To renovate the people of a nation, the fictional literature of that nation must first be renovated…..to renovate morality, we must renovate fiction, to renovate manners we must first renovate fiction….to renew the people’s hearts and minds and remold their character, we must first renovate fiction. ~Liang Qichao
The Chinese Enlightenment of the 20th century was initiated in 1915 by intellectuals that united together in an effort to turn their shared ideas of a cultural awakening into political action demonstrated through protests, literature, and organized societies. The May Fourth Revolution during 1919 connected science with democracy, and this challenged past traditions of filial devotion to parents, subservience to the state, and cultural superstitions in China. The use of writing, literature, and protest activities were vital tools used by student demonstrators to awaken society to critical thought with a hope of leading China towards a more democratic state among the other nations of the world.
China’s inability to consolidate power after the 1911 Republican Revolution re-opened the door to imperial restoration, authoritarian politics, and warlord militarism. Between the years 1911-1920, the country’s cultural history was challenged by ideas of the Enlightenment that fostered concepts of democracy, science, and critical rationality. Confucianism, filial devotion, and superstitions were being challenged as backward thinking. Delivering the ideas of the Enlightenment to the masses was a great struggle for the May Fourth activists. The activists realized literature was the way to change the minds of the masses and a way to implement democratic values into Chinese society. Literature was used as an instrument of the Enlightenment to help change a country’s identity.
The English empire engaged in planned military, religious and political conquests that elevated Protestantism in the American colonies during the years 1689-1690. During 1688, Lord Churchill’s military coup sparked a pursuit of religious and political dominance in England, and such a pursuit carried over into the colonies in America. As such, the military was a portal into political positions for soldiers. Furthermore, the English empire engaged in stringent military training, employed political positions based upon a system of meritocracy, and carried out the endeavors of the Crown nearly a century before the onset of the American Revolution.
According to known historian Charles M. Andrews, the American colonies were not the result of a planned English conquest. Additionally, Mr. Andrews further asserted that England became one of the world’s greatest colonizing powers without any “fixed policy, in fact, without any clear idea of what she and her people were doing.” However, to the contrary, the English empire has an extensive military history that rests upon a system of meritocracy; in fact, the military used planned tactics, combined with the support of the local provincial soldiers, to gain control of Boston and Maine during 1689.
The English empire used garrison government as a system that placed skilled soldiers into high-ranking military and political positions in England and America. The English empire was a combative body that used military garrisons as a representation of strength and organization to intimidate outside forces and enforce domestic order. The English empire used garrison government because it was a system that produced military and political dominance in pursuit of religious and imperialistic endeavors throughout Britain and the English colonies. “The army was the forceful and administrative foundation of the nation-state and its American empire.”
Reciprocity, or gift exchange, shaped the Iroquois way of life. It was through reciprocity in which communities were built, alliances formed, peace maintained, and trade preserved. Additionally, the lack or unwillingness to exchange gifts resulted in hostility towards villages and nations, unfriendliness towards European colonists, and resulted in war. Reciprocity was revered so highly among the Iroquois because gift exchange was a part of the Cosmogonic Myth, an important aspect of Iroquois spirituality.
Iroquois reciprocity was entrenched in their belief in the Cosmogonic Myth; which was a mythological belief based on the Sky World. The Cosmogonic Myth details the creation of the universe as the Iroquois believe it transpired. Sky Woman and her husband were two vital participants in the Cosmogonic Myth and they resided in the Sky World. Like a courting ritual, Sky Woman and her husband exchanged gifts and obligations with each other to establish their relationship. Sky Woman took care of her prospective husband by cooking him a “potent” soup which cured his illness. Sky Woman brought her husband bread baked with berries; her potential husband sent her home with enough venison to nearly fill her house.
The English development of the American colonies during the first four decades of the 17th century did not involve the legal institution of Negro slavery. The English settlers had indentured servants during this time, but permanent Negro slavery did not legally exist. It was not until the tobacco colony of Virginia, in 1640, enacted a radical court order that helped develop the legal institution of Negro slavery throughout the Southern colonies in America.
The journey across the Atlantic Ocean was expensive. The less financially fortunate settlers arrived as indentured servants to their master. Indentured servitude paid for the servant’s trip to America, but the servant had to honor the temporary contractual arrangement in order to get released as a free person. An indentured servant was bound by a contract to serve their master for a set number of years, typically four to seven years or until the age of twenty-one. While the servant was under contract, they “might be sold or conveyed from one master to another at any time” up to the expiration of the contract. Indentured servitude was linked to the development of chattel slavery in America.
A shortage of labor and an abundance of land placed a high value on involuntary labor in the tobacco colony of Virginia. The colony required cheap, permanent and tireless labor to harvest tobacco. Tobacco required labor intensive work, but not skilled work. The Virginia colonists embarked upon creating an empire “upon smoke” and the requirement for permanent labor developed into a necessity for the colonists.
Charles M. Andrews was wrong to associate the “blind unreason of revolt” with the actions of the American revolutionaries. The revolutionaries were able political organizers who persuaded the people in Massachusetts to defend their life, liberty and towns against the Crown. In Massachusetts, the American revolutionaries coupled effective military strategy with political solidarity to defend themselves from the British Regulars.
The Crown did not tolerate colonial activity that challenged the mother country’s constitutional authority over the colonies. The colonies were not supposed to interrupt the course of trade with Great Britain. During the second half of the eighteenth century, British Parliament placed burdensome and restrictive economic and political policies on the colonies, such as the Sugar Act of 1764, the Declaratory Act of 1766, and the Tea Act of 1773. “Between 1764 and 1774, Great Britain imposed on her American colonies a series of measures that plunged the empire into periodic and ever more serious crises until the armed confrontation of April 19, 1775.”
During 1764, Parliament imposed the Sugar Act on the American colonies. The Sugar Act, revised from the Molasses Act of 1733, initiated a series of aggressive policies placed on the colonies; followed by the Stamp Act of 1765, the Declaratory Act of 1766, the Townsend Acts of 1767, and then the Tea Act of 1773. The Sugar Act was enacted to curtail illegal sugar and molasses smuggling from the French West Indies to the Northern colonies in America. The colonists had a long history of smuggling sugar, rum and molasses from the French, as well as from other foreign colonies in the West Indies, as a way to increase their own individual prosperity. The colonists were not opposed to alternative business markets that could aid with their financial prosperity, even if such relationships did not benefit the Crown. However, the Crown viewed the colonists as British subjects and further maintained that all benefits of trade, originally, belonged to Great Britain. The Crown aimed to keep the colonists from profiting off of foreign markets, as well as from hurting British trade. Moreover, the Crown also needed to raise money to support its imperial agenda.
During 1764, Great Britain viewed the profits rendered from colonial trade as insignificant and attempted a direct tax, or fee, on the colonists. The Stamp Act of 1765 burdened colonists to pay a direct tax for paper from the Crown, or imprint with a rubber stamp all newspapers, pamphlets, marriage certificates, wills, diplomas and all other paper documents that circulated throughout the colonies. Depending on the type of transaction, a paper transaction could range from half a penny to ten pounds. The Crown demanded payment in hard money, which was scarce, and this further threatened to drain finances. Many colonists felt they had to give their money to Great Britain “as oft and in what quantity they please to demand it.”Although the colonist repealed the Stamp Act in Parliament, shortly after it was enacted, the colonists still felt their prosperity was threatened and they grew resentful and fearful of worse things to come.