The Strategy of Self-Restraint

In the 1908 “Speech from the Dock,” British suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst, states that her organization Women’s Social and Political Union is advocating for the right to equal representation under the law, and she believes that having the right to vote will lead to more representation for women. (Pankhurst, 470) For instance, when Pankhurst mentions why some women in her organization were arrested for handing out leaflets with the message “to rush the House of Commons” printed on them, she mentioned to a man questioning her, “Well, sir, that is all I have to say to you. We are here not because we are lawbreakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers. (Pankhurst, 472) This statement demonstrates that suffragettes, such as Pankhurst, advocated for women to have the right to make laws. For instance, she mentioned that women had to pay taxes but could not decide how they were spent. Also, she mentioned that women had to obey the laws but could not decide what laws should be enforced. Thus, women were forced to submit to laws and rules that they did not decide themselves. Therefore, women had to draw attention to their cause by protesting and causing “agitation.” However, Pankhurst made it clear that “agitation” was not used to create violence or break laws but was used to anger opponents. (Pankhurst, 471) As a result, “agitation” would cause opponents to enact violence against the suffragettes, and they would remain calm to prove that they were rational and not overly emotional. For instance, after Pankhurst is arrested, she mentions that her followers likely wanted to fight the police and cause chaos; however, they remained calm. Pankhurst stated, “They were very indignant, but our words have always been, “be patient, exercise self-restraint, show our so-called superiors that the criticism of women being hysterical is not true; use no violence, offer yourselves to the violence of others.” (Pankhurst, 472) In reality, the women purposely placed themselves in situations that would result in violence and opposition because they insisted on the right to vote in a patriarchal society in which women could not make decisions for themselves. Pankhurst’s statement demonstrates how women had to remain calm and collective even when facing violence to prove to men and all of society that they can be rational beings. Also, the women were able to make the violent perpetrators appear irrational instead. How does the self-restraint demonstrated by frustrated suffragettes reflect the patriarchal society they lived in? How could this strategy be effective for other social movements?

Do dreams make wishes come true?

In the “Interpretation of Dreams,” a psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, published an analysis of his dreams in 1899. Freud concluded that dreams fulfill our unconscious wishes. For instance, Freud examines the dream he had about his patient Irma. In this dream, Freud says to Irma, who is suffering from hysteria, “If you still get pains, it is your fault.” (Freud, 142) By making this statement, Freud places the blame on his patient. Freud is angry after his friend Otto informed him that Irma had not gotten better because he believed Otto was criticizing him for promising Irma that she would become better. Also, since Irma refused Freud’s treatment, he even replaced Irma in his dream with her likable friend. Freud was angry that his patient refused his treatment, and he wanted to shift the blame onto her. Therefore, Freud could also remove his guilt over the fact that he was failing his patient. To demonstrate the guilt he felt even more, Freud dreamed that Irma was suffering from a physical condition that he was not responsible for treating as a psychiatrist. Thus, Freud could no longer feel guilty if he were to abandon or replace his patient. (Freud, 141) By analyzing this dream, Freud concluded that his dream was a manifestation of his wish not to be responsible for treating Irma anymore. (Freud, 142) Freud could have been angry with Irma and disappointed that she refused his treatment, but his dreams may not have expressed those emotions directly. How may have Freud applied his feelings of guilt or anger to these dreams while analyzing them? Is Freud’s dream merely a collection of random thoughts that do not reveal a deeper meaning? Do dreams always fulfill our wishes?


In Memoirs of a Revolutionist, a Russian Radical, Vera Figner writes about the Populist-Socialist organization’s intentions, the Will of the People. (Figner, 74)The Will of the People was a radical terrorist organization that believed in starting a peasant revolution to create a Russian government that would serve the people. Figner and other organization members believed that the government was too centralized and controlled all of the economic and political power. (Figner, 72) Before a peasant revolt could begin, the organization believed that political activity was needed first. Therefore, the organization assassinated Alexander II because they were hoping it would spark a revolt. (Figner, 73-74) To achieve their goals, the Will of the People believed that revolutionary activity needed to be controlled by a centralized executive committee that would have power and control over all other revolutionary groups and societies. For instance, Figner stated, “The local groups were obliged to obey this centre, to surrender to it their members and resources upon demand.” Thus, Figner believed that it was justifiable for the executive committee to dominate all local groups because it was for the people’s best interests. Also, Figner stated, “In conformity with the demands of intensive warfare against our mighty antagonist, the plan of organisation of the Will of the People was designed along lines of strict centralisation and an all-Russian scale.” (Figner, 74) The Will of the People believed in defeating their oppressive enemy, the Russian government, by adopting a similar centralized structure that would enable them to demand as many resources as they want from others for the greater good. How is the belief of the centralization of revolutionary activity hypocritical? How can this belief lead to the replacement of a corrupt government with an even more corrupt government? 

“Ominous” Foreshadowing

In chapter 15 of “When Things Fall Apart,” Okonkwo’s friend Obierika had delivered news to him and his uncle about the massacre of the African Abame tribe that had occurred at a large market place. This massacre had destroyed the entire tribe and only a few members were left. This massacre was different from the normal disputes or wars between tribes because this tragedy was committed by three white European colonizers who had received help from members of another tribe. (Achebe, 131)The white men had sought revenge after members of the Adame tribe had noticed a white man riding on his horse, and they had killed him after receiving a warning from their oracle about the destruction that white men would bring. Thus, the Adame were defending themselves from what they perceived to be the beginning of invasion. After all, many individuals from tribes have heard stories about white men kidnapping Africans by force and enslaving them. (Achebe, 132)Thus, they were concerned about the safety of their tribe. However, the Adame never asked the white man for information which Oknokwo’s uncle Uchendu believes led to the slaughter. (Achebe, 130) For instance, Uchendu stated, “Never kill a man who says nothing. Those men of Abame are fools. What did they know about the man?” Unchedu believed that it was dangerous to kill a man without finding out his intentions first or the reactions of those who accompany a man. (Achebe, 131) Uchendu then narrated a story about a woman who told her daughter to return a baby chick she had stolen from its mother because the mother had walked away in silence. The woman believed that the chick could not be eaten until the mother had at least shouted or cursed her daughter for stealing the chick because she believed that silence left uncertainty. The woman feared that the duck could seek revenge for her baby chick, so they needed to see her express normal emotions such as anger. For instance, she states, ” “Their is something ominous behind this silence.” (Achebe, 132) How does Uchendu’s story about the baby chick foreshadow the uncertainty and dangers surrounding European imperialism?

The Shopping Habits of Women

In Émile Zola’s, The Ladies Paradise, he writes about the growing consumer culture in France during the 1870s. Zola tends to describe women as weak individuals who are easily overcome with temptation and unable to control their passions for materialistic goods, such as clothing. For instance, when Zola is mentioning the shopping habits of Madame Marty he states, “She was known for her passion for spending, her inability to resist temptation, strictly virtuous she was, and incapable of yielding to her lover; but no sooner did she set her eyes on the slightest piece of finery than she would let herself go and the flesh was conquered.” Zola indicates that women like Madame Marty are morally strict in every way expected of a woman except they always gives into their passions and temptations for material possessions. Also, Zola appears to promote the notion that women can be “bought” or coerced by providing them with material goods. For instance, Zola mentioned how Madam Marty was “conquered” as soon as she saw a piece of finery. Basically, Zola is stating that women have at least one very strong weakness that makes them “conquerable” and capable of being taken advantage of. (Zola, 62) How can Zola’s depiction of women be harmful? Would liberal capitalists attempt to profit off of the “vulnerability” of women? Also, would other French individuals use the assumption that women cannot be trusted with their husbands’ money because they are financially irresponsible and weak as justification to monitor their expenses more strictly?

Defining “Struggle: Renan’s “What is a Nation”

In Renan’s What is a Nation, he attempts to define the principles that create a nation. Renan provides multiple counter-arguments against the claim that nations are natural and permanent rather than constructed and dynamic. For instance, Renan criticizes the belief that one shared religion, ethnicity, or language creates a nation because he fears that this belief can justify violence to force assimilation onto different groups of people who do not wish to unite with another group. (Renan, 51-52) Also, Renan mentions that no one belongs to only one racial group due to mixing. For example, he mentions that the french are made up unacknowledged racial groups that have mixed over time, such as, the Franks, Burgundians, and Gauls. (Renan, 49) Also, Renan mentions that languages are constantly changing in a region and cannot define a nation. (Renan, 50) Thus, Renan believes that a nation can only be formed by a “spiritual principle,” which he describes by stating, “One lies in the past, one in the present. One is the possession in common of a rich legacy of memories; the other is present-day consent, the desire to live together, the will to perpetuate the value of the heritage that one has received in an undivided form.” (Renan, 52) Thus, he claims that a nation is formed when groups of people have shared experiences that spark a desire inside of themselves to unite under their ancestors’ shared struggles. Also, Renan states, “I spoke just now of “having suffered together” and indeed suffering in common unifies more than joy does.” (Renan, 53) Renan claims that a nation is united by shared grief and the desire to heal together. However, a few questions are raised. For instance, Renan does not describe what is considered a form of suffering, nor does he mention how to determine if the experiences of groups are shared. What form of suffering can unite people under one nation? How can it be proven that all people truly desire to unite if one group decides to dominate the conversation?

Abolishing Private Property

In “The Communist Manifesto,” Marx and Engels claim that capital grants exclusive social power to the wealthy Bourgeoisie (the owners of the means of production) who exploit the proletariat (the laborers); thus, the only way to terminate exclusive status is for all of the proletariats to unite. According to Marx and Engels, a united proletariat can remove the exclusive social power granted to the Bourgeoisie by abolishing the system that enables private property for the Bourgeoisie only. Instead, Marx and Engels, along with other communists, believe that a united proletariat should abolish capitalism’s current system in favor of a system that promotes collective property for all; therefore, the proletariat would no longer be dependent on capitalism or the Bourgeoisie. For instance, Marx and Engels state, “To be a capitalist is to have not only a purely personal, but a social status in production. Capital is a collective product. Only by the united action of many members, nay, in the last resort, only by the united action of all members of society, can it be set in motion. Capital is, therefore, not only personal; it is a social power.” Thus, the Communist Manifesto explicitly states that one of the main functions of capitalism is to create a form of social status given to only those who own the means of production, even though capital is created by a collective group of people who do not reap the benefits. When discussing the abolition of the exclusive social power, Marx and Engels further state, “When, therefore, capital is converted into common property, into the property of all society members, personal property is not thereby transformed into social property. It is only the social character of the property that is changed. It loses its character altogether.” According to this statement, the property needs to be accessible to all rather than just a select few to prevent social achievement from being obtained by property. “The Communist Manifesto,” Page 23) Both statements by Marx and Engels in “The Communist Manifesto” can be applied to the current economic situation in the U.S. For instance, many private businesses and factories began to move entirely overseas to exploit workers for less pay. Both the U.S.A. and workers over seas were impacted by the factory owning elites whom they had been forced to rely on for profit. Thus, what would Marx and Engels think about Americans and individuals worldwide uniting together to abolish private corporations that continue to exploit the working class all over the world while obtaining power and status? How do you think Marx and Engels would react to the fact that only a small number of individuals in the U.S. own most of the country’s wealth?

Creating Division between the English and Irish Proletariats

In Friedrich Engel’s “The Conditions of the Working Class in England”, he mentions that the Bourgeoisie of England are able to maintain power due to the competition between the working classes. Engel’s implies that the Bourgeoisie have the power to render the working class “helpless” by forcing them to compete with one another. For instance, he states, ” Here we have all the competition of the workers among themselves. If all the proletariats announced their determination to starve rather than work for the Bourgeoisie, the latter would have to surrender its monopoly.” Thus, Engels is implying that the Bourgeoisie own all the capital within society and have the power to manipulate and control the lives of the working class (proletariats) by replacing them with one another if their demands ever became too high. Engels also understands that the Bourgeoisie would always have power as long as they had a few workers and only unifying the working class would force the Bourgeoisie to make changes. (“Competition” Page 88)

In Engel’s statement about unifying the working class, he does not just blame the Bourgeoisie for creating competition among the working class. For instance, he also blames the Irishmen for contributing to competition. Engels claims that the Irish force the English to lower their standards in order to not starve or be replaced by the less “civilized” men who are more willing to live in worse conditions. For instance, Engel’s states, “True, this limit is relative; one needs more than another; the Englishman who is still somewhat civilized needs more than the Irishman who goes in rags, eats potatoes, and sleeps in a pigsty. But that does not hinder the Irishman’s competing with the Englishman, and gradually forcing the rate of wages, and with it the Englishman’s level of civilization, down to the Irishman’s level.” Basically, Engel’s claims the the Irish are less “civilized” than the British and attaches stereotypes to certain groups within the working class. Thus, Engels invokes a sense of cultural superiority by attaching the English to “civilization.” (“Competitions” Page 89) Therefore, this final quote prompts a few questions. Also, why would Engels create cultural distinctions between two groups within the working class when claiming unity would be needed to destroy the Bourgeoisie? How might Engels create more division by making distinctions between the Irish and English working class?