January 10th, 2018
The War of Ideas in European and International History
“Write a 1250-1750 word (roughly 5-7 page) essay discussing how three or four authors from the syllabus address one of the central concepts: Inequality, Freedom, Labor, The Political, Violence. Your essay should be structured around developing a thesis that is an original insight on the three authors you chose or the definition and nature of the chosen term. It should not be simply a summary of the three authors’ arguments
You should take both a historical and a strategic perspective. That is, you should remain mindful of the context in which the texts emerged, but you should also pay attention to their possible relevance for the present day. Especially important are the political and other techniques that the
texts you analyze suggest or imply, as well, possibly, as the political and other pitfalls they warn against.” The books are G.W.F. Hegel Phenomenology of Spirit, Mary Shelley Frankenstein, Karl Marx Selected Writings ed. Lawrence H. Simon, George Orwell Homage to Catalonia, or Primo Levi Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity. The Central Concepts are: Inequality: Inequality can be defined in many ways, including (but not limited to) disparities in
wealth and power. You should consider how authors define inequality and what they propose to do about it.
Freedom: Freedom can mean many things, including the freedom of individuals or of groups.
Because few of the authors we read subscribe to a liberal notion of individual freedom as a consumer and a voter, you should carefully specify what the authors you choose mean
Labor: This can include, among other things, the question of who controls the workplace and the division or distribution of wealth created by work.
The Political: The political is different from politics. The term politics might be taken to describe what one does within a given political form (electioneering, building barricades,
etc.). The political is inventing or analyzing forms of politics. (Representative
democracy, urban insurrection, etc.)
Violence: Liberalism tends to define violence as outside of politics and even as the result of a failure of politics. Many of the authors we read see violence