Without the historian Sue Eakin, who died in 2009, nobody would be talking about Solomon Northup or the other once-forgotten souls portrayed in “Twelve Years a Slave.” Michael Schulman on the woman who spent her career rescuing Northup’s memoir from obscurity: http://nyr.kr/1gZc9Mb
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FASCISM, RUSSIA, AND UKRAINE
By Timothy Snyder
The students were the first to protest against the regime of President Viktor Yanukovych on the Maidan, the central square in Kiev, last November. These were the Ukrainians with the most to lose, the young people who unreflectively thought of themselves as Europeans and who wished for themselves a life, and a Ukrainian homeland, that were European. Many of them were politically on the left, some of them radically so. After years of negotiation and months of promises, their government, under President Yanukovych, had at the last moment failed to sign a major trade agreement with the European Union.
When the riot police came and beat the students in late November, a new group, the Afghan veterans, came to the Maidan. These men of middle age, former soldiers and officers of the Red Army, many of them bearing the scars of battlefield wounds, came to protect “their children,” as they put it. They didn’t mean their own sons and daughters: they meant the best of the youth, the pride and future of the country. After the Afghan veterans came many others, tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands, now not so much in favor of Europe but in defense of decency.
What does it mean to come to the Maidan? The square is located close to some of the major buildings of government, and is now a traditional site of protest. Interestingly, the word maidan exists in Ukrainian but not in Russian, but even people speaking Russian use it because of its special implications. In origin it is just the Arabic word for “square,” a public place. But a maidan now means in Ukrainian what the Greek word agora means in English: not just a marketplace where people happen to meet, but a place where they deliberately meet, precisely in order to deliberate, to speak, and to create a political society. During the protests the word maidan has come to mean the act of public politics itself, so that for example people who use their cars to organize public actions and protect other protestors are called the automaidan.
The protesters represent every group of Ukrainian citizens: Russian speakers and Ukrainian speakers (although most Ukrainians are bilingual), people from the cities and the countryside, people from all regions of the country, members of all political parties, the young and the old, Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Every major Christian denomination is represented by believers and most of them by clergy. The Crimean Tatars march in impressive numbers, and Jewish leaders have made a point of supporting the movement. The diversity of the Maidan is impressive: the group that monitors hospitals so that the regime cannot kidnap the wounded is run by young feminists. An important hotline that protesters call when they need help is staffed by LGBT activists.
On January 16, the Ukrainian government, headed by President Yanukovych, tried to put an end to Ukrainian civil society. A series of laws passed hastily and without following normal procedure did away with freedom of speech and assembly, and removed the few remaining checks on executive authority. This was intended to turn Ukraine into a dictatorship and to make all participants in the Maidan, by then probably numbering in the low millions, into criminals. The result was that the protests, until then entirely peaceful, became violent. Yanukovych lost support, even in his political base in the southeast, near the Russian border.
After weeks of responding peacefully to arrests and beatings by the riot police, many Ukrainians had had enough. A fraction of the protesters, some but by no means all representatives of the political right and far right, decided to take the fight to the police. Among them were members of the far-right party Svoboda and a new conglomeration of nationalists who call themselves the Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor). Young men, some of them from right-wing groups and others not, tried to take by force the public spaces claimed by the riot police. Young Jewish men formed their own combat group, or sotnia, to take the fight to the authorities.
Although Yanukovych rescinded most of the dictatorship laws, lawless violence by the regime, which started in November, continued into February. Members of the opposition were shot and killed, or hosed down in freezing temperatures to die of hypothermia. Others were tortured and left in the woods to die.
During the first two weeks of February, the Yanukovych regime sought to restore some of the dictatorship laws through decrees, bureaucratic shortcuts, and new legislation. On February 18, an announced parliamentary debate on constitutional reform was abruptly cancelled. Instead, the government sent thousands of riot police against the protesters of Kiev. Hundreds of people were wounded by rubber bullets, tear gas, and truncheons. Dozens were killed.
The future of this protest movement will be decided by Ukrainians. And yet it began with the hope that Ukraine could one day join the European Union, an aspiration that for many Ukrainians means something like the rule of law, the absence of fear, the end of corruption, the social welfare state, and free markets without intimidation from syndicates controlled by the president.
The course of the protest has very much been influenced by the presence of a rival project, based in Moscow, called the Eurasian Union. This is an international commercial and political union that does not yet exist but that is to come into being in January 2015. The Eurasian Union, unlike the European Union, is not based on the principles of the equality and democracy of member states, the rule of law, or human rights.
On the contrary, it is a hierarchical organization, which by its nature seems unlikely to admit any members that are democracies with the rule of law and human rights. Any democracy within the Eurasian Union would pose a threat to Putin’s rule in Russia. Putin wants Ukraine in his Eurasian Union, which means that Ukraine must be authoritarian, which means that the Maidan must be crushed.
The dictatorship laws of January 16 were obviously based on Russian models, and were proposed by Ukrainian legislators with close ties to Moscow. They seem to have been Russia’s condition for financial support of the Yanukovych regime. Before they were announced, Putin offered Ukraine a large loan and promised reductions in the price of Russian natural gas. But in January the result was not a capitulation to Russia. The people of the Maidan defended themselves, and the protests continue. Where this will lead is anyone’s guess; only the Kremlin expresses certainty about what it all means.
The protests in the Maidan, we are told again and again by Russian propaganda and by the Kremlin’s friends in Ukraine, mean the return of National Socialism to Europe. The Russian foreign minister, in Munich, lectured the Germans about their support of people who salute Hitler. The Russian media continually make the claim that the Ukrainians who protest are Nazis. Naturally, it is important to be attentive to the far right in Ukrainian politics and history. It is still a serious presence today, although less important than the far right in France, Austria, or the Netherlands. Yet it is the Ukrainian regime rather than its opponents that resorts to anti-Semitism, instructing its riot police that the opposition is led by Jews. In other words, the Ukrainian government is telling itself that its opponents are Jews and us that its opponents are Nazis.
The strange thing about the claim from Moscow is the political ideology of those who make it. The Eurasian Union is the enemy of the European Union, not just in strategy but in ideology. The European Union is based on a historical lesson: that the wars of the twentieth century were based on false and dangerous ideas, National Socialism and Stalinism, which must be rejected and indeed overcome in a system guaranteeing free markets, free movement of people, and the welfare state. Eurasianism, by contrast, is presented by its advocates as the opposite of liberal democracy.
The Eurasian ideology draws an entirely different lesson from the twentieth century. Founded around 2001 by the Russian political scientist Aleksandr Dugin, it proposes the realization of National Bolshevism. Rather than rejecting totalitarian ideologies, Eurasianism calls upon politicians of the twenty-first century to draw what is useful from both fascism and Stalinism. Dugin’s major work, The Foundations of Geopolitics, published in 1997, follows closely the ideas of Carl Schmitt, the leading Nazi political theorist. Eurasianism is not only the ideological source of the Eurasian Union, it is also the creed of a number of people in the Putin administration, and the moving force of a rather active far-right Russian youth movement. For years Dugin has openly supported the division and colonization of Ukraine.
The point man for Eurasian and Ukrainian policy in the Kremlin is Sergei Glazyev, an economist who like Dugin tends to combine radical nationalism with nostalgia for Bolshevism. He was a member of the Communist Party and a Communist deputy in the Russian parliament before cofounding a far-right party called Rodina, or Motherland. In 2005 some of its deputies signed a petition to the Russian prosecutor general asking that all Jewish organizations be banned from Russia.
Later that year Motherland was banned from taking part in further elections after complaints that its advertisements incited racial hatred. The most notorious showed dark-skinned people eating watermelon and throwing the rinds to the ground, then called for Russians to clean up their cities. Glazyev’s book Genocide: Russia and the New World Order claims that the sinister forces of the “new world order” conspired against Russia in the 1990s to bring about economic policies that amounted to “genocide.” This book was published in English by Lyndon LaRouche’s magazine Executive Intelligence Review with a preface by LaRouche. Today Executive Intelligence Review echoes Kremlin propaganda, spreading the word in English that Ukrainian protesters have carried out a Nazi coup and started a civil war.
The populist media campaign for the Eurasian Union is now in the hands of Dmitry Kiselyov, the host of the most important talk show in Russia, and since December also the director of the state-run Russian media conglomerate designed to form national public opinion. Best known for saying that gays who die in car accidents should have their hearts cut from their bodies and incinerated, Kiselyov has taken Putin’s campaign against gay rights and transformed it into a weapon against European integration. Thus when the then German foreign minister, who is gay, visited Kiev in December and met with Vitali Klitschko, the heavyweight champion and opposition politician, Kiselyov dismissed Klitschko as a gay icon. According to the Russian foreign minister, the exploitation of sexual politics is now to be an open weapon in the struggle against the “decadence” of the European Union.
Following the same strategy, Yanukovych’s government claimed, entirely falsely, that the price of closer relations with the European Union was the recognition of gay marriage in Ukraine. Kiselyov is quite open about the Russian media strategy toward the Maidan: to “apply the correct political technology,” then “bring it to the point of overheating” and bring to bear “the magnifying glass of TV and the Internet.”
Why exactly do people with such views think they can call other people fascists? And why does anyone on the Western left take them seriously? One line of reasoning seems to run like this: the Russians won World War II, and therefore can be trusted to spot Nazis. Much is wrong with this. World War II on the eastern front was fought chiefly in what was then Soviet Ukraine and Soviet Belarus, not in Soviet Russia. Five percent of Russia was occupied by the Germans; all of Ukraine was occupied by the Germans. Apart from the Jews, whose suffering was by far the worst, the main victims of Nazi policies were not Russians but Ukrainians and Belarusians. There was no Russian army fighting in World War II, but rather a Soviet Red Army. Its soldiers were disproportionately Ukrainian, since it took so many losses in Ukraine and recruited from the local population. The army group that liberated Auschwitz was called the First Ukrainian Front.
The other source of purported Eurasian moral legitimacy seems to be this: since the representatives of the Putin regime only very selectively distanced themselves from Stalinism, they are therefore reliable inheritors of Soviet history, and should be seen as the automatic opposite of Nazis, and therefore to be trusted to oppose the far right.
Again, much is wrong about this. World War II began with an alliance between Hitler and Stalin in 1939. It ended with the Soviet Union expelling surviving Jews across its own border into Poland. After the founding of the State of Israel, Stalin began associating Soviet Jews with a world capitalist conspiracy, and undertook a campaign of arrests, deportations, and murders of leading Jewish writers. When he died in 1953 he was preparing a larger campaign against Jews.
After Stalin’s death communism took on a more and more ethnic coloration, with people who wished to revive its glories claiming that its problem was that it had been spoiled by Jews. The ethnic purification of the communist legacy is precisely the logic of National Bolshevism, which is the foundational ideology of Eurasianism today. Putin himself is an admirer of the philosopher Ivan Ilin, who wanted Russia to be a nationalist dictatorship.
What does it mean when the wolf cries wolf? Most obviously, propagandists in Moscow and Kiev take us for fools—which by many indications is quite justified.
More subtly, what this campaign does is attempt to reduce the social tensions in a complex country to a battle of symbols about the past. Ukraine is not a theater for the historical propaganda of others or a puzzle from which pieces can be removed. It is a major European country whose citizens have important cultural and economic ties with both the European Union and Russia. To set its own course, Ukraine needs normal public debate, the restoration of parliamentary democracy, and workable relations with all of its neighbors. Ukraine is full of sophisticated and ambitious people. If people in the West become caught up in the question of whether they are largely Nazis or not, then they may miss the central issues in the present crisis.
In fact, Ukrainians are in a struggle against both the concentration of wealth and the concentration of armed force in the hands of Viktor Yanukovych and his close allies. The protesters might be seen as setting an example of courage for Americans of both the left and the right. Ukrainians make real sacrifices for the hope of joining the European Union. Might there be something to be learned from that among Euroskeptics in London or elsewhere? This is a dialogue that is not taking place.
The history of the Holocaust is part of our own public discourse, our agora, or maidan. The current Russian attempt to manipulate the memory of the Holocaust is so blatant and cynical that those who are so foolish to fall for it will one day have to ask themselves just how, and in the service of what, they have been taken in. If fascists take over the mantle of antifascism, the memory of the Holocaust will itself be altered. It will be more difficult in the future to refer to the Holocaust in the service of any good cause, be it the particular one of Jewish history or the general one of human rights.
just thought I’d bring this back cause there are still people who can’t seem to get what Maidan is all about
(via saltysalmonella)Source: nybooks.com
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What do you mean how did they get away with it?
History isn’t one straight line progressing towards a liberal society.
Look how much Americans attitudes have changed between 1980 and today. 1980 was the first time most very religious people voted, they abstained before that at the behest of their churches. Now they dictate policy at every election.
In my family photo album there are pictures from the 20s of a woman called ‘uncle bob’. She dressed in men’s clothing, and had a ‘companion’. This was a rough industrial town, they were working class, nobody cared. It was her business.
This is why politics is important - the moment you think everything is better today than it was in the past, you let other people take control of the direction society goes in - with you sitting back presuming we’re going forwards.
reblogging for the commentary
Damn. Best takedown of the repressive hypothesis I’ve seen in a while.
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Belle will be released in the US on May 2.
Why did you decide to go the route of the Austenesque romance to tell her story?
In so many ways, it’s a romantic love story and it’s a paternal love story as well. It’s as much about her and [her surrogate father] Lord Mansfield, and also the fact that her biological father loved her as well.
It was much more practical in those days, if you had an illegitimate child of color, you could bring them into the household but had to keep them in the servant’s quarters, and have them work with servants where they’d be safe but wouldn’t be a full part of the family. The fact that her father decided that he didn’t want her to be brought up that way and brought her to his uncle [Lord Mansfield] and said, “Love her as I would had I been here,” was important to me.
When I did the research, it surprised me how many people had left Dido money in their will — Lord Mansfield left her money in his will [and] Lady Mary, Lord Mansfield’s sister, also left Dido in her will. The reality of it, then, was that so many people clearly [and] on paper showed their love for Dido that I thought it would have been disingenuous for me to tell a story purely about her suffering and a story that wasn’t about her love.
She had great love. That she married John Davinier, that she was able to baptize all of her children with him in the same church that they married in, I found that that was very romantic and beautiful.
I also wanted to understand, or communicate to the audience, what kind of men would love Dido during this period. Lord Mansfield, who adopted her, and also John [her husband] — what would make them so brave and so courageous enough to be able to love this woman of color during that period?
If I’m honest, I wanted to show a woman of color being loved. We don’t see it that often. I wanted to change the conversation a little bit, change the dialogue a little bit — we are loved, [and] we can be loved. Dido was valuable enough to be loved, she was worthy of being loved, and she was loved. Her challenge was showing people the right way to love her in the way that she needed to be. MORE
Switching gears a bit, how did you make that transition from acting to directing?
I had been writing and producing for quite a while in British television. I wanted to circle my screenplays around some of the things that we’ve discussed — race, gender, and class — and I wasn’t sure that TV was the right place for me to do it.
I had written my first script, A Way of Life — which, thankfully, went on to do quite well critically, and won me a BAFTA and lots of other international awards — and I was very protective of it.
One day, one of my funders at the BFI called me in and said, “Hey. I know you would really like to produce this movie, and that’s all very well, but actually we’d love you to direct it.” I sort of shrunk back into the sofa and said, “No, no. That’s not something I can do. I’m a writer. What I do is write, and this is the best thing I’ve ever written to date, and I don’t want to be the person who ruins it by trying to direct it. This movie is my baby and I’m not going to kill it!”
They were very adamant and said, “Look. You’re not going to kill your movie. We’ll send you to film school for a month” — like a month of film school, what’s that? — “And we’re going to give you some money so that you can shoot a pilot of the movie. We want you do a couple of scenes so you get used to getting behind the camera then we want you to go off and make a movie.”
It took about a month to convince me, to get the courage to accept the offer. Off I went to film school and had one-to-one training with cinematographers, other directors, and editors — I literally had one to one time with all of the heads of department that you’ve have on a real movie, then I went off and shot a pilot. Then I thought, “Wow, I really like this.” Being able to create the characters and then see it through, it felt like, this is what I was born for.MORE
Awesome article on the upcoming film based on the life story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, a real noblewoman who lived in 1700s Scotland.
(via theteratophile)Source: poc-creators
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Traces of coca and nicotine found in Egyptian mummies - WTF fun facts
well DUH. a lot of historians are still trying to process the fact that ancient egyptians knew how to build boats, which is ridiculous. why would they not be seafarers and explorers?
this is not new or surprising information at all. it pretty much day one of any african-american studies course.
the egyptians knew that if they put their boats in front of the summer storm winds it’d blow them right across the sea to the Americas and they shared that with the greeks.
It’s really hard for people to understand that everyone had boats, exploration, and trade interactions without the same level of murder, colonization, and violence that the Europeans did. It’s really hard for people to get that.
The Sea-Craft of Prehistory (book; Eurocentric as heck)
Scientific Evidence for Pre-Columbian Transoceanic Voyages (273 pages-for the hardcore only!):The only plausible explanation for these findings is that a considerable number of transoceanic voyages in both directions across both major oceans were completed between the 7th millennium BC and the European age of discovery. Our growing knowledge of early maritime technology and its accomplishments gives us confidence that vessels and nautical skills capable of these long-distance travels were developed by the times indicated. These voyages put a new complexion on the extensive Old World/New World cultural parallels that have long been controversial.
(via saltysalmonella)Source: wtf-fun-factss
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Mrs. Alice (Roosevelt) Longworth, full-length portrait, facing left; wearing ball gown, ca. 1902. Copyright by Frances Benjamin Johnston. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.
President Theodore Roosevelt’s first wife died shortly after the birth of their only child, Alice. Roosevelt remarried and raised other children, but “Princess Alice” became a controversial figure during his presidency. She lived in the White House during her early twenties, inciting scandals for smoking cigarettes, driving cars, and keeping a pet snake named Emily Spinach. When confronted with the suggestion that he curb Alice’s excesses, President Roosevelt responded, “I can be president of the United States—or—I can attend to Alice. I cannot possibly do both!”
(via hellotailor)Source: humanitiestexas.org
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The Great Carrot Deception of World War II.
During the Battle of Britain, a battle in which the German Luftwaffe (air force) expected to simply sweep the RAF (Royal Air Force) out of the skies, the Germans were baffled as to how the British were able to put up such a staunch defense. What was most confusing of all was that the British seemed to know where all their attack were coming from. British pilots were even able to intercept and shoot down German bombers in the pitch black of night.
What the Germans didn’t know was that the British had an ace up their sleeve. British radar technology had advanced to the point that British fighter pilots could find and shoot down enemy bombers directed by an onboard radar interception unit. Knowledge of Britain’s radar technology was top secret, and the Brits certainly didn’t want the Germans to find out. The British War Ministry quickly cooked up a cartoonish and bizarre cover story for their success.
The Ministry single out a successful pilot named John Cunningham for a unique propaganda campaign. John Cunningham, nicknamed “Cat Eyes” had shot down 19 German bombers at night using the new onboard radar system. Cunningham was also a man loved to eat carrots, sometimes eating dozens at a time in one sitting. Thus the British War Ministry cooked up an ridiculous carrot of their own; the reason for the RAF’s night fighting success was because British pilots ate carrots. Chalk full of Vitamin A, the carrots gave British pilots almost superhuman night vision. To cement their story, a propaganda campaign was started to convince the British people that carrots were good for eyesight. They printed posters claiming carrots gave people nightvision, necessary for survival in blackouts and bombing raids. They advertised on the radio, they printed leaflets, they even introduced a special carrot pop for children.
While today scientific studies prove that carrots, at best, might improve vision a little bit, the propaganda campaign was certainly pumping out a steady stream of over-exaggerated BS. However, the British public certainly bought it. More importantly to some degree the Germans bought it as well. While it is unknown if German High Command accepted the “carrot theory”, there are recorded instanced of German Luftwaffe pilots eating an excess of carrots to improve their vision.
After the Battle of Britain the carrot campaign continued to the point that even other Allied Powers were printing their own carrot propaganda. Today the myth is still alive and well, and millions of children around the world are forced to eat their carrots due to World War II propaganda.
It’s incredible to me how these sorts of things enter our collective mythos. Absolutely fascinating.
MY ENTIRE LIFE IS A LIE.
(via theteratophile)Source: smithsonianmag.com
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Things were so much simpler before women started stealing all of my favorite things from me. I don’t care what anyone says. Women aren’t and will never be true fans of Doctor Who, Star Trek or any of that. You jumped in because you wanted attention. You became “fans” because suddenly liking sci-fi shows and fantasy became popular. You only want guys to drool over you because you’re girls who “like” geeky stuff. Kindly go jump in a lake and die.
A woman organized the letter-writing campaign to NBC to save Star Trek when it was on the verge of being cancelled after the first season, and thus enabled the show to continue on for three seasons allowing it to go into syndication and gain the following it did in reruns.
A woman organized the first ever Star Trek convention, and convinced NASA to donate a truckload full of stuff for said convention thus starting the tradition of Star Trek conventions featuring space for modern science.
A woman greenlit Star Trek while acting at the head of a major studio, and consistently fought pressure to cancel the show. This same woman was the person who greenlit Mission Impossible and was the first woman to head a major studio.
A woman wrote many of the most famous TOS episodes, and went on to write on to write episodes of The Animated Series, The Next Generation, and Deep Space Nine.
Learn your history.
You think women stole your favorite things? If it weren’t for women, those things wouldn’t even exist, but you probably don’t even know the names of the women who made that possible.
So much for “infinite diversity in infinite combinations”…
Who is the fake now?
VictoriaVerity Lambert was the creator of Doctor Who (just thought I might add that)
MARY SHELLEY INVENTED SCIENCE FICTION WHEN SHE WROTE FRANKENSTEIN
A TEENAGE GIRL INVENTED THIS GENRE YOU’RE BITCHING ABOUT WOMEN BEING FANS OF
(via theteratophile)Source: theoncomingcapaldi
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"In 1943, some 3 million brown-skinned subjects of the Raj died in the Bengal famine, one of history’s worst. Mukerjee delves into official documents and oral accounts of survivors to paint a horrifying portrait of how Churchill, as part of the Western war effort, ordered the diversion of food from starving Indians to already well-supplied British soldiers and stockpiles in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, including Greece and Yugoslavia. And he did so with a churlishness that cannot be excused on grounds of policy: Churchill’s only response to a telegram from the government in Delhi about people perishing in the famine was to ask why Gandhi hadn’t died yet."
From later in the review:
Churchill said that history would judge him kindly because he intended to write it himself. The self-serving but elegant volumes he authored on the war led the Nobel Committee, unable in all conscience to bestow him an award for peace, to give him, astonishingly, the Nobel Prize for Literature — an unwitting tribute to the fictional qualities inherent in Churchill’s self-justifying embellishments.
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A map showing the 22 countries never to have been invaded by Britain.
from this article in the torygraph
“A new study has found that at various times the British have invaded almost 90 per cent of the countries around the globe. The analysis of the histories of the almost 200 countries in the world found only 22 which have never experienced an invasion by the British. Among this select group of nations are far-off destinations such as Guatemala, Tajikistan and the Marshall Islands, as well some slightly closer to home, such as Luxembourg.”
Britain has invaded 9 out of every 10 countries on this planet
The countries never invaded by the British:
- Central African Republic
- Congo, Republic of
- Ivory Coast
- Marshall Islands
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Vatican City
(via theteratophile)Source: class-struggle-anarchism
- 2 weeks ago
Project for my Social Psych class last semester. This poster series was created to 1) challenge these internalized stereotypes by bringing them to the viewer’s attention and 2) expand the range of role models by including a diverse group of women. Each poster follows the same basic pattern: a woman who has demonstrated her competency in a particular area refutes the stereotype that appears above her in the form of “Girls can’t …”. While the posters target girls ranging from children to young adults, I expect the message would also cause people outside that demographic to question their own beliefs about women and power. I designed each aspect of the posters with several principles of social psychology in mind:
BLESS you for having WoC and from lots of points of history on this <3 <3 <3 Loves it.
(via flatbear)Source: passivemanipulations
- 2 weeks ago
Because who are any of us kidding, go back in time 100 years and it’s not likely you’re going to be Lord o’ the Manor. Most of us would have been the maid, maybe the gardener, maybe that one guy who knows a lot about horses and shovels poop. As much as I like kings and queens, it’s the common person’s story that really appeals, since my family tree lets me know I’m not coming from a long line of Fancy Pantses.
This documentary mentions the best old-timey club name, the “Church of England Waifs and Strays Society.” Sign me up.