The history of minorities in the United States and more so in California has been one of many injustices. While some discernable improvements have been made in race relations in the state, the socio-economic and political order has not changed drastically. Thomas Almaguer is a credible Latin-American scholar, who had done some incisive analysis and research on the assimilation or lack thereof of Hispanics and other racial minorities in the state of California. The “Color Bar” he refers to in his works is the second class citizenship handed to non-white minority communities during the period starting 1941 and lasting well into the early 1960’s. What is also known as segregation, blatantly unjust as it sounds now, was a usual aspect of the life during this period. But a change in the collective conscience of the American people was on the cards, especially after the racially instigated atrocities by the German Third Reich during the Second World War. The Latinos and . . . Read More
John Steinbeck is arguably the most prominent littérateur of his generation to have adopted the cause of working class America that was struggling to survive the harsh realities of the Great Depression. His most famous work The Grapes of Wrath depicts the everyday travails of a westward migrating white American family in search of better economic opportunities. Of Mice and Men is a much smaller novel, both in terms of the number of characters as well as the social situations they find themselves in. Both these books capture the desperation and resilience of poor Americans of the early decades of the . . . Read More
Reverend Martin Luther King’s famous letter from Birmingham Jail captures some of the core elements of his public discourse. Although the letter had not been orated in public, it is similar in style to his more popular public speeches and brings out the inspirational and charismatic aspects of King’s personality. The letter was first published in The Atlantic as “”The N**** Is Your Brother”. It was written in response to a public statement of concern and caution issued by some . . . Read More
In the book The Time Bind, the author tries to decipher a paradoxical phenomena of the modern times – while more working parents state that they would want more time for their household duties and responsibilities, ever growing number of them are spending greater lengths of time at the workplace. In spite of the fact that there is no monetary or peer pressure to opt this lifestyle, many working parents (both men and women) are choosing to spend more hours at their workplace that results in a partial neglect and irreverence for family life. Arlie Hochschild tries to demystify this situation by studying and interviewing the employees of Amerco.
It was initially believed that fears of competition and layoffs had compelled workers to put in longer hours so as to retain their place in the organization. But this alone cannot explain this widespread phenomenon. Some experts were of the opinion that the addition of new family members in the form of children will increase . . . Read More
Seoul, the capital of South Korea is a key metropolis in the Far East. The Korean peninsula is quite small, comparable to the United Kingdom or New York State in terms of geographical spread. Its geographic location had subjected Seoul to both American and Far Eastern influences. But when it comes to economic prosperity and social equity, Seoul remains a city of contradictions and paradoxes. The rest of this essay will foray into these economic, social and demographic aspects of Seoul and infer its future role in the global stage.
The long and colorful history of Seoul, in the broader context of the Korean peninsula gives some . . . Read More
Nineteen Eighty Four is widely considered to be the definitive novel about the concept of Dystopia. The novel is set in a totalitarian world comprising of three major superpowers namely Eastasia, Eurasia, and Oceania. The region in which the chief protagonist lives and narrates this story is Oceania that includes most of Western Europe.
The chief character in the novel – Winston Smith – is a 39 year old, physically weak person, who uncannily resembles author Orwell himself in terms of physical attributes. Appropriate to a totalitarian political system there is only one Party in Oceania, in complete control of the ruling oligarchy. During the . . . Read More
The aftermath of the Second World War saw the formation of a bi-polar world, with the United States and the Soviet Union dominating their respective hemispheres. Both the powers were equipped with nuclear arsenal and any direct confrontation could have led to the destruction of the species. In this atmosphere where the stakes are very high, most of the strategic advantage is won through diplomacy and applying political pressure. This variety of wielding power has come to be known as the Cold War, where advantages were won or lost through tactful diplomacy as against the use of force.
The Cold-War was ended by the horrific bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While the chief cause for both incidents of aggression is largely systemic, individual decision making played a part too. De-classified information of the Second World War period indicates that President Truman gave orders for using nuclear weapons against the general consensus of his inner circle. What later came . . . Read More
In the short story by Leila Abouzeid, the author narrates an exchange of views between two cousins – one a high placed officer and the other a poor worker. The author uses the social backdrop of Morocco to present her story. The story captures the inequalities evident between the affluent and the deprived sections of the Moroccan society by describing the trappings of the households of the two central characters of the work. In essence, the theme is one of highlighting the prevailing disparities in wealth and well being between two members belonging to different social classes of the Moroccan society.
To put the short story in context, the following statistic pertaining to academicians in Morocco raises a relevant point. Since 1981, average earnings for non-manual workers have increased by almost 40 per cent in Morocco; academicians’ earnings since then have increased by just one per cent, which means that their middle-class status is under threat, and they’re . . . Read More
The fact that the United States does not have a universal health insurance system is undoubtedly bad for its citizens. Despite being the most advanced nation in the world economy-wise, the United States holds the notorious distinction of having a highly-under-functioning health-care system. This fact is proven by the high rates of negative outcomes for patients as well as the percentage of the population that could not afford to purchase insurance plans.
Several public opinion polls have indicated that the general public is overwhelmingly in support of a nationalized health-care system, meaning that healthcare should come under the domain of the government, away from private corporations. But, in spite of this unanimous support for a universal healthcare system (that includes universal insurance), the issue never crops up during presidential debates. The limitations of the two-party democratic system are also being exposed as a result. Both the Democratic Party and . . . Read More
The central thesis of Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents is the assertion that the conflict between sexual needs and the societies restrictions is a big factor to human “dissatisfaction, aggression, hostility and ultimately, violence”. Given that the book was published in 1930, people’s mindsets were largely conservative, which led to protests and outcry against the book. But putting it in a purely scientific context, there is much truth in this thesis. *Freud’s introduction to his book begins with the following . . . Read More