Pick at least one of these political revolutions and at least one of these cultural revolutions. Based on the textbook, primary sources, and other course resources assigned for this unit, do you think that either of the revolutions you have selected promo
Unit II Republics and Revolutions Paper Assignment
Alexis de Tocqueville believed that a long, slow global transition to democracy was underway in the nineteenth century; to explore what this might mean for France (and, perhaps, other countries that still had monarchical and aristocratic systems), he visited the United States in 1831 and wrote about his experiences in his now-famous book, Democracy in America (vol. 1: 1835, vol. 2: 1840). Tocqueville was not an uncritical admirer of democracy or democratic political culture, however. In one evocative chapter of Democracy in America vol. 2, he painted a picture of how democracy ripped apart the social fabric and left individuals isolated:
“Aristocracy had made a chain of all the members of a community, from the peasant to the king; democracy breaks that chain and severs every link of it…Thus not only does democracy make every man forget his ancestors, but it hides his descendants and separates his contemporaries from him; it throws himself back forever upon himself alone and threatens in the end to confine him entirely within the solitude of his own heart.” (pg 105-6 of the excerpt provided at the beginning of this unit.)
China experienced several political revolutions that claimed to be democratic during the period we’ve studied in Unit II: the 1911 Republican Revolution that overthrew the monarchical system (MCM 220-230), the 1926-27 Nationalist reunification of China (MCM 264-278), and the Communist Revolution (MCM 359-368). During the same period, China also experienced several “cultural revolutions” that purported to advance democratic agendas: the May Fourth Movement of the 1910s-20s, the early PRC’s reeducation efforts (thought reform, fanshen, etc) in the 1950s, and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of 1966-76. [I will leave it to you to find page references in MCM for these “cultural” revolutions.]
Pick at least one of these political revolutions and at least one of these cultural revolutions. Based on the textbook, primary sources, and other course resources assigned for this unit, do you think that either of the revolutions you have selected promoted any kind of “democratic individualism”? If so, do you think this sort of “democratic individualism” in China resulted the isolating effects that Tocqueville described in nineteenth-century America? What do you think your answers reveal about China’s revolutionary twentieth century?
-A thesis statement in a well-crafted introduction: give your answer to the topic question posed above and explain your reasoning.
-Discuss in detail the life experience of several specific individuals/types of individuals to validate your thesis. Make the link between these individuals/types of individuals and your thesis explicit. Explain your thought process and use appropriate quotations from the text to illustrate your ideas. [In grading your paper, I will particularly focus on these body paragraphs and specific comments to help you improve your analysis of evidence. -JBH]
-These individuals should be drawn from the primary sources we have read in Unit II (or, if appropriate, Unit I) as well as material from the textbook, Making China Modern. No outside research is needed.
-Contextualize the lives of the individuals you are discussing by using Making China Modern research the major events/trends that occurred during their lives. “Contextualization” can mean different things, depending on the materials you have available to you and how carefully you read those materials. At a minimum, it indicates: explain something about the time period the person lived in (not in the sense of precise years, but in terms of characterization of that time period: prosperous or not, peaceful or not, etc–so, for example not the 1850s, but the “rebellion-plagued 1850s”…but then explain why you have characterized the era in this way) AND explain how you can see the major trends of that era reflected in this person’s life.