Modern World History
Connect the Dots From Past to Present

1
Unit 1: Week 1
Read this section for Week 1 (after class Sept 9, prior to class Sept 16)
"It is now in vogue to celebrate non-Western cultures and disparage Western ones. Some of this is a much-needed reckoning, but much of it fatally undermines the very things that created the greatest, most humane civilization in the world."
-- Douglas Murray, The War Against the West
In the chill of battle, we forged a grand narrative about Athenian democracy, the Magna Carta, Copernican revolution, and so on. Plato to NATO. Western culture was, at its core, individualistic and democratic and liberty-minded and tolerant and progressive and rational and scientific. Never mind that pre-modern Europe was none of these things, and that until the past century democracy was the exception in Europe – something that few stalwarts of western thought had anything good to say about..
Critics of western culture, producing a photonegative emphasising slavery, subjugation, racism, militarism, and genocide, were committed to the very same essentialism, even if they see a nugget not of gold but of arsenic.
-- Kwame Anthony Appiah, The Guardian
What are Some of the Defining Features of Western Civilization?
Liberal, Representative Government
The highest manifestation of this ideal is the US government. It was greatly influenced by Enlightenment ideals and intentionally crafted as a representative democracy with checks and balances and limitations on governmental power in order to preserve the rights of as many people as possible and prevent tyranny. Research has shown this form of government does the best job of preserving the lives of its citizens.
Rule of Law
Western countries operate under the rule of law, not arbitrary decrees or diktats from a ruler or government authority. The most humane and fair law codes in the world are those of western nations, which are rooted in Roman law and English Common law, including the landmark Magna Carta that made the king subject to the same laws as everyone else. These systems ensure that laws are clear, fair, stable, and applied to everyone equally under a fair judiciary and enforcement is carried out while preserving human rights. For example, in western countries, the government can't arbitrarily surveil citizens unless there is a specific reason to believe the person has committed a crime and a judge has issued a search warrant. In non-western countries, it is common for the government to extensively surveil the entire population
Rights: Freedom of Religion
An individual's right to freely choose their own religion, or none at all, was won after centuries of wars and millions of lives lost. The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 marked an end to the European wars of religion and a new era in which sovereign nations chose a dominant religion for their nation-- without interference from other European nations-- yet subjects could practice their religion of choice whether or not it aligned with the state's religion.
Free Market Capitalism
Capitalism has been shown to be the best at generating economic growth. More people have been raised up out of poverty under capitalism than any other economic system. Under capitalism, buyers and sellers negotiate in the open market for goods and services, without government or other outside intervention or coercion. The result is a flexible and responsive economic system that encourages innovation and protects against shortages or excess production due to misguided centralized control. Capitalism is highly criticized for multiple reasons especially the charge that the rich take advantage of the poor and working class. Winston Churchill, UK Prime Minister, responded to capitalism's critics: "capitalism is a terrible system, except compared to all other systems."
Rights of Equality, Freedom, Life, and Property
In western countries, citizens are equal under the law (so the rich and powerful are held to the same standards of justice as everyone else) and society tends toward improving equality of opportunity for all citizens. The Enlightenment thinkers articulated natural rights that belong to everyone and cannot be taken away. John Locke argued that slavery is unnatural because no one can give away their right to freedom. Quakers and Protestants argued that slavery is immoral and repugnant to God. That view led to the west's abolition of slavery. The west's fierce defense of property rights, with roots going back to the 10 commandments' admonition "thou shalt not steal," starkly contrasts with Communism's prohibition of private ownership.
Reason, Logic, and Rational Thought
This section is not yet written.

2
Unit 1: Week 2
Read this section after class on Sept 16, prior to class on Sept 23
Freedom of Speech
In Athens, Any Citizen Was Allowed to Speak in Public;
Free Speech Is A Cornerstone of Western Culture
Legacy of the Western World: Free Speech
The western liberal world order established that free speech is essential to human liberty. It is so important that it's in perpetual jeopardy.
Those who seek to limit free speech assert that they're protecting people from "violent words" or dangerous misinformation.
Is this legitimate and justified? What does history reveal? How is free speech being contested today?
Calling for Election Integrity
Officials declared the 2020 election the most secure in US history yet millions of citizens disagreed and exercised their first amendment right to bring their grievance to the government. Wildly opposing stories emerged ranging from 'insurrection, attempted overthrow of the government' to 'mostly peaceful protest' to 'government entrapment of Trump supporters.'
Advocating for Medical Freedom
Doctors and health advocates demand freedom from mandated Covid 19 measures. Their facts and opinions are banned from media and social media, government authorities improperly silence them, the medical boards and institutions threaten them, and the DOJ declared that Covid misinformation is the greatest threat to the United States, effectively labeling them domestic terrorists.
Demanding Social Justice
Charges of police brutality following George Floyd's death were the rallying cry from Black Lives Matter protests across the US in spring of 2020. Local government officials suspended Covid restrictions on large gatherings specifically for these protests, but not for other, constitutionally-protected rights. Media universally reported "mostly peaceful protests." Damages exceeded $1 billion.
Defending Human Rights
Basketball player Enes Kanter Freedom calls out China for putting a million Uighur Muslim citizens in concentration camps, occupying Tibet, threatening Taiwan, and using political prisoners for forced organ haresting. This puts him in conflict with the NBA who refuses to acknowledge China's human rights violations because their business with China is very lucrative.
Representative Government
Athenians Used Pottery to Exile Bad Government Representatives; Today We Use the Ballot Box to Unseat Them
Legacy of the Western World: Representative Government
The western liberal world order established that people have intrinsic rights to participate in their own government by electing representatives and structuring the government to limit the concentration of power.
Liberty vs. Tyranny
The US Constitution created a representative government with limited powers, 3 separate branches of government, and checks and balances among them in order to reduce the possibility of tyranny and protect the rights of as many people as possible. Meanwhile, some have discovered ways to circumvent limitations on their power and use the wealth of the country to enrich themselves. "When the government is afraid of the people, that's liberty. When the people are afraid of the government, that's tyranny."
The People's Choice
An imperative feature of representative government is accuracy in capturing citizens' votes. Despite clear evidence of voting system hackability and studies proving problems with mail-in voting, US government authorities continue to use both of those tactics. Voter rolls are not cleaned up, voting files are not maintained as required, identification is not required, and confidential access is given to unelected and unaccountable third parties.
National Sovereignty
Europe in 1648 signed the Peace of Westphalia which was, in part, an agreement for nations to stop conquering each other. It established each country's own sovereignty. The Monroe Doctrine had a similar function. The World Wars were spurred by nations forming alliances with each other. Today we face globalist powers such as the World Economic Forum and the World Health Organization attempting to place themselves over sovereign nations. National governments seem complicit in robbing citizens of their constitutional sovereignty.
Crisis Power Grab
Covid 19 brought a massive challenge to the world. It was a chance for western civilization to shine, but instead, the west clamped down with unprecedented authoritarian measures that shook citizens to the core. Emergency powers, mandates, curfews, limitations on assembly, closed churches while bars left open, restricted generic drugs, surveillance and monitoring, forced testing, experimental drugs, quarantine camps. Many say It's time to make Orwell fiction again.
Freedom of Religion
Europe's Religious Wars Ended in 1648,
Granting Freedom of Religion to States & Citizens
Legacy of the Western World: Freedom of Religion
The West Protects the Rights of Individuals to Choose and Practice Their Own Religion--Or None--Without Government Interference and Prohibits the Government from Discrimination Based on Religion
Compatibility of Religions
The West's freedom of religion was conceived in a Christian context. Did the founders mean to include all religions? Can all religions coexist? Are all religions compatible with each other? What about religions that have political and legal frameworks built in, such as Islam's sharia laws? Are those basic tenets of Islam's legal system compatible with western government structures, culture, and law?
Government-Mandated Ideology
While western countries can't force religious belief, some people argue that certain secular worldviews imposed by governments--which define moral and immoral behaviors and beliefs--have the same coercive effects as religions. What rights do citizens have to refuse a government-mandated ideology that contradicts their religion or personal conscience?
Post-Christian West
The West is descended from European Christian nations; Europe was also known as "Christendom." Post-Christian refers to places where Christianity is no longer the dominant cultural force; where it now coexists with secularism, environmentalism, woke ideology, or something else. This affects the underlying values, the community's social fabric and social contract.
Post-Human / Trans-Human World
The west's Judeo-Christian foundations see humans as being made in the image of God and therefore human life is sacred, and the human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. That attitude carried through to non-religious members of western societies. Secular Humanists believe that life matters, humans matter. Transhumanism extends that to imagine how technology can be used to further evolve humans to eliminate aging, and greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capabilities. How does that fit with Judeo-Christian roots?

3
Unit 1: Week 3
Read this section after class on Sept 23, prior to class on Sept 30
How is the Principle of Representative Government, with Separation of Powers, Doing Today?
The ideals of western civilization are extremely hard to live up to. They are under relentless pressure from the forces of tyranny.
A profoundly concerning current-day challenge are the widespread declarations of emergency across the western world. Despite government structures that disallow the suspension of rights in an emergency, scores of government leaders are doing it anyway.
Legacy of the Western World:
Unprecedented Economic Growth Through Capitalism
"Throughout history the average person lived in extreme poverty. The destitution of the common man only changed with the onset of economic growth" which occurred as capitalism was established. "Economic prosperity was only achieved over the last couple of hundred years. In fact, it was mostly achieved over the second half of the last hundred years. The world economy has moved from a zero-sum game to a positive-sum game. This made it possible that when people in one place became richer, other people in other places could become richer at the same time."

Marx & Communism Seeks to Destroy Capitalism
Advocating for Medical Freedom
Doctors and health advocates demand freedom from mandated Covid 19 measures. Their facts and opinions are banned from media and social media, government authorities improperly silence them, the medical boards and institutions threaten them, and the DOJ declared that Covid misinformation is the greatest threat to the United States, effectively labeling them domestic terrorists.
Demanding Social Justice
Charges of police brutality following George Floyd's death were the rallying cry from Black Lives Matter protests across the US in spring of 2020. Local government officials suspended Covid restrictions on large gatherings specifically for these protests, but not for other, constitutionally-protected rights. Media universally reported "mostly peaceful protests." Damages exceeded $1 billion.
Defending Human Rights
Basketball player Enes Kanter Freedom calls out China for putting a million Uighur Muslim citizens in concentration camps, occupying Tibet, threatening Taiwan, and using political prisoners for forced organ haresting. This puts him in conflict with the NBA who refuses to acknowledge China's human rights violations because their business with China is very lucrative.
For all of human history, virtually everyone was very poor. "The only truly important event in the economic history of the world is the onset of economic growth" since capitalism began. In the last 10 or 20 generations, the average person's income increased about 15 X--astounding!
Josef Stalin, (Commun. Russia)
Josef Stalin, (Commun. Russia)
"Give me your four-year-olds and in a generation I will have built a Soviet state!" To choose one's victims, to prepare one's plan minutely, to slake an implacable vengeance, and then to go to bed... There is nothing sweeter in the world." "Words are one thing - deeds something entirely different. Fine words are a mask to cover shady deeds" "It's not the people who vote that count. It's the people who count the votes." "Print is the sharpest and the strongest weapon of our party." When there's a person, there's a problem. When there's no person, there's no problem."" ~ Joseph Stalin
Mao Zedong (Commun. China)
Mao Zedong (Commun. China)
"Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy." "Deaths have benefits. They can fertilise the ground. "We love sailing on a sea of upheavals. To go from life to death is the greatest upheavel. Isn't it magnificent!" "the country must be destroyed...This applies to the country, nation, [mankind and universe.] People like me long for its destruction because when the old universe is destroyed, a new one will be formed. Isn't that better?" "It is necessary to bring about a...reign of terror in every country." "Power comes out of the barrel of a gun."
Karl Marx, author of The Communist Manifesto
Karl Marx, author of The Communist Manifesto
"Take away a nation's heritage and they are more easily persuaded."
Photo by Marion
Photo by Marion
Photo by Jacob
Photo by Jacob
Photo by Shifaaz
Photo by Shifaaz
Fidel Castro & Che Guevara (Cuban Communism)
Fidel Castro & Che Guevara (Cuban Communism)
"The first thing dictators do is finish free press, to establish censorship. There is no doubt that a free press is the first enemy of dictatorship." "I am not a dictator, and I do not think I will become one. I will not maintain power with a machine gun." ~ Fidel Castro "To execute a man we don't need proof of his guilt. We only need proof that it's necessary to execute him. It's that simple.""A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We must create the pedagogy of the paredón [execution wall]." ~ Che Guevara
Vladimir Lenin (Commun. Russia)
Vladimir Lenin (Commun. Russia)
"We can and must write in a language which sows among the masses hate, revulsion, and scorn toward those who disagree with us." "Why should freedom of speech and freedom of press be allowed? Why should a government which is doing what it believes to be right allow itself to be criticized?" ""The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves." ""By destroying the peasant economy... the famine creates a proletariat.... Psychologically all this talk about feeding the starving and so on essentially reflects the usual sugary sentimentality of our intelligentsia."
Photo by Sven
Photo by Sven
Photo by Ed
Photo by Ed
Leon Trotsky (Commun. Russia)
Leon Trotsky (Commun. Russia)
"The dictatorship of the Communist Party is maintained by recourse to every form of violence." "Nowhere else did repressions, purges, suppressions,....aquire such horrifying scope as in Ukraine, in the struggle against powerful forces concealed in the Ukrainian masses that desired more freedom and independence." The less [the working class] identifies the fundamental methods of Socialism with the zigzags and errors of the Soviet bureaucracy, the less will be the danger that, by the inevitable revelation of these errors and of their consequences, the authority..[of Socialism] may decline.
Photo by Hal
Photo by Hal
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