Log inskip to content

Archive for October, 2015

What’s China gonna do? Better check this music video

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

After China’s state-run news agency Xinhua posted the music video online overnight, it’s gone viral. A quick listen to the lyrics makes Communist centralized economic planning seem cheery:

Hey have you guys heard about what’s going on in China? / President Xi Jinping’s new style? / Yes! And there’s more! / The Shi San Wu! / The what? / China’s 13th five-year plan! / Yeah! The Shi San Wu! / Oh! / Every five years in China, man, they make a new development plan…

The video raises a lot of questions, like: Why are hippies with guitars and bongo drums atop a VW bus singing about China’s 13th five-year plan?

Or: Why did Xinhua think this would appeal to foreigners?

Or, simply: Why?

Debate: Western Liberal Democracy Would be Wrong For China

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

People everywhere are better off living in liberal democracy: that has been the reigning assumption of the western world. But could it be we’ve got it wrong? If you were one of the world’s billions of poor peasants might you not be better off under a system dedicated to political stability and economic growth – one that has lifted 400 million out of poverty – rather than one preoccupied with human rights, the rule of law, and the chance to vote out unpopular rulers?

So is China better off without democracy? Or is that just the age-old mantra of the tyrant?

Speakers for the motion

Martin JacquesMartin Jacques

Author of When China Rules the World, visiting senior research fellow at the London School of Economics, and visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing

Zhang WeiweiZhang Weiwei

Senior Fellow at the Chunqiu Institute, author of The China Wave: the Rise of a Civilizational State, and former translator to Deng Xiaoping


Speakers against the motion

Anson ChanAnson Chan

Former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong and campaigner for democracy


Jonathan Mirsky

Historian of China, and former China correspondent for The Observer and East Asia editor of The Times

Your Assignment:

Come to class with detailed notes from this debate. Your notes should detail:

  1. The speaker’s arguments
  2. Evidence deployed to substantiate his/her arguments
  3. Rebuttals made to 2 and/or 3 above

Though you may type or write your notes, use this note organizer. Your notes will be collected and assessed.

Watch (or listen to) the entire program; the first 55 minutes is opening speeches, the second 45 minutes is debate and closing remarks.

We will continue the debate over this motion in class. Come to class decided on the motion. But be prepared to argue both sides in class, as I might choose to assign sides.

If you prefer, you can listen to this debate on a mobile device, either in podcast or streaming formats.

Slavery in Western Territories

Sunday, October 18th, 2015


A short essay from Daina Ramey Berry,  an associate professor of history and African and African diaspora studies, and the Oliver H. Radkey Regents Fellow in History, at the University of Texas at Austin

UK General Election 2015

Friday, October 16th, 2015

The BBC coverage of the election and results

A collection of coverage from the Economist 

StatWonk Nate Silver’s 538 coverage 

Anne Applebaum offers this jeremiad in response to the election results

UK General Election Assignment

Write an 800-1200 word (1.5 – 2 page), single-spaced, thesis driven essay due in response to the following questions:

  • Describe: What happened in the May 7 general election and why?
  • Analyze: What stands out as particularly interesting or anomalous in the election results?
  • Evaluate: What do the results mean for the UK? What challenges might ensue from coalition rule?

Use the articles given. You may also do your own research. Properly cite your essay using parenthetical citation. You do not need a works cited page.

You will present and defend your essay in class. I look forward to it.

Lecture: Three Perspectives on the Peculiar Institution

Friday, October 16th, 2015

Here is my lecture, in Hegelian form–with a discomforting, counter-intuitive, and admittedly incomplete synthesis.

Lazar’s Lecture on The Stalin Years

Friday, October 9th, 2015

Lecture Outline:

  • Brief note on origins
  • Stalin’s Inheritance & His Plans
  • Mixed Industrial Results
  • Mixed Agricultural Results
  • Raw Terror
  • Foreign Policies
  • Stalin’s Legacy

Stalin: The Hero who Preserved the Revolution or the Villain who Destroyed it? Enjoy.

Explanation of Stalin’s purges

Friday, October 9th, 2015

Here is an Explanation of Stalin’s purges from a Soviet History Text

Stalin’s Cult of Personality

Friday, October 9th, 2015

Here is Khrushchev’s 1956 Secret Speech on Stalin’s Cult of Personality