Thoughts on Blowback
If one cannot decisively claim that the United States is pursuing a territorial imperialism, it is possible to argue for the existence of an economical imperialism – one based on ideas of laissez-faire capitalism as exemplified by America only, and the tired buzzword of the new century, globalization. Chalmers Johnson argues extensively for this within the pages of Blowback; he maintains that the United States has achieved its imperial ambitions against its more independent competitors at the price of its integrity. Controversially, he claims that “globalization seems to boil down to the spread of poverty to every country except the United States.” That this would produce blowback if true is no question, but to what extent could America actually be responsible?
As for European economies, Johnson does not go into much detail, but there is extensive detailing of the Asian economies during and after US occlusion. The successful newly developing countries in Asia did so by an extensive regulation of foreign investment, as well as over exchange rates and other factors in the buildup of export-oriented growth economies. In a simplistic view, those that did not do so and instead allowed unrestricted capital flow were doomed to collapse and have to start over again. These were countries – like South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand – with extensive connection to the United States in matters of foreign policy and economic policy, and who had followed either advice or example without adequate guidance from the “lone superpower.” While the probable intent was not to ruin the economies, there was undoubtedly some intention on asserting or regaining American hegemony over East Asia. The tide was already leaning that way: their globalization of Asian economies since the 1970s were based on the idea that they were producers and the American market consumers, thus an export-oriented economy. The market wasn’t just limited to American, of course, but to the rest of Asia as well, Japan being a large consumer. But increasing trade with these countries would mean realigning these expectations instead of approaching them with the positive intent of opening up what Greenspan called “the Western form of free market capitalism.”
Also interesting is an economic imperialism being emphasized by the American military. It seems vaguely conspiracy-like (the usual thriller, where the military-industrial complex has shadowy motives and assassinates its enemies left and right, but the hero always wins) but it is fairly perplexing why American arms sales are conducted in so many countries, legally or illegally, and why – even with intense public pressure – there is seemingly no way of stopping it. Especially infuriating was the technology transfer of fighter jet technology to Japan for free, allowing it to create its own class of fighters. In any case, the extended machinations of arms deals undoubtedly brings American influence around the globe. The fact that it is so must have repercussions with diplomatic tactics and public movements that are usually opposite in focus, causing an illegitimacy to either stronghold of American power. This tension has consequences for empire: others may act due to pressures from one side, and the other half – indeed, the rest of the world – may not know why.
The Census as Imperialism
Taking a census is a key representative image in the claiming of empire over the vanquished. In “White Love,” an essay from Cultures of US Imperialism, Vicente Rafael explores its usage as a method for surveying subjects by analyzing the institution of the census in the American colonization of the Philippines. Its existence was maintained by the image of benevolent assimilation – but which nevertheless emphasized the lower position of the Filipino populace, as must be in any territory taken over by another government. The census, according to Rafael, was intended “to elevate not exploit the populace.” The previous Spanish administration did use it for entirely exploitative purposes, as tax determination and labor conscription promised an immediate physical return. The US Census, however, took control of only their statistics – the Filipino soul, as it were. The census as a tool establishes, in excess detail, the entire composition of a population with all their racial, social, physical and occupational characteristics, all of which can reveal much about the supposed civilization of a nation. Indeed, it is this knowledge which becomes a power over the population, as the person who knows all may use this information to his benefit. If he does not know, he will not be able to use it and thus, have less or no power.
As an example of the power of the census, we may look at Lebanon today. Modern-day Lebanon has avoided the use of a census since early in the twentieth century. The reason for this is that the categorizing of the nation into its Christian and Muslim percentages will ruin the delicate sectarian balance present in the country. In previous years, there had been more Christians and Muslims; now, there are less Christians and more Muslims. Still, the populace is content with a 50-50 power split. The census, and its detailed population statistics, would introduce unnecessary tension and forcibly change the peaceful compromise.
The census also served to bound the native population into the categories of gender and race from which were to spring paternal and chauvinistic philosophies of betterment and discipline. These were to be used inevitably by the white colonizers in its attempt to convert “the felicity and perfection of the Philippine people” to its system of benevolent assimilation – which was used by the United States, as Rafael argues, as the “most precious gift that ‘the most civilized people’ can render to those still caught in a state of barbarous disorder.”
When Corporations Rule The World
Korten pursues some creative arguments for a global takeover by corporations through the example of marketing. He argues that they spend half as much per capita on marketing than the world spends on public education – a fact that parallels the knowledge consumers gain from local cultures, and from the corporate global culture. In fact, economists and supporters of globalism argue that local culture is unnecessary and a trade barrier. By implication, the argument proposes the destruction of local culture in order to create this faceless consumerist market, and through that, the destruction of the ideals and goals of public education. On the one side, there is the corporate idea of knowledge: profit by the corporation, and mass marketing of fun. The creation of longing creates a demand from thin air, while the opposition – passive learning and hard work – is easily outmatched by its comparative boring-ness.
But it is not only corporations that are pushing this agenda. Nations pursue economic objectives to ostensibly increase the quality of life for its citizens. However, their obeisance to world forums, globalization and the idea of collective economic improvement often place economic power as the end, rather than a means to an end. The United States especially has been successful in imparting this view to other nations. President Clinton was particularly adept at persuading foreign officials to fall under the banner of US-led globalization, whether in name only or in serious collaboration. This economic imperialism was as much intentional as based on goodwill: any foreign success in globalization would increase the brand image of US companies and through that, their profits. Happy business means loaded lobbyists means happy government officials.
Back to the argument on public education vs. corporate education – this doesn’t exactly promote the betterment of societies. The national buildup of Asian nations included programs to increase literacy levels and put into place economic objectives and policies that (initially, anyway) went against the American idea of globalization; that is, they weren’t liberal and “free-market”, but highly controlled. Ironically, the American market is and was never as “free-market” as they wanted others to be. In 1997, the US economy was much more tightly controlled than Asian economies were. The developing nation philosophy requires an outlook that is different from the American vision, both culturally and socially, and requires its own brand of national or institutional motivation. Relying on corporate education to instill this outlook is foolish: in an extreme example, couldn’t consumer reliance on American culture become a full dependence on American goods and technology, and where would local markets be? If there is very little local market for goods, then local production units will not have the werewithal to stay in business or even set up in the first place. Thus, local culture, local education, local business, local loyalties: these are all important in providing the best benefit to “consumers – the population – of a country. In any case, due to several factors, none of the countries that have adopted globalization have actually ended up with the rosy prospects that they had predicted. Many ended up in worse shape than before (cough, cough, East Asia) and some went stagnant.
Prospectus on American Resistance to Imperialism
The turn of the twentieth century saw the clashing of events that in total, signaled a new attitude in American politics. By declaring the frontier closed in 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner had ended any further ambitions for internal expansion and instead turned any national aspirations outward. The close timing of the 1893 stock market crash created additional pressures for outward movements; new venues had to be found to renew economic life and democracy for the sake of the desperate and militant millions. This pressure found its release in a key 1898 decision to enter into a state of war against Spain. By deciding to extend armed forces into two foreign territories, the United States had pushed the dialogue a step further; in fact, public discussion had almost decided that fact already. The United States had, by claiming Cuba and the Philippines, signaled the start of preparations for annexation and statehood, as realized by the Constitution. With this violent act against “criminal aggression,” the United States had redefined its position in global politics by posturing a definite imperialism, and created paternalistic explanations for itself under the heading of “benevolent assimilation.”
Against this backdrop, anti-imperialists took the stand against American intentions. Was this democracy, or was this militarism? Was this a republic or was this empire? These questions were posed by the cadre of anti-imperialists, who ranged from anti-abolitionists and blacks complaining of echoes of slavery in oppression of predominantly colored areas to influential white men in the Anti-Imperialist League – people like Grover Cleveland, John Dewey, Andrew Carnegie and Carl Schurz. Even literary giants like William Dean Howells and Mark Twain – and the unwilling Rudyard Kipling – would participate in the ruckus over the future of the country. What I would like to discuss in my final paper is an overview of the arguments posed by these anti-imperialists, and the establishment’s response, and how it affected policy or social trends in the time period 1899-1902.
The anti-imperialists felt that the American government’s late delvings into policies of imperialism had violated the tenets prevailed upon in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The Anti-Imperialist League charter was explicit: “we regret that it has become necessary… to reaffirm that all men… are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Furthermore, they held that “the policy known as imperialism is hostile to liberty.” The fact that America was joining the European nations in this practice – after the bitter public renunciations of British, Belgian and German atrocities in Africa – stirred up others, including demagogue William Jennings Bryan. He declared that “our nation must give up any intention of entering upon a colonial policy, such as is now pursued by European countries, or it must abandon the doctrine that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Twain put it in clearer terms, realizing that “apparently we’re not proposing to set the Filipinos free and give their islands to them… If these things are so, the war out there has no interest for me.” But public threats to convict anti-war activists of treason, the failure of Bryan to win the 1900 presidency and the inability of the movement to mobilize the lower classes and organized labor all contributed to a general failure in its ambition to move America away from imperialist maneuvers. However, they did have somewhat of a ‘positive’ effect: according to historian Daniel Schirmer, “the dominant imperialist group turned away from outright colonialism to indirect forms of political domination.” This form of colonialism-lite would still have disastrous consequences for the Philippines.
Summary Presentation on American Resistance to Imperialism
The Spanish-American War, like others in the American experience, saw the parallel development of anti-imperialist resistance movements alongside efforts toward foreign conflict. These were resultant from nationally broadcast propaganda that has tended to involve the buzzwords of humanitarian aid, economic needs or political inevitability. The usage of a language of national righteousness pointed to the visible clash between the view of America as social worker for the world and the often patronizing arguments of globalization, Social Darwinism and economic necessity. This indication of inconsistency in a discourse that encouraged global justice but did little for discrepancies in social and economic justice at home promoted a mass realization and understanding of the inequities present in such public propaganda. More specifically, the social prejudices that sparked reactionary civil rights and labor movements provoked a strong anti-imperialist backlash from these quarters in response to a public ideology that promised outsiders what they couldn't have. At the same time, the irregular combination of these arguments in public forums tended to weaken attempts overall at reversing American foreign policy – as it never quite succeeded in doing – and instead were only successful in pushing for and achieving movement-specific aims that were not necessarily related to any of the war activities. This was not so much a failure; instead, it was a success in establishing national self-confidence, reducing colonial objectives overseas, achieving socially and economically necessary legislation quickly, and increasing the political presence of the often-ignored underclasses.
By declaring the frontier closed in 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner had ended any further ambitions for internal expansion and instead turned any national aspirations for the creation and solidification of power outward, forcing the United States to join the ‘Great Game.’ Their initial positioning on the world map required the major proof of the viability of a nation-state: its military strength, and its capability in dominating weaker states. As a basic tenet of imperialism – that is, the domination of a weaker state by a stronger one – this requirement both allowed the United States to flex its muscle for a world audience and assuage any strategic and economic needs it might have in mind. The Spanish-American War was useful for all of these reasons, in extending influence over its Latin American neighbors and especially Cuba, the possible acquisition of Pacific bases in and around the Philippines and the establishment of industry and trade into the Asian market, an opportunity that was being eyed by Europeans as well. However, these political objectives were never precisely maintained in public propaganda; in fact, the war was more often than not portrayed as a mission of rescue, and as a defense of an unclearly maligned national honor.
The spin placed on American intervention in Cuba after the Maine disaster was clearly humanitarian, in that it was explicit in public propaganda that liberty and self-determination would be provided to the peoples of Cuba during such a venture. In this spirit, Congress passed the Platt Amendment in 1901, which promised that the US could intervene “for the preservation of Cuban independence [and] the maintenance of a government adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual liberty.” The annexation of the Philippines took on similar dimensions. President McKinley described the action as “completing the reduction of Spanish power in that quarter and of giving order and security to the islands while in the possession of the United States.” Other rejoinders echoed national arguments for retaining the Philippines, including the need for a benevolent assimilation, protection from Spain and other commercial rivals, and the accepted racial theory that Filipinos were “unfit for self-government.” One senator proclaimed, “the Philippines are ours forever.”
As a major force in the anti-imperialist movement, the Anti-Imperialist League distributed thousands of pamphlets and sponsored leagues in all major cities of the United States. The arguments of this group of enlightened men were in support of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Carl Schurz pointed out that a rejection of liberty in the Philippines and in Cuba would destabilize American society by undermining its ideals. Others cited its obvious imperialism by providing no rights to the occupied. Lenin called them the “last of the Mohicans of bourgeois democracy.” Other reasoning pointed out that the Philippines had been purchased, a reminder of slavery that brought up issues with black anti-imperialists. The government defended itself, claiming that the Philippines were only Spain’s way of assuaging US demands for a coaling station, and that they had been burdened rather than blessed. Another thread postulated that the US was acting out a childish rivalry as a distraction from domestic issues, a theory taken up strongly by the labor sector. A newspaper editor argued that “we risk Caesarism, certainly, but Caesarism is preferable to anarchism.”
Business investment in Cuba itself was over $33 million by the beginning of the 1898 war, and that investment was threatened by the Cuban rebellion. The US had specifically demanded that the Spanish stop the rebellion as it was costing US business money. Furthermore, McKinley understood that the 1893 economic recession required new incentive for business to hire labor and to expand production – his solution was new markets. Asia was key, and in particular China. The Philippines were seen as a means of capturing the local markets and easing entry into the Chinese trade, and these economic reasons were eventually publicized when patience with humanitarian goals had run out in public forums.
Labor meanwhile was not happy. The recession had cost them jobs and wages, and they were struggling with the refusal of big business to deal with many of their claims. Their major concern was that foreigners would flood the labor market and further weaken their bargaining position and undercut their wages. Samuel Gompers of the AFL argued that the annexation of the Philippines would open up immigration and “engulf our people and our civilization.” They also scoffed at the idea that foreign nations would get justice if they couldn’t get a fair deal themselves. Labor arguments extended to the other possibilities of free trade: a flood of cheap Asian goods into the American market, decreased tariffs and lessened import protections due to American sponsorship of these foreign goods and the removal of American factories and associated jobs to cheaper ports of production in Cuba and the Philippines.
The black community too questioned how justice could be given to foreign nations when they had not yet received measures of justice themselves. White racists brought up this issue as well, citing the “black elephant” problem, and why would the US need a “yellow elephant” in Cuba and the Philippines on top of that? The issue to the black community was that the plight of the Filipinos was pitiable, but was ultimately a distraction from dealing with civil rights at home. The period had seen a rising number of racial crimes and lynchings, and something needed to be done. Church movements argued that blacks should not fight other blacks, as cross-identification was common, and the argument existed that black soldiers were helping to spread American racist ideals that were thought not to have existed over there before. In fact, if America was so racist already, how could they improve their “little brown brother”? There was a racist Social Darwinist message in the humanitarian ideals after all. Somehow, the more civilized peoples with a more superior fitness was somehow more qualified to lead a people seen as simple and ignorant, a fact supported by famous imperial literature like Kipling’s The White Man’s Burden, published in 1899.
The war did boost American ascendancy as a global power and further American economic interests in China. This did not necessarily support the image of any success derived by these anti-imperialist movements. Being reactionary, they often mobilized too late to do much, and going against the popular grain was hard. Since the American call of duty and national honor was built into the populace as ideals since childhood, it was easy to see why people might not be willing to accept that they might be wrong, and that their national influence might be malign. The anti-imperialist movement could be said to have failed also because the arguments were too splintered and not centrally unifying enough to combat the national philosophy. But – the political power and sheer numbers behind the many arguments did force some successes through.. The issues prevalent in the anti-imperialist movements were more often than not actually domestic issues rather than with the war itself. Labor had economic problems from a ruinous recession, black civil rights supporters had the effects of the Civil War and institutional racism, and liberals had had their message stolen by McKinley and the Republicans. These issues were debated in public circles and served to heighten public dialogue and support for measures directly aimed at each specific issue; also, it increased political awareness and participation among the under-classes who might typically not bother with it at all.
The anti-imperialist effort was able to gather enough support to almost defeat the Treaty of Paris, which was the document that had allowed legal annexation of the Philippines to proceed. More importantly, they were able to force the expansionists on to the defensive. Late in the course of the war, Henry Cabot Lodge defended the Philippine policy by doing away with the emphasis on humanitarian activity and instead focused on economic advantages of the war. This was more believable and persuasive. McKinley echoed this, albeit more weakly, in his platform. A close friend of TR, who was known as a warhawk, claimed that “no one but a few Jingoes wanted any more colonies.”
Lastly, the US was able to turn from outright colonialism to indirect forms of political domination. They could not leave, as once they were there, it would have been destabilizing and worse to just leave. In the end, they were forced to go through with their humanitarian program but with much more emphasis on guiding the Philippines toward independence than they might have. On the whole, the United States ruled with little of the corruption and brutality that would have been expected from traditional European examples. They reformed education, industry, legalities and pushed political reform, finally establishing a broader base for political participation in the Philippines.
For most in the anti-imperialist movement, the gist of the message revolved around the sentiment that the occupied could have no trust in the allegory of benevolent assimilation if the occupiers themselves did not have the same experience. Others had purely selfish reasons, for economic or strategic benefit. Though they were not able to reverse foreign policy, the anti-imperialists were able to temper the foreign policy demands of passionate war-hawks, promote the political participation of the under-classes by showing their capabilities, and incur necessary legislation brought about by issues surrounding the war.
American Resistance to Imperialism: Public Response to the Spanish-American War
The Spanish-American War, like others in the American experience, contained a prominent backlash to war in the form of anti-imperialist resistance movements. For these movements, the usage of a language of national righteousness pointed to the visible clash between the view of America as social worker for the world and the often patronizing arguments of globalization, Social Darwinism and economic necessity. This inconsistency was only one of many in a discourse that encouraged global justice but did little for discrepancies in social and economic justice at home. More specifically, the social prejudices that sparked reactionary civil liberty, racial rights and labor movements provoked a strong anti-imperialist backlash from these quarters, in response to a public ideology that promised outsiders what those in the ‘inside’ couldn’t have. The irregular combination of these arguments tended to weaken attempts at reversing American foreign policy. However, this was not so much a failure; instead, it was successful in moderating American colonial policy and increasing the awareness and power of the under-classes through political participation.
The Spanish-American War, including the short campaign against Spain in Cuba and the struggle against Filipino rebels in the Philippines, was arguably the United States’ first imperialistic war. In any case, it had occurred at the turn of the twentieth century at a time when the country was making its first diplomatic attempts as a world power. By declaring the frontier closed in 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner had ended any further ambitions for internal expansion and instead turned any national aspirations for the creation and solidification of power outward, forcing the United States to join the ‘Great Game.’ Their initial positioning on the world map required the major proof of the viability of a nation-state: its military strength, and its capability in dominating weaker states. As a basic tenet of imperialism – that is, the domination of a weaker state by a stronger one – this requirement both allowed the United States to flex its muscle for a world audience and assuage any strategic and economic needs it might have in mind. These included the extension of influence over its Latin American neighbors and especially Cuba, the possible acquisition of Pacific bases in and around the Philippines and the establishment of industry and trade into the Asian market, an opportunity that was being eyed by Europeans as well. However, these political objectives were never precisely maintained in public propaganda; in fact, the war was more often than not portrayed as a mission of rescue, and as a defense of an unclearly maligned national honor.
The spin placed on American intervention in Cuba after the explosion of the Maine in Havana harbor was clearly humanitarian. It was explicit in propaganda that any war would be one of liberation and self-determination, against the imperial policies of Spain – that just happened to have impinged on American national honor by attacking its navy. In this spirit, Congress passed the Platt Amendment in 1901, for insertion into the Cuban Constitution of 1902. In order to assure Cuba of their good intentions, the rider promised that the US could intervene “for the preservation of Cuban independence [and] the maintenance of a government adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual liberty.” The annexation of the Philippines took on similar dimensions. Even before the Treaty of Paris had ceded the Philippines to the US for a payment of $20 million, Admiral Dewey had taken over Manila Bay by force and expelled the Spanish overlords. This action was explained by President William McKinley as “completing the reduction of Spanish power in that quarter and of giving order and security to the islands while in the possession of the United States.” McKinley later famously called the Filipinos “our little brown brothers” and proclaimed that the American objective for the Philippines would be a benevolent assimilation which would “educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them.”
The major opposition to these plans of war came from the famously liberal American Anti-Imperialist League, who felt that these efforts were imperialistic and were then outraged at the United States’ hypocritical denial of the tenets by which the nation had been founded. Its members included not only enlightened men like Carl Schurz, Samuel Clemens and Andrew Carnegie, but 30,000 members across the nation with donors numbering over 500,000. They sponsored local anti-imperialist leagues in all the major cities and were distributed hundreds of thousands of pamphlets all over the nation. In their platform, the League announced that “it has become necessary in the land of Washington and Lincoln to reaffirm that all men, of whatever race or color, are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Blatantly, the first line of their platform read: “the policy known as imperialism is hostile to liberty.”
Though they understood that the United States government sought to restore liberty, they felt that the administration had a very subjective definition for order, security and liberty as provided for in the Platt Amendment and McKinley’s support of benevolent assimilation. The American promise to interfere only for the preservation of another nation’s security needs while under annexation seemed entirely implausible and against international influence or approval, a viewpoint demarcating the struggle for power inherent in imperialism. Schurz himself warned the president in May of 1898 that any false interference in the Pacific and Caribbean would forfeit the good will of the world, which understood the war as “a war of deliverance and not one of greedy ambition, conquest, self-aggrandizement.” Furthermore, Schurz declared that any rejection of liberty and self-determination by the government would destabilize American society, and that nothing was “more repellent than a democracy that has ceased to believe in anything.” Others were more explicit with reference to imperialism: to them, the rash of annexations seemed suspiciously like an ironic replacement of one form of imperialism with another. In 1901, Moorfield Storey commented on US involvement in Puerto Rico, remarking that their inhabitants had “no American citizenship, no constitutional rights… this is government without the consent of the governed. This is what is meant by imperialism.” Lenin observed their actions with some level of amusement, remarking that the Anti-Imperialist League were the “last of the Mohicans of bourgeois democracy.”
The opposition pointed out other moral flaws in the continuation of the war. While Cuba could have been argued to be purely a war of liberation, the Anti-Imperialists found it hard to accept that the annexation of the Philippines could have been anything but conquest, since it had been purchased instead of acquired solely as a byproduct of war. Anti-Imperialist collaborator Goldwin Smith remarked that by purchasing an “ally,” the people of the United States “surely broke away from the principles on which their own polity is built, and compromised the national character formed on respect for those principles.” The defense to these claims included some of the reasoning behind the purchase: according to government propaganda, the Philippines had been included to assuage a demand from the US that Spain provide them with a coaling station. The subsequent argument claimed that the US had not ‘expected’ to receive the Philippines and was thus burdened. The implicit message was that the war did indeed have indispensable economic and military reasons attached purely to a military campaign against the Spanish instead of specifically with the Philippines itself.
Cuban nationalist Jose Marti argued for a different focus, one which had sound practical reasoning but had moral ambiguities all of its own. The United States, in Marti’s view, was “a nation resolved, before putting its own house in order, to engage in an arrogant and perhaps childish rivalry with the world.” Historically, this has proved to be wise in certain political settings, as military distraction from failures of domestic policy has served to improve popular morale and jumpstart the economy by focusing attention on important industry. Henry Watterson, the editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal, contended that the war was important in realigning the construction of society and turning attention away from the many civil and social reforms which were being demanded by the 1890s. He theorized that the US had escaped the “menace and peril of socialism and agrarianism, as England has escaped them, by a policy of colonialism and conquest… We risk Caesarism, certainly, but Caesarism is preferable to anarchism.” It was this Caesar-like adoption of economic imperialism and state-supported capitalism that eventually resulted in McKinley’s assassination by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist who feared the social repercussions of an expanding global empire to the lower classes of the United States.
The involvement of labor in the anti-imperialist project underlined important economic aspects to the Spanish-American War. First and foremost among these concerns was the attitude of business toward war in general. It was fairly clear that business was in favor of the war, for the most part. Investment into Cuba was above $33 million by the beginning of the Cuban rebellion, and the disruption of trade became a major pressure point for McKinley. At one point, McKinley had demanded that the Spanish put down the revolution immediately, as the violence “injuriously effects the normal functions of business, and tends to delay the condition of prosperity to which this country is entitled.” Because of an 1893 recession, manufacturers had been spreading overseas, as local consumption had decreased. Cuba was just one of many new possibilities; increasingly important was the Asian market. Alongside European promoters, American barons like Rockefeller and Carnegie began investing large sums of money into the development of industry within Asia. However, the interest of other European governments was threatening US influence in the Chinese market, and business began looking for other Asian markets to take advantage of.
The annexation of the Philippines brought about new opportunities for businessmen, as there was little foreign presence on the islands at the time. Many businessmen and influential statesmen were in support of the annexation for publicly economic reasons, which suggested the enormous wealth to be made for the American people in that country. The dialogue amongst their own community was less sugarcoated and explicitly one of economic imperialism, in which the Filipinos were seen as important new consumers of American manufactures rather than as an area for foreign capital or as a source of raw materials. US diplomat to Siam John Barrett described the Philippines as “the most valuable field of development, exploitation and investment yet untouched beyond the borders of the United States.” Many of the economic experts also cited the possibility of enticing larger capital investment into China by maintaining favorable trade zones in Asia; the establishment of friendly colonies would increase the confidence in a ‘safe’ investment area. Trade journals, important indicators of contemporary business trends, were also immediately aware of the possibilities. The editor of the Age of Steel hoped that when America “gets its foot firmly in the colonial boot,” it would be able to reap “the lion’s share of the commerce of Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines.”
This explicitly imperialist attitude bothered proponents of labor, because there were bad portents in the eagerness of business to go overseas. Pulling in threads from other anti-imperialist arguments, Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, argued that the war was a “cure for domestic discontent,” and that it was a device of tyrants to distract from the troubles of profit and fair wages in the United States. Ultimately, they argued that the annexation of the Philippines would be extremely detrimental to labor, as it would open up immigration and “engulf our people and our civilization” – one form of blowback for the American nation. The effect of such a willing working population of foreign immigrants would be to ruin the efficacy of strikes, diminish the effectiveness of unions and reduce the overall price of labor. Those in business took up the argument against immigration as well. Watterson’s comments about the menace of socialism referred to the common perception that the immigrants who made up much of the unionizing forces of labor were Communists. Any addition to the ranks of labor by these influence would be a peril to the American interest.
The anti-imperialists in labor scoffed at the idea of bringing liberty and justice to the people of the Philippines. From their point of view,
if innocent men can be shot down on the public highway… because they dare ask for humane conditions at the hands of the moneyed class of our country, how much more difficult will it be to arouse any sympathy…at any crime against [the Filipinos] inherent and natural rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
Part of this argument consisted of a plea to shield these countries from the misfortune that they had received from treatment by big business. An editorial in the Journal of the Knights of Labor argued that Americans should not have “an India saddled upon them” in order that big business should have more territory in which “to rule and plunder.” Other anti-imperialist labor journals, including the National Labor Standard and the American Federationist judged the annexation and resultant ‘free trade’ – inasmuch as there could be free trade – to be only beneficial to big business and not to the workingman. Their arguments prophesied a flood of cheap Asian goods into the American market, decreased tariffs and lessened import protections due to American sponsorship of these foreign goods and the removal of American factories and associated jobs to cheaper ports of production in Cuba and the Philippines. The labor appeal against the war rapidly lost interest in the war itself and concentrated on the after-effects of war, by supporting legislation for Chinese exclusion and other racial protectionist measures.
This complaint of an influx of immigration was very specific to the American experience, as European imperialism had tended to encourage the movement of their home population outwards instead of enticing foreigners inward. In effect, this particular argument was that economic expansion was akin to imperialism, and that those were not “the most important elements of the American symbol,” according to contemporary Social Darwinist William Graham Sumner. The labor response to the Spanish-American War did begin as somewhat of a moral argument against the abuse of the working man in the Philippines and elsewhere, but it was rapidly clear that this was only an external cover for fears of grave economic repercussions to the working class within America itself.
Another class of anti-imperialists that would emerge from the woodwork included another oppressed class: the men of color. The domination of non-white nations by a distinctly white country disturbed the black intellectuals – for poor and migrant blacks were not likely to be knowledgeable of the goings-on of American foreign policy – who had inherited a cultural legacy from the Civil War and the decisive conclusion to the anti-slavery movement three decades before. The action of annexation and control over large races of colored peoples seemed especially imperialistic and racist, coming not long after the delicate healing process begun during Reconstruction. Their question was why the administration felt that spreading justice and liberty to foreign nations was in any way important when their own citizens had not achieved that same feat. The Colored National League compared their struggles against racism with the supposed strive for liberty in Cuba: “do the colored people of the United States deserve equal consideration with the Cuban people at the hands of your administration, and shall they, though late, receive it?” White anti-imperialists addressed this problem as well, with obvious racist feeling: “did the United States, which already had a ‘black elephant’ in the South, ‘really need a white elephant in the Philippines, a leper elephant in Hawaii, a brown elephant in Porto Rico and perhaps a yellow elephant in Cuba?’” They believed that America had taken more than they could handle, and that any colonial actions were merely a distraction from civil rights work that needed to be done at home. Many black newspapers, such as the Cleveland Gazette, made clear their opposition to American “imperialism” in the Philippines through the white domination of “colored peoples,” but expressed a distinct focus on President McKinley’s domestic record rather than his foreign policy. In any case, the two could be related; the war could be partly a distraction from the rising number of racial crimes and lynchings during that time.
The prospect of American foreign influence bringing common American racist attitudes overseas was a strong justification for a race-based movement that attempted to keep black soldiers out of the war, and especially out of the Philippines and Cuba. Powerful colored organizations, especially church-affiliated ones, argued that Negro men should not enter the Army as they were spreading American racism abroad. One preacher commented that “valuing a man by his color was unknown in Cuba until the scoundrels and villains of this country went there.” Indeed, it was argued by the national Afro-American Council that as America was so “impregnated with colorphobia,” it was in no way prepared to “carry on the work of expansion… among the dark races of the earth.” It seemed ludicrous to some that a nation “so enamored of Anglo-Saxon superiority” could try and improve “our little brown brother,” if they believed that could ever happen. Some preachers, accepting the political inevitability of the war, saw the government’s imperialistic attitudes as just a logical extension of its policy toward its own black population.
The popular Rudyard Kipling poem “The White Man’s Burden” was published in McClure’s magazine during February of 1899 and served as a call to America to join Europe in her imperial adventures. Even if merely sarcastic in promoting the Western world’s imperial responsibilities, the poem outlined a common racial characterization of the peoples of colonized lands, labeling them “new-caught sullen peoples, half devil and half child.” This imagery was certainly part of the American view of the blacks in the South, and even more so toward the Filipinos and Cubans which they had taken an interest that was at once selfish and paternal. Not everybody accepted the Social Darwinist dogma that US civilization should lead the way. One newspaper made the point that contempt for the Filipinos would certainly not increase “the southern white’s regard for the negro as a fellow-being of like feelings and claims to life and liberty as himself.” The black anti-imperialists themselves found that equalization of the races meant that criticisms against the Filipinos were in fact against them as well, and were insulted. In such a situation, how could a black man fight when the war was essentially the “pitting of Negro against Negro”?
IV. After-effects of the Anti-Imperial Movements
Though a large anti-imperialist movement did exist in America throughout the entire course of the Spanish-American War and the Philippines intervention, the entire war effort was exceedingly popular for a large sector of the population. There was no doubt that the military activity demonstrated America’s might against the old imperial powers like Spain and established a new-found ascendancy among the world powers by its bold intentions. American prestige was bolstered by the demonstration of might, and American business was able to establish and further develop economic ties in the Asian markets through their presence in the Philippines. These effects did not support the image of a successful anti-imperialist movement. In fact, the history of peace movements has pointed out a reactionary tendency in political activism that dies out quickly after the end or in the prolongation of a conflict. With so much political and public momentum behind the declaration of war – a state which it is naturally hard to retract from – it is not hard to understand that there is very little to be done which can change the practicalities of such a state. Also, the successful promotion of a national patriotism encouraged a romantic belief that everything not right in the world could be corrected, and thus a sense of purpose was bred in American citizens as a national ideal. This theoretical basis for progress and the extension of American influence allowed the American public to ignore events of moral outrage simply because the call of duty and national honor came above those conditions. In any case, Filipinos were foreigners, and as yet, enemies. An interesting extension of this idea was the argument that the patriotism aroused by a war with publicly stated humanitarian aims did much in healing the rift between North and South. This, however, cannot be true regarding race relations, considering that the incidence of lynching in the years after the war were the highest in American history.
From these arguments, one may be persuaded that the anti-imperialist movements had little effect on American foreign policy at the turn of the twentieth century. This was true in that the multitude of anti-imperialist arguments did not create a strongly unified opposition that had enough political support to reverse the war effort. However, the movement can be seen as successful when realizing that these arguments were not about the war itself so much as they were about domestic issues, and the conciliation of labor, civil liberties and racial rights movements with national goals. These issues were debated in public circles and served to heighten public dialogue and support for measures directly aimed at each specific issue; also, it increased political awareness and participation among the under-classes who might typically not bother with it at all.
For imperialism itself, the anti-imperialist effort was able to reduce the more ambitious colonial measures for a more cautious approach which attempted to encourage economic development and social modernization in favor of political independence. The success of the war and perceived success of the occupation increased American confidence in their national rightness and laid out the groundwork for their later diplomatic efforts. The overall effect of the anti-imperialist movement on foreign policy was such that historian Daniel Schirmer could argue that “the dominant imperialist group turned away from outright colonialism to indirect forms of political domination.” After the US had initiated combat in the Philippines, it was understood by politicians and intellectuals in the movement that it would have been wrong on many levels to simply leave; instead, they had the choice to either deal with the population in a harsh, draconian manner, or to promote some sort of independence in the near future. By their very propaganda, and frank attention from anti-imperialists and others in the popular press, the government was forced to institute a program that attempted to uplift a nation that most Americans had been belittling for years. In one sense, the anti-imperialists did not help by putting forth a complaint that perhaps these foreign men were simple and unworthy of American attentions – once the Americans were there, that racist statement could be interpreted wrongly. But on the whole, the United States ruled with little of the corruption and brutality that would have been expected from traditional European examples. They built schools and railroads, reformed the legal system, and gave political assemblies increasing political independence. Their major contribution was the exposing of a political vacuum by implementing constitutional reform that required a broader base for political participation in the Philippines. Also, any previous arguments of economic necessity in the Philippines did not come to fruit as the Filipinos were not abused and exploited for their resources. It is highly likely that the major reason for the US presence in the Philippines turned out to be the island’s naval strategic capacities, in order to keep France and Britain out of the Asian trade and out of the Asian sphere.
In terms of political participation, the movement had found wide-ranging support from beyond all class and racial boundaries, and had involved the strong political force of the under-classes in a venue which they usually took little part in. Their strength in numbers – particularly from the labor and civil rights groups – provided evidence of a very definite anti-imperialist trend that was seen and heard in the popular media and from the mouths of politicians who were responding to their queries and issues. By February of 1899, anti-imperialist pressure had almost been able to defeat the popular Treaty of Paris in the Senate, the document that effectively gave the Philippines and other annexed properties to the United States. If they had succeeded, they would have prevented or slowed colonial ambitions in that sector. More importantly, however, was their ability to put the expansionists and war hawks on the defensive such that they felt the need to sell the war in a more believable light than they had been.
This defensive attitude became more obvious later in the war. The initial response of the administration, using McKinley’s justifications, had been dwelling on the ennobling virtues of such a venture. By 1900, this was no longer acceptable, as the anti-imperialist argument was gaining ground. The advertisement of public atrocities by US troops in the Philippines sparked some sympathy and anger if not at the colonial policy itself, but the form that US occupation took on. Henry Cabot Lodge, premier politician and statesman, defended American policy in the Philippines during a speech to Congress by echoing the arguments for duty and responsibility but markedly emphasizing the strategic and economic advantages of the war. Lodge reminded the nation of the possibilities of expanding markets, and the national obeisance to profit – and this key logic helped in assuaging the economic fears of big business and labor. To a lesser degree, President McKinley had been already pursuing the economic angle. During a Philadelphia speech in June 1897, McKinley stressed the need for new markets as a way of unloading excess product: “there is no use in making a product if you cannot find somebody to take it.” More interesting to labor, if it had been pursued more in his domestic policy, was the claim that “you will not employ labor to make a product unless you can find a buyer.” By claiming foreign markets, the US would be providing business with a reason to employ more labor. This was good in light of the recession, but bad in that the price of labor would not necessarily rise. In any case, the new focus of government propaganda lessened the opacity of the administration’s initial goals and also promoted a reasoning that was more cautious and less jingoistic – meaning that the drive for more colonies had been reduced. By 1902, a close friend of known war-hawk Theodore Roosevelt claimed that “no one but a few Jingoes wanted any more colonies.” However, decreased colonial ambitions did not mean an end to it altogether; the methods of quelling Cuba and the Philippines were used as models for hemispheric ‘protection’ of Latin America into the 1930s.
For most in the anti-imperialist movements, the gist of their message revolved around the sentiment that the occupied could have no trust in the allegory of benevolent assimilation if the occupiers themselves did not have the same experience. It did not escape attention that the war was essentially imperialistic, in that there existed the domination of weaker states for the benefit of the stronger, and that the administration could possibly be treating domestic issues in the same way. Though they were not able to reverse foreign policy, these movements were successful in capturing national attention to social issues that might otherwise have been ignored, including economic issues with repercussions of the 1893 recession, racial movements with the legacies of slavery, and civil liberties issues, for which the Civil War had been fought so bloodily and so tragically. Their arguments included a moral dialogue whose broadcasting helped to eventually decrease the momentum for colonial objectives, thus moderating American foreign policy to a degree. Most importantly, such abroad movement helped to promote the increased political participation of the under-classes by displaying the extent of their numbers and their capabilities.
The Legacy of Maria Callas
Maria Callas was the archetypal operatic diva: temperamental, passionate, and very arrogant. Yet, she was able to turn those same self-destructive forces to a greater good: spreading her skill and ability, and the emotions of her music, into the ears and hearts of millions of people. Her attitude was always clear to her fans; many of them, some of whom were obsessed, would cherish her cause even through the scandals and vocal deterioration that marked her later years. To the end, she would always tell everyone that “when it comes to music, we are all students, all our lives” (Ardoin xvii). Her master classes, presented at the Juilliard School of Music in New York during the fall and spring of 1971-2, stated her position most clearly to the new generation of vocalists she was passing her legacy to (Ardoin 371). “It is very serious and difficult work,” she remarked to her students, “it is [done] out of love, a devotion to what you adore. That is the strongest reason for anything” (Juilliard 4). She was the master musician.
In 1923, while Rin Tin Tin, Time magazine and Adolf Hitler were making their famous debuts, Maria Anna Calogeropoulo was born to a struggling Greek immigrant family in New York, four months after they left Greece. Soon after Maria’s birth, her father George changed their last name to Callas to ward off discrimination (Bret 3). Her mother, Evangelia, was a domineering woman who raised her children to the sounds of Bellini, Puccini and interminable voice lessons as they grew up. Maria was continually entered into vocal competitions, even against her wishes. Later, she recalled that “child prodigies never enjoy true childhood…I felt I was loved only when I sang” (Allegri 18). Another handicap that plagued her as she grew older was her weight. She felt uncomfortable with her weight and strove to continually lose weight; as a middle-aged woman, she was accused of suffering anorexia (Galatopoulos 292). The combination of resentment toward her mother, the weight problem and the need for love through singing provoked her ever-increasing need for attention as she entered the world of opera. From this insatiable need would stem hundreds of well-publicized fights with other divas, talented musicians, managers, and most famously, with Aristotle Onassis, the Greek shipping millionaire (Allegri 142, Bret 219).
Maria Callas was most famous for her total immersion into the personas of her roles in all the operas she sang. Many of her performances and interpretations of characters would go on to become the hallmark of those particular roles. Her part as Violetta in Verdi’s work La Traviata, performed in Lisbon in 1958, is seen as the foremost interpretation of the work (Galatopoulos 512). It has been immortalized in Terence McNally’s play The Lisbon Traviata. McNally, a fan of Callas, utilizes the devotion she inspired among the gay community in the play; her music serves as stability and solace for two “Callas Boys”, the nickname for her fiercely protective gay fans (Traviata 35, Bret 93). Her other roles include the namesakes of the operas Norma, Tosca, Lucia di Lammermoor and Aida, each difficult roles with different personalities. She was able to use her often not-so-pure voice to give each one a unique sound.
In 1971, towards the end of her career and her life, Callas was approached by Peter Mennin of the Juilliard School of Music, and invited to give a series of master classes through 1971 and 1972. Previously, in February of 1971, she had agreed to teach at the Curtis Institute of Music. A combination of fear of performing in public after five years of silence and the lack of preparation of the students contributed to the failure of that class. So, initially, she was very wary of the offer and said that “if [Juilliard] wants me, they’ll have to pay!” She also asked for many other amenities including first-class travel, personal maids and chauffeurs, and the service of a top singing coach. Only after these demands were met did she generously waive her payment (Bret 271, 273).
Later, in an interview with the New York Times, she remarked that “opera is really in trouble…and so I have accepted these classes…in order to help singers start off on the right foot” (qtd. in Galatopoulos 371). She truly wanted to help the next generation of singers, even though she still had to convince herself that she could be a truly worthy teacher and example to her students. “[Young singers] now expect to start at the top by making their debuts in the big houses,” she said at one point. “Our [regal I] experience was obtained [through] little theatres and coming up the hard way” (Bret 273). To make her point even clearer, she told an interviewer that “one of my most important objectives is to shape my young singers’ thinking – at least plant the right seed – into distinguishing between good and bad tradition” (Galatopoulos 371-2). Her position was optimistic, yet saddened, for during that time, the modern tradition of the operatic soloist - who arrives right before the performance, sings, and leaves right away with their money - was being created. “It’s a way of earning quick money, but when money comes in, art goes out” (Bret 199).
To make her re-entrance into the public eye even harder, several musical celebrities were going to be in attendance. Perhaps the most well known today of those present at the master classes is Placido Domingo, one of the Three Tenors (Allegri 153). Also included in the one thousand plus audience would be the press, who were ready to report Callas’ least discomfiture. Her newsworthiness had been proven after her recent detachments from two of her lovers: Aristotle Onassis, by now married to Jackie Kennedy, and an unabashedly homosexual and controversial movie director, Pier Paolo Pasolini (Bret 266).
Terence McNally, in a play titled Master Class, depicts Maria Callas not only as an imperious and witty dictator towards her students, but as a humble and insecure supplicant to the audience and to the music that she serves (Opperman). “Everyone understood what I was talking about when I was singing. They simply didn’t want to listen. Too difficult,” she says in the play. “They said they didn’t like my sound. That wasn’t it. They didn’t like my soul.” In this fictional Juilliard master class, not unlike the reality, Maria tries to explain to her students that to sing well, one has to know the songs inside and out, and more importantly, to hit the highest notes. “I interpolated a high F…that’s all people cared about.” In a later inner dialogue, she reveals her bitterness that she was only known and respected for her voice – it was her sister who was known for her charm and prettiness, and never Maria, the fat and insipid little girl. To the trembling soprano, she regains her composure and tells her that “you’ve got to sing for your supper”. To the master musician, it is again only what you sing that counts, not anything else: “Did you care about [my damp pillow, wet with tears]?” (Master Class 16-7). It should be noted that McNally exaggerates her arrogance during the course of the play; while it was true that she interrupted the students frequently, it was never for frivolous and vain reasons, only purely musical reasons (Galatopoulos 372).
In John Ardoin’s careful transcription of the master classes, one cannot get a complete sense of her personality quirks which one can get through experiencing Master Class. However, all her ideas about music came through clearly - her urge to do whatever the composer wished at the best of her and others’ ability, her bar by bar dissection of each aria, her ‘good tradition’ and ‘bad tradition’ – whether by her own eloquence or the editor’s. To most of her singers, she was irate that there were too many singing classifications, meaning no sense of self-reliance and completeness in an individual singer. “It seems today we classify singers according to what they can or cannot [author’s italics] do…but we must all have our high notes and low notes..[our] cantabile..we must have everything” (Ardoin 89). She was very aware of opera’s position in the world, in the sense that it is hard for anyone to accept “anyone singing ‘I love you’ ‘I hate you’…it is out of fashion to sing it…yet we have to ask the public to accept it…create an atmosphere…for understanding” (9). She was trying very hard.
Some of the observers complained that her comments were rather flat, or even painfully obvious. However, from a purely musical perspective, it is perhaps these things which are most important: “Do you know…what you are saying?...then sing what you are saying.” In response to a student who asked how to best interpret a piece, she said, “Love it” (Allegri 153-4). Another comment sounded like the typical music teacher dogma: “often the things you do wrong are the results of bad habits..you become accustomed..and do not hear them, so another must hear them for you” (Ardoin 8). At times, she was also harsh on timidity: “I don’t care if you crack…Caruso [a famous tenor] cracked many times!” (Bret 274).
In 1972, Maria Callas knew her voice was leaving, and she also knew she couldn’t live without it because it had been part of her life for fifty years. Her good friend Giuseppe di Stefano, also at one time her sworn enemy, found her one night in her hotel room, completely broken down: “My voice is gone…I’ll never be able to do it.” After the Juilliard master classes, she had experienced many emotional problems leading to abuse of sleeping pills and pain medication. She felt useless: with her voice leaving, she had no place in opera. Her estrangements from all her old friends and lovers had torn her down even more, so much so that she wrote that “I have no happiness, no friends, only drugs.” The few weeks before her death in 1977 saw a rise in the dose of medicine she took every day until, whether by accident or purposeful intent, she overdosed (Allegri 156, 158).
Callas’ role as master musician in the world of opera was further intensified by her death, leaving a legacy the critics were quick to pick up on. After her death, one writer commemorated her by saying that “Maria could have filled any theatre on her own had she not been able to sing a note…there have been more perfect voices, of course, but who having seen Maria Callas in any role can ever really believe in anyone else?” (qtd. in Bret 304). She became even more popular after death not because of the quality of her voice, but for the emotion she continually projected, giving her characters new personas that are now standards for their roles (Celletti). For her students at Juilliard, including John Woods and Shirley Verrett who each eventually got to the international circuit, and for her listening public, she would always be the master musician, a legacy nobody would forget.
The Everlasting Bohemian
Bohemianism – to literary and cultural avant-gardes throughout the world and through time – has always been a state of mind, waiting to be rediscovered by the public, to become popularized, and thus lost again. Three literary and musical works have re-identified Bohemianism to the public imagination: La Vie de Boheme, a nineteenth century play by Henry Murger, the early twentieth century opera La Boheme by Giacomo Puccini, and the modern musical Rent by Jonathan Larson. In their respective ages, the authors, librettists and composers successfully introduced the lifestyle of the Bohemian to the already-acculturated public, adapting and including the ever-changing nuances of love, laughter and misery in each of their respective ages.
All of these works have seemed to mirror their own populations – whether bohemians, literati, moral derelicts or beatniks – yet speak of all at the same time, an understandably popular idea. The intense and very easily removable glamour of the bohemian culture stemming from this popularity kept bohemians in constant danger of succumbing to the bourgeoisie, or those who gave in “to doing [as opposed to expressing] … Only essence is real” (Gold 243). The bourgeois were the middle and higher classes who watched the stage production of Murger’s play in Paris and laughed at the romanticized vagabonds far below; who rejected yet couldn’t get enough of Toscanini’s interpretation of Puccini’s tragicomic opera; and who went en masse to Broadway to make Jonathan Larson’s musical the hit that it was and still is. For however much popularity demolished the image of the morally superior bohemian, it was very evident that the people knew all about the Bohemian subculture, and that made all the difference.
Bohemianism, that alternative lifestyle or artistic temperament, has always existed on the fringe, necessarily, as bohemianism by its own definition is only bohemianism when outside of the mainstream. It lives in “all the interstices of a society that still requires art, imagination, laziness, adventure” (Gold 11). Bohemians generally rejected society as a means to define themselves:
I’ve seen it pretty glum and fairly tough, and God’s a goat and all [society’s] teaching lies. Learning is nothing – charity is wise because she cuts out analytic stuff. And yours the wisdom and wit behind it – Mine the good fortune in my pain to find it. (Deamer 141)
It was common for the off-beat poet/writer/artiste extraordinaire to claim “pain” in his (or hers, taking into account the particular bohemian emphasis on feminine equality) search for the self (Grana 21). According to one literary critic, the bohemian tome was “a study in frustration and disappointment … of modern life, of the difficulty of achieving ambitions, fulfilling love and even of communicating” (Cantor 44). An 1861 definition gave a greater reason for disappointment: “A Bohemian is a man with … an incurable proclivity to debt” (Grana 78). Perhaps the most descriptive definitions were the less-physical ones: “It was bordered on the north by need, on the south by misery, on the east by illusion, and on the west by the infirmary” (John 34).
The Bohemian was open, and without custom. He also had to be a cosmopolite – learned and educated in the fine arts: “he had taken all the degrees the Sorbonne could give him … but [he was] without the smallest notion of applying his learning” (Huddleston 21). That notion was another characteristic. As a result of denying the legitimacy of society, bohemians tended to shy away from doing anything to express themselves within society. Kenneth Rexroth, a Jack Kerouac contemporary during the Beat Generation said that “it is impossible for an artist to remain true to himself as a man, let alone an artist, and work within the context of this society” (qtd. in Parkinson 186). To Kerouac himself, working within society with respectability was tantamount to “spiritual death” (203). Certainly, the identification of the café with the bohemians was true, for that was where they gathered. In 1824, the Parisian artistes met in salons serving gooseberry wine while reclining on chairs and floors: the hangout, the club, and, where one was unable to afford personal residences, the neighbourhood café (Easton 41). The most prominent social bohemian of the 1850s, Ada Clare, identified the greatest characteristic of the bohemian: “above all others, the Bohemian must not be narrow-minded; if he be, he is degraded back to the position of a mere worldling” (Hahn 27). Therein also lay bohemianism’s greatest problem: it needed the “worldling’s” narrow-mindness to comprehend its lofty goals and make itself popular – but that path led to respectability and acceptability, the eternal blight of the unshaven rebellious revolutionary intellectual.
Henry Murger was both accurately and inaccurately labeled the First Bohemian. It was not because he was the first to have such Bohemian ideals; actually, bands of students since the French Revolution had embodied these ideals, both political and not, and been named “Bohemian” by Balzac. To Balzac, the Bohemians were “all men of genius [who] possess nothing, yet contrive to exist on that nothing” (Hahn 6). However, to other intellectuals, and more importantly, the public, the bohemian masses were just paupers who didn’t want to work. There was no aura of creativity and youthful vigor, just a corona of dirt and ale vapor about them. Murger was special in that he presented the first romanticized version of the bohemian, in La Vie De Boheme.
He was less known for his particularly descriptive nature than for his success: “when Murger wrote La Vie de Boheme, he had no notion that he was writing the history of a social world which was to become a power within five or six years” (Grana 55). His stories were humorous sketches of his own experience, glossed over and watered down to hide his own idealism (such as his own small, ugly self reincarnated in the handsome and debonair Rodolphe) and the unpalatable truth. These sketches were finally brought together into a play and presented on November 22, 1849, to wild acclaim – making his fortune and bringing Bohemia into common speech. The public vogue during this time was for weepy romances and suffering ladies, and La Vie de Boheme had exactly what the public needed: pathos, romance, fascination, and above all, culture (Hahn 9, 10). It was a realization of everyone’s dreams, the social bohemian that was popular, witty, cultured, artistic, good-looking, and everything else one would want to be. While it was a lie, it was a welcome lie to the public and to the bohemians themselves. No longer would the public lack heroes, and no longer would the bohemians suffer from neglect and abject misery.
Murger was labeled the poet of youth, and as such, he was allowed more freedom to catalog the “direct and immediate gratification of impulses” (Grana 16). In La Vie de Boheme, Rodolphe, a literary man; Marcel, a painter; Schaunard, a musician; and Colline, a philosopher, all live together with their various loves. They are resigned to temporary poverty while they search for money, pleasure and love. For these young men, optimism is a necessary vice, so whatever the circumstance, they can smile and look forward to the next day – with a bottle of wine and intellectual discourse late into the night to help tide them over. Murger also adds in the tragic death of Mimi, the consumptive lover of Rodolphe, who dies in his arms. He knew that “laughter is all the better for having been mingled with a few tears” (Easton 121). In real life, it had been much harder for Murger. He had almost died of starvation, in the same week that four of his friends had died beside him. His own mistress died and was taken away for dissection, as all pauper’s bodies were liable to. His constant struggle for financial success and loyalty to his social roots left him prematurely exhausted, and eventually, he died as well, at 38 (122).
In the nineteenth century, France, and particularly Paris, was the unorthodox literary capital of the world. In Murger’s own words,
"The real bohemian could only exist in Paris … and even there you don’t find it everywhere. The faubourg Montmartre, the passages, the rue des Martyrs, Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, the whole domain of the unemployed, the debauched and the useless … all this belongs to the realm of Bohemia." (John 33-4)
The rest of the world believed so. Only after one had read Murger and then been to Paris could one, in nineteenth-century France, call oneself a bohemian (Grana 18). They reveled in the belief that they were continuing an ancient tradition. In the preface to La Vie De Boheme, Murger says that “the class of Bohemians ... are not a race of today, they have existed in all climes and ages, and can claim an illustrious descent … they are the race of obstinate dreamers for whom art has remained a faith and not a profession … their daily existence is a work of genius” (translated from Scenes 4-6, 12). Sisley Huddleston, a famous early 20th century bohemian resident of Paris, recalled that “Montparnasse [on the Left Bank of Paris] became the capital of all the arts and disgraces … in it could be found the oldest and the newest things ... some of them were obsessed by art, and others by sex … it was a magic word which evoked painting and poetry and cocktails. It was at once highbrow and jazzy” (Huddleston 46). Paris glorified in its position as the bohemian capital.
Murger’s bohemian Paris has always been a by-word for mysticism as well as romance, secrecy and artistic stimulation. Balzac, Blum and of course, Murger himself had lived here, and so had Hemingway, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Charlie Chaplin, and so many of those other secret literary and artistic luminaries. They had all been labeled bohemian at some point or other, because they had sat in cafes, drank wine, talked and engaged in wild sexual explorations of the French underground. It was here in Paris that bohemianism’s sexual connotations, both homo and hetero, had arisen: “Paris [was] a kingdom of nocturnal pleasure, a playground for fantasies censored during the day.” In 1913, a word was coined for the amoral tendencies of French bohemianists – “fisicofollia,” or the joyous madness of the body (Conrad 309, 313). It was only in Paris where sunamatism – restoration of vitality and creativity through sex with a blonde and a dark woman on either side - could thrive, both in AD 800 and a millennia later (Gold 124). One bohemian was disappointed by human limitations on his artistic and independent experience in Paris: “I’d like to go to an orgy, but I’m not sure my wife would let me” (127).
In a way, Murger had also anticipated this side of bohemianism, the rough and vile side that would show itself increasingly till modern times. He had known after he had written La Vie de Boheme and again when his body was decaying (his lips had fallen off by this point), that eternal bohemianism was not good as a rule. His last words were “no music, no noise … no Bohemia, no Bohemia!” (John 40). For all his efforts, he died without the alarums of Bohemian raison d’etre calling his name. By his definition, Bohemia is “a stage in the artist’s career; it is the preface to the Academy, the Hospital, or the Morgue … unknown Bohemia is not a thouroughfare; it is a cul-de-sac.” Bohemia is a blind alley, a path to nowhere, “extinguishing the intelligence as a lamp goes out for want of oxygen.” Furthermore, “the man who stays in Bohemia is doomed, or can escape only into the neighbouring Bohemia of crime” (Easton 127).
Mostly overlooked in the era’s joyful acceptance of the work was the warning against bohemianism within the text of La Vie De Boheme. Murger had not had the best time with his situation, and these bitter closing words in an otherwise joyful tome were all the more ominous because of its reduced presence. After the girlfriend of a minor character dies of consumption, the weeping man cries out that “times are not always gay in Bohemia.” Similarly, another character dies and his friends do not attend his funeral – for “art is above all” and they must attend an exhibition instead. This is a rather twisted use of the artist’s axiom, but perfectly understandable within the circumstances of Murger’s own life. His characters, at the end of the play, do subscribe to Murger’s definition of bohemianism: those that have not died move on into the world of the bourgeoisie. Marcel says to Rodolfo that “the hour has come to go forward without looking backward; we have had our share of youth, carelessness, and paradox. All these are very fine … but this comedy of amorous follies, this loss of time, of days wasted with the prodigality of people who believe they have an eternity to spend - all this must come to an end” (Murger). It did come to an end – briefly, only, for it rose again with even more dramatic flair.
Giacomo Puccini, a full fifty years later, came across the Murger story and decided to use it for his next opera, La Boheme. Several things influenced this decision, including the fact that another composer was setting out to write an opera on the same story: Ruggero Leoncavallo, with The Bohemians. A fierce recriminatory competition ensued when it was announced they both were working on the same opera, and Puccini had to “let the public judge” (John 15). More important, however, were the strong situations he found in La Boheme, unlike the other librettos he was considering. To Puccini, only those “situations which move audiences, whether to tears or laughter, and without ‘excessive dialogue’” are suitable to form the main scenes in each of the acts of his operas (15). Exactly what counted as a “moving situation” was his own to decide. Giulio Ricordi, a famous Italian music producer \ publisher of the late 19th \ early 20th century, gave the task of writing the libretto to Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, who fashioned the text based on Murger’s original novel, Scenes de la Vie de Boheme (10). Puccini preferred the book to the more popular stage version, as he felt it was more emotional.
La Boheme’s basis in La Vie De Boheme was far less direct than supposed. For one thing, La Vie De Boheme had “too many subplots to be a viable opera” (Schwarz). Puccini had to work closely with his librettists to fashion a tight and emotional narrative out of such a work. Throughout the textual development, there were “false starts, episodes, and even a whole act discarded” (John 10). Mimi, the character taken from Murger, was changed to become a mixture of Mimi and a minor female character in the play, Francine. Instead of a solely pitiful and dependent woman, she is “ficklehearted / always flirting with someone / Mimi’s so sickly, so ailing / Every day she grows weaker” (La Boheme Act 3, John 90). However much was changed, the melancholy yearning for the days of youth was kept just as it was in the original: “Farewell, to our dreamy existence! ... and all its bitter sadness … Ah, that our winter might last forever!” (92, 94). The final act proved the most heartwrenching. While the semi-climax had seen the friends drift apart, the death of Mimi as the closing scene proved the bonds of bohemian love. Audiences grew to love and romanticize this part; bohemianism was never more appealing than in this pathetic and tragic end.
The opera, named La Boheme after it was completed¬, started off badly. Reviewers in New York at the turn of the 20th century called the opera “foul in subject, and fulminant but futile in its music” (John 7). Another reviewer in London called the music “not stimulating enough to be heard often” (7). Also, Italian audiences were used to opera buffa – serious opera with plenty of clownish comedy – and not the relatively less-humorous and tragic drama found in La Boheme. The tenement studio setting and the lower-class urban activities of the characters were all alien to the opera-going and opera-affording public. However, the tide changed, and audiences began to appreciate it. The twenty-three performances done were well beyond the initial amount of performances scheduled. The fact that Puccini had combined the Italian vogue for verismo or truth, and made identifying with the characters so easy – who only desired warmth, love and high spirits – played no small part in its popularity. Mimi, Rodolfo and Marcello had sympathizers in the workers behind the social unrest breaking out across Italy, as their democratic and romanticized depiction of poverty (9). La Boheme is still popular, as shown by its place as “one of the three or four most popular operas in the repertory” (qtd. in Schwarz).
Its mass popularity directly contrasted with the heretofore public perception of bohemianism. Just before La Boheme was released, the original view of bohemianism with its paupers striving for love and laughter had been lost (Hahn 39). In its place, George du Maurier’s Trilby had popularized the image of the bohemian as a rich socialite who drops out of society to pursue the same ends. He mass-marketed Trilby just as a Mickey Mouse or a Harry Potter would be today. People had forgotten about Murger, but with La Boheme, the “fake” view of bohemianism (after all, Trilby had contradicted a century’s worth of bohemian style and tradition) was cast aside and the old view taken up again.
La Boheme had stirred what was already a growing passion: becoming a bohemian. Everybody, it seemed, wanted to be one. It was especially so in America, where bohemian wannabes in New York shaped their own picture, however chaste, of the ideal European bohemian:
"She cares not for lovers, as most of them do. She laughs at them all, both at me and at you … She cares not for fashion, for style not a sou. She’s a thorough Bohemian, through and through." (Parry 106)
Americans hastened to Paris to adopt their bohemian ideals; most insisted on “beards … they hastened to learn Parisian slang…Was I not a Bohemian in Paris?” The American visitors were remarkably uninformed (114). They were still searching for the gaiety and intellect of an age long gone. The real bohemians had moved on, following the winds of change and contemporary style. James Laver, before the rush of foreign tourism, mentioned that “Bohemian life could be enjoyed with added zest, but it was not yet the shoddy fake which artistic quarters become so very rapidly in the modern world” (115).
By the post-World War II period, Bohemianism had lost much of its edge. Is popularity remained only in America, where it waxed political on college campuses, particularly along the West Coast (Gold 217). Murger’s image of the bohemian as a jovial, take-life-as-it-is apolitical animal was a thing of the past. Into the 50s and 60s, primitivism became the new Bohemianism. While this period didn’t have such a magnetic work as La Boheme or La Vie de Boheme to point out the movement, a bohemian alternative presented itself in the Beat Generation, led by pop icons Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg (217-9). Primitivism appeared throughout Beat poetry, bebop music, bop language, and to a greater extent in love, friendship and sex, especially through the 70s 225). Racial equality became most accepted by Bohemians during this time in response to the prevalent racist attitude of middle class Americans. Other ideals included the idea of salvation by the child, self-expression, paganism, living for the moment, liberty, changing place, psychological adjustment (Grana 135). The obsession with sex was a reflection of “freedom from conventional moral standards” and a keen emphasis on performance (aka “good orgasms”), according to the hipster’s Bible, Kerouac’s On The Road (Parkinson 205). Nevertheless, the fascination that they conjured in the imaginations of youth throughout America’s suburbs was amazing. “The image of Bohemia still exerts a powerful fascination – nowhere more so than in the suburbs, which are filled…with men and women who…think of themselves as conformists and of Bohemianism as the heroic road” (202). This movement soon died out. Not for long though, for Bohemianism found yet another savior, its popularity besting both La Boheme and La Vie de Boheme.
Pop culture in America found a sudden, sweeping appeal in bohemianism after the premiere of Rent, a musical based on La Boheme. It was 1996, and Jonathan Larson, ¬Rent’s writer and composer, felt that it was time to rejuvenate the American musical. For his topic, he took his artistic ideals – a search for self-identity – and fit pop culture, fringe attractions, personal experiences and historical accounts into it. His characters, all Bohemian artists struggling for life, laughter, and a chance to know themselves, were pulled from the modern melting pot and implanted into Murger’s and Puccini’s original characters. Instead of simple poets, musicians and artists, Larson created the songwriter/ex-junkie, the AIDS-ridden stripper, the diva, the public service lawyer, the computer-age philosopher, the drag queen street performer and the video artist (Cyberland). Starvation and homelessness transferred themselves over the years into panhandling and squatting. Tuberculosis and the idea of the consumptive artist had become venereal diseases in gays and lesbians, addicts and whores. Philosophy had become grassroots protest. Rent was modern bohemianism in a nutshell.
While it was wildly popular and did reach down to the public, Rent did express the tenets of bohemianism without romanticizing too much. During the course of the writing of Rent, Larson “attempted to create believable characters that would stand the tests of time” by inserting the personal nuances of his friends, who lived the modern bohemian lifestyle alongside him (Mary). The plot presented equality strongly; the different lifestyles and races pictured attest to that. He combined the café atmosphere with the tenement ambiance. His musical numbers combined rock and roll with Broadway – the songs of the modern balladeer. The optimistic attitude of the bohemian (in general, as some bohemians were very pessimistic) shone through in one of the most personal songs in the whole musical:
"I can't control my destiny…there’s only us, there’s only this. Forget regret or life is yours to miss…my only goal is just to be. There's only now, there's only here. Give in to love or live in fear. No other path, no other way, no day but today." (Larson 72-7)
Though the main emotional points of the musical were indeed bleak and depressing, the bohemian philosophy of living life for the moment brought a certain ironic joy to everything. The characters grin and bear death, hunger, homelessness and utter poverty, and still have energy left over to sing of “five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes so dear … how do you measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights … in laughter, in strife … how about love?” (63-4).
The familiar concept of togetherness, of a bond between men, was particularly emphasized. Near the end of the musical, the characters start breaking up. In the midst of doing so, they reflect on the past year, realizing that they had had their best times during their bohemian years – their hours of friendship. Now, however, they are moving on into society and coping with bigger things: “all this misery pays no salary, so let’s open up a restaurant in Santa Fe … one song to redeem this empty life” (Larson 48, 61-2). Fortunately, it is not the end of an era for Rent’s tragicomic heroes. Following Murger’s warning, all of them have passed the bohemian stage of development and are now looking toward the rest of their lives, but at least they will have had those moments of utter freedom and artistic independence (Dominguez). The inherent message to themselves and to the Broadway-going public is that today is as good a day as any to be true to oneself and be free, mentally, physically, and any other way imaginable.
The bohemian lifestyle, an ever-present expression of cultural and artistic integrity in opposition to the artificiality of society, has been and will always be celebrated because of its underdog image. Though bohemianism has always been around, the general understanding and defining of the invented word “bohemian” only existed through the 19th century to today. The fickle public forgot movements (and through them, physical expressions of bohemianism) and relearned them quickly. Popular figures, from Murger to Hemingway to Kerouac, formed an integral part of the culture of bohemianism, drawing converts from around the world into bohemian centers. From these “pockets” would come spirited debate, philosophical entreaties, art movements, musical masterpieces, extreme poetic license, and of course, alcohol and drug abuse.
These, however, were the underground attributes of bohemianism; the public face was presented over and over again to a willing public through the masterpieces La Vie de Boheme, La Boheme and Rent. The popularity of these works helped the bohemian community thrive.
Against self-doctrine, the Bohemian could only thrive on social acceptance of their work and they relentlessly worked to integrate themselves into their own miniaturized society. No matter the aim, it was Bohemia’s eternal message of optimism that helped it along as a movement and as a public icon, through dramatic means – musicals, operas and plays – and more subtle means.
The Origins of the Scientific Revolution
The slow incubation of ideas during the Renaissance and Middle Ages had brought to Europe a new outlook; no longer were the people held captive by bounded theology, but were free to explore the limits of the universe. This gradual change from the dogmatic and rigid structural atmosphere of the old Europe, known as the Scientific Revolution, had not been brought about by a few people, but by the machinations of the whole continent, combining the genius of the intellectuals in the universities with the economic power of the expanding European states. The exposure of the people to other lands had increased the importance of trade and travel, and in the face of such large discoveries, technological developments had to be made to take advantage of and hold the power over these new advancements. With the curiosity that came with the prospect of these unknowns came the realization of the relative captivity of man within the current social environment. The boom in technology enabled different worlds to be seen by man, ones in which the worldliness of clergy and the cruelty of autocratic regimes did not exist, and in which was purity: the sky, the sea, the minutiae, and the mind of man itself. People were willing to overlook the inward-looking systems of the Church and royalty and see the broadening horizons of Man.
The travels of Marco Polo, Columbus, and Henry the Navigator had opened up the world to the eyes of European society. Because of the prospect of wealth and progress offered by these new places, Europeans and Muslims alike scrambled to put their foot into the door as regards to territorial expansion and trade. When the first treasure ships and scout ships arrived back in Europe from trips to far-off lands, the enormous riches and wealth garnered from the sale of luxury items led to the financial backing of more voyages by royalty: the Muscovy Company, opening up trade with the Russians at Archangel, the annual fleets of Spanish and Portuguese sailing to the ports of Persia, and the huge Venetian corsairs fighting with Turkish caramusalis for Egyptian trading rights. As well, the towns along the coasts of the Mediterranean and the two oceans had developed specialized goods of their own to ship back, such as salt from Ibiza, vino greco from Naples, and oil from Djerba; thus, trade was initiated. However, it was not that simple. Some of the towns made similar products, or had a very profitable venture of which other towns and countries were jealous of, and so warfare was initiated. Because of the need for increasingly better protection and firepower, and higher quality goods, the sciences blossomed as courts paid for these developments.
The developments of universities throughout all of Europe during these times were harbingers of times to come. These were places in which students chose to study, and teachers chose to teach. In only such a place could the spread of knowledge expand rapidly. From the Middle Ages, these institutions had developed out of raw primitiveness and began anew in every respect. The adoption of ancient culture and languages were a major step in the gradual progress toward being a major center of learning. With the increase of wealth during the fourteenth century and onwards, a more systematic care for education was possible. Professorships were soon set up in different fields, including civil law, canonical law, medicine, rhetoric, philosophy, astronomy, astrology, and botany. There existed fierce competition between universities to entice distinguished professors to their universities and so huge sums were devoted to paying these academic superstars. It is said that in Bologna, sometimes half of its public income (20,000 ducats) was spent in these endeavors. Even so, it took outside help for universities to flower. Pope Leo X, in 1513, organized a Church sponsored college which had eighty-eight lecturers, among whom there were the most able men of Italy, to read and interpret the classics. The Medici family had deep roots in the Platonic philosophy and gathered many famous scholars about them to teach and encourage each other to higher levels of philosophical understanding. Within these universities, the total education of the person was emphasized, teaching the how and the why together. Many famous figures of the Scientific Revolution were born from the walls of these institutions which emphasized a wholly professional attitude, and encouraged the gathering of information and the careful study of it by scholars.
The general religious bog of Europe had garnered few praises; in fact, the clergy were hated and their worldly attitudes were seen as a slap in the face of true Christian teaching. As well, the religious wars in France, Germany, Italy and even Spain, had embittered the whole continent to the "truth" of the Church. Instead, it fostered a sense of religious skepticism. Human observation and reason seemed much simpler and more straightforward, as well as a more useful approach to gaining truth. So, the European became more receptive to a world view proceeding not from tradition, scripture, or divine revelation, but through observed fact, or science, something that was definite and unchanging, like the face of the clergy. The appeal of finding evidence of God's will in creation through the natural world, instead of through corrupt methods, was seen as a virtuous enterprise, one that offered testimony to the higher ways of God and were almost worship in itself. Because so many questions of life arose from nature, there was a tendency to look there for answers.
As well as being openly repugnant, the clergy attracted losses in other ways; with the Gutenberg press they had lost control over reading and writing, as well as control over higher education, which belonged to the universities. With this, they became lazy, ignorant, and intolerant as well. Their very word was law, and was a large part of the sense of feudal domination. However, as the clergy lost control, so did the kings and emperors. Their control was based on the Church and feudalism, and with both of these powerhouses dying away, the very power structure of Europe was at stake (Engels). The people looked more and more toward developments which would help rebuild the continent, and a market for philosophers was born. The fatigue from religious troubles developed a more cynical and Machiavellian mindset in the philosophers of the Scientific Revolution. Hobbes, in his writings, called for a powerful sovereign who served the larger political community with his authority to curb human wantonness. Hugo Grotius appealed to the conscience of the European individual to seek an open, tolerant, or broadminded spirit toward Truth, and to that end, compiled together laws that might help toward a new cooperative international order and became the "father" of international law. Locke, contemporary of Newton, saw the mind as a machine that received bits of energy that came to it through the senses and that was processed by the machine-like mind into thoughts and ideas. Because of the stifling religious atmosphere, these philosophers were encouraged in thinking outside the narrow outlook provided.
New sources of scientific development awed the people of Europe. Among learned individuals, Dante, even as a master poet, sought a scientific understanding of nature through hints and clues in the Divine Comedy. As a popular man, his word had considerable influence, and so his excitement about gaining a popular knowledge of the heavens, combined with the "invention" of a telescope by Galileo and the efforts of Copernicus and Brahe, brought about considerable interest in the public about the sky. As well, the development of the microscope by Leeuwenhoek aroused interest in the molecular world. The travels of the explorers had brought home people of other races, along with exotic plants and animals (Naples received a giraffe and zebra from Baghdad, Leo X received an elephant and rhino from Portugal, and Cardinal Medici kept many barbarians at court, including North African Moors, Tartar bowmen, Negro wrestlers, Indian divers, and Turks) and induced observers to study further these other vibrant areas of nature (Burckhardt). The physical beauty of these specimens also encouraged collections and so preserved for generations to come the sight of these objects of foreign descent. The old hobbies of falconry, hunting, and racing also contributed to the growth of zoology and botany during the Scientific Revolution; through science, the breeding of more perfect specimens could be created. In military matters, the development of better cannon on ships also contributed to the improvement of land warfare. The same things that worked at sea were useful on land and thus sparked another race for mastery.
The combination of all these factors affecting the lifeblood of the nation created an atmosphere of competition and curiosity in which an inevitable result was a revolution in thought of some kind. The university, sponsoring learning throughout the continent, inevitably met up with royal demands for research into arms development and luxury endeavors. The growing trade between the countries of Europe and the rest of the discovered world also stimulated the start of the Scientific Revolution. The breakdown of the feudal structure also left a void which was filled by the philosophy of the new intellectuals and started a new outlook into humanity and knowledge. The Scientific Revolution then started, gaining momentum through the work of the scientists that have contributed to our knowledge in all the areas of science and thought. In the end, as it merged into the period of the Enlightenment, it had achieved its main aim: to expose the limits of the universe and of man and understand the world that all of us, as humans, lived in.
Technology Policy and the Economic Development of South Korea and Taiwan
The last four decades have seen a transition for most South-East Asian economies from relatively poor and backward states to that of modestly advanced and rapidly developing nations. While not the only factor in the growth of such economies, technological advance has been recognized as the key driving force behind much of economic growth – not only for these so-called Newly Industrializing Economies (NIE), but for economic growth in general. Of the NIEs, South Korea and Taiwan stand out due to their success in tying strong governmental policy to the development of industry. With little in the way of high-tech industry in the 1960s, these two nations have focused on technology in the last few decades as a means for rebuilding their economies. Since then, they have established industrial capacities capable of competing effectively in international markets against more ‘developed’ nations. The streamlining of technology licensing and patenting, the focus on education, the establishment of a research infrastructure, disciplined governmental initiation of technological incubation as well as limited institutional support for foreign funding and investment allowed the development and production of a plethora of sophisticated industrial goods into world markets in a timely manner. Most notably, their electronics and related industries have burgeoned in the wake of increased governmental financial and legislative support, as well as a public trend toward national specialization. Though currently at differing levels of economic health, both nations are good examples of the hand-in-hand nature of governmental support and private ambition towards the overall success of developing nations in the world market.
Since the birth of classical economic theory, economists have generally recognized the importance of technology to economic growth. After all, basic economic theory suggests that only through labor may industry grow, and that technology exists in order to enhance and maximize the amount of labor available. Adam Smith was a great proponent of this view of growth through labor and the division of labor. Technology itself was to Smith part of the evolution of labor and systems for creating national wealth, for the “invention of all these machines by which labor is so much facilitated and abridged, seems to have been originally owing to the division of labor.” Karl Marx also agreed that technology would serve to enhance labor and create a potential for large economic growth, though he viewed this untrammeled growth as part of the fatal error of capitalism, which would let the capitalists benefit and the ‘proletariat’ ultimately suffer. One by-product of Marx’s argument was the prophecy that automation would cause widespread unemployment by out-producing ‘lesser’ sources of labor. This outcome may be true for certain localized schemes, but it has not been true in any general sense. Instead, many of the developing countries with large labor forces most vulnerable to the threat of automation – specifically East Asia in this case – have left behind their agriculture-dominant economies in favor of technology and advanced industry, some more successfully than others. Theoretically, the prevalence of modern technologies as supported by these developing nations should support market saturation and spur further innovations for the sake of higher profit. Joseph Schumpeter argued that this kind of innovation, though responsible for the “creative destruction” of obsolete ideas and technologies, would promote continual progress and cause an improvement in the population’s living standards. By taking up technology so readily and successfully, South Korea and Taiwan have laid claim to the practical economic theory of Smith and Marx and to Schumpeter’s view of national social benefit.
The history of South Korean and Taiwanese governmental involvement in economic development was shaped by the circumstances into which each country was born. South Korea and Taiwan were relatively new nations at the middle of the twentieth century, and each had significant motivation to develop their economies and involve themselves in world markets. Their incentive for economic growth was not only for the economic benefit of individuals in its population, but in part had a defensive motive that derived from the threat of nearby aggressors. These rationales required that both South Korea and Taiwan organize their immature economic structures into productive and efficient models of growth that would ensure some measure of protection for themselves by the capture of global attention, especially in a world developing complex interdependencies through gradual globalization. The fledgling Taiwanese and Korean economies – not yet ‘South’ or ‘North’ Korean – were designed and implemented by Japanese colonial planners, who used Taiwan and Korea for their resources and a one-sided market in which to unload Japanese goods. Under Japanese tenure, these countries were able to undergo some measure of industrialization before they were liberated in 1945. Under the rule of the Nationalist Chinese Kuomintang party, Taiwan had to deal with the continuing threat and political opposition of their former rivals for power in China, the Communist party. Similarly, South Korea had to deal with the Communist aggression of North Korea and China as well during and after the Korean War.
Both nations benefited greatly from their position as countries with existences reliant on resisting communism, as they were able to gain much foreign aid from the United States. Their Cold War opposition to global communism encouraged the United States to see East Asia and more specifically, South Korea and Taiwan, as main bulwarks against their political enemies. US support to both countries came in the shape of financial, military and technological aid toward industrialization, as well as an increased demand for their exports and services by the US during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Indirect aid came from US influence in world organizations: South Korea benefited from the largest World Bank loan given between 1978 and 1981, and Taiwan from the large amounts of foreign direct investment encouraged by US authorities. Though both countries were in opposition to communism and China, they were still able to profit from working with the Chinese economic system. Both countries continued trade with the Chinese, either legally or illegally. The Taiwanese, especially, profited through the connections and technological know-how of emigrating Chinese entrepreneurs who still had links to native Chinese, European and American companies functioning in Chinese economic centers like Shanghai. Thus, both South Korea and Taiwan had significant motivation to rebuild their economies, an acceptable starting point from which to grow, and an extensive support system to fall back on if necessary.
Their forays into the world market during the 1950s earned South Korea and Taiwan the label of “basket case” or wildly disorganized economies, but somehow within the next five decades they were able to build themselves up into international behemoths. By 2000, they had become the 13th and 17th largest economies in the world, respectively. Their collective expansion and economic liberalization – not necessarily associated – was signaled by the increase in each of their export/GDP ratios from under 10% in the 1950s to over four times that number in 2000, with GDPs of $457.4 billion in South Korea and $314.4 billion in Taiwan. According to the US-backed theory of globalization, this is ideal, as a highly liberal and open economy is much more conducive to free trade. South Korea and Taiwan’s collective share of world GDP rose to above 2% during the 1990s, compared to shares of 12.9% and 32.9% by the Japan and US respectively in 2000. This was a large leap, considering that both countries had been limited to under 1% prior to 1990. Their success could also be measured by improvements in their overall efficiency: output per worker expanded at an average annual rate of 5.2% in Taiwan between 1960 and 1994. The primary measure of their success, however, lay in their economic growth rates. Between 1960 and 1992, both South Korea and Taiwan had annual growth rates of above 6%. While Taiwan was left mostly unhurt, South Korea’s growth rate dropped momentously throughout the 1997 Asian economic crisis due to a huge foreign debt that it had maintained during the panic. Despite this misfortune, South Korea was able to rebound effectively and increase its economic growth rate to a healthy 8.8% by 2000.
Much of their collective economic success was due to policy switches that occurred in the early 1960s, that allowed the growth of manufactures, and more specifically, technology-intensive manufactures. By 1960, South Korea and Taiwan had no other means of competing with higher productivity elsewhere except for low wages. Heavy importation and reliance on borrowing of foreign technology incurred currency devaluations that wouldn’t be able to support low wages for very long as a competitive edge. In order to see any level of economic success, both governments would have to interfere or intervene to set up some sort of coherent policy and planning for future economic development. The initial focus had been on import substitution, a system that had allowed industry to develop basic competency and capability by replacing most, if not all, imported parts with local substitutes. Concurrently, the South Korean and Taiwanese governments had initiated a protectionist stance by applying tariffs to imports and none on exports from national industry. As further incentive for local business to develop high-tech industry, both governments offered high rates of credit, subsidies, concessionary loans, preferential interest rates and negotiable credit according to reciprocity, whereby the businesses would have to meet performance standards in output and export targets. It must be noted that these preferential interest rates were not always stable; it was sometimes detrimental to business when the loan was suddenly recalled, though this did not happen often. By requiring and achieving performance standards, businesses achieved increased growth and government gained encouragement to further commit to economic development. These attitudes allowed some measure of self-reliance to develop, leading to an ability to instead focus on manufacturing and exporting goods.
According to the ‘flying geese’ approach, only countries capable of assimilating technology transfer, foreign investment and trade between richer and poorer parts of a region together may generate target economic development through a restructuring of the division of labor. In this academic construction, Japan was considered to be ‘lead goose’ and the model for economic restructuring that others should follow. Both South Korea and Taiwan did follow in Japan’s footsteps to some extent by focusing on and forcefully guiding export-oriented industrialization. By 1988, 89-90% of merchandise exports from South Korea and Taiwan were manufactured items, as opposed to values of 86% and 73% only three decades earlier. Of the manufactured items, the share attributable to tech-intensive exports was slightly over 50% in both countries by 1983. During the 1990s, the amount of tech-intensive exports increased fourfold. Today, these NIEs are still more successful: South Korea is among the world’s largest shipbuilders, steel producers and car manufacturers, while Taiwan is the world’s twelfth largest manufactured goods trader and a giant producer of semiconductors on the world market.
The majority of South Korean and Taiwanese economic development has been due to an emphasis and acceleration in the expansion of their electronics and IT industries. South Korean firms, under the direction of the Fordian-style chaebol or conglomerate umbrella, have been able to combat US and Japanese companies effectively since the introduction of Multibank Dynamic Random Access Memory (MDRAM) chips in 1989, an important upgrade to the memory capabilities of computer hardware at the time, and to the utility of computers overall. Computer chips, especially, were immensely profitable areas for industry, as their development model was very closely aligned to Schumpeter’s idea of creative destruction. Because of continually advancing computer chip technology, customers were continually encouraged or forced to upgrade their old models for newer ones, contributing to seemingly endless economic growth. The chaebol’s move into industrial and home electronics, automobiles and assorted IT products throughout the last three decades was made possible by the enormous financing options available to such large companies. At around the same time, Taiwanese firms – much more likely to be small to medium-sized enterprises (SME) than conglomerates – were quickly mass-producing effective semiconductors, personal computers and other sophisticated industrial goods at around the same time. The IT firms that have emerged in these fields have become remarkably oligopolistic: the chaebols of South Korea and the five top firms in Taiwan both had market concentrations of above 70% for notebook PCs and above 60% for desktop PCs. Experts have recently warned that Taiwan could be prone to “specialization risk.” As IT exports alone made up 35% of the trade market in Taiwan during 2002, most of which was destined for the international procurement offices of multinational corporations, the warning pointed to the inherent risk of paying so much attention to one industry, usually to the detriment of others. This may not be so much of an issue, as these companies have tended to diversify once their original product had declining product margins. Their later investments in vertical and horizontal integration created companies that were ever more powerful, organized and profitable for both countries in the world market.
During the buildup of the South Korean and Taiwanese economies, governmental involvement has been vital. As there is the distinct possibility that newly adopted products and technologies may be unsuccessfully in the local market, the burden for all economic risk usually falls on the government. Consequently, the government is usually the owner, financier or source of motivation for firms investing in production capacity and methods of management for these new technologies. As discussed earlier, governmental incentives to business prompted adoption of technologies in business and increased growth. But its influence spread into other roles in overseeing the proper and efficient development of technology. Among other things, the South Korean and Taiwanese governments found themselves responsible for expending political and economic capital to get new technologies; investing money into education to form a skilled labor force; providing legal protection to new products; and setting up a research infrastructure to support future products. This all-encompassing role for government in economic development deviates greatly from classical economics in the sense that Smith’s idea of the invisible hand guiding the economy champions individualism and pure capitalism, but the nature and history of practical economy-building has required the influence of a “visible hand” for any measure of success.
Though technological innovation is important to continued economic growth, it is only necessary later in the economic development process; the initial step is usually to mimic the technology of others. Developing nations such as South Korea and Taiwan have typically adopted technology from so-called “first-mover” nations instead of beginning with their own innovations, in order to jump-start their entrance into modern industry. “First movers” need not have invented a new technology, but they will have exploited its potential in an advanced market economy. The theory goes on to place nations adopting such exploited technologies into the category of “second movers.” This status, as a second mover nation, is typically understood as the first or initiation stage within a basic conceptual framework detailing the development of technologies for production. In this stage, foreign imitation is the major means for assimilating technology from abroad, utilizing such methods as reverse engineering, piracy of purchase of rights or parent, and by technology transfer as effected by business and/or political agreements. Imitation not only saves research and development costs that would be better suited to refining production and management methods, but recognizes that there is much that can be learned from more experienced companies, and that higher productivity and better quality will result. Second mover status also promotes benefits by the fact that there would be lesser amounts of competitors and the product or technology in question will not have been standardized in process or presence in local markets.
Governmental support for the initiation stage requires a strong, ambitious stance towards gaining technological capabilities. By actively seeking out methods of technology transfer and easing or tightening up patent restrictions in response to these methods, government would be providing business with advantages such that they wouldn’t be entering the market completely behind. Ready-made models for successful products and production methods would theoretically benefit companies by lessening research and design (R&D) costs and diverting the overflow into better infrastructure and management. By the theory of pure capitalism, an economy starting out without governmental guidance would have to face these high production costs on their own. However, the advantages provided by importing foreign technologies do not come absolutely investment-free, as the experience of some of the other Asian NIEs shows. In these failed cases, the establishment of new technologies incurred costs associated with creating interest in consumption and investment within local markets, mastering the technology and building workforce skills. South Korea and Taiwan were successful because they were able to develop great technical sophistication in their work force through national education and training regimes which “allowed them to extract other conditions, ensuring a swifter and more effective transfer of technology.” The help of the government was essential in this process.
Governmental forces ensured the development of such technical sophistication by investing in a R&D infrastructure that promised to ease the transfer of technology research from academia to commercial use, whether or not the technology was developed abroad or locally. In South Korea, this activity began in 1962 under President Park Chung Hee. Different institutes for technological development were established, prompting the development of a Ministry of Science and Technology to coordinate and integrate all research activity sponsored by the government. These institutions were supported by heightened portions of GNP: 0.2% in 1962 to 0.37% in 1980. While not much of a jump, it was a greater investment than existed in any other developing country at the time. By 1996, R&D investment in South Korea moved up to 2.8% of GDP – around $10 billion US – a commitment larger in percentage than the United States was making. In overall technological capabilities, South Korea was only 5 years behind the rest of the world in development of advanced technologies by 1991, compared to being behind by 10-15 years in the mid-1970s.
Taiwan quickly focused on R&D investment as well. Its first institutes began opening in the 1970s and developed technologies that were later spun off into successful semiconductor firms. Unlike research in South Korea, many of the projects at these institutes tended to be won competitively and included no direct funding or subsidy. Multi-partner alliances made by these institutions have included numerous international firms, including IBM, Apple and Motorola. These governmental behemoths also functioned in an intermediary role, which has served the business community well. After approval of a business plan, R&D institutes supplied consulting, financial and lending assistance, as well as administrative support and other incentives to business owners. Instead of having to maintain their own R&D departments, these firms had the backing and access to federally funded R&D institutes. The funding and oversight from such institutes came – and still does – from a complex but close coordination between the Taiwanese National Science Council, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and another bureau that reports directly to the office of the President. The sign of a growing and capable economy, however, is the delegation of more and more research to the private sector. Beginning in the 1980s, private activity rose though government was still the main stimulus for activity: in Korea, the number of private R&D institutes went from 1 to 290 between 1983 and 1989. Within the same time span, the ratio of private to government expenditure rose from 0.47 to 4; viewed in terms of share of R&D expenditure, the private sector investment increased from 10% in 1966 to 80% in 1986. In 1996, Taiwan was investing 1.85% of its GDP or around $ 4.5 billion US into R&D. This figure was less than the amount for South Korea, but still substantial.
Taiwan differed greatly from South Korea in this aspect of economic and technological development. Because the Taiwanese R&D infrastructure provided so much assistance to starting businesses, the Taiwanese work environment was more conducive to the large number of small and medium enterprises (SME) that make up a majority of Taiwan’s economy today. In comparison, South Korean R&D funding brought many benefits to the major chaebols running industry, but did little to nurture and incubate smaller size companies with much less available resources. Today, though ailing, the chaebols make up the most significant part of the South Korean economy.
To a certain extent, any reliance on R&D capabilities must also be supported by an educational investment that can equip members of thee population to lead any planning or research efforts. South Korea and Taiwan placed great importance on education as an investment in human capital with high returns and low risk. In South Korea, for example, the average length of education went from 7.2 years to 10.3 years between 1960 and 1980, with a total investment into education of approximately 17.1% of total government expenditure that year. By 1983, South Korea was approaching the educational standards of more industrialized countries with 24% of its college-age population going to college. Comparatively, Taiwan spent 11.7% of total government expenditures on education during 1981. Though the difference in investment was considerable – in terms of dollars as well as percentage – Taiwanese social expenditure concentrated almost equally on social security and welfare as it did on education. South Korean social policy, for whatever reason, devoted a much larger proportion of resources to its educational infrastructure.
Even with a large and well-developed R&D and educational infrastructure, the development of technology capabilities required a substantial investment in foreign and economic policy toward foreign collaborations. A certain amount of technology was derived from direct and indirect foreign aid, especially from the United States government and to a lesser extent, Japan. The United States provided South Korea with $12.6 billion in aid of various forms between 1946 and 1976; it also provided Taiwan with $5.6 billion. Though half of the totals were grants and loans, the remainder was not money and instead technology transfers and military equipment. However, both South Korea and Taiwan have depended more realistically on the aftereffects of high foreign governmental confidence: that is, a raised confidence in their markets by private investors, who are willing to divert their funds upon observing their government’s confidence in either economy. South Korea is especially dependent on this investment trend with Japan, with a $13 billion annual trade deficit for that country alone. Besides conveying confidence to international investors, foreign aid involvement has also promoted export-oriented industrialization.
South Korean and Taiwanese dependence on foreign collaboration can probably be best seen by their reliance on foreign, and particularly US, goodwill in obtaining beneficial licensing and patenting procedures. This allowed the number of Asian patents in the US, primarily from South Korea and Taiwan, to increase four times in the 1970ss and ten times during the 1980s. More to their advantage, however, was the license of technology from US firms. The royalties and fees paid for license use doubled during the period 1987-91, dwarfing the contemporary figure paid by US companies to Asian firms by ten times. From this economic collaboration, South Korea alone received 719 foreign technologies during the years 1967-1976, and almost five times that number during the years 1977-1986. This was a vast number, pointing to the fact that the research infrastructure may be well-funded and developed, but was still lacking in many “fundamental independent capabilities in original core technology design and development.”
One route for gaining technological capability was and still is a problematic source. Reverse engineering was certainly used by many companies, as the initial freedom of patent laws in South Korea and Taiwan meant that companies could essentially steal technologies and clone them for use in the market without any legally mandated punishment. Both government supported such initiatives starting in the 1970s by easing restrictions on patenting and foreign technology licensing in-country and maintaining low foreign direct investment (FDI), thus preventing a reliance on foreign money that would bring more overriding legal limitation on obtaining technologies. However, these actions could be considered the governmental aiding and abetting of industrial espionage, and would be immediately visible on the world market by the success of companies producing clones. The logical outcome of the non-protection of intellectual property rights would be decreased motivation for internal invention and also, significantly decreased foreign investment. The dissuasion of foreign investment would be particularly costly, as its loss also meant the loss of associated technologies, organization and managerial capabilities that the inflow of foreign capital would bring with it. In fact, one analysis noted that “the technology and managerial skills transferred through FDI are often of far greater importance than the size of the capital flow.”
The adverse effects of such a governmental policy have already been seen. Japan, for example, has become increasingly hesitant to allow the transfer of high-grade technology even though it is one of the most active trading partners of both nations. The essential loss of these costly technologies to copycat firms – in South Korea and Taiwan specifically, but also anywhere in general – would cause the highly likely erosion of the competitive position of Japanese firms. The costs of reverse engineering are especially expensive when considering that the various outlets for foreign investment, including franchises, joint ventures, majority ownerships and licensees, would necessarily require the collusion of foreign capital and technology in order to function. Along with Japan, the United States has considered intellectual property rights as a top issue on the trade agenda with South Korea and Taiwan in recent years, as both have been a main offender in piracy of technology and patents in various fields related to information technology, entertainment and high-tech equipment. In fact, South Korea alone caused an estimated $572 million loss to US firms by this piracy in 2002, a trend that has been rising ever since the beginnings of trade relations. To remedy this image, South Korea and Taiwan moved towards a tightening of intellectual property laws that would protect patents and their owners. In 2003, various copyright legislation was passed by the South Korean government, including the Computer Program Protection Act and the WIPO Copyright Treaty. Taiwan has had to respond to its responsibilities as a member of the World Trade Organization and accepted the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights as a result.
Governmental policy regarding foreign investment plays a large role in determining the extant development of local industry. Large amounts of foreign capital tends to heighten the concentration ratio and market power of investors and their backers, leading to a decrease in local business by the usurpation of local talent. To protect their maturing industries, South Korea and Taiwan have tended to highly regulate foreign investment for selective industrial benefit. Unlike Singapore and Hong Kong, whose FDI flows were above 50% of external resource flows during the 1970s, both South Korea and Taiwan kept FDI levels under 20%. In the last few decades, South Korea has been more tough concerning this control, with heavy restrictions on any and all investment toward what they considered key manufacturing sectors with little exception. In fact, the only areas allowed to have FDI for several decades were hotels, banks, computer and data processing companies and service facilities. South Korean legislation – like the Foreign Capital Inducement Act of 1960 – limited foreign investments such that they became merely selective infusions within South Korea’s export industry. Much of South Korea’s FDI was directed toward its free export zones, and kept at levels that would allow foreign technology licensing without too much outside involvement. Governmental regulation made sure of this, as it was such that Economic Planning Board approval was required on any FDI proposal or technology transfer protocol. Increased outside involvement had the potential to decrease local ownership and responsibility for technologies and their production; this loss in local capacity had no beneficial effect for the country.
Taiwan instead relied more so on a ‘case-by-case’ analysis for evaluating investment propositions rather than an extreme sectoral emphasis. Restrictions on inward FDI included “measures on entry control, ownership regulation, the monitoring of business operations, exchange controls, local content and export performance requirements and import controls.” Taiwan’s Statute for the Encouragement of Investment tilted a majority of FDI funds toward strategic sectors, while special export processing zones were established to attract more foreign capital and multinational organizational presence. These zones legislated local sourcing and forced export. These actions did much to maximize benefits to domestic interests, but it did little to encourage foreign competition in domestic markets. One area in which Taiwan was particularly stringent was toward China; its limitation of Chinese inward FDI was designed so that no Taiwanese techno-industrial advantage could be conveyed to China. As enemies of China, Taiwan had an urgent defensive motive in utilizing that requirement.
Within the last few years, however, both South Korea and Taiwan have turned to greater liberalization of their economic policies, especially concerning FDI. Their participation in world forums, notably the WTO for Taiwan and APEC for both, signifies their acceptance of globalization, an economic movement publicized and marketed by the United States during the 1990s. Since their industries were much more modern, the opening up of their markets then did not have the same theoretical impact as the same action would have had in earlier decades. In fact, South Korea and Taiwan welcomed greater investment. FDI rose to values of $14 billion and $15.6 billion respectively in 1995, with greater numbers of wholly-owned foreign companies than had been allowed in the past. Past foreign investment was mainly channeled into joint ventures, which allowed Taiwanese nationals a say in the methods of local production and management; the inclusion of more offshore companies truly did mean greater liberalization. This was beneficial for the United States, the EU and Japan, who had all displayed previous preference to “wholly-owned subsidiaries in order to maintain control over proprietary technology.”
After the 1997/1998 economic crisis, South Korea reversed its initial economic closeting and not only increased FDI opportunities, but opened up bilateral treaty negotiations, offered new incentives for additional investment and strengthened intellectual property rights. The number of restricted industries decreased to 31 under the 1998 Foreign Investment Promotion Act, opening up much of the previously closed technology and industrial manufacturing sectors. By 2000, 99.6% of business sectors in South Korea were open to foreign investment. Similarly, Taiwan removed its case-by-case system and opened up restricted sectors – telecommunications, power and banking, among others – as part of the process of gaining accession to the WTO. However, it still limits Chinese investment due to national security reasons. Outward FDI also increased during this time. As resources were poor in both nations, outward FDI had mainly been limited to oil and natural resource sectors, but foreign investment was expanded into the general marketplace starting the 1990s. Unfortunately for South Korea, the 1997 financial crisis forced it to retract many of its foreign investments, including the expansion of chaebol-owned manufacturing plants into Wales and Scotland. These projects were supposed to be the biggest inward foreign inward investments planned in the EU during the 1990s. Though both countries were limited to some extent by the crisis, their growing move toward liberalization seemed to promote the fact that their technological capability was appropriate for world consumption and competition, and that in some way, their economies had made it.
In the 1990s, the ability of South Korean and especially Taiwanese firms to equip and maintain efficient production methods was quickly noticed by multinational companies (MNCs) seeking cheaper production and new markets. The trend for these firms was to increasingly base research at home while farming out production to South Korea and Taiwan, allowing MNC production capabilities to develop and dominate their target markets by the simple act of outsourcing. This enhanced the globalization of their industries: the spread of South Korean and Taiwanese products and components into the high-tech marketplace worldwide was a form of brand marketing that didn’t require brand names. By their reliability and their economical price, their products were furthering the reputation of South Korean and Taiwanese products. There is also a secondary aspect to outsourcing that has both positive and negative value. By taking the role of the producer, these firms took themselves out of competition on the frontlines of the market. This has lessened fears and allowed nations like Japan to take the risk of upgrading NIEs from “offshore assembly platform” status to a licensed producer and provider of components and assemblies.
This positioning may be short-lived: as producer competency increases, they may be unwilling to stay as licensed producers of parts and instead adopt its own image. Nike, for example, was worried about the increasing capability and market share of Chinese producers and instead moved factories closer, to Latin America, where oversight can still be maintained. Some companies have done just that at varying stages in industrial development. Capitalizing on its comparative advantage in terms of human capital, state-owned Taiwan Semiconductor Corporation started a joint venture with Philips of Canada in 1987, and is now the world’s largest chip foundry. Other local businesses would enter the field almost ten years after the joint venture’s formation. In general, however, South Korea and Taiwan have not managed great forays into entering products superior to foreign offerings in the global market. However, their increasing trade with other East Asian nations point to a local product superiority that has a basis in their more-established R&D infrastructure and utility, and affordable pricing compared to Western offerings.
South Korea and Taiwan’s success can be puzzling when compared to the relatively slower development of developing countries elsewhere in Asia and in the world. Though many East Asian countries adopted the ‘flying geese’ approach, the mass adoption of export-oriented industrialization has not worked as well in many other countries, including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. In fact, a high emphasis on export in these countries have met with initial success, followed by differing levels of stagnation. The Philippines, for example, fell far behind in economic development before the 1997 crisis and never caught up in the economic recovery of the years afterward. Like Taiwan and South Korea, the Philippines had a skilled labor population from which to develop their technological capability. However, they did not have the higher-level educational resources nor the research infrastructure required to transfer technical know-how into commercial use. Some theories have argued that higher levels of socioeconomic development have imparted a greater ability to absorb foreign technology among other advancements, a component of a condition known as ‘social absorption capability’. This is harder to rate, as such an analysis may include cultural and social markers that would be perhaps harder to mark objectively. Also, this kind of conclusion may lead to circular arguments. Some economic studies have concluded that emphasis on trading partners may play a role in the success of a developing economy. They noted that intra-regional trade competition tended to be more important than trade relations between NIEs and advanced partners like Japan and the US – a trait emphasized in South Korean and Taiwan trade relations. Indonesia, as well as certain other NIEs, still currently maintains trade levels of more than 50% with the United States and is less active in the East Asian market as a whole. As this creates a dependency that doesn’t quite promote returns in the local market, this could be a possible reason for differential success.
In any case, South Korea and Taiwan has benefited from a tighter governmental policy regarding the economics and legalities of business-related aspects; this control has led to greater national affluence, increased profits, more developed industry and the ability to be more fully involved in a global economy. By nurturing their economies to appropriate levels, these nations have been able to open up their borders to increased investment, and to a greater sense of economic liberalization overall. However, continued strong governmental oversight might not necessarily be disadvantageous. During the 1997 financial crisis, Taiwan was able to largely escape the fallout from currency devaluations all over Asia. By maintaining low levels of foreign borrowing and high currency reserves, Taiwan was not devastated by the mass panics that drove investor money out of Asian economies and promoted the mass reneging on loans. South Korean fiscal policy was much different from Taiwan’s in this respect. It had maintained a foreign debt of $230 billion compared to Taiwan’s $100 million, and its foreign reserves were almost $70 billion less than Taiwan’s.
The continuing success of Asian NIE economies – which today have grown to include Singapore, China and Indonesia, among other notables – rely to some extent on technological advances and legislative management of production and distribution infrastructures. The most successful examples, South Korea and Taiwan, created strong governmental policies that were highly beneficial to domestic firms and markets and attracted foreign investment on highly restrictive terms. Their policies have been viewed by experts and financial administrators at times as unnecessarily controlling, but their relative success compared to other NIEs in Asia and around the world attest to a good fit, at least for the inherited colonial economies of both nations. Unlike other countries, they placed an inordinate amount of investment on research and education, and maintaining an appropriate infrastructure that was as conducive to business as it was to academic development. Public and private support of technology transfer by importation or reverse engineering allowed easy initial access to international markets, and allowed each national incubating industry a jump-start. The international trend to outsource production to NIEs allowed enterprising nations like South Korea and Taiwan to quickly accede to important positions in economic development. As well, the disciplined governmental guidance of foreign investment and offering business incentive have all played important parts in the development of technology-intensive industries, and through that, their national economy.
Russian Music in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century
Russia was always a musical country because of the Russian Orthodox influence and the continuous presence of folk music. However, only the peasant class listened to this music. The noblemen of Russia listened to European art music. A national music was needed; this necessity was met by Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (1804-57). He was a rich composer, writing Russian operas that also inspired patriotism for Russia and for the tsar. His most nationalistic opera was Ruslan and Ludmilla, with a story derived from the great Russian writer Pushkin. He also was a constant womanizer – but in the meantime, created a more Russian form of symphonic composition, based on whole melodies and not just short thematic fragments.
His close friend became his successor to the Russian tradition: Mily Balakirev (1837-1910). He was the leader of a group of musicians called the Big Five, or the Moguchaya Kuchka (Big Fistful). The Big Five included Balakirev , Cesar Cui (1835-1918), Alexander Borodin (1833-87), Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) and Modest Mussorgsky (1839-81). This group aimed to break away from pan-European musical influences and create a more Russian music. Balakirev drew on ideas from remote regions of Russia, weaving them in long melodies to be varied and transformed in a sonata-form. Rimsky-Korsakov wrote many famous Russian operas, while Mussorgsky, Borodin, and Cui did the same with piano and orchestral works.
Another famous composer of the time was Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky who was fond of using Russian folk music. Though his music was more European than the others, his music was always based on Russian ideas and themes. He is best known for such works as the ballet The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty. Their followers were Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943), Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915), Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953), Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-75) and Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971). Rachmaninoff was an amazing pianist and his many piano concertos are remembered for their virtuosity both for the soloist and for the orchestra.
Stravinsky is known for his modern ballet The Firebird and the Rite of Spring. He was a leader in the revitalization of European rhythm in music. He retained a sense of key even though he was a reactionary against Romantic chromaticism, and used polyharmonies, 12-tone scales, as well as the usual diatonic chords and sounds. He was also a nationalist, in works such as Petrushka and The Soldier’s Tale, based on World War I. Prokofiev, on the other hand, was frequently disappointed by his country. The Revolution of 1917 uprooted him and only in 1939 did he come back. This rejoining the Soviet brotherhood made his work famous and earned him a Stalin Prize. His death came one day after Stalin and the announcement was withheld for two days so one event would not overshadow the other. He identifies five elements to his music, which was the model for Russian music in the twentieth century: Neo-classicism, innovation, toccata (rhythmic drive), lyricism, and Scherzo-ness (mockery or grotesque). His masterpiece was the cantata Alexander Nevsky, a heroic propaganda work about a hero who defeated the Germans and Swedes on the Neva and Lake Chudskoye, written to raise morale in a nationalist propaganda film by great Soviet movie director Sergei Eisenstein.
The major emphasis of these composers was to identify the Russian national sound, found in the folk music of all the distant corners of Russia. Some of it was almost Middle Eastern, like Borodin’s work, heard in adaptation in the musical Kismet, and some was very Russian, like in Balakirev’s soaring melodies. However, their roots did not hinder their progress in developing more innovative forms and rhythms. Their music was truly Russian and is still a large part of Russian national identity.
Nationalism and the Protestant Reformation
The spread of Protestantism in Europe during the Reformation was brought about by a change in the viewpoints of European nobility, a change toward nationalism and independent statehood. Previous to the Reformation, the power culture of the Catholic Church preached church first, then state. The state and therefore the state's people were subservient to the will of the Pope. The Pope was gifted with heavenly authority; his descension from St. Peter gave him power over the keys of heaven and the realm of the earth. However, the nobilities of Europe from England to Germany wanted that power removed from the Pope and the Catholic Church's assets and power over the people given directly to themselves. Protestantism appeared at a convenient time; the push for religious reform coincided with the aims of the nobility, and was duly adopted in many kingdoms. The fervor and strong charismatic presence of the Protestant movement leaders promoted strong allegiances to the new religions, and as a result, the rulers that controlled these new religions had new sources of state loyalty and nationalism.
As states in the Holy Roman Empire competed for power and name, the loose hold that the Catholic Church had over the HRE prompted a new, rebellious attitude from the German princes. The lands belonging to the Church were numerous, and on top of that, the princes were forced to pay taxes to the papacy to support the corrupt bureaucracy there. Luther, a reformer of Wittenberg, preached reform of the Catholic Church; by doing so, he was able to persuade the princes to shelter him. Even after Luther had gathered a large following among the peasants and commoners, he still won the approval of princes by condemning the Peasants' War and suggesting in an essay that the criminal serfs should be killed. Thus, Lutheranism brought noble patronage and as a result, the country as well. The northern German Protestant princes were encouraged in spreading the Protestant religion among other states by the massive riches that breakage with the church brought them. In 1529, at the Diet of Speyer, the national struggles came to a head when German Protestant princes delivered a "protest" against the Catholic Church for imperial decrees against their religion. The swelling of the Protestant population under these princes changed the power base from Rome to those of the independent German states, like Saxony.
In France, the Catholic heritage of the land ("daughter of the Church") allowed for little change. From 1516, when the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges was rescinded, to 1562, there was relative peace. However, the Vassy massacre of Huguenot worshippers provoked a raging civil war. The Bourbon Protestant nobility were offended and threatened by the provocation of the Guise family and so aroused patriotism and religious fervor in their various constituents to counter the power of the Guise Catholics. Eventually, the Edict of Nantes was created which allowed Huguenots to worship peacefully. The fact that such national violence and animosity could be provoked under the disguise of religious Protestant versus Catholic wars displayed the impact that Protestantism had had on France. The two French powers, fighting off each other's advances, adopted their respective religions as rallying cries to the nation and so displayed to the world the power that the new religions had over people.
The English king, Henry VIII, in his quest for control over his marital status and his country, had petitioned Pope Clement VII for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon in 1527. Following Clement's vigorous no, King Henry VIII and his advisors decided on "reforming" the Catholic Church, and thus the Protestant Reformation in England began. The Pope's authority, he felt, was unwarranted, and religious power in England would do better under an Englishman. Henry, in the Act of Supremacy of 1534, declared himself the head of the state religion, Anglicanism, and thus he became the guardian of his people's political, economical and spiritual status. This way, his people were always to be loyal to him if they wanted to be saved and go to heaven. The adoption of the Anglican mass and prayer book in 1549 by the British Parliament signified the control that the political bodies representing the people had over the religious process. The effect of this change was a buildup in the people's sense of nationality as they were ushered into a forced version of Protestantism, as Catholicism had been banned and there was no other choice.
Throughout Europe, the drive towards greater control and nationalism by the great powers were found to be conducive to the spread of Protestantism. The main goals of the often violent Protestant movement was reformation and removing sources of greed and politics from religion, which fit in exactly with the desires of the European princes who wanted more control, more followers, and more money. With great effect in England and Germany, the efforts of their power-hungry leaders brought whole new state-mandated religions to their people that changed their loyalties to the new religion and therefore the state. In France, where the movement had less effect, still, nationalists were bred from religious loyalties and civil war erupted, though the uprisings were soon suppressed. Without the spread of nationalism and a growing search for national identity among kings and princes, Protestantism would not have survived; little pockets of religious groups, such as Calvin's Geneva and John of Leyden's Anabaptist Munster, would eventually die out and leave little effect upon the social systems of Europe.
The Confessions of St. Augustine and Rousseau were both written as a means to impart life experiences to their respective readers. St. Augustine, as a Christian penitent, would naturally expect an ecclesiastical or sympathetic religious audience. He aimed to confess both to his readers and to God; in one sense, he was a teacher, a leader, and a man earning his sainthood, but he was also the sinful atonee. At one point, he mentions that he had wandered, O my God, too much astray from Thee (St. Augustine 35). He speaks with an air of devout selfchastisement, sometimes apologizing for his immaturity, and at others, lamenting the hard paths he had chosen. He is a preacher here, and his audience is his flock, needing guidance so as not to stray. His words are chosen as to inspire. Rousseau, on the other hand, needed no pious humility for his confession – he wanted to show to all what it was to be the likeness of a man in all the truth of nature, and that man myself (Rousseau 1). He did not ask for forgiveness, for most of his faults were not faults at all, but what made him not made like any of those who are in existence (1). He tells a picaresque tale with a proud air, as if to suggest that everything that had happened to him had made him the person he had become. Rousseau addresses the thinking man, the people who need to be shown the truth about the world that can only be reached by analyzing life and selfexperiences on their own merits. That is his intention – however, it comes across as a selfglorification rather than a guide to life and devotion, as Augustines Confessions do.
The Enlightenment fostered an innate belief in the ability of any man to think, and by some metaphysical means, endure knowledge and truth. While most philosophers (and indeed, Maimon himself) believed that educating oneself meant growing individually in the company of other enlightened individuals, the idea of a liberated man and his own intellectual growth need not lie solely on the physical journey – to meet at a crossroads, so to speak. To Humboldt, it is less reliant on seeking higher levels of intellect in others; indeed, to him, it is on ones very neighbors, no matter their condition, whereupon our thinking is developed. The coherent whole, as is Maimons slightly contradictory philosophy, is entirely consistent with the Enlightenment wave. Progress, to either, did not mean that any philosophy was wholly contradictory; Humboldt perfectly accepts that a physical journey cannot compare with indirect experiences, and Maimon doesnt entirely reject the notion of intellectual salvation in his otherwise stalwart brethren (the rabbis, the Lithuanians). It was a journey, nonetheless, as no one could progress without moving in some plane. The Enlightenment ideal of curiosity and broadening of ones horizons needed the journey as a model – it was a common thread in the closely competing philosophies of change.
In Frankenstein, Shelleys portrayal of science can hardly be described as positive. Her stance seems to liken science as bad for the soul – Victor Frankenstein is never happy when working on science. He is only happy when he is living the Romantic ideal, traveling and pursuing friendship with his loved ones. Shelley characterizes Victor Frankenstein as a realist of sorts. At Ingolstadt, he finds himself disillusioned with science, as it was very different, when [scientists] sought immortality and power; such views, although futile, were grand: but now the scene was changed (pg. 75). There is no Romantic glory in ordinary science, no visionary goals, Shelley (through Frankenstein) seems to suggest. Frankenstein goes on: I was required to exchange chimeras of boundless grandeur for realities of little worth (75). However, Shelley also pushes forward another idea, that science can be lifted up and immortalized as any other passion: overwhelming, dangerous, and sometimes, heartwrenching. Frankenstein truly wants to be a man of science, reaching for immortality with his study of life. He is passionate: My ardour was indeed the astonishment of the students; and my proficiency, that of the masters (79). It is overwhelming, as his scientific work takes his health. It is dangerous, for his passion unleashes a creature not akin to the world, and finally, it is heartwrenching, as his scientific masterpiece, his monster, kills for want of love. Shelley does not punish curiosity, in science or elsewhere. Frankenstein remarks that how many things are we upon the brink of becoming acquainted, if cowardice or carelessness did not restrain our inquiries (79). Shelley is not, as some have suggested, reacting against Enlightenment; she is merely amending it with Romantic ideals, and warning against the pitfalls of ordinary science. Her hero, Frankenstein, loses all in his zealous scientific quest, yet he remains a Romantic hero.
In Colonel Chabert, the idea of an individual was regarded as higher than the individual himself. Whether politically driven or not, the existence of a mythos around Colonel Chaberts life and death served to enlighten the present generation as to the good old days and eased the way of a scheming woman and her titled lover into society, legitimacy and wealth. After the French Revolution and Napoleon, the accumulation of money again defined the individual. In Colonel Chaberts case, his highly individual stance and death raised public opinion in favor of him and his widow, who profited by being able to join society as an individual with both money and a new titled lover. Unfortunately, a live Colonel Chabert would change the perception of the tired war hero, the old generation. Political winds dictated that the days of Empire stay dormant; only nostalgia, not fervor, was acceptable. There was a legitimate fear of Bonapartists and the reappearance of an old hero was not quite an acceptable parallel for those in power. The conception of the individual had turned away from the heroic iconoclast to family values and social standing.