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Global Social and Cultural Trends Since 1960 Essay

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Updated: Sep 4th, 2020

Prevailing social and cultural currents in The Siege

The Siege, 1998, is a film written by Lawrence Wright and directed by Edward Zwick. It stars Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, and Annette Bening. The storyline comprises of the abduction of an Islamic religious leader by the US Military, which culminates in the targeting of New York City by terrorist groups. Consequently, the FBI and CIA team up to fight back the terrorists and investigate their primary source. The government, in effect, declares martial law and sending US troops onto the streets of New York. An interesting phrase used in this movie by General Devereaux is “Make no mistake, we will find the enemy, and we will kill the enemy” (Richards, and Corwyn 387). This is interesting because immediately after the September 2011 terrorist bombing on the U.S. soil, President George W. Bush used this very phrase in two presidential speeches addressed to the public on September 12 2001 and on January 29, 2002, where Bush stated, “Make no mistake, the U.S. government will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.”

This is a clear example of how the media plays a major role in sustaining stereotypes in a particular society (Richards and Corwyn 392). In this case, it was the demonization of Arabs as bloodthirsty and animalistic terrorists. The message that all Arabs are evil and that all Muslims are Arabs and all Arabs Muslims was very clear, yet this is wrong. Research indicated that most governments use such stereotyping, married with propaganda to maintain a semblance of unity among their citizens by singling out a particular marginalized group as the enemy and henceforth directing all hateful energy towards such a group (Wagar 4). This theory explains the internment of Japanese and enslavement of black people among other socio-cultural vices the US is guilty of throughout history. In actual sense, it is an attempt to keep united the heterogeneous population that comprises of more than 50 states in order to prevent a collapse like that of the Soviet Union (Wagar 6). So far, this weapon of unity seems to be working as the glue holding America together. The creation of a public enemy is a political tool.

The resurgence of religious fundamentalism throughout the world

Historically, widespread links between politics and religion are inevitable in any given era. Consequently, the concept of a resurgence of religious fundamentalism during the past two decades is not news. It is a resurgence meaning it is not the first time this phenomenon is occurring. Previous eras referred to it as religious militancy, which explains the concept of Jihads among Muslims and Martyrdoms among Christians. During the past twenty, years several religious groups have notably manifested religious fundamentalism, including Iranian Revolutionists, Islamic Militants, Christian Fundamentalists, Politically Quietist Protestant Evangelical sects in Africa and the Americas, Hindu and Buddhist Fundamentalist groups in India and South East Asia, and Jewish Fundamentalists in Asia and elsewhere. The reasons for this resurgence are not clear, but most political and theological experts have narrowed down the possible explanations to about four. One such study indicates, “Moral and social issues evolving in many contemporary countries and religions, around state-society interactions” (Cooper 59) are the source. Consequently, fundamentalists are religious leaders using religious texts to challenge secular leaders and simultaneously suggest plans or projects for radical change.

There are several explanation for this tendency including the failure of promised modernity: they believe they are getting more than they bargained for when they signed up for economic and socio-cultural developments. For instance, the fast-declining moral among the incumbent generation is deplorable and the government is fully to blame (Appleby 27). They also believe that God is in danger or being overtaken by technological processes which people seem to worship and acknowledge as the source of socio-economic developments. Today, the calibrations on the scale for measuring individual worth are wealth and social status with religion mostly ignored and belittled. Consequently, these aggravated leaders mobilize followers and become a minority opting to take matters in their own hands and cleanse the society and government of its permissiveness. They wage wars against governments whose jurisdictions they believe propagate secularization. This war is also against co-religionists that they believe are lax in their duties and opposing religions, which they perceive to be satanic. All this is the result of de-privatization of religion, which was previously a private institution in democratic states, leading to a perceived threat that religion’s social and political importance is on the decline.

Soviet Union’s downfall in reference to social, economic and cultural factors

Research indicates that a complete aversion of the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union after 74-year subsistence was not possible. Nevertheless, it could have been averted for a few years, letting the system survive a few more years during which maybe salvation may have been achievable. This is because after more than seven decades of principled restraint, the subsisting scheming self-interest of the elite leaders did it in. Political elites had long since lost faith in socialist ideologies and embraced capitalist theories, only they did so by pilfering state funds and resources for personal gain and the sale of political offices (Lapidus 18). They chose this looting over the risk of losing everything in a large-scale war. The Soviet Union was well equipped with nuclear, biological, and chemical weaponry but General Mikhail Gorbachev opted for the peaceful imploding of the Soviet Union instead of applying the military power on the very citizens he had strived to protect for so long.

This is because Gorbachev was an idealist who believed that the humanistic nature of socialization would prevail and the public would be justly and equitably provided for. However, he did not have a back-up plan to explain the reforms he proposed to achieve this feat. Consequently, his countrymen believed that he was rallying for reforms because socialism was inherently flawed and so they did not really fight for its sustenance. Economically, the Soviet Union was faring even worse (Neimanis 39). It was infiltrated with corruption, the factories were obsolete, the presidential requirements were too stringent, it did not have a rule of law, the legal system was too weak, and the national bank speculated on its own funds and hid currency in offshore accounts (Lapidus 28). Sadly, the status of Russia is no better today than it was in 1991. In effect, the Soviet Union is still collapsing. In a sense, it narrowly escaped imploding with a bang and imploded with a whimper but it is still imploding to date.

The state of feminism today and its changes since the 1960s

Feminism refers to the various movements fighting for women’s rights on several fronts including political, economic and social (Neimanis 43). They also seek equality in areas such as education and employment. In the 1960s Second-Wave Feminism focused on issues such as sexuality, family and workplace responsibilities, reproductive rights and various other inequalities. Women were denied the right to make decisions about their reproductive lives with the ultimate decision about how many children one could have left solely in the hands of their husbands. Moreover, in employment, women got unskilled jobs while men engaged in skillful work, which had higher income. Consequently, women were dependent on men. In regards to family men were the supreme authorities in their homes with their decisions being final without necessarily consulting their wives. Legal inequalities against women included the outright lack of acknowledgment of their right to inherit property. In effect, the law categorized women with minors and idiots in terms of legal capacity.

Men had absolute rights over their wives’ property, which explains why most marriages were based on material possession of the woman which automatically became her husband’s upon saying her marital vows (Jacobs 5). The political arena was no different with women being relegated to insignificant roles. However, nowadays women have greater rights as evidenced by equality in the education sector whereby more women are going to school to acquire formal education, as a result they can access skillful labor and are holding higher positions in their workplaces. Reforms such as the affirmative action have also improved their chances of fair treatment at work and in school because they are counted among the minorities and given first priority over the majorities, who are usually men (Wright 13). This has greatly reduced their dependence on men leading to an increase in respect levels towards women in the society (Jacobs 5). Today women make decisions on family planning and abortion is legal in several nations throughout the world. They can own and trade property and the law protects these rights while also maintaining that women are equal to men. Consequently, feminist movements are not as rampant as they were in the sixties. There is a semblance of contentment among women.

Works Cited

Appleby, Scott. “Fundamentalism and society: Reclaiming the Sciences, the Family and Education”. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. Print.

Richards, Bradley and Ray Corwyn. “Socio-economic status and child development”. Rev. of Psychology. Washington post, 1993. Print.

Cooper, William, et al. “Challenges of the Muslim World: present, future and past”. London: Emerald Group Publishing, 2008. Print.

Jacobs, Alexandra. “A feminist Classic Gets a Makeover”. New York Times. 2005. Web.

Lapidus, Gail. “Ethnic conflict in the Former Soviet Union”. Rev. of security. Center for International Security and Cooperation. 2005. Web.

Neimanis, George. The collapse of the Soviet Empire: A view from Riga. Westport: Prager Publishers, 1997. Print.

Wagar, Warren. “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow”. Rev. of Technology. New York Times. 1993. Web.

Wright, Susan. “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: Landmark Antidiscrimination Legislation Spec.” Issue of Journal of Modern law studies, 2005. Print.

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