UNIT: The Modern World
Issue: Did the Industrial Revolution Lead to a Sexual Revolution?
YES: Edward Shorter, “The Reason Why” from The Making of the Modern Family, Perseus, 1975
NO: Louise A. Tilly, Joan W. Scott, and Miriam Cohen, from “Women’s Work and European Fertility Patterns,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 1976
Historian Edward Shorter argues that employment opportunities outside the home that opened up with industrialization led to a rise in the illegitimacy rate, which he attributes to the sexual emancipation of unmarried working-class women. Historians Louise A. Tilly, Joan W. Scott, and Miriam Cohen argue that unmarried women worked to meet an economic need, not to gain personal freedom; and they attribute the rise in illegitimacy rates to broken marriage promises and the absence of traditional support from family, community, and church.
Issue: Was the French Revolution Worth Its Human Costs?
YES: Peter Kropotkin, from The Great French Revolution, 1789-1793, Shocken Books, 1971
NO: Marisa Linton, from “Robespierre and the Terror,” History Today, 2006
Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921), a Russian prince, revolutionary, and anarchist, argues that the French Revolution eradicated both serfdom and absolutism, and paved the way for France’s future democratic development. Marisa Linton, a professor and writer, argues that Maximilien de Robespierre offers a lens through which to view the terror and the real human costs of the French Revolution.
Issue: Does Napoleon Bonaparte Deserve His Historical Reputation as a Great General?
YES: Graham Goodlad, from “Napoleon at War: Secrets of Success, Seeds of Failure? History Review, 2009
NO: Jonathon Riley, from “How Good Was Napoleon?” History Today, 2007
Professor Graham Goodlad argues that, because of his extraordinary military career, Napoleon Bonaparte deserves his reputation as a great general. Author and Military Commander Jonathon Riley argues that because Napoleon never succeeded in transforming a defeated enemy into a willing ally, his historical reputation as a general must be questioned.
Issue: Did British Policy Decisions Cause the Mass Emigration and Land Reforms That Followed the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s and 1850s?
YES: Christine Kinealy, from This Great Calamity: The Irish Famine 1845-52, Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 1995
NO: Hasia R. Diner, from “Where They Came From,” Erin’s Daughters in America: Irish Immigrant Women in the Nineteenth Century, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983
Professor at Drew University Christine Kinealy argues that the British government’s response to the Irish potato famine was deliberately inadequate because its “hidden agenda” was the long-term aim of economic, social, and agrarian reforms, which the famine accelerated; mass emigration was a consequence of these changes. Historian Hasia R. Diner argues that large-scale emigration occurred both before and after the famine and credits the Irish people with learning from their famine experiences that the near-total reliance of the poor on the potato and the excessive subdivision of land within families were no longer in their own best interests.
Issue: Did the Meiji Restoration Constitute a Revolution in Nineteenth-Century Japan?
YES: Thomas M. Huber, from The Revolutionary Origins of Modern Japan, Stanford University Press, 1981
NO: W.G. Beasley, from The Meiji Restoration, Stanford University Press, 1972
Historian Thomas M. Huber argues that the Meiji Restoration was revolutionary and should be recognized as “the most dramatic event of Japan’s modern history.” Historian W.G. Beasley argues that when compared with other revolutions like the French and Russian, the Meiji Restoration did not constitute a revolution in the classical sense.
Issue: Was Popular Opinion a Significant Ingredient in Nineteenth-Century British Imperialism?
YES: John MacKenzie, from “Another Little Patch of Red,” History Today, 2005
NO: Bernard Porter, from “What Did They Know of Empire?” History Today, 2004
Professor Emeritus, John MacKenzie, argues that both imperial rule and the possession of an empire were essential components of British identity, life, and culture during this period. Professor of modern history, Bernard Porter, argues that, through most of the nineteenth century, most Britons knew little and cared less about the spread of the Empire.
Unit: The Early Twentieth Century
Issue: Was China’s Boxer Rebellion Caused by Environmental Factors?
YES: Paul A. Cohen, from “Drought and the Foreign Presence,” History in Three Keys: The Boxers in Event, Experience, and Myth, Columbia University Press, 1997
NO: Henrietta Harrison, from “Justice on Behalf of Heaven,” History Today, 2000
Professor Paul A. Cohen argues that while anti-foreign and anti-Christian attitudes played a role in the start of the Boxer Rebellion, a more immediate cause was a severe drought and its impact on Chinese society. Historian Henrietta Harrison argues that, while the Boxers were motivated by more than a single factor, opposition to Christian missionary activity was at the core of their rebellion.
Issue: Did Prussian Militarism Provoke World War I?
YES: Peter H. Wilson, from “The Origins of Prussian Militarism,” History Today, 2001
NO: Christopher Ray, from “Britain and the Origins of World War I,” History Review, 1998
History Professor Peter H. Wilson argues that Prussian militarism, though not a direct cause of later horrors in the two world wars, posed a threat to Europe in the prewar period. History Professor Christopher Ray argues that threatened German actions represented a challenge to English interests and honor, mobilizing public opinion in favor of Britain’s declaration of war in 1914.
Issue: Was the Treaty of Versailles Responsible for World War II?
YES: Derek Aldcroft, from “The Versailles Legacy,” History Today, 1997
NO: Mark Mazower, from “Two Cheers for Versailles,” History Today, 1997
Historian Derek Aldcroft argues that a combination of the flaws present in the postwar Versailles Treaty and the resultant actions and inactions of European statesmen created a climate that paved the way for World War II. Historian Mark Mazower argues that, while the Treaty of Versailles contained weaknesses, it failed due to a lack of enforcement of its principles by a generation of European leaders.
Issue: Did the Bolshevik Revolution Improve the Lives of Soviet Women?
YES: Richard Stites, from “The Russian Revolution and Women,” in Marilyn J. Boxer and Jean H. Quartaert, eds., Connecting Spheres: Women in the Western World, 1500 to the Present, Oxford University Press, 1987
NO: Lesley A. Rimmel, from “The Baba and the Comrade: Gender and Politics in Revolutionary Russia,” The Women’s Review of Books, 1998
Former history professor Richard Stites argues that in the early years of the Bolshevik Revolution the Zhenotdel or Women’s Department helped many working women take the first steps toward emancipation. Russian scholar Lesley A. Rimmel argues that the Russian Revolution remains unfinished for women, who were mobilized as producers and reproducers for a male political agenda.
Issue: Was German “Eliminationist Anti-Semitism” Responsible for the Holocaust?
YES: Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, from “The Paradigm Challenged,” Tikkun: A Bimonthly Interfaith Critique of Politics, Culture & Society, 1998
NO: Christopher R. Browning, from “Ordinary Germans or Ordinary Men? A Reply to the Critics,” in Michael Berenbaum and Abraham J. Peck, eds., The Holocaust and History: The Known, the Unknown, the Disputed, and the Reexamined, Indiana University Press, 1998
Political science professor Daniel Jonah Goldhagen argues that due to the nature of German society in the twentieth century—with its endemic, virulent anti-Semitism—thousands of ordinary German citizens became willing participants in the implementation of Holocaust horrors. Holocaust historian Christopher R. Browning argues that Goldhagen’s thesis is too simplistic, and that a multicausal approach must be used to determine why ordinary German citizens willingly participated in the Holocaust.
Issue: Was Stalin Responsible for the Korean War?
YES: Paul Wingrove, from “Who Started Korea?” History Today, 2000
NO: Hugh Deane, from “Korea, China, and the United States: A Look Back,” Monthly Review, 1995
Historian Paul Wingrove argues that Josef Stalin should be held primarily responsible for the Korean War. Historian Hugh Deane argues that the United States’ support for Syngman Rhee’s non-communist government was responsible for the Korean War.
UNIT: The Contemporary World
Issue: Are Chinese Confucianism and Western Capitalism Compatible?
YES: A.T. Nuyen, from “Chinese Philosophy and Western Capitalism,” Asian Philosophy, 1999
NO: Jack Scarborough, from “Comparing Chinese and Western Cultural Roots: Why ‘East Is East and . . .’,” Business Horizons, 1998
Philosophy professor A.T. Nuyen argues that the basic tenets of classical capitalism are perfectly compatible with the key elements of Chinese philosophy. Management professor Jack Scarborough argues that the Confucian values of harmony, filial loyalty, and legalism are incompatible with the Western heritage of democracy, rationality, individualism, and capitalism.
Issue: Was Ethnic Hatred Primarily Responsible for the Rwandan Genocide of 1994?
YES: Alison Des Forges, from “The Ideology of Genocide,” Issue: A Journal of Opinion, 1995
NO: René Lemarchand, from “Rwanda: The Rationality of Genocide,” Issue: A Journal of Opinion, 1994
Alison Des Forges argues that ethnic hatred between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda was primarily responsible for the Rwandan genocide of 1994. René Lemarchand, while admitting that ethnic rivalries played a role in the catastrophe, argues that the ability of the Hutus to engage in “planned annihilation” free of any local or international restraint was a more important factor.
Issue: Does Islamic Revivalism Challenge a Stable World Order?
YES: John L. Esposito, from The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality, 2nd ed., Oxford University Press 1995
NO: Sharif Shuja, from “Islam and the West: From Discord to Understanding,” Contemporary Review 2001
Professor of Middle East studies John L. Esposito argues that the Iranian Revolution against Western-inspired modernization and Egypt’s “holy war” against Israel are examples of the Islamic quest for a more authentic society and culture, which challenges a stable world order. Professor of international relations Sharif Shuja argues that the rise of Islamic movements represents resistance to Western domination rather than a threat to the West as such and traces Western fears of a monolithic Islamic entity to the errors of an Orientalist mindset.
Issue: Have Afghan Women Been Liberated from Oppression?
YES: Sima Wali, from “Afghan Women: Recovering, Rebuilding,” Ethics and International Affairs, 2002
NO: Norwan, Mariam, and Nasima, from “Afghanistan in Three voices: Three Afghan Women Talk About Violence and Shelter, the Taliban, and Getting to Vote,” The Wilson Quarterly, 2013
International Afghan advocate for refugee women Sima Wali documents the pivotal roles Afghan women have played in rebuilding their communities praises their courage in denouncing warlords, and calls for their full participation in the newly formed constitutional government. Norwan, Mariam, and Nasima, three Afghan women, argue that, despite some progress, many challenges remain for Afghan women as they seek liberation from oppression.
Issue: Is the Influence of the European Union in World Affairs Increasing?
YES: Mitchell P. Smith, from “Soft Power Rising,” World Literature Today, 2006
NO: Efstathios T. Fakiolas, from “The European Union’s Problems of Cohesion,” New Zealand International Review, 2007
Political science and international studies professor Mitchell P. Smith argues that the European Union excels in the use of soft power to achieve desired outcomes at minimal cost, by avoiding the use of military force and sharing the burden of enforcement with others. Efstathios T. Fakiolas, strategy and Southeast European affairs analyst argues that Europe’s failure to achieve European “Union-hood” seriously hampers its effectiveness in the global community.
Issue: Is India’s Secular Democracy Severely Threatened by Religious Nationalism?
YES: Sharif Shuja, from “Indian Secularism: Image and Reality,” Contemporary Review, 2005
NO: Martha C. Nussbaum, from “Fears for Democracy in India,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2007
Sharif Shuja, research associate in the Global Terrorism Research Unit at Monash University in Australia, asserts that the goal of the Hindu Nationalist Party (BJP) to convert India into a Hindu nation threatens both the secular democracy and the unity of India itself. Professor in the philosophy department, law school, divinity school, and the college at the University of Chicago, Martha C. Nussbaum argues that, despite internal divisions, India’s institutional and legal structure functioned well even after the Ayodhya riots, and within 2 years free national elections made a Sikh prime minister.
Issue: Will the So-Called Arab Spring Benefit the Region?
YES: Elias D. Mallon, from “Will Democracy Bloom? A Closer Look at the Arab Spring,” America, 2011
NO: Elliott Abrams, from “Dictators Go, Monarchs Stay: American Policy Before and After the Arab Spring,” Commentary, 2012
Elias D. Mallon, education and interreligious affairs officer with the Catholic Near East Welfare Association in New York, takes a cautiously optimistic long-term view of the prospects, arguing for the establishment of some form of democracy in the region. Elliott Abrams, deputy national security advisor under the George W. Bush administration, takes a more pessimistic long-term view, citing the choice between monarchy and democracy that faces the region and the uncertainty of the outcome.