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Archive for 28 septiembre 2013

Russian Communists and their supporters are seen through a transparent portrait of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin as they lay flowers at his tomb at the Red Square in Moscow on March 5, 2013, to mark the 60th anniversary of Stalin's death. Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

Russian Communists and their supporters are seen through a transparent portrait of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin as they lay flowers at his tomb at the Red Square in Moscow on March 5, 2013, to mark the 60th anniversary of Stalin’s death.
Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

El  artículo de Vladimir Putin publicado en el New York Times, criticando una posible intervención militar estadounidense en Siria, ha levantado una gran polémica, entre otras cosas, por su referencia al alegado carácter excepcional de la nación norteamericana. Si proponerselo, Putin generó un gran debate académico e ideológico en torno al significado del exepcionalismo estadounidense. En este interesante artículo, el lingüista Ben Zimmer analiza  el origen de la frase misma, cuestionando que ésta hubiese sido creada por José Stalin.

Did Stalin Really Coin “American Exceptionalism”?
By Ben Zimmer

Slate.com  September 27, 2013

The phrase “American exceptionalism” has been much in the news ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times taking issue with President Obama’s statement that America’s foreign policy “makes us exceptional.” “I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism,” Putin countered. “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.”

Putin’s comments revived an old discussion about the origins of the phrase. On Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall addressed an article by Terrence McCoy—”How Joseph Stalin Invented ‘American Exceptionalism‘”—that appeared last year on the Atlantic’s website. And on Real Clear Politics, Robert Samuelson wrote that “the most interesting fact to surface in the ensuing debate over “American exceptionalism” is that the phrase was first coined by Putin’s long-ago predecessor, Joseph Stalin.” But should Stalin really get the credit?

First off, it’s important to note that “American exceptionalism” has moved through a few different historical waves (as linguist Mark Liberman observed last year in his piece, “The third life of American Exceptionalism“). The first wave was in the ’20s and ’30s, when American socialists argued over whether the United States was immune to what Marx thought was an inevitable move of capitalist societies toward communism by means of violent struggle. The second wave (the focus of Josh Marshall’s TPM post) came after World War II, when historians like Richard Hofstadter reframed the question of “American exceptionalism” in a more positive manner, as a way to explain how the U.S. had avoided the bloody conflicts experienced by Europe in the 20th century.

Most recently, as when “exceptionalism” became a buzzword among Republican presidential candidates in the last election, the term takes on highly patriotic overtones, resonating with Ronald Reagan’s image of the U.S. as “a shining city on a hill.” Republicans have faulted Obama for lacking faith in American exceptionalism, which may have encouraged his “exceptional” rhetoric in his address to the nation on Syria. That might play well for a domestic audience, but to Putin it sounded jingoistic.

But back to Putin’s predecessor, Stalin. McCoy’s piece for the Atlantic seeks to dispel the idea that Alexis de Tocqueville had something to do with creating the expression. (He did call the U.S. “exceptional” in Democracy in America, but not to imply that the country was somehow extraordinary, as Mark Liberman also noted.) In the place of the de Tocqueville myth, however, McCoy introduces another:

In 1929, Communist leader Jay Lovestone informed Stalin in Moscow that the American proletariat wasn’t interested in revolution. Stalin responded by demanding that he end this “heresy of American exceptionalism.” And just like that, this expression was born. What Lovestone meant, and how Stalin understood it, however, isn’t how Gingrich and Romney (or even Obama) frame it. Neither Lovestone nor Stalin felt that the United States was superior to other nations—actually, the opposite. Stalin “ridiculed” America for its abnormalities, which he cast under the banner of “exceptionalism,” Daniel Rodgers, a professor of history at Princeton, said in an interview.

Stalin, to say the least, wasn’t happy with Lovestone’s news. “Who do you think you are?” he shouted, according to Ted Morgan’s biography of Lovestone. “(Leon) Trotsky defied me. Where is he? (Grigory) Zinoviev defied me. Where is he? (Nikolai) Bukharin defied me. Where is he? And you! Who are you? Yes, you will go back to America. But when you get back there, nobody will know you except your wives.”

While the heated exchange between Lovestone and Stalin is well-attested (it led to Lovestone’s expulsion from the Communist Party), it’s rather easy to debunk the notion that Stalin introduced the phrase “American exceptionalism” at this meeting. The biography cited by McCoy states that Lovestone and his delegation set sail from New York on March 23, 1929, and the delegation arrived in Moscow on April 27. Lovestone’s confrontation with Stalin had to have been after that date. But the earliest example given by the Oxford English Dictionary is from a few months earlier, in the Jan. 29 issue of the Daily Worker:

1929 Brouder & Zack in Daily Worker (N.Y.) 29 Jan. 3/2   This American ‘exceptionalism’ applies to the whole tactical line of the C.I. as applied to America. (This theory pervades all the writings and speeches of the Lovestone–Pepper group up until the present.)

And Lovestone may have been using the term earlier than that, as the OED also includes a bracketed citation from the Nov. 1928 issue of the Communist in which he lays out the “exceptionalism” thesis: “We are now in the period of decisive clashes between socialist reformism and communism for the leadership of the majority of the working class. This is in all countries of high capitalist development with the exception of the United States where we have specific conditions.”

If Stalin did indeed tell Lovestone (presumably through an interpreter) to end the “heresy of American exceptionalism” when they met in the spring of 1929, Stalin would have been throwing the phrase back at him rather than coining it anew, since Lovestone’s position on the matter had already been reported in the Communist press. Of course, that doesn’t make for as good a story. Then again, as long as Americans are feeling so patriotic in this latest wave of “exceptionalism,” why shouldn’t Americans get credit for coining the expression, rather than a French writer like de Tocqueville or a Soviet leader like Stalin?

A version of this post originally appeared on Language Log.

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Opinionator - A Gathering of Opinion From Around the Web

A Slave’s Service in the Confederate Army

By RONALD S. CODDINGTON
 

The New York Times, September 24, 2013

Sgt. Andrew M. Chandler began his memoir of fighting at Chickamauga with utilitarian prose that belied the horrible, bloody waste that the battle wrought on northwest Georgia in September 1863. “I was engaged in the battle of Chickamauga, belonged to the Forty-fourth Mississippi Regiment, Patton Anderson’s Brigade, Hindman’s Division,” he wrote for an 1894 article in Confederate Veteran magazine.

The highlight of Chandler’s story occurred on the second day of the battle, after he participated in a charge that resulted in the capture of a Union artillery battery. “In this charge we, our brigade” – which fought under the command of Maj. Gen. Thomas C. Hindman – “broke the Federal line and drove them nearly one mile, when we were recalled and reformed, and marched back to the old field, which was literally covered with dead and wounded Yankees,” he wrote.

The federals had sent more troops to fight the Mississippians. As the bluecoats converged on their position, Chandler recalled an exchange that he had with Hindman, a dapper dresser bursting with aggression from his 5-foot-1-inch frame. “General Hindman stopped his horse in rear of our company, when I said to him, ‘General, we are the boys to move them!’ he replied, ‘You are, sir.’ We were then ordered to the foot of a long ridge, heavily wooded. After remaining there lying down for some twenty minutes, the Yankees charged our brigade.”

Chandler abruptly ended his narrative here. He did not describe the rest of the attack – which was strange but telling, because during the fighting a bullet tore into his right leg and ankle and took him out of action. But Chandler’s military records and an anecdote passed down through the family over the following century and a half filled in the rest of his story.

A surgeon examined the 19-year-old Chandler as he lay on the battlefield, determined the wound serious and sent him to a makeshift hospital. Soon afterward Chandler was joined by Silas, a family slave seven years his senior.

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Andrew Martin Chandler of the Forty-fourth Mississippi Infantry and Silas Chandler, circa 1861.

In the hospital, according to family history, surgeons decided that the injured leg could not be saved and decided to amputate. Then Silas stepped in. As one of Chandler’s descendants explained, “Silas distrusted Army surgeons. Somehow he managed to hoist his master into a convenient boxcar.” They rode the rails to Atlanta, where Silas sent a request for help to Chandler’s relatives. An uncle came to their assistance, and brought both men home to Palo Alto, Miss., where they had started out two years earlier.

When the war broke out in 1861, Chandler enlisted in the “Palo Alto Confederates,” a local military company that eventually joined the 44th Mississippi. His concerned mother, Louisa, sent Silas, one of her 36 slaves, off to war with him.

Thousands of slaves served their masters and masters’ sons in the Confederate Army before and after the “Black Republican” in the White House, as some referred to President Abraham Lincoln, issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Many remained with their owners throughout the war.

Silas had known nothing but slavery his entire life. Born into bondage on the Chandler plantation in Virginia, he moved with the family to Mississippi when he was about 2. He was trained as a carpenter, and the Chandlers brought in extra income by hiring Silas out to locals in need of his skills — a common practice in the antebellum South. The money Silas earned by his labor was paid to the Chandlers, who gave him a small portion. According to a story passed down through Silas’s descendants, he saved the pennies that he received in a jar that he hid in a barn for safekeeping.

Around 1860 Silas wed Lucy Garvin in a slave marriage, not recognized by law. A light-skinned woman, she was the illegitimate daughter of a mulatto house slave named Polly and an unnamed plantation owner. She was classified as an octoroon, or one-eighth African, which determined her legal status as a slave.

The next year Silas bid his newlywed wife farewell and went to war with Chandler. He shuttled back and forth from encampments in Georgia and elsewhere to the plantation in Mississippi to procure and deliver much-needed supplies to Chandler. No account exists that Silas ever attempted to flee to Union-held territory.

At the Battle of Chickamauga, the 44th went into action with 272 men and suffered 30 percent casualties, including Chandler. According to the Chandler family, Silas accompanied him to Mississippi. “A home town doctor prescribed less drastic measures and Mr. Chandler’s leg was saved.”

Chandler “was able to do Silas a service as well,” noted the family. During one campaign, Silas “constructed a shelter for himself from a pile of lumber, the story goes. A number of calloused Confederate soldiers attempted to take Silas’s shelter away from him, and when he resisted threatened to take his life. At this point Mr. Chandler and his comrade Cal Weaver, came to Silas’s defense and threatened the marauders with the same kind of treatment they had offered Silas. This closed the argument.”

Chandler’s Chickamauga wound ended his combat service. But Silas went back to the front lines with Chandler’s younger brother, Benjamin, who enlisted in the Ninth Mississippi Cavalry in January 1864.

Silas accompanied the younger Chandler and the rest of the Ninth as they skirmished with advance elements of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s army through Georgia and the Carolinas. Then, during the Confederacy’s final days, Benjamin Chandler and a detachment of his fellow Mississippians joined the military escort that guarded President Jefferson Davis as he and his entourage fled Richmond.

By the time Davis reached Georgia, fears that his large escort would draw the attention of numerous Union patrols crisscrossing the countryside in search of him prompted commanders to act. On May 7, 1865, most of the escort was disbanded. Davis continued to ride south with a much smaller and less conspicuous guard.

Benjamin Chandler and Silas were part of the group ordered to disband. Three days later, Chandler surrendered to federals near Washington, Ga. Silas was by his side.

President Davis was captured the same day, about 175 miles south in the Georgia village of Irwinsville.

Silas returned home, and reunited with Lucy. They eventually had 12 children, 5 of whom lived into adulthood. Silas became a carpenter in the Mississippi town of West Point, and he taught the trade to at least four of his sons. “They built some of the finest houses in West Point,” noted a family member, who added that Silas and his boys constructed “houses, churches, banks and other buildings throughout the state.”

Silas lived within a few miles of his former masters, the Chandler brothers. In 1868, Silas and other freedmen constructed a simple Baptist altar near a cluster of bushes on land adjacent to property owned by Andrew and his family. The freedmen soon replaced it with a wood-frame church. In 1896, one of Silas’s sons participated in the construction of a new church on the same site.

In 1888, Mississippi established a state pension program for Confederate veterans and their widows. African-Americans who had acted as slave servants to soldiers in gray were also allowed to participate. Over all, 1,739 men of color were on the pension rolls, including Silas.

Benjamin Chandler died in 1909. Silas passed away in September 1919 at age 82. Andrew Chandler survived Silas by only eight months. He died in May 1920.

In 1994, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy conducted a ceremony at the gravesite of Silas in recognition of his Civil War service. An iron cross and flag were placed next to his monument.

The event prompted mixed reactions from descendants of Silas and Andrew. Silas’s great-granddaughter, Myra Chandler Sampson, denounced the ceremony as “an attempt to rewrite and sugar-coat the shameful truth about parts of our American history.” She added that Silas “was taken into a war for a cause he didn’t believe in. He was dressed up like a Confederate soldier for reasons that may never be known.”

But Andrew Chandler Battaile, great-grandson of Andrew, met Myra’s brother Bobbie Chandler at the ceremony. He saw the experience a bit differently. “It was truly as if we had been reunited with a missing part of our family.”

Bobbie Chandler, for his part, accepts the role his great-grandfather played in the Confederate army. He observed, “History is history. You can’t get by it.”

Follow Disunion at twitter.com/NYTcivilwar or join us on Facebook.

Sources: Confederate Veteran Magazine, (1894, 1910); Andrew M. Chandler military service record, National Archives and Records Administration; Benjamin S. Chandler military service record, National Archives and Records Administration; Silas Chandler pension record, Mississippi Department of Archives and History; West Point (Mississippi) Daily Times Leader, Jan. 4, 1950; 1850, 1910, 1860 Federal Census, 1860 Slave Schedules, National Archives and Records Administration; Dunbar Rowland, Mississippi: Contemporary Biography, Vol. 3; James G. Hollandsworth Jr., “Black Confederate Pensioners After the Civil War,” Mississippi History Now (May 2008); Andrew M. Chandler Papers, Collection of Andrew Chandler Battaile; Myra C. Sampson, “Silas Chandler”; Bobbie Chandler to the author, May 8, 2010; Richard Rollins, “Black Southerners in Gray.”

disunion_roncoddington-thumbStandardRonald S. Coddington is the author of “Faces of the Civil War” and “Faces of the Confederacy.” His most recent book is “African American Faces of the Civil War.” He writes “Faces of War,” a column for the Civil War News.

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The Republican Party’s Hidden Racial History

by Timothy N. Thurber

History News Network

On September 17, lawyers from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University joined the Texas State Conference of the NAACP, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives, and others in a lawsuit to overturn a new state voter identification law (Brennan Center).

A month earlier, North Carolina enacted a statute containing several reforms, including a requirement that voters produce government-issued photo identification and a seven-day reduction in the period for early voting.

These and similar proposals in other states have sparked sharp partisan fights. Democrats believe that they violate the Voting Rights Act and constitute deliberate efforts by Republicans to suppress voting by nonwhites, students, and others who by and large do not favor the GOP. Firmly denying any intent of malice against any demographic group, Republicans insist that reforms are needed to combat voter fraud.

Conflicts over voting are as old as the republic, but they have intensified since President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election and the Supreme Court’s June 2013 decision striking down Section Four of the Voting Rights Act, which determined the states and localities required to seek federal approval for changes in election laws. “Preclearance,” as this policy was commonly known, applied primarily to the South. Republicans have tended to applaud the Court’s ruling, arguing that discrimination against nonwhites once was a problem but is now so rare that federal oversight is no longer needed. Colin Powell stands a rare exception within the GOP; he has denounced the North Carolina statute as morally wrong, based on inaccurate beliefs about the extent of fraud, and politically suicidal. The Republican Party, he contends, should be reaching out to blacks and other nonwhites.

For some observers, these developments are the latest chapter in the shift of the pro-civil rights “party of Lincoln” to a southern-controlled, states’ rights GOP that has little room for African Americans. Didn’t overwhelming majorities of congressional Republicans favor the Voting Rights Act in 1965? Yes. In the Senate, thirty Republicans backed the legislation, and only two opposed. House Republicans voted five-to-one for it. As Republicans have been noting ever since, that was a higher percentage of support than registered by Democrats.

A closer look at the events of 1965, however, reveals that the current Republican approach to voting is more similar to that of a half century ago than the final congressional tallies indicate. So, too, is the contemporary political context.

In March 1965, President Lyndon Johnson proposed legislation that greatly expanded federal authority over state election laws, particularly in the South. The bill contained a “trigger” provision that used voter participation data from 1964 to automatically suspend literacy tests in several southern states and bring those states under the preclearance requirement. This approach would relieve individuals and organizations of many of the considerable legal hurdles (and, in numerous instances, personal risk) of filing lawsuits. That case-by-case method had been tried under the 1957 and 1960 civil rights laws but had resulted in few new black voters.

Led by Everett Dirksen (Ill.), Senate Republicans allied with non-southern Democrats to defeat southerners’ efforts to preserve local autonomy, most notably their attempts to delete the trigger and preclearance provisions. Republicans also backed cloture, which ended the southern Democrats’ filibuster and ensured that the bill would pass.

House Republicans initially rallied behind legislation, offered by Gerald Ford (Mi.) and William McCulloch (Oh.), that enhanced federal jurisdiction compared to earlier civil rights laws but nevertheless preserved more state autonomy compared to Johnson’s. Their bill did not automatically ban literacy tests or contain preclearance requirements. Since the early twentieth century, Republicans had favored literacy tests in their own states and insisted upon maximizing state authority over voting rules, largely in response to high levels of immigration to the Northeast and Midwest. Low levels of black voting, Ford and McCulloch argued, might stem from factors unrelated to discrimination. The pair also pointed out that their legislation would apply to more southern states than did the president’s. Prominent civil rights groups and leaders preferred Johnson’s approach, however.

The Senate’s action, plus the sizable Democratic majority in the House, meant that the Ford-McCulloch legislation had no chance. House Republicans then fell in line with the winning side. Just one of the seventeen Republicans from the ex-Confederate states voted for Johnson’s measure. Southern Republicans, in other words, were just as eager as southern Democrats to limit Washington’s reach.

The political context of the mid-1960s also echoes the present. In 1965, Republicans were debating how to rebuild their party. The 1964 election had been a disaster not just for presidential nominee Barry Goldwater, but for the party as well. A handful of Republicans wanted to more closely align the GOP with the civil rights movement. Doing so, they argued, would increase African American support and help the party with the expanding number of whites, in the South and elsewhere, who favored a more racially egalitarian society. “We have got to get the party away from being an Anglo-Saxon Protestant white party,” Charles Percy asserted. Percy had just lost his bid to be governor of Illinois; he would be elected to the Senate in 1966. Likewise, Governor George Romney (Mi.) fired off a twelve page letter to Goldwater in which he noted that the Arizona senator had received eight million fewer votes than Richard Nixon did in 1960 and voiced alarm over the “southern-rural-white” thrust of the senator’s campaign. “The party’s need to become more broadly inclusive and attractive,” Romney emphasized, “should be obvious to anyone.”

Romney and Percy were minority voices within their party. Most Republicans continued to agree with Goldwater that the black vote was largely unwinnable and essentially irrelevant. Whites far outnumbered African Americans in most of the nation, including most of the South. As Johnson’s bill was being debated, state and local Republicans from Dixie warned northern GOP lawmakers that allying with president would undermine the party’s recent growth in Dixie. Worried that the elimination of literacy tests would mean a large influx of black voters, one Louisiana organization appealed to Nixon to lobby congressional Republicans on the South’s behalf. Illiterate African Americans, they wrote the former vice president, simply followed Democrats’ instructions or sold their votes for beer or a few dollars. The head of the Mississippi GOP predicted chaos “if large numbers of ignorant, illiterate persons are suddenly given the vote.”

Concerns over fraud were not limited to the South. Believing that the Democrats had stolen the 1960 election through fraud in Chicago and elsewhere, the RNC had launched Operation Eagle Eye in 1964. Republicans across the nation tried a variety of techniques to prove that many African American voters were ineligible. Republicans also worked to dissuade blacks from voting by spreading false information in African American neighborhoods regarding the voting process. Operation Eagle Eye flopped, but Republicans would continue to use many of these methods in the decades ahead.

Timothy N. Thurber is Associate Professor of History at Virginia Commonwealth University, and author of The Politics of Equality: Hubert H. Humphrey and the African American Freedom Struggle, and, most recently, Republicans and Race: The GOP’s Frayed Relationship with African Americans, 1945–1974.
– See more at: http://hnn.us/article/153358#sthash.xPizvkxg.dpuf

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El enfoque histórico-cultural de Emely Rosenberg y la política expansionista estadounidense

por Pablo L. Crespo Vargas

Spreading the american dreamUno de los problemas, más significativos, que confrontaron los estudiosos de la historia diplomática estadounidense hasta comenzada la segunda mitad del siglo XX fue la falta de un acercamiento o una explicación cultural donde se analizaran los distintos aspectos del desarrollo de las relaciones internacionales de este país. Los cambios producidos en el pensamiento académico luego de finalizada la Segunda Guerra Mundial, donde se presentaron una serie de factores que incluyen mayores oportunidades de estudio gracias a los beneficios educativos a veteranos, el aumento de instituciones universitarias estatales, y los movimientos de derechos humanos, feministas e indigenistas, que motivaron a muchos a realizar estudios postsecundarios, sin importar la clase social de la que provenían, también se sintieron en la historiografía estadounidense.[1]
Los recién formados historiadores comenzaron a ver la historia desde una perspectiva fuera del punto de vista elitista que se había caracterizado hasta ese momento.[2] Uno de los mejores ejemplos de esta situación lo encontramos en la obra de Emily S. Rosenberg. Esta historiadora busca presentarnos como la cultura estadounidense jugó un papel trascendental en el desenvolvimiento de la política exterior de los Estados Unidos. Es importante señalar, que la autora, establece los límites a su trabajo en “examine the process by which some Americans, guided and justified by the faiths of liberal-developmentalism, sought to extend their technology-based economy and mass culture to nearly every part of the world.” En otras palabras, Rosenberg no trabaja el efecto de la americanización en otros países o culturas, aunque estos son estudiados con mayor detenimiento por otros investigadores, sino que se enfoca en cómo se dio este proceso desde la perspectiva estadounidense.
La tesis de la autora se centra en el desarrollo de una ideología llamada liberalismo-desarrollista [liberal-developmentalism], el cual tenía cinco puntos o ideas de gran importancia. El primero es la creencia de que todos los países debían copiar el desarrollo económico estadounidense. El segundo punto es la fe existente en el desarrollo de la economía a base de una iniciativa privada. Le seguía la creencia de mantener acceso libre al comercio y a las inversiones. La cuarta idea es el fomento del flujo continuo de la información y la cultura. Por último, se promovía la creencia de que el gobierno tenía la función de proteger la empresa privada, a la vez que se estimulaba y regulaba la participación estadounidense en la economía mundial y el intercambio cultural. Estas ideas se fueron desarrollando y utilizando para poder crear un ambiente favorable a los inversionistas estadounidenses que se aventuraran en el extranjero, teniendo el consentimiento del sistema gubernamental para ello.
En la obra se va presentando la evolución de estas ideas, que Rosenberg divide en tres periodos significativos. Primero, el estado promocional [Promotional State], desarrollado entre 1890 y 1912. En este periodo, el gobierno federal buscaba facilitar el desarrollo económico de las empresas privadas que se desarrollaron en el mercado internacional. Segundo, el estado cooperativista [Cooperative State], promovido después de la Primera Guerra Mundial. En él, el gobierno se inmiscuyó en el desarrollo de las inversiones estadounidenses en el extranjero, buscando posiciones ventajosas en el ámbito internacional; y a su vez, manteniendo la posición política que los Estados Unidos obtuvo al terminar este conflicto. Por último, se desarrolló el estado regulador [Regulatory State], que a partir de la década del 30 buscaba integrar las relaciones entre empresarios y gobierno federal para facilitan los objetivos de ambos.
Los dos puntos que la autora recalca son: (1) la estrecha relación entre la expansión económica estadounidense y los aspectos culturales que se desarrollaban en este país y (2) la correlación existente entre el grado de intromisión del gobierno de los Estados Unidos en los intereses económico y la proyección hegemónica desarrollada ante el resto del planeta. No ha de extrañarnos, que a mayor proyección mundial como potencia de primer orden, mayor era el grado de relación entre el gobierno y los intereses económicos. Sobre este último punto podemos observar dos hipótesis. En la primera, que el gobierno estadounidense utilizó la expansión económica desarrollada por los inversionistas para crear una plataforma que sirvió para promover y proyectar a los Estados Unidos como una potencia de primer orden. Segundo, que el gobierno fue empujado por los intereses económicos para desarrollar una hegemonía que los protegiera en el extranjero. Aunque podemos estar tentados a escoger solamente una explicación, la obra nos demuestra que en un principio los inversionistas y empresarios estadounidenses [los grupos misioneros también aprovecharon el momento] lograron atraer el interés gubernamental; pero, que al pasar el tiempo y los Estados Unidos transformarse en una nación de primer orden su interés por mantener un predominio económico era más latente y la proyección de la cultura estadounidense era vital para tales fines.
Dentro de los aspectos culturales se puede apreciar el surgimiento de ideas progresistas que son propagadas y asimiladas por la población en general. Algunas de estas ideas fueron vistas como precondiciones a una sociedad moderna y de avanzada de una nación destinada a ser modelo universal. Estas incluyen la supuesta superioridad de la sociedad cristiana protestante, la prepotencia anglosajona y el desarrollo económico de la sociedad estadounidense. Estas ideas crearon una mentalidad de superioridad que puede ser apreciada en las campañas misioneras, que buscaban expandir sus creencias religiosas en el extranjero, de la misma forma que los inversionistas buscaban prosperidad en los mercados internacionales.
Otro aspecto cultural que no podríamos dejar a un lado es la importancia que tuvo el llamado sueño americano [American Dream], el cual estaba relacionado con el desarrollo de alta tecnología y el consumo en masa. Si la proyección de este ideal anterior al periodo de la Segunda Guerra Mundial fue realizado por misioneros, misiones diplomáticas e intereses económicos; el desarrollo de los medios de comunicación masivos fue toda una innovación que se encargó de llevar a cada rincón del mundo el pensamiento y estilo de vida estadounidense luego de finalizada esta guerra. La intención, según nos indica la autora, era crear cierto grado de empatía hacia el estilo de vida democrático, de sabiduría e integración social estadounidense. Se puede pensar que la expansión cultural era parte importante en la creación de mercados económicos e intelectuales donde el pensamiento estadounidense predominaba.
Los planteamientos de la autora podrían estar presentando una fuerte influencia revisionista. De hecho, la presentación de una serie de problemas o contradicciones entre el ideal liberal desarrollista y lo practicado en realidad nos hace pensar en la obra del historiador William A. Williams: The Tragedy of American Diplomacy. Entre los puntos trágicos que presenta Rosenberg está la política de dos varas que el gobierno estadounidense utilizó para promover los intereses económicos y diplomáticos propios. El mejor ejemplo fue la política dirigida a condenar y demonizar los monopolios extranjeros; mientras que se promovía el que empresas estadounidenses monopolizaran en países de economía débil y con gobiernos de fácil corrupción.
Según la autora, las justificaciones que cada generación de estadounidenses presentó para el desarrollo de una conducta no liberal dentro del liberalismo-desarrollista son otro ejemplo de la importancia del aspecto cultural dentro de la historia diplomática. Estas son tres: “Doctrines of racial superiority and evangelical mission […], a faith in granting prerogatives to new middle-class professionals […] and a fervent anti-Communism”. Dos de ellas son de corte ideológico: la superioridad racial junto a la evangelización y el desarrollo del anti comunismo; pero su contenido está arraigado al desarrollo cultural de una nación que evolucionó en un marco anglosajón, de creencias religiosas protestantes y con una economía esencialmente capitalista donde el individuo era responsable de su prosperidad tanto terrenal como espiritual. A su vez, la responsabilidad del individuo al progreso llevó al desarrollo de una clase media profesional que promoviera cambios en la tecnología y en la calidad de vida que presentaba el llamado American Dream.
Los planteamientos de corte liberal que Rosenberg expone al presentar un punto de vista cultural pudieran molestar a historiadores conservadores que solo ven intereses estratégicos y económicos en sus señalamientos. Sin embargo, no podemos dejar a un lado, el desarrollo de una política exterior que no se basó únicamente en las pretensiones de grandeza que puede tener una élite, o en los deseos de riqueza que los empresarios vieron en los mercados internacionales, sino, que dentro de todo esto existe un intercambio de ideas, una proyección de lo que es el país y sus pobladores y cómo estos pueden interactuar con otras cultura, aunque en este caso se buscaba que otras culturas asimilaran la de ellos para así poder crear un cierto grado de identificación del cual se suponía que ambos lados se beneficiaran.
Obra principal:
Emily S. Rosenberg: Spreading the American Dream: American Economic and Cultural Expansion, 1890-1945 [1982], New York: Hill and Wang, 1999
Obras citadas:
Appleby, Joyce, Lynn Hunt & Margaret Jacob: Telling the Truth About History, New York, Norton, 1994
William, David: A Peoples History of the Civil War: Struggles for the Meaning of Freedom, New York, New Press, 2006
Williams, William A.: The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, New York, Delta Books, 1962
Otras obras de referencia sobre el tema:
Hogan, Michael J. & Thomas Paterson (eds.), Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations, 2nd ed., New York, Cambridge University Press, 2004
Joseph, Gilbert M, Catherine C. Legrand & Ricardo D. Salvatore (eds.): Close Encounters of Empire: Writing the Cultural History of U.S.-Latin American Relations, Duke University Press, 1998.
Kaplan, Amy & Donald E. Pease (eds.): Cultures of United States Imperialism, Duke University Press, 1999.

[1] David William: A Peoples History of the Civil War: Struggles for the Meaning of Freedom, 2006, pág. 11.
[2] Véase a Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt & Margaret Jacob: Telling the Truth About History, 1994, págs. 146-151.

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Tiempos de Nemosine, blog  del Doctor Cruz M. Ortiz Cuadra, profesor de la Universidad de Puerto Rico (Humacao), publica unas interesantes fotos de la Guerra Hispanoamericana en Puerto Rico. Creo que éstas podrían resultar de interés para los lectores de esta bitácora.

Para ver las fotos ir aquí: Fotos.

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book_thumb_13079En esta entrevista de la New Books in History Network, el historiador Tevi Troy habla de su nuevo libro titulado What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House (Regnery History, 2013).  Esta obra analiza la interacción de los presidentes norteamericanos con la cultura popular estadounidense.

Para oir la entrevista ir aquí.

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Educación e imperio

por EFRÉN RIVERA RAMOS

El Nuevo Día, 19 de septiembre de 2013

indexUn libro publicado recientemente por la Editorial de la Universidad de Wisconsin arroja nueva luz sobre la relación entre las reformas educativas, el colonialismo y la modernización de Puerto Rico en la primera mitad del siglo 20.

En la obra, titulada “Negotiating Empire: The Cultural Politics of Schools in Puerto Rico, 1898-1952”, su autora, la profesora Solsiree del Moral, de la Universidad de Amherst, documenta la centralidad de las escuelas públicas puertorriqueñas en el proceso de configuración de una nueva sociedad colonial embarcada en una profunda transformación social, política y cultural.

El libro complementa la valiosa investigación de Aida Negrón de Montilla, que analizó los esfuerzos de americanización a través del sistema de educación pública desplegados por los comisionados de instrucción designados por el presidente de Estados Unidos. Del Moral escudriña el período desde otra perspectiva: la de los maestros, padres y estudiantes de la época. Constituye, pues, una historia escrita “desde abajo”, que ilustra las complejidades de las respuestas de la heterogénea comunidad escolar a las políticas educativas de la nueva metrópolis imperial.

Sobresale en este trabajo meticuloso el examen constante de las variables de la raza, el género y la clase social, no sólo en la composición del magisterio de entonces, sino en el abordaje de los administradores y el liderato profesional, intelectual y político a los problemas de la educación en Puerto Rico.

Las consideraciones de género se detallan particularmente en el capítulo tres, dedicado al examen de la ciudadanía, el género y las escuelas. La autora examina desde las discusiones sobre las supuestas debilidades de las maestras para enfrentar los retos de la escolarización en el mundo rural hasta la estructura patriarcal de las asociaciones magisteriales y los debates sobre para qué debían educarse las niñas en la nueva sociedad emergente.

Resulta reveladora la referencia a la relación entre el analfabetismo, la masculinidad y la guerra, en el contexto del rechazo masivo del ejército estadounidense de los varones puertorriqueños que no sabían leer y escribir y sus efectos en la discusión pública del momento. El análisis revalida la necesidad de encarar sin ambages el tema del género en cualquier proyecto de reforma escolar. En el capítulo cuatro se destacan los asuntos de la raza y la clase social, ambos estrechamente vinculados tanto a las visiones imperiales sobre Puerto Rico como a las respuestas de las élites puertorriqueñas a la nueva situación. La intersección de raza y clase social se torna particularmente aguda en el caso de la creciente diáspora puertorriqueña en Estados Unidos.

El texto analiza un estudio sobre los niños puertorriqueños en Nueva York encomendado por la Cámara de Comercio de esa ciudad en 1935 a un grupo de científicos sociales. Los investigadores concluyeron que los estudiantes boricuas constituían un grupo inferior intelectualmente en comparación con otros sectores de la población. Recomendaron que se restringiera la migración de Puerto Rico hacia Estados Unidos.

La respuesta de prominentes educadores puertorriqueños no fue mejor. Para impugnar el estudio, un subcomisionado de educación de Puerto Rico alegó que la muestra no era representativa de los puertorriqueños de la isla, pues la mayoría de los estudiantes estudiados eran negros y pobres. Otro indicio, según la autora, de cómo el imaginario sobre la diáspora se ha ido moldeando tanto por la visiones circuladas por sectores diversos de la sociedad estadounidense como por los grupos profesionales, intelectuales y políticos dominantes en Puerto Rico.

Una contribución importante del libro es la conexión que establece entre las políticas educativas implantadas en Puerto Rico y las desarrolladas por los reformadores estadounidenses para Hawai, Filipinas, los pueblos indígenas, las comunidades negras del Sur y los grupos de nuevos inmigrantes. Coloca, además, las iniciativas impulsadas en Puerto Rico en el contexto mayor de los desarrollos pedagógicos del momento en la América Latina y el Caribe.

Se trata de una lectura iluminadora del pasado con aplicaciones de valor para el presente.

Fuente: http://www.elnuevodia.com/columna-educacioneimperio-1597160.html

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