Four Girls and a Guy

Welcome to our blog for our University College World Politics class!!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Friday's Class

First I would like to say that I hope that everyone had a wonderful Turkey Day and that they eat (not as much because I know that is not possible) but a lot of food because it is back to TDR for us. Friday’s class tended to get off track and we ended up talking about different people’s beliefs and perspectives. It seemed to be the general consensus that an argument is pointless when too people agree to disagree. I don’t believe that an argument is pointless under this condition. Arguments or discussions such as the ones we have in class every Friday help stimulate that brain and by hearing other people’s perspectives one is able to grow as a person. Also by arguing one’s point one stabilizes their points of the argument. If people just conformed to each other’s opinions the world would be a very boring place and people’s minds would not be stretched or challenged. It is though discussion and argument that people learn and can learn to see other’s perspectives but don’t have to agree with them.
To address the question I think Lennea mentioned this in class but I am not really sure if it was someone else sorry but the quote is definitely written by an explorer. I justifies his desire to explore and find the unknown. Someone with a strong base in one place would definitely not agree. Plus if one looks at everything as a foreign country then one can not make connections between cultures. Every culture will be looked at as foreign and nothing will be similar. Which is unfortunate because when it comes down to it humans are really very similar.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Morality?

When judging Cortez in class, I think it’s impossible to dispute that his actions were acceptable in terms of material gain for Western Society. The Americas became a major source of wealth for Europe, and allowed the populations of Europe to expand by colonizing this new frontier. This is why we focused on the morality of Cortez’s actions during the trial. Our criteria for judging Cortez is certainly tainted by our current perspective, and it’s judging him by against the values and ethics of his own society is somewhat pointless. However, it’s relatively easy to understand Cortez’s actions, because he saw the world in terms of fairly modern values. Profit, trade, and territorial gain are the primary issues of current global politics. When there is no absolute right or wrong, it’s our governments who determine what is moral and immoral. Any action can be justified when operating from a position of power. For the Native Americans who received the shit end of the stick, they see Europe as a ruthless and destructive force. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t win, and so what they think doesn’t really matter. Sometimes you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.

YOU CAN"T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

Quote from where? First person to anwser gets pumpkin pie for a dollar! Friday’s class was lots of fun for me. I found it very challenging to defend La Maliche because in my eyes she was very guilty. The group that prosecuted did a great good however a reason that they might have not won their case was because they did not discuss that her methods were not an act of survival like my group stated but a premeditative plan to take revenge on her former culture. The Aztecs sold her into slavery and once her opportune moment came she kicked her plan into gear. One can believe this because it states that she became his mistress “during the decisive phase, from the departure from the coast to the fall of the Aztec capital.” (100) This quote shows that she had a plan and this was just a piece of that plan. Also it shows that she know how to get what she wanted because if one looks at the time frame that she slept with Cortes it was only during the phase that she needed to manipulate him and scheme him into the downfall of the Aztecs. She only slept with him when she had manipulated all other variables; such as the trust of the Spanish and Aztecs. Now I know that my opinion could be a little far fetched however, I think that it would have been a good argument to make within a court.
Which brings me to another point that Emma mentioned in her blog which I agree with. I believe that people have to be prosecuted in the time period with the rules and regulations that were established during that time period. This is so because what could have been considered the norm at the time could be considered illegal now and what could be considered illegal then could be considered the norm now. Laws and regulations are established to help keep society civilized. Since we have become more advanced ( I don’t say civilized because clearly Adam proved that that can be refuted) times have changed and the attitudes and beliefs of people have changed thus the laws that reflect that society have to change. One can not persecute someone under completely different laws that they lived in, it would just not be fair. And no matter what as time goes on things will never be the same situation or moment as the past,; they will be similar but not the same.

Hernando Cortes vs. Kofi Annan

Guess what, I changed my text color! Anyway, moving on. I want to start this post by stating that I greatly enjoyed friday's class. It had an excellent mixture of structured and free discussion and I think the topics we covered were intriguing. However I would like to take this time to disagree with those in class who believe that Cortes still has relevancy today. If anyone truely believes that the horrific acts committed by Cortes and his conquistadors could be repeated today should consider several points. One, although this may seem obvious, there was no UN or anything simular to that in Cortes's time that would step in to stop these acts. On a broader scale, Cortes's world was not interconnected, it was not globalized. Individuals could not turn on CNN and see the horrid acts of the conquistadors. There would not be the global outrage that would occur today if such acts occurred. Further more, today it would be increasingly difficult for one nation to violated the sovergneity of another and commit terrible acts without other nations getting involved. Today we have more complex systems of "friendships" between nations, such as NATO, that would defend member nations with much more complex weapondry than say bows and arrows. One might make the claim that we have something simular to the acts of Cortes occurring today in Darfur. However, one should remeber that the acts being committed in Darfur, as terrible as they are, are an internal problem, making it harder for the international community to step in and help. Compare that to Cortes' actions, in which he violated a soverngiety of another nations and committed war crimes (to say the least), and we can see that international community could more easily get involved. I completely agree with Liz when she stated in class that we should never forget history or we are doomed to repeated it, however, I believe that we should look at history as something that is fluid, constantly moving and changing. For this reason, I believe that in our modern, globalized world, Cortes is no longer relevant.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Reflection on La Malinche

Friday's class was actually very enjoyable because the layout was different, and employing the book as a reference for creating arguments was helpful. My group was assigned the difficult task of prosecuting La Malinche, and we found this was not an easy job. To be honest, I had not read up to all the parts that contained information about her, so coming into the project, I did not even know very much. However, by consulting the book and discussing with each other, we formed some strong arguments. The trouble was, was that it was hard to find some hard evidence against her for the jury to be able to convict her. At first, we all agreed that it would it be significantly easier to defend her. That is what made this such a good project because since we had to be on the other side, we had to challenge ourselves, and through the process we convinced ourselves more and more of her guilt. So, when we finally presented it, we truly believed in our arguments. I do agree and understand though that it was not enough to actually convict her because if there is any reasonable doubt then the jury should not convict. I also thought it was interesting to listen to the arguments for and against Cortes, and I definitely would have convicted him. About what we discussed afterwards, I would have to say that I agree with Kristin and Daniel and whoever else that there are certain moral standards with which to judge people through the times, and I do think this project is useful. I see what Jackie was saying about how do we have a right to convict or condemn someone from history because we live in a much more liberal society right now. However, I still think that though we are much more liberal, there are moral absolutes, and we can use them to judge or at least discuss and analyze events and people in history.

Reflection on class and the Museum of the American Indian

I really enjoyed the layout of Friday's class. I thought it was helpful to go back into the book to find evidence supporting a certain perspective. The Museum of the American Indian was very interesting. I enjoyed the displays of the tools and weapons as well as the backgrounds of the different tribes. I also saw the movie they had playing and thought that it was well put together. Since I won't be in class of Tuesday, I thought that I would write my part of the discussion of the museum on the blog. I noticed that the Native American image was glorified in the museum compared to the Todorov book. The museum celebrates the American Indian culture while Todorov doesn't really discuss the natives except when describing what Columbus or Cortes did in the way of atrocities. The only exception is La Malinche, Cortes' interpreter. I really enjoyed the explanations of the different tribes and I enjoyed comparing the many different cultures. I noticed at the museum that the majority of people there were families or older people. There were lots of little children with their families. It seems to me that the museum is geared more toward educating children on Native American culture and way of life. I also noticed that most of the tour guides and workers are Native Americans which adds quite a bit of accreditation to the museum from a cultural perspective. Another aspect of the museum that added to its accreditation was the dance performance by a Native American tribe. I felt that again it added to the learning experience of the museum. I feel bad that I can't be in class but I hope this adds to the discussion.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

INDiA!

Yes, Columbus could have treated the indigenous people better because he did think that he was in India. It was not like he was like well I found a new continent so I will takeover. He at one point would probably want to trade for India spices. Silk, etc. Because Columbus grow up in a time of conquering far off lands for God, Glory, and Gold one could not expect much more. I would expect him to form peaceful relations with the natives so that he would get great trade connections, but what better way to trade Indian merchandise than to rule the manufactures themselves. It was natural and excepted to think that Columbus was superior to the indigenous people. As Emma says in her blog, what would Columbus think if he ran into people who worshiped different gods than him and living in a more primitive manor. Columbus should not be exonerated as a result of him being a product of his time. In fact, no one should be eliminated from blame if they have done something wrong, it is still their fault and they should take responsibility for their actions. In this case it is the people of the future, us, who should also take responsibility and make sure that something like this never happens again. Right know in places all over the world there are mass genocides led by people’s prejudices. We can not expect anything more from Columbus when similar situations are still occurring. However, at the moment it is our fault for not doing anything to stop it just like it was Columbus’s fault for allowing his mass killings and torture of the indigenous people to happen. Mistakes happen and there will always be discrimination and that is way we study history so not to repeat such horrible times.

In 1492, Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue

When addressing question number 10, all I could think of was the question posed early this semester of "What would happen if aliens landed on the White House lawn?". Although we never reached a decisive conclusion, I think we all agreed that how we would respond is a reflection of our culture. I am certainly not defending the horrid actions of possible genocide that occurred on the part of Columbus and his later counterparts, I am merely stating that we in the modern area must hold our tongues when we are tempted to critize the early explorers reactions to the indigenous peoples of the Americas. In Columbus' day their was no UN or International Court. There was no concept of war crimes or genocide. Columbus lived in a Machiavellian state in which there was no pity for the defeated. His world was the ultimate triumph of the realist IR theory. He was also a product of the reign of the so called "Catholic Monarchs", Isabella and Fernando of Spain (his funders), who ruled over an era of religious fervor in which those who were not Christians were looked at as less than worth of the world God had given them. Just imagine the reaction of Columbus when he met people who were not only non-Christians, but not even monotheistic. Combine these two aspects of Columbus' culture, realist IR theory and religious pride, with the fact that Columbus did not understand the people he met, and you get the Bush forgien policy, just kidding! Moving on, you get the cultural reasoning for why Columbus and other explorers of the Americas were so cruel to those they came into contact with. I am certainly not excusing their behavior, but I think it is important for us in our modern, liberal world to understand that Columbus, like all of us if aliens landed on the White House lawn, is simply a product of his culture.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Question # 10

In response to this weeks question I must ask how Columbus understood the indigenous people he encountered in the first place. I don't know about you but I certainly wasn't around to know Columbus' reaction to the indigenous people and I don't think I ever learned how he understood and reacted to them because I haven't yet read the reading for this week. I would think that his reaction to the indigenous people was outlined by the way society was at the time and that his reaction to them wouldn't have been different unless he was part of a different society. I believe that a person's actions and beliefs are shaped by the society they are part of. If this is true, then Columbus can't be held accountable for his actions because any other explorer at that time from Europe would have acted in the same manner. I don't think he should be completely exonerated though. He made his own decisions and he should take the blame for it. We can't transfer blame to the society even though it plays a large part in his decision making process.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Government and Corruption

One question that arouse during class on Friday was what out of all of the problems do we think is the most important to solve. Bryan stated that it was government and corruption and I completely agree. The government should be there to protect the people and look out for its interests. If it is corrupt then the people who suffer the most are the people of that country. If corruption was solved within a country then things such as infectious diseases, trade barriers, suitable drinking water, education, etc. could all be solved through and with the support of the government. However, I have no idea how one is to go about eliminating corruption from a country. One can not just invade and force their type of governance over a country. For example, the US recently invaded Afghanistan to establish a democracy. What we think is the best form of government may not work for that certain country with their population. I also think it is quite contradictory that the US forces democracy on other countries. I guess the only people who can get rid of the corruption are the population of the country itself. Nevertheless, when just looking at what problem would be best to solve first, I would agree with Bryan in saying government and corruption because it could lead to solving many more problems.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Good Old Days

I agree with what Kristen had to say that it says a lot when one can be happy with what they have and that most people if they have more money don’t become happier. I find it sad that in today’s society college is not about the amount of knowledge on can gain it is about finding a good job with a high salary after college. Don’t get me wrong one needs to consider their monetary means after college however that should not be their drive. They should go into a field that they enjoy and that makes them happy. If their drive is to make as much money as possible they will be more likely to have to give up their passions, friends, family, etc. As America becomes richer the amount of families that stay together become smaller. To me this is not a sacrifice that I would ever want to make. People now get so wrapped up in “providing” for the family that they don’t actually spend time becoming a family. This term has changed overtime since about 70 years ago “providing” meant having enough food on the table and a house to live in. Today “providing” includes having leftover food on the table, a house with a room for each family member and a guest, a car for every person able to drive, a vacation once a year, and a $43,000 a year college for each of the 2.5 kids. However, with this change 50% of American couples have divorced. The number one cause of divorce is money. So is it better to be wealthy than have a happy and growing family, or than to give up ones passions, or than to throw away ones morals? No. Even though wealth is desirable I would much rather accept my financial situation to be able to see the things that really matter in life such as friends, family, hobbies etc.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Question Nine

The questions this week about wealth depend on one's definition of wealth, which we debated in class last Friday and continued to do so in our reflection blogs. However, I believe that regardless of which definition of wealth one bases their answer on it is definitely better to be wealthy than otherwise. If wealth is considered anything which we consider very valuable such as: money, diamonds, or as some people brought up, loving family and friends, then it is obviously better to have than otherwise. Even a little wealth will give the basic necessities, food, clothing, and shelter, and nobody would desire to live in poverty. In this aspect, the answer is very clear and obvious that it is better to be wealthy than otherwise. However, if it was the difference between being upper-middle class or being extremely rich, the answer might not be as clear. Most, on impulse would say it is still better to be wealthy, but it is noteworthy to consider all the problems that wealth often brings. Having wealth generally automatically creates enemies, those who are jealous and who want some of your wealth. This often leads to conflicts, some bad enough to result in murder, or stealing. Also, wealth can easily destroy a person if they don't know how to handle it properly. It can make people snobby or unpractical. That is not always the case as some would put it towards good causes and still save and spend wisely. It also depends on if someone is born wealthy or just comes into wealth at some point in their life. It might be more difficult to deal with and could cause more problems if one just comes into it, if they don't deal with it properly. Thus, wealth is not always desirable.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What is Weath?

Friday’s class discussion was very interesting when it came to the definition of wealth. And I must say that I don’t really agree with Darcy and Emily when they said that they are wealthy because of their friends and family. The reason I say this is because they can’t be bartered with. The amount of money can be exchanged, items can be exchanged, military can be used to continue your existence in this competitive world. Now don’t get me wrong I think that family and friends are the most valuable things in the world however you need basic necessities to live such as food, water and shelter and you can not trade your friends in for a bottle of water. So I guess my definition of wealth is how well one can satisfy their basic necessities and what is valuable are the items or people that make life worth living.

The question that PTJ posed at the end of class was in what ways would Realists and Liberalists explain the need for economic regimes such as the IMF and World Trade Organization?

First one could ask what would wealth be defined as to a realist and then to a liberalist? To a realist wealth would be anything that protected the state survival such as the size of one’s military. Wealth to a Liberal would be the ability to negotiate and to gain allies. With this I think first it will be easier to explain why Liberalists would think there is need for economic regimes. It can be used as a mediator to maintain the economic system of the world by helping the economic system of one country. The thought of countries coming together to discuss ways to help other countries with their money is the essence of Liberalism.

If one would take a Realist perspective, economic regimes are there to help keep the survival of the state. Since a country can rely on these regimes backing up the survival of the state a realist would definitely agree that economic regimes should exist. Plus the relations that are gained within these groups help create alliances which also increase the survival of the state.

It's All About the Benjamins Baby

I will be the first to admitt (and apoligize for) my lack of intrest in friday's class. I found the vast array of questions regarding the question of "what is wealth" to boring and did not see how they related to IR. However, reflecting on the class later, I realized that questions of wealth versus poverty are essencial to how nations relate to each other. What makes a country a developed one and not a member of the third world? This question can be answered by how we as a global community view what wealth is. However, I felt this question to be answered far easier and faster than we did in class. As Darcy stated in her post, wealth is determined by the goverment, which states how much their nation's currency is worth and how that currency translates on a global scale. I completely disagree with the notion that wealth, at least in terms of IR, is determined by how many friends you have. I think that one must remeber that this is a world politics class and that we shouldn't compare apples and oranges. Wealth in my opinion is measured by the value of your currency. The more weight your currency hold in the international community, the wealthier your nation is. But I'm always open to comments if anyone thinks different!

Wealth Reflection, Friday 11/03/06

I thought it was quite interesting to hear how we all perceive wealth and its definition. Many including myself, tend to immediately think of money and having lots of it to be what wealth is. However, I believe, to reiterate what I brought up in class, that wealth could simply be thought of as anything that an individual considers to be valuable. This could translate into meaning having good friends and a loving family. Although, many consider these to be indicative of just happiness, but woudn't call it wealth. Well, one might ask then, how it is determined what is valuable, if having wealth is having valuable items. I think that the rarity of an item is what determines how valuable it is. As P.T.J. brought up, if diamonds were as common as all the leaves laying around the ground, then nobody would value them at all because anyone could obtain them. Also, when talking about the role of a state in its economy, I agree with what Katie said in class, that money is valuable because the government says it is, so therefore the government has to have a role in the economy. In addition, I learned exactly what the difference is between public and private goods even though I had always heard the phrases. Goods are considered public goods when consumption is non-excludable such as highways, and goods are considered private when they are consumed by individuals, such as food. After discussing wealth in class, I decided that states are responsible for creating opportunities for economic development and growth, but aren't responsible for making people stimulate the economy, or using the resources the state has established.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

11/3 Class Reflection

The class discussion on friday was very interesting. I enjoyed everyone's personal interpretation of wealth and what makes one wealthy. I don't remember who mentioned that the government should supply the means for everyone to obtain the basic necessities but I agree. The government should have to hand-feed its population becaus e that would end up being its only focus instead of it being an additional focus. People should be able to provide for themselves. This is also why I don't believe in a long-term welfare system. I believe that there should be a system in palce to assist those who have fallen on hard times but it shouldn't be a constant support system. People who use it as such are lazy and don't deserve to be hand-fed. I believe that people should earn their living through work and every once in a while, there will be hard times and then it would be appropriate to use the welfare system. It is a means of getting back on your feet, not a means of sustaining yourself for a long amount of time. In saying that, it should be the job of the government to provide the essential tools for everyone to get what they need.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

What is good for the state is the best way to go

By promoting and encouraging economic growth a country will be successful because the people will know that their government is backing them up.
Therefore, states do have a responsibility to promote economic growth and when the country needs intervention they should intervene. There is an economic theory called Say’s Law that states that all elements will clear within the market. Government spending will equal Taxation, imports will equal exports, and investments will equal savings. However, an a new theory emerged called Keynesian economic which refuted this agreement saying that investments don’t always equal savings because of the population’s expectations. If people believe that the economy is going to go into a recession they save and businesses don’t invest so there is an imbalance in the system. This causes the economy to go into a recession due solely to the population’s expectations.
At this point Keynes believed that it was the job of the government to intervene and balance the economy. The way to do this is to increase government spending which will cause the economy to balance by using all of its resources allowing unemployment to rise and the economy to become stable and prosper. One can see this in history if one looks at FDR’s proposal called the New Deal. This was an attempt to increase government spending however the economy was in such a trouble state that it was not until the United States went to war that they were able to utilize all of their resources and government spending. In return the United States government began to prosper again. As one can see it is necessary for the government by all means to encourage economic growth because if the economy begins to prosper to quickly the government can always increase taxation to level out the economy and there would still be an increase of GDP.
The government should even promote economic growth if it disregards other values and goals of their administration because it is what is best for the state as a whole that matters. I should also address that a leader should never say that they are going to have tax cuts because tax cuts are parallel to the state of the economy and its wellbeing. It should not be used as something a politician utilizes to get elected.

Careful Careful

While I agree with both Darcy and Beka's conclusions that the government must play a role in the economy, I think we should be careful as to how much of a role we give government in said field. After all, look at citizens of the former Soviet Union. Their nation had an extremely powerful economy regulated by the government, but they we're miserable. The goverment regulated every part of their economic lives, leaving them with no autonomy. Economic growth should never be at the expense of our values and goals. After all, what good is a few dollars in your pocket or a high GPA when you have sacraficed every thing you stand for to get them. Government needs to watch the economy closely, make sure it continues to benefit the nation and all that live in it. Government should be in charge of stimulating the economy to create jobs (I'm not going to go into how, we are all taking Macro), but it should leave the rest up to the individual citizens.
We live in a capitalist society and as such we need to embrace the free market and all it's ups in downs. Capitalism doesn't guarantee full employment, but it does guarantee the freedom to chose what jobs we hold and what do with the money we make. This is an essencial right all Americans have, and I don't think we as citizens of this nation would tolearate anything less even if it meant a more powerful economy.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Eight

I agree with Beka, in that a state should be promoting its own economic growth because in doing so it promotes the national economic growth. If one state prospers, other states will prosper as well, which creates national prosperity. Also, I believe that state governments have a responsibility to promote economic growth even if it threatens other values and goals. It does depend on what these values and goals are, but economic growth is so important because if the economy is not stimulated, than nothing else can really be accomplished. People's survival depends on the economy and having enough money for food, clothing, and shelter, so if the economy is stable first, then people can concentrate on other goals and aspects. A state should go as far as it needs to to promote the economy as long as people are not exploited and law and order is not compromised.

Question #8

I believe that promoting economic growth shouldn't depend only on the state, it should be largely a federal responsibility. One state should be looking to promote the growth of the national economy, it should be looking out for its own economy becasue in promoting the state's economic growth, it promotes the national economic growth. Saying that, a state should do all it can to promote the state's economy. The state should be looking to attract companies and jobs that would bring people to settle in the state. This action would create economic growth and prosperity in the state, which would lead to national economic growth.
The second part of the question which deals with economic growth and conflicting values and goals, I believe that if values and goal interfere with economic growth, then those values need to be re-evaluated as to why they are the state's goals. If there is no economic growth, the economy grows stagnant which wouldn't promote the state' values and goals either. States should compare the two and find the lesser of the two evils.
A state should go as far as it needs to in order to promote economic growth without focusing only on economic growth. The economy is important, but I feel that it isn't the only important thing a states needs to deal with. My city back home is right now trying to clean up so it will attract more businesses and jobs to the area to promote economic growth and increase population.