Sociology as a discipline of study took off only in the twentieth century. The growth in communications technology, coupled with unprecedented levels of human migration, both facilitated and made necessary the study of human interaction from the perspective of ethnicity, race, class, gender, etc. Intellectuals such as Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Talcott Parsons and Anthony Giddens have proposed important theories toward understanding the dynamics of societies. Karl Marx was identified as a sociologist posthumously for during his life-time the field of sociology was not yet formed. But despite the lack of nomenclature Marx’s ideas have profoundly affected later generations of sociologists. Marx’s achievement is in attempting to explain social situations and problems from the point of view of economic class of constituent groups in society. Max Weber, on the other hand, saw religion to be pivotal to society and hence included religious considerations . . . Read More
The association between rape and war goes as far back as recorded history. Among all evil actions that human beings are known to commit, rape is only next to murder in terms of its barbarity and cruelty. It is also a sad fact that irrespective of widespread acknowledgement of the tendency of human beings to indulge in rape, no significant progress is made to prevent this social evil. Most instances of rape tend to coincide with war and its immediate aftermath. This has parallels in the animal kingdom when males of most species combat with each other to win access to females in heat. But the crucial distinction to be applied in this regard is that the animals are acting as per their nature. In the case of humans, they have a developed mental faculty that is capable of applying ethical principles to their actions. Hence there is no justification in mimicking animal behavior while at the same time undermining the faculty of reason and justice that is so uniquely human. While it is . . . Read More
Throughout the history of the United States, there has been conflict between established order and the general public. Even the very conception of an independent union of states separate from the British crown was an act of rebellion. The story of David Gilbert is one of many such struggles for progress. Landmark events in our history such as the Declaration of Independence, the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, and more recently the fight for gay and lesbian rights, have all contributed to the strength of our democracy, improved civil liberties and fundamental rights for citizens. Argued in this vein, the radical political confrontation carried out by people such as David Gilbert is not as villainous as it is made out to be.
One might take issue with some of the tactics employed by David Gilbert and his associates in their efforts to fund their organization and to carry forward their political agenda. But the motivating principles behind their acts of protest . . . Read More
Alan Dowd’s article titled ‘Civilization’s Reluctant Warrior: America and the War on Terror’ is an essay supporting America’s war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Given the readiness and enthusiasm with which the United States initiated war against Iraq in 2003, it is difficult to make sense of phrase ‘reluctant warrior’. Nevertheless, the central thesis of the article is that military actions taken by the United States over the course of the last eighty years is largely justified. This includes the onging War on Terror that was instigated by the September 11, 2001 terror attacks directed against the country. Alan Dowd puts forth several arguments in support of his thesis, some of which are discussed below.
Admittedly, the 9/11 terror strikes were heinous acts that cannot be justified under humanitarian principles. Alan Dowd asserts that the 9/11 attacks were not an attack on the United States alone, but on all of human civilization. . . . Read More
It is a popular illusion that the United States is the leading democratic nation in the world and that its policies are a true reflection of public preferences. The truth, in fact, is quite the opposite. To begin with, let us consider the electoral system in the country. For many years now the voter turnout has not exceeded the sixty percent mark, which means that close to half of its citizens do not participate in the electoral process. The main reason for this is the general lack of confidence in the democratic institutions in the country, which are perceived as agencies of power and privilege.
A study of the Presidential candidates and Congressmen gives away an important truth, namely that the political leaders of the country emerge from an elite socio-economic background. As a result, their loyalties are firmly rooted to their friends in corporate America, thereby neglecting the general public. For example, former President George W. Bush has close links to major oil . . . Read More
Samuel Huntington’s book The Clash of Civilizations has evoked a broad range of responses from political commentators both in the United States as well as abroad. Huntington asserts that the fall of Berlin Wall in 1989 had marked a new beginning in the history of international politics. While prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 major ideological, geo-political and economic conflicts were carried out on the European stage, the end of the Cold War has changed the dynamics and motivations of international conflicts. In the prevailing world order, the fight for supremacy in the realms of ideology, material wealth and territorial conquest have become secondary to the assertion of ‘civilizations’. Civilization as a term in historical discourse can be difficult to define, but Huntington narrows down the scope of this term. According to the author, of all the constituent elements that comprise a particular civilization, its identification with religion, . . . Read More
Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, the balance of power swayed in favour of the United States. While the ruling elite of the United States seem to have benefited from this change in fortune, the rest of the world has had mixed consequences since the end of the Cold War. Political commentators agree that the demise of the Soviet Union heralded a new world order which held promise and threat to global harmony and prosperity. The rest of the essay will foray into the deeper implications of this new world order for allies and enemy states . . . Read More
The 2003 invasion of Iraq has given rise to widespread public debate. There were questions raised about its legitimacy. There are advocates for both sides of the issue. This includes public intellectuals, politicians, journalists and activists. The purpose of this essay is to present to the reader arguments for and against the legitimacy of the war. To make the arguments authentic and credible, care has been taken to elicit information from the most reliable of . . . Read More