Steel Pulse – “Put Your Hoodies On [4 Trayvon]” (3rd Anniversary Edition) (Official HD Music Video 2015)

I was still in Amerikkka when the innocent 17 year old Trayvon Martin was shot down.  I had attended a candle lit vigil in his memory at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, where the violin was played and certain professors made speeches about injustice and racism.  The moving speeches aimed to remind us that brutal incidents such as this are not a new phenomenon (remember Amadou Diallo?) but neither a thing of the past.  Indeed, police brutality has been in the forefront these last couple of years all over the world. I take this opportunity to send my prayer for the end of unjust human suffering that plagues the earth today.  Big up David Hinds and Steel Pulse for paying a tribute to Travyon and spreading the positive message of unity and equality against injustice…

“Steel Pulse originally released this track and music video on the second anniversary of the death of Trayvon Martin, which occurred on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, FL. This is an updated version released to mark the third anniversary of his slaying. Gone, but not forgotten.

This song marks the first official contribution to a Steel Pulse studio track by Baruch Hinds, son of Steel Pulse lead singer David Hinds. Shot on location at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington D.C., and in Sanford, Florida.”

Directed by Yonathan Gal // Cinematographer: Trishul Thejasvi // Editor: Rory Gordon // 1st AC: Raul Rivero // Camera Assistants: David Revenkov & Brandon Gordon

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“Censorship and the Third Section: How thinking became dangerous in 19th Century Russia”, an original history research paper by rootsnwingz

Introduction

When Nicholas I succeeded his older brother Alexander and became the tsar of Russia in late 1825, the attitude of the state towards its subjects changed dramatically. Nicholas’s thirty year long autocratic rule is characterized by oppressive reforms aimed at maintaining the status quo and preventing dissent in a time of socio-political instability and uncertainty. Any kind of unconventional thought or criticism of the state had to be considered a threat to the tsar’s authority and, as a consequence, Nicholas sought complete control over what could be safely published. Strict censorship laws were enacted, while a secret police, which became known as the “Third Section”, was re-established in order to regulate the press. Writers who refused to obey the tsar’s guidelines and wished to be the sole authority over their writings’ style and content were ruthlessly persecuted.

But was Nicholas’s austerity paranoid? In fact, Nicholas had real reasons to be concerned about his position on the throne and to worry about dissent. First of all, when he came to power, he immediately had to deal with the Decembrist Uprising. This uprising is generally understood as the manifestation of the educated elite’s disappointment with Alexander’s liberal, yet ineffective, government. More notably, it “produced the first open confrontation between the autocracy and members of the intelligentsia.” (Shatz, 31)

Despite the fast suppression of the Decembrist Uprising, Nicholas was left convinced that he had to adopt stricter policies. Moreover, keeping in mind that at the same time in the 19th century, revolutionary movements were blooming all over Europe, he must have been terrified by the possibility of the creation of an influential movement of dissent. “The very foundations of autocratic rule were menaced by the changes in social thought brought about by the growth of revolutionary successes abroad and their influence on internal politics at home” (Squire, 48).

As a result, the priority of Nicholas’s reforms was to ensure that public opinion agreed with the government’s views and thus, censorship and persecution on the grounds of crimes of thought reached unprecedented heights in Russian history. The success of the French revolution was also the reason why Nicholas denounced French philosophy and the Enlightenment ideas, which had been propagated in the 18th century by Catherine the Great. In the 19th century, however, such ideologies were considered dangerous. Nevertheless, Nicholas was not afraid of all Western thought. In fact, he was particularly fond of German philosophy, such as Hegel and the other “Idealists”. Therefore, the cultural shift from France to Germany reflects that the tsar had carefully observed the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars and had thus witnessed the double risk of overexpansion and fall of autocracy, which were probably his two biggest fears.

The Decembrist Uprising played a vital role in ascertaining the divide between the government’s interests and the interests of the people, especially the educated elite. In this sense, Nicholas’s adversaries were now identifiable; they were the writers, poets and playwrights who dared to challenge –either directly or subliminally- the state’s authority over the people. Therefore, perhaps for the first time, the intelligentsia was recognized as the most influential threat to the existing order in Russia. The fact that Nicholas now regarded the intelligentsia as the state’s visible internal enemy explains the abundance of repression that freethinking intellectuals faced in the second quarter of the 19th century. In other words, the absurdity of the censorship laws and the birth of the secret police affirm Nicholas’s fearfulness of the intelligentsia.

Therefore, the present research paper is an examination of Nicholas’s censorship laws and the “Third Section’s” activity. I primarily aim to demonstrate how the intelligentsia had a real effect on the society they lived in and belonged to, which in turn became a serious cause of concern for the authorities and has led to atrocious and oppressive government responses. In addition, I intend to look into the ways “intelligenty” overcame or eluded national policing, as well as the cases where they were less fortunate and paid a heavy price for their mental freedom. Specifically, illustrative examples from the lives of Alexander Herzen and Mikhail Bakunin will be provided to help the reader get a clearer idea of the limitations and sufferings they endured due to Nicholas’s repression. The fact that poets and novelists were exiled or sent off to mental asylums suggests that, historically, Russian authorities have been deeply troubled by the intelligentsia’s activity, especially its capacity to change sociopolitical structures and express dissent from the autocracy. This is why I believe that an inquiry into the censorship laws and the “Third Section” will serve to contextualize the intelligentsia’s experience under the rule of Nicholas I.

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“Hallucination and Madness”, an original history essay by rootsnwingz

Note from the author: The present academic paper focuses on the way hallucinations have been perceived and treated by societies from a historical perspective.  As it was originally written in the summer of 2010 for a university class, entitled Madness and Society in Historical Perspective, I would like to take the opportunity to thank my classmates and professors for one of the most interesting and inspiring trips I’ve ever taken academically.

Hallucination and Madness

“I’m not completely sure we aren’t all living in a hallucination now”,
–           Marc Maron

“It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.”
–           Phillip K. Dick

“And how do you know that you’re mad? ‘To begin with,’ said the Cat, ‘a dog’s not mad. You grant that?’ I suppose so, said Alice. ‘Well then,’ the Cat went on, ‘you see a dog growls when it’s angry, and wags its tale when it’s pleased. Now I growl when I’m pleased, and wag my tail when I’m angry. Therefore I’m mad.’”
–           Lewis Carroll

Examining hallucination from a historical perspective is not a pleasant task. Although hallucination is an ancient phenomenon, most societies throughout history have condemned those who courageously admitted to and talked about this sort of experience, be it auditory, as in hearing voices when no sound source exists, or visual, as in seeing things that are not really there. On the other hand, certain cultures accepted hallucinations as meaningful to the individual or the society in whole. But, generally, hallucination was considered a sign of insanity, i.e. a symptom of mental illness, or even the devil’s work and anyone who would claim having such experiences would be labeled mad or possessed.

In my essay, by showing that endogenous etiologies, such as trauma and abuse, have been discovered for hallucination, I will argue that considering it a disorder that could be explained supernaturally was wrong. Further, I will show that as a result of ignoring the physical basis of hallucination, its treatment was immoral, in the sense that people who had hallucinations that they did not understand and that they were scared of, were often deemed insane, whereas a genuinely moral and actually effective attempt to heal them would have aimed at helping them recall the traumatic experience that triggered the hallucinations, accept it as real and face up to it. Obviously, my overview of the history of hallucination and its treatment throughout history cannot be 100% comprehensive. However, I will use a variety of historical cases to forward my argument and to portray the multifaceted nature of hallucination as best as I possibly can. Ultimately, though, the central message I want to impart the reader with is that due to misinformation concerning hallucination and how it worked, serious problems arose in its treatment that persist, to a certain extent, even in modern societies. Continue reading

Mutiny Aboard the Slave Ships in the 18th century: Implications for the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Original Research Paper written by rootsnwingz 3 years ago on the historical significance of mutiny during the slave trade.  Many thanks to my professor, classmates and the librarians who helped me with my research. 


Mutiny Aboard the Slave Ships in the 18th century: 
Implications for the Transatlantic Slave Trade

mutinyMural painted by Hale Woodruff.

“The trade of slaves is in a more peculiar manner the business of kings, rich men, and prime merchants, exclusive of the inferior sort of Blacks.”
– John Barbot, European Slave Trader (1682)

The present research paper primarily deals with the phenomenon of resistance onboard ships by Africans against their enslavement during what is commonly referred to as the “Middle Passage”, i.e. the voyage across the Atlantic from the West Coast of Africa to the Americas. Insurrections of this kind flourished in the 17th and 18th centuries and had an undeniable impact on numerous aspects of the slave trade, including the slave traders themselves, who were forced to adapt to these new conditions of the transatlantic slave trade.

Therefore, I will make use of primary accounts of mutiny aboard the slave ships from the 18th century with the hopes of gaining a better understanding of its impact on the slave trade. In short, I intend to argue that the slave traders generally considered mutiny as merely a financial setback and thus the adoption of measures to prevent or restrain insurrections became a priority for the management and organization of slave ships. The ultimate point this paper hopes to make is that mutiny had a real effect on the slave trade, in the sense that it made the business of trading slaves more costly and risky for the European traders, which consequently reduced shipments to the New World. Continue reading