Port of Call: The Revolution Will Be Critiqued. A Guest Post.

This is a a guest post I did for my friend Cooper’s blog about a year ago. (It’s a great blog. Check it out! https://theairshipchronos.wordpress.com/). It’s about politics in Legend of Korra and what the show gets right and what it gets wrong.

The Airship Chronos

Legend of Korra is about politics. It’s about other things too, of course, but the exploration of different political ideologies and structures forms a core theme of the show, running from beginning to end. This is in contrast to its predecessor show,  Avatar: The Last Airbender, where Aang spends the entirety of the show engaged in the relatively simple tasks of stopping the expansion of a militaristic empire and ending a war. The thorny questions of post-war recovery are relegated to later. When the series ends, the Air Nomads and Southern Water Tribe have been irrevocably shattered, and most of the Earth Kingdom has been under a military occupation for nearly a century. Merely ending the Hundred Years War doesn’t repair the damage. Many of those unresolved problems show up here. In Legend, Korra spends each season engaging with and ultimately rejecting a form of radical political ideology…

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You’re Probably Not Smarter Than A Château General

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General Melchett, One Of The British Army’s Top Strategists

The definition of insanity is thinking that while the combined military-political establishments of the Great Powers of Europe were too stupid to solve the tactical problems of trench warfare, you are are very smart and could solve them easily.

Oh wait, never mind, I forgot it’s “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Of course, that’s not true either, but I think my definition makes more sense, at least in the context of the First World War. I can’t tell you how often someone quotes that stupid, quippy “definition” in discussions of WWI, acting like they’ve just said something profound. Nonsense. Hindsight is an endemic problem in the study of history, and if not carefully watched for, it can lead to arrogance. There are stupid people in this world, but not as many as one might think. Most historical actions that seem insane or indefensible were usually undertaken for what seemed like perfectly sound reasons at the time.

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Miyazaki And The Intersection of Marxism and Feminism

DISCLAIMER: Nathan knows little to nothing about any of the topics he will be discussing in the following post. Literally everything here may be complete and spurious nonsense.

The films of Hayao Miyazaki are rightfully beloved for many reasons, one of which is their feminism. The protagonists of  almost all of his movies are women or girls, who take center stage in his narratives, supported by boys, but never supplanted. Avoiding the cliche of the “strong female character”, Miyazaki’s heroines feel frightfully real, endowed with strengths and weaknesses but always characterized by empathy, kindness, and determination. Many, many smarter people than I have examined and discussed this aspect of these movies, but I do think there’s something that goes unnoticed: Miyazaki’s deep admiration for the practice of physical labor, and the ways in which this intersects with feminism to create a coherent narrative.

The title of this piece is “The Intersection of Marxism and Feminism”, and I want to make it clear that I when I refer to Marxism, I’m not referring to the economic, historical, or revolutionary theories, but rather some of Marx’s philosophical writings, specifically the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. My knowledge of this is limited to a single course in college, so it’s possible that my understanding is completely off. If you’re an actual scholar of Marxist theory, please correct me! But anyways, in this piece, Marx attempts a theoretical explanation of the importance of the proletariat. Cooperative labor, as in factories, he argues, is the highest form of human activity, as it enables us to create objects that do not and cannot exist in nature. Other activities, eating, drinking, having sex, relaxing, etc, these are mere animal pleasures, and should be minimized. The Great Sin of Capitalism in this paradigm is that it alienates us from labor. Labor, which should be a pleasure and joy, is reduced to a hated chore by the demands of capitalist economics.  Or, as my father succinctly put when I was discussing this with him: “Capitalists value work too, but for what it brings them. For Miyazaki, it’s a good in and of itself.” Miyazaki may not explicitly denounce capitalist oppression, but his movies serve as showcases for a Marxist idealism of labor, filtered through a feminist lens.  

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The Eponymous Kiki

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Are We In 1860 Or 1912?

A few weeks ago I was reading an article on 538 about the recent split within the GOP between the Trump Loyalists and the #NeverTrump movement, reborn like the Phoenix after the Billy Bush tape. In the article, the staff declare that they can’t think of any precedent for the current situation, though they eventually settle on the Republican Party abandoning Nixon in 1974 as the closest parallel. This struck me as a rather odd conclusion to reach. There are at least two other cases in American history where a major political party split in an election year, and though neither of them is an exact parallel to the current kerfuffle, they both bear examining.

The Election Of 1860

1860 is a pivotal year in American history. The election of Abraham Lincoln triggers the secession of the eleven southern states, as well as the subsequent Civil War needed to bring them back to heel, as well as the abolition of slavery. So it’s an important election. But in looking at the broader picture, I think we sometimes miss the affect 1860 had on the history of American political parties. Namely, the complete and utter destruction of the Democratic Party for multiple generations.

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1860 Electoral Map

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