fo rce, at least before 1979 . Th e outcry and open revolt at th e Ira nian election results in June 2009 is touch ed upon as an exampl e o f th e strengtb of d emocratic feel­ ing in a nation o fte n ca ricatu red as co ns crv ati, 'e a nd closed, whiLst ex­ ampl es o f progressive mo vem ent, in both nati ons are o utlined with pass io n. The s tories of indiv id ual s suc h as H oward Baskervill e, th e ebraska-bo rn teacher who di ed leading lo cal scho o lb oys into bat­ tle agai.nst forces t rying to cru sh the emerging Iran ia n de mocracy in 1909.

, .. '\. .J l" 111 I 1 L r,~ t :L I r' ~i 11, TurLl''.' ,111L1 .\111erkJ, \\'()rki:1~ tU:::L,thcr

tll

rc,n I\'t' Lorn mi ',n 1"'­ "LlC~

The autbo r later exp lores th e o ld relatio nships bet wee n t he Unit ed Stales and Israel an d th e Uni ted Stales a nd Saudi Arab ia which h ave d o minated the region a nd Ameri can polic y in recen t decades; co nclud in g th at they were formed a round sho rt -te rm po lic y and more li kely to hold back progress than promo te it.

Finally, Kinzer reach es a con­ clusion th at wou ld have been su r­ prising if he hadn't led th e reader bi' the han d so me thodical ly: a tab ilisin g coalition of a de ll) o­ cratic Iran, Tm key and Am e ri ca, wo rking togeth er to resolve the is­ sues causcd by th e shor t-term a nd selfish p olicies of the last hun dred years. In h is own words, the au th or's argum en t "s um mon.s the logiC of history to ad dress the futu re", plainl y showing that three socie­ ti es that see m so d issi m ilar are, jn his view, united by deep- runuing democratic p assio ns and a re th ere­ fore pe rtec t pa rt ners fo r a stabilis­ ing 'power-t riangle' in th e region. One criti cis m th at migh t, h owever, be levell ed at the author is th at al ­ th oug h hi s vision is rna d e st ron g an d clear, the met hods by wh ich he beLieves it might be realised are no t. Kin zer brin gs fresh . if slightl fanci ful , id eas to an old pro blem, drawn fr om his d ee p kn owledge of ,1iddle Eastern history and p o li ­ ti cs, as well as yea rs of experienc in this vibrant region. A region. thJt in his vi ew, need not be rav­ aged by co ntlict, if on l), twen ti­ eth-century policy mi ght be re ad­ dressed a n d potentially cven rese t, allow in g hitherto u nlikely rela ­ tionsh ips to fl o u rish .


29

THE ART c-'Ch ibition Mirrors sees an unu sual collaboration between t he alional Galleries of Scotland and prisoners in fi ve Scottish jails. Par! a project called ']mpiringChangi this p rogramme of ar t intervention aims to prove the ben eficial impact of arts on offen ders an d on the proc­ ess of the ir rehabilitation. Taking inspi.ration from portrait coll ections in the National Galleries the project forced the in mates to take a frank look at themselves and helped them to understan d the effect that com ­ mitting crimes had on themselves and their victims. The ()utcome is M irrors, a powerful exJlibition con­ Glining surprisingly high -quality artwor:ks.

ach jail took part in a di ffe rent project under the gu idance of a pro­ fessional artist to produce portraits in di fferent mediums. Prisoners neariIlg the end of their $cntences wer e asked to take photos of what they felt expressed 'home' to them, wb ilst on leave from th e prison, Ma.ny of the ph otos were modest images of a c()mforting lounge or bedroom. which rem inds the viewer the simple thing~ that are lost when imprisoned. However some were tainted with sadness as some pris­ oners felt like str angers in th eir own homes, due to the long ti me th at had passed whiht t hey were <1W3)'. The theme of 'time' appeared through many of the pieces i.n the appear­ an ce of clocks, obviously someth ing th at pla}'s he,wily on inmates minds

whilst stuck inside. In a video dis­ played in th e exllibition that docu­ mented the artist ic process the pris­ oners went through, one e..x-prisoner commented on how time Slops in prison, ins tead of progressing you miss out on things like getting mar­ r ied and having chil dren , For those inside indefinit ely it is sometimes a case of forgetting the outside as if it no longer exists whi ch seem s like an incomprehensible task for those outside. Female prisoners pro du ced screen p ortraits in whi ch they created a fictional character to ('''-press t.heir current situation or their hopes and regrets. One piece that stood out called 'Freedom' showed a woman truggli ng to wrench a chain from around her neck symbolic of being 'im prison ed: literally and mentally. Anolher project saw priso ners con­ structing life-size graphic characters of themselves, wh ich enabled them to face themselves on a one to one scale encouraging di scussion about th ei r past actions. A task th at some prisoners found difficult, choosing instead ID cover the faces of thei r characters. Paintings by long-term prisoners also conta.ined 'faceless' portraits perhaps reflective of a sense of loss of identity and isolat ion. Fi­ nally through a graphic novel project prisoners p roduced short narratives dealing with crime or their escapist visions within 'cells' or boxes mir­ roriJ1g prison life. i'vfino,'s is an insight into th e lue of a prisoner. This unlikely union was undoubtedly a success as many Df the prisoner. saw future prospects in the fiel d of art after taking part. 'Ihe cxhibition challenges you to reassess your opinions on people in prison as their art uncovers tbeu vulnerable side and remind~ us that these peD­ pIe have numerous talents and are more than just 'criminals:

POLITICAl HISTORY has seen a vast array Df unlikely unions; the W'N il allied rat pack of Church­ ill, Roosevelt and Stalin, Northern Ireland's version of tbe C huckle brothers - Ian Paisley and Martin McGui.ness, or Sarah Patin's candi­ dacy for the office of the American vice President. Yet what could pos­ ibly be considered the mDst im­ portant unlikely union of them all, a relationship that dominated and shaped British politics for nearly two decades - is the Tony Blair and Gor­ don Brown ITlarri age. Judging by just the index of the former's autobiography, A fou rney, the Blair - Brown relationsh ip forms a large part of the fo rmer P.M's mem ­ 0irs' much greatl!l' thall either two of Blair's closest aids - Mandelson and ampbel l. Since its publication in September 20 10, tile media have de­ voured the autobiography for its ac­ count of the Blair and Brown years. 111(' SOllnd bites that filled our news­ papers and TV screens presented a PM wh o thought his ChancellDr to be "mad dening" and a Chan ceLlor who tbought his PM to be an "empty vessel." There are stories of Blair re­ fusing to speak with Brown: "Poor Jon [an adviser] would come in and say: 'The chanceIJor really wa nts to speak to yoU: J would say: 'I ,Ul) re­ ally busy, JDn: And he wo uld say: 'He is really demanding it.' Then I wou ld say: 'I'll call h im soon ' And Jon would say: 'Do you really mean that", prime minister" And I would say: 'No, Jon .'"' There is also mention of Brown blackmaiJing Blair over the 'x pcnses ~ candal in March 2006 so that he would "clear the way" fo r his own p rcll1.iership. I don't necessarily believe that the unlikely union between Blair and Brown can be character ised negatively Dr as unusual. It simply

~

~

©

C==2J

captures a key premise of p oliticS ­ pnwer. A Journ ey presents a political relationship that involved a (ractiollS personal rel ationship but a practical necessity to sustain a profeSsional relat ionship due to a desire to stay in government. Attempts to deceive the publi c of any personal issues are described in one particul ar passage where Blair records hDW he went to buy bimsdfaJ.1d Brown an ice-crea.m from a van iJ.1 order to seem "togeth­ er and normal." IL seems Ia.ughable when one considers the length the 'couplc' were willing [0 go to in order to suggest there's was still a loving relationship. The book also reveals the basic hum an desire for self promotion. pedally towards the end of Blairs premiersbip, two keys themes occur quite regularly during d i~ssion s of the relationship - "be ielt I was run­ nin g his inheritance, I felt he was ruining my legacy." At tim es it seems like a battle between two overgrown boys, but it is more than likely an ac­ curate portrayal of how the mecha­ nisms of government and political egos operate under pressure. After aJl, the reader must remember that politicians are human , however dif­ ficult it might be [0 believe. Reading A fOllnIey makes il ail the more puzzling that these two men succeeded as a political double act at aJl and that their 'di ffic ulties' and sedisdain fo r each other, wh ich the book unasham edly and vivid ly re­ veals, could have produced a record term of offi ce for New Labour. But Blair does suggest glimpses of a genui.ne 'Katie a.n d Peter-esque' love: "neither of us had met anyone like that before... it was a genuine and sincere liki.ng" - feelings th at, whilst echoing, would have sustained the relationsh ip until a 'divorce' was un­ avoidable. Perhaps all great unlikely


30

BRIT ISH T RADE un ion ism ha rd­ ly so un ds li ke the stuff ofl augh-a­ m in ute box offi ce e n tertainm e n t, an d if we go by th e (lId idiom 'sex sells; then s urely sexis m is a misfire. Yet director Nigel C ole aJld scree n writer W ill iam Ivory h ave taken tbjs Wlu keIy story and turn ed it int o a h ea rt -warmin g and cheerful film, although one th at smacks of se ntim en talism with a he althy slice o f no st algic co ckney charm. M ade in Dagellham dram atises t he 1968 strike act ion of fem ale machini sts a t th e Fo rd pla nt in Dagenham , east Lo n d o n . They de­ m a nded equal pay with m ale em­ ploye es and campaigned agai nst re-cl assification legislatio n t hat ren d ered seat ( over stitchers 'un­ skil led '. In total 187 wome n wer ince nsed to st ri ke acti o n. T he hi storical context is never fu lly developed by Cole, alOlOugh he sp ri nkl es the film with orig in al footage o f the factory, belping to evoke th e disconten ted zeitgeist of Britain's wor king classes durin g the 'swingi ng' Sixties.

The ir strike action leads them in to conflict wilh union leaders, who simply wish to placate them. Until Rita O'Gr ad y - played by Sajly H awkin s (H ap py- G o -Lucky ) - steps fo rwa rd , att em pt s tu cajole

Retrospect

th ese wo men .arno unt to e m pt y pro mi ses of d iscussio n with in­ sensit ive chauvin ist bosses a t Ford A me rica. Their bu sban ds are n one too h appy either. Factory pro duc ­ t iOn slo w~ to a trickle, p utti ng t heir jobs in jeopa rd y. Rita's hus­ band - played by Dan iel Mays (Th e Firm) - str uggles to come to terms wit h looking after LIl e chil­ dren ",ru le h is wife flit s ac ross tbe GOwl try raj lyi ll g su pport. T he on ly m an w ho com es off well is Bob Hosk ins' cha rac ter; the t winkle eyed D ickensian wi de-bo)' who champi on s the women's cau se . Even t uall y, RHa's n o -nonse n se a ttitu de secures h e r a n a udie n ce with H arold W il­ son's secretary of state. Barb ara C astl e, played forcefull y by M i­ ra n(ia Richa rdson , w llere she lays the g ro und for the Equal P ay Act which foll ows two year s later. D espi te the con ten t being gro u Jld -b reakUlg a nd of intern a­ t ional signifi cance, the p red ict.able and contrived relation ships Cole prese nt s h inder the film's capacity to feel truly origin al. lt's perhaps un surp rising tbat C ol e has cre ­ at ed a fe el.-go od imp ressioni stic rep resen tati o n. The director of Cale ndar G irls has taken mid dle ­ cl ass ru r al wo m en determined to creale a s tir, plonked th em io the urban East- E nd a nd dressed t hem in Biba. It 's im p orta n t th at Ma de ill Da ­ genha m reca lls th e e ve n ts of 1968 fo r un ionism and fem aJe equa l­ ity in the wo rkp lace. Yet I d oubt whether th ese women so ldi ered forwa rd w ith th e same nost algic Blitz spir it th at C o le and Ivory p rese nt. w ith litOe subt le ty nor eloq uenc e.

NEIL MACG REG O R the current irector of the British Mus eo m's new work , A History oj th e \Vorld ;'1 .100 Objects. riske d b eing wfiLten ofr as a monu me n tal letd ow n given its att empt to cover such a wid e remi t in one volu me. The preface, entitl ed 'M ission Im poss ible; eve n recogni ses the task at h aJld. Yet, mon u men tal as the work may be, a le tdown it most. cer tainl y is not, being hailed as one of finest bo oks of its nature in recent years, pe r­ haps even decades. Describing itself as a "visual feast", it is surp risin g that the project started out as a re nowned Rad io 4 ser ies - a joint venture beLween the BBC :.Ind the Bri tish Museum - that sta rted in January of tbis year and only carne to a re­ cent co nclu sion. It seem s that the Brit ish public didn't even need to be able to see tbe objec ts to h ave th eir imag inat ions captu re d. All th e more reason that the OelLvre d eserves the attenti o n th at it is re ­ ceivin g aJld pe rfect for th ose that enjoyed th e cOllcept b ut no t its ex­ ec uti o n ove r th e radio waves. It is, in fac t, hard to put into words jus t how compell ing the book itself i ~ . Perhaps render­ ing th e larger them es of arou n d 2 milli on years of hu man history in one VOllLll1e o f images is mo re powerful tha n anyon e m ight have anticipa ted . By skim ming, e ven briefly. tl lrough its twenty sub -sec­ tio ns we can fl ick from a 11 000 BC stone sp earh ea d to the Rosetta Ston e, from the Lewis Chessme n to Span ish pieces of eigh t. (To m the early Victorian tea set to the cred it card, from object n u m ber one- the 'Mummy of Ho rn edJitef'­ to object nu mber one h un dred , a

solar po wered lamp and charger, the choice of which was a point of great contention during th e broad­ casting of the orig inal p rogram me. Regardl ess of what certain modern objects' inclus ions mayor m ay not say about our d ay and age, the work certai nly creates the impres­ ion that you might fare better in next week's episode of University Cha llenge.

The work is most definitely a 'world h istory', encom passing every popu­ lated contine nt, but also a tri wuph o f 'p ublic h istoqr', takin g a history millennia lo ng to the m asses in an accessibl e an d yet intellectually fru it ful manne r. It is also important to no te tha t our times are properly red uced to a m e re mo ment in the span o f h um an historr f course, the radio se ries, and conseq uently the book, have been lab elled as be ing a me re publici ty stu nt for the m useum, bot be tbat as it m ay, it's hard to argu e with the quality of the w riting or fault the treatment of th e objects. And so what if it is? It's an excellent exam­ ple of how accessible history can be. In th e wo rds of its du st jacket. A Histo ry oj the World ;'1 100 Ob­ jects is o ne o f the most "engrossing an d unusual history books pub­ lished in years". Besides, everybody loves a go o d pic tu re book.


31

A RECENTLY released co medy, Burke and Hare, offers so many examples of unl ikely un ions that could really work if done well: comedy and death, medicine and murder, Serkis an d =Pegg. Unfor­ tunately little positive can be said about the success of any of these unions in the fi lm. Historical in ­ accu racy aside, the chara cters are badly sketched, the lines poorly delivered and the accents bord er­ ing o n ridicu lou s. Consideri ng the number of famous faces th at pop up, th e poor quality of the whole film leaves the vi ewer in credulous. Not even an appearance by G rey­ friar's Bobby can save it. The story if you are, incredible as it would be for an Edinburgh resident, in the dark to centre aroun d the murde rou s ex ploits of two Irish im m igrants in early nine­ teenth ce ntury Edinburgh. Stum­ bling upon the lucrative market of supplyin g corpses to the merucal school run by Dr. Knox they soon resort to bumping off the inhabit­ ants of West Port] n order to meet the ever increasing dem an d.. Pegg is the guil t ridden (but not so guilt ridden that it stops hi m ) WIlliam

Bu rke and SeTkis his conscience­ free (and increasingly libidinous) part ner in crim e '''' illiam Hare. O th er famo us fa ces included in the supporting cast include Ron­ nie Corbett, Tom Wilkinson and Isla Fisher, none of whom give the best pe rformance of their careers. TIle romance provided by Pegg an d Fisher is certainly the most implausible in th e wh ole piece. The union of medicine and murder is of course a ce ntral fea­ ture of the true tale. TIl e fact that the advancement of medical sci­ ence comes at the expe nse of hu­ man li fe is one that continues to fascinate those interested in the sto ry, but unfortunately th is is of li ttle interest to the writers of Burke and Hare. v\That could have bel'll developed in a better fi.lm is merely gl ossed over as they spend their time subjecting th e viewer to cliched comedy lacking in imagi­ nation , cringe-wor thy sex scenes and tired racial stereotypes. In fact th e humour fe lt predictab le and dee dedl}' forced the wh ole way through . That said, I can recom­ mend staying to the end (its only ninety m inu tes long so it won't kill

you) not because the film imp roves as the sto ry p rogresses but because th e cred its may be of interest to Edi nburgh Uni versity students. Not to be completely negative about tbe whole th ing, the attempt to cast Burke in the mould of an Jrish Macbeth, that is a tragic he ro who is flawed but not evil, makes an interesting side story an d is pre­ sumably the sale reason Isla Fisher was kept in th e film once the di ­ recto r d iscovered how bad her ac­ cent really was. Drawing parallels between the two figures as \Tic tims more of love and circumstance rather than their own immoral ­ ity could have added real depth to the characters in another fil m . It is certainly an unlikely union and in a d ramatic adaptation, the story could have bee n expande d and used to a m uch better effect. In a fi lm that promi sed to pro ­ vide some interesting ci ne matic unions unfortunately the o nly one I can say it delivered with any suc­ cess was the one all too common in mode rn cinema: that of high expectati on and definite disap­ pointment.


Profile for Retrospect Journal & Magazine

Unlikely Unions - A/W 2010 - No.2  

FEATURES: ODESSA IN THE MIDDLE; IN THE BEST COMPANY; A STRANGE SURVIVAL; BETTER THE DIEM YOU KNOW; PRACTICAL IMPIETY. ACADEMIC: OLD SHIP OF...

Unlikely Unions - A/W 2010 - No.2  

FEATURES: ODESSA IN THE MIDDLE; IN THE BEST COMPANY; A STRANGE SURVIVAL; BETTER THE DIEM YOU KNOW; PRACTICAL IMPIETY. ACADEMIC: OLD SHIP OF...

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