Final Blog Post
Short Visual Media
Horner, Jack. “Where Are the Baby Dinosaurs?” TEDxVancouver. Vancouver. Nov. 2011. TED.Web. 30 Jan. 2015.
Slutkin, Gary. “Let’s Treat Violence like a Contagious Disease.” TEDMED 2013. Apr. 2013. TED. Web. 30 Jan. 2015.
Books and Print Media
Diamond, Jared M. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. New York: W.W.Norton, 1998. Print.
Clifton, Dan, dir. “Inventors.” Mankind: The Story of All of Us. History Channel. 2012. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.
Books and Print Media
“Real History versus Guns Germs and Steel – Anthropology 2.5.” Living Anthropologically. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
Figes, Orlando. Revolutionary Russia, 1891 – 1991: A History. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Short Visual Media
Diamond, Jared. “Why Do Societies Collapse?” TED2003. 14 Mar. 2015.TED. Web. 01 May 2015.
Books and Print Media
News.com.au. “NASA Predicts the End of Western Civilization.” NY Post. N.p., 17 Mar. 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.
Doctor Zhivago. Dir. David Lean. Perf. Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. MGM/United Artists Entertainment, 1965.
Danton. Dir. Andrzej Wajda. Perf. Gérard Depardieu. S.n., 1983.
- As I read and seeked information for my project, I found that I had researched two different cases in history: the beginnings of civilizations and the collapse of these societies. This caused me to categorize the events I studied and the information I gathered into beginnings and endings which ultimately becomes the pattern. However, the overarching factors that I determined that work to form a community are extremely similar–if not the same–as those that cause will cause it to fail. So for my project and letter, I plan to examine the ways that these factors can make or break a society. While many of the factors are environmental and geographical, I will be focusing mostly on the human response to these things rather than the specific statistics or facts of a category like food or natural disasters. The reason for this is that while Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies provided geographical information to engineer an answer to why some initial civilizations developed faster than others, it also demonstrated how people react to certain things and how their actions can determine their fate. A pattern of these human behaviors can easily be applied to more modern situations in which politics and human relations become more relevant.
- I began with the book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies and the initial question of the book: why did some societies in some areas develop faster and deeper than those in other areas? The beginning of the book talked about some of the basic information about history in order to build a platform to work off of. However, looking back through my notes, I see that the things I seemed to notice the most were not related to specific items or certain concrete advantages that certain people had, but the pieces that discussed human tendencies. One thing I took note of was the desire of scientists to find the oldest human in order to win the quest for the hardest item to find. This is an idea I discussed in my first blog post and related to Jack Horner’s explanation of the lack of juvenile dinosaur fossils. This led to a minor consideration in the people’s role in our view of history, but I considered this concept more in depth later on. Another thing I noted on a sticky note was the role of customs in the Maori violence against the Moriori in the New Zealand area. One of the Maori commented that there was not a concrete reason why he was performing such actions except that it was “in accordance with… [their]… customs”. This again pushed me more into considering the people’s mindsets’ and behavioral patterns in development. But I had kept reading and writing the words “development” and “civilization” without any clear parameters to define these terms with. That was when my system for judging “development” was formed during my personal experience. This system is not precise or perfect gave me something to work off later. I also chose to watch the first episode of Mankind: The Story of All of Us (a series aired on the history channel) so I could compare its version of the beginning of civilization with Diamond’s. The television program’s version was a bit oversimplified and seemed to emphasize the wrong points. However, this portrayal that was created with a different audience in mind than Diamond’s book and served to demonstrate the power of people to influence our memory of history.
While researching more background about the topic of Guns, Germs, and Steel, I found several reviews and critiques for the book itself. One in particular broached an idea that helped to split the flow of my research on societies. The author claimed–among other things–that Diamond did not put enough emphasis on the human choice aspect of history which–as I previously stated in a post–I was going to need to add another book that could provide a narrower view the evolution of a society which led me to choose to read Orlando Figes’ Revolutionary Russia, 1891 – 1991: A History that would show the rise and fall of the Soviet society in Russia. This book gave me quite a few ideas about the construction of revolutions among other things which are mostly stated in number four with my insights and realizations.
After reading about a more specific example, I wanted to broaden my perspective once more and I found an article about a some studies performed by NASA and what they could mean. In the beginning, the first thing I noticed was the description of some items that could be considered luxury and I immediately recognized them as what I refer to as embellishments. It continued by mentioning the pattern of all great empires falling some specifically stated were the Roman Empire, Han, Mauryan, Gupta, and the Mesopotamian Empires which were also technologically advanced. The technology factor was something I had not directly considered in this semester project, but some of the ideas from my last semester project could carry over.
In effort to see another depiction of a topic I was reading about, I watched an American movie made in 1965 called Doctor Zhivago about a middle-class general practitioner and poet during the early revolutions in Russia and WWI. It was interesting to see something from the perspective of a well-off family other than the politicians and peasants perspectives I had been reading in my book. Everything had to be taken with the knowledge that it was made by Americans during the Cold War time period, but it was still interesting to see another portrayal. I also wanted to test my revolution process theory and again see how people manipulate events to change how people view history so I decided to watch the movie Danton which was made in 1983 about one of the original French Revolution leaders, George Danton.
- Humans need only the four basic necessities of water, air, food, and shelter and everything they do that is not in effort to provide these things are expendable and “embellishments”.
- Development (from a western perspective) can be measured through these “embellishments” in the people’s lives.
- Powerful leaders can create history, but history can also generate powerful leaders.
- An imbalance of embellishments can engender unrest, however the denial of the basic needs will a guarantee a dramatic response.
- People in the present can influence the past just as much as the future by portraying history differently.
- There is a common revolution pattern that often occurs after a major overturn of the government which I will lay out in detail in the letter.
- A common enemy or a bigger threat can unite people, however, if this is the only string tying them together, these good relations are only strong enough to last until the threat is resolved. Two examples of this can be found within the Russian Revolution.
- The first is during the civil war when the Red army of the Bolsheviks was pitted against the insurrection, white army. During this time–despite their discontent with the actions of the Reds–they united with the Bolsheviks because the white army would have taken their land that they had recently acquired after the revolution.
- The second example is actually shown in several steps. Before the end of Imperial Russia, it was the revolutionaries that wanted more power given to the people against the Tsarist regime. However, after the Tsar was overthrown the socialist revolutionary party broke down into the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks. The Mensheviks had control of the government that was established after the end of imperial Russia, but the Bolsheviks united to knock them out of power and take control during the October Revolution. With the Mensheviks out of the equation and after the civil war was won, the Bolshevik party remained joined only because of their obedience to Lenin who was the face of the Bolshevik party. While Lenin was still alive, a bitter rivalry festered between Trotsky and Stalin. After Lenin died, Stalin slowly turned the party against Trotsky and soon he was the main figure behind the government of the country.
- I believe that a prezi presentation will be the best way to convey my thoughts because there were many different directions that my thoughts traveled in, but they all relate in one way or another. Prezi will make the visual for the information more graphical than linear which I think is necessary in order to properly demonstrate the interconnections between all of my ideas and research. I will also more than likely add either voice recordings that can be clicked to be played or make a video of the screen as I go through the presentation. I think that it will be easier to express some of the more abstract concepts and patterns I have found.