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Interpreting the 20th Century: The Struggle over Democracy

Discover history's ideas as much as its events, revealing how those ideas both influenced events and were in turn influenced by them to shape today's world.
Interpreting the 20th Century: The Struggle Over Democracy is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 38.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Transcript Can I pls get transcript of this course. without transcript I can not learn and all other course I bought have transcript. so request you to pls share transcript for this course as well.
Date published: 2022-04-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Remarkable in Breadth and Depth! The content of this 48-lecture course is well-organized and extremely dense - packed with details, context and the scholarly insights of Dr Radcliff. There was so much in this course of which I was previously unaware, that I began to wonder, “Where was I?” when so much was happening in the world. I learned a lot, and am glad I purchased this course. Learning, obviously, was the object of my taking the course. I wish I could say I enjoyed my time spent with these lectures, but I can’t. It was hard for me to keep focus, and a couple of times I stopped and took (long) breaks from it, before starting at the beginning and finally completing it. I had to struggle to stay with it. The presentation was rather dry and lacked any display of personality or emotion. In the end, I felt rewarded for my struggle, as I do value how much I was able to learn.
Date published: 2020-07-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Somewhat dated but extremely prescient course This is an EXCELLENT course that I ordered on a coupon sale long ago and finally got around to watching. Although now somewhat dated, this turn of the century course is not only very insightful and informative in explaining the evolution of democracy worldwide both before and during the 20th century, but also extremely prescient in highlighting issues and aspects that are still very pertinent to things that are unfolding in real time today, almost two decades later. I would advise those who might have watched it when it was new and may still have it to watch it again, particularly the last few lectures. I think you'll see what I mean.
Date published: 2019-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The 20th Century: Struggle Over Democracy Between the bookends of the 19th century Enlightenment Project and the 21th century reaches of Globalization -- the struggle over democracy is fully documented as a dynamic world history. World wars, massive death rates, atomic weapons, philosophical uncertainties, cultural crises, challenges of colonization, comparative ideologies, cold and hot wars, de-colonization and economic development issues, nation states and global problems of authority, power, modernity, etc. are critically discussed. The professor's historical presentation is nuanced with artistic movements and cultural ideas, political ideologies, capitalist and communist contradictions, 3rd world struggles, global institutions, etc. The result is a scholarly portrait of the 20th century, its struggle over democracy, the potential realization of the Enlightenment Project, and prospects for the 21st Century... Thanks to the professor for these insights -- highly recommended!
Date published: 2018-09-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Making an incomprehensible century comprehensible I've done most of the non-music Teaching Company courses, borrowed from public libraries, and half-expected to know most of this course, so the first few lectures I half-listened, expecting a rehash, and I tend to have a Chris Matthews-type arrogance of "okay, tell me something that I do not know." So I was surprised when I kept learning stuff that I thought I had already known. She uses what might be called a smart 'broad brush' approach, like a camera looking at the 20th century, which is a broad and complex topic obviously. Yet the strength of her analysis is choosing the right focus -- sometimes zooming in at details, sometimes zooming out to reveal broad patterns -- and the zooming out was helpful in enabling me to see the broader patterns. Her zoom-in zoom-out approach is perhaps the only way to help listeners begin to wrap one's mind around a century as conflicted and messy as the twentieth. It's as if my previous understanding of the 20th century consisted of scattered snapshots of specific events, chapters sometimes, and what Radcliff has done is put together these diverse snapshots into a coherent photo album. She's made the incomprehensible 20th century comprehensible. It's first-rate scholarship. She's pulled sharp historical analyses together. Her research is thorough. She reads extensively. She can see historical processes from outside the American-type bubble of thought. She has an impartial distanced perspective, so we can understand how fascists, communists, Islamists, religious fundamentalists, imperialists, feminists, existentialists and others viewed the world. There is a narrative trajectory, so it's possible to see how existentialism emerged after the second world war, in France with Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, or how the idea of mass society led to the rise of totalitarian states. Her comparisons are apt, in context, in perspective. For example, she contrasted India and Mexico, showing how the presence or absence of colonial elites impacted subsequent development. Her work is a synthesis of considerable scholarship of contemporary historians. She gets the importance of perspective; in her guide book, she writes "be aware that every telling of the 20th century implies a perspective, a position, an interpretation of what the history of the world was about during this period" -- yes, exactly. The course comes with four boxes for a total of 48 lectures, lengthy but worth it. If there are areas of possible future improvement, it might be in the area of giving more attention to the structural aspects of political systems, such as constitutions and laws and methods of electing leaders. Obviously the term "democracy" can mean different things to different people at different times, and while she is careful to define what she means by her use of the term, and how it changed over time, I don't think that word is the best descriptor for the course as a whole. For me, it really is more of a history of the 20th century, not necessarily a "struggle for democracy", but more of a struggle to preserve the liberal-capitalist order of individual rights and the rule of law. My sense of 'democracy' is closer to that of the ancient Greeks, a system in which the demos (people) cracy (rule), with direct citizen participation, and by seeing it that way, I don't think 20th century America is really much of democracy (although she rightly points out how many people cherish 'democratic ideals'.) She might consider placing greater emphasis on technological advances, particularly communications, and how they affect historical trends, as well as changing demographic patterns and migration issues. Maybe more emphasis could have been given to economic and global commerce, such as how particular nations fared economically, how cultural mores affected commerce and industry, and the influence of tariffs and treaties? She does cover basic patterns, so maybe my attempt at editorial direction is off, in that maybe too much detail would risk missing the bigger picture? One lesson I'm coming around to seeing is this: how nations tend to "bug" other nations, such as how imperialist nations interfere with the cultures of other nations, which leads me to sometimes draw analogies between nation states and biological cells (for example, seeing fascist nations as extremely aggressive cancer cells, communist nations as less aggressive, etc.) But I'm rambling here; overall the course is excellent. What I found particularly illuminating were her mini-histories of nations which I frankly knew little about, such as Mexico and Nigeria, and pre-World War II Japan. I liked the organization of the course, which was chronological, mostly, but which had special sections for topics such as the Holocaust or how science became a government-funded enterprise. The course guide books are helpful. I listened to the CD-audio version and her pacing and vocal delivery were fine. Radcliff is one of the elite history professors of the Teaching Company, up there with its history stars such as Patrick Allitt, Allen Guelzo, Kenneth W. Harl, and the masterful David Christian (be sure to check out his Big History course!). Great course!!! Highly recommended!!! Five stars!!! tom sulcer Author of Jakk's Journey (sci-fi coming-of-age romance) Author of Common Sense II (terrorism prevention strategy)
Date published: 2017-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Issue is Still in Doubt! In this excellent course from 2004, Professor Radcliff uses “democracy” to examine twentieth century economics, philosophy, art, gender, religion, science, war, pollution, and even sports as well as politics. The only things missing are technology, music, and clothing. What is “democracy”? In her opening lecture Radcliff defines it as an ongoing project arising during the eighteenth-century Enlightenment to make government compliant to the will of the people through a theory of social contract and at the same time to protect individual rights. Everyone, in this view, deserves liberty and justice. This idea strikes us as so blandly ordinary that it may be hard to understand why there has ever been a struggle over it and why there still is. There have been several reasons for conflict. First, defenders of the status quo have insisted on limiting democracy’s extent. Women should not have the vote or otherwise participate as full citizens because their duty was to tend to the domestic sphere while leaving the public sphere to men. People in Asia and Africa were not ready for self-rule and required the steadying, educating hand of Europeans to make progress. In the United States, only white people deserved to vote. Of course, the people shut out in this way kept pushing until they won their rights through enfranchisement or decolonization. Second, there have been doubts about reason, the intellectual underpinning of democracy. Sigmund Freud and Friedrich Nietzsche showed that people are not free-willed and reasonable, but subject to dark emotions and a will to power. As Walter Lippmann pointed out, politicized masses were irrational and susceptible to manipulation through slogans and symbols. His contemporary José Ortega y Gasset thought masses shouldn’t be in politics at all. After both world wars, existentialists argued that the world was meaningless, so that each individual must find his own purpose—no comfort to those hoping democracy could bring material and moral progress. The fading of faith in reason found expression, even before World War I, in the artistic movements of Dada, surrealism and futurism. Third, democracy has had to face violent challenges from fascism, Communism, and religious fundamentalism, each of which seeks to mobilize the masses in service to the nation, the proletariat or the traditional faith by overriding individual thought and will. Fourth, democracy has failed—so far—to solve problems of poverty and inequality, especially if one equates it with laissez faire economics—the notion that prosperity comes by allowing each individual to seek his own fortune without state interference. In fact, economic development and security have come, where they have come, largely thanks to state intervention. To the extent colonialism did any good, it was because European rulers left behind developed bureaucracies and railroad networks. Offsetting this was the tendency to force colonies into unequal relationships with Europe, selling cheap food and raw materials in exchange for expensive manufactured goods. Radcliff discusses the merits and drawbacks of three development models—state ownership and planning (China), democracy with capitalism (India), and authoritarian capitalism (Japan). China has achieved better nutrition and much higher literacy than India, but at the price of political repression. Japan and its imitators, the “Four Tigers,” also got growth, but by using state power to keep wages low. In Africa, however, no regime has been able to consistently apply any of these models, leaving the continent miserable. In the meantime, Eastern Europe has suffered from mass unemployment induced by “shock therapy” designed to quickly turn Communist economies into capitalist ones. The course ends on an ominous note with unsolved problems of global governance, nuclear proliferation, global warming and ethno-nationalism. Today, thirteen years later, the same problems are even more urgent. Here are my few quibbles. Radcliff should have said a little bit about the nineteenth century background of feminism, decolonization and the drive for racial equality; without that it seems as if these movements sprang up out of nowhere after 1900. In discussing the origins of the Cold War, she managed to skip over the problem of German reconstruction that set it off. Finally, she irritated me every time she pronounced “laissez faire” as “lazy fare.” Like I said, these are quibbles. Otherwise, I highly recommend this course. Given that it came out as recently as 2004, I’m surprised it’s available only as an audio download, but as such it is easily worth it.
Date published: 2017-09-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Meh discussion of a very tough subject First, the picture associated with the course is shot from the west side steps of the Colorado state capitol, looking west towards Civic Center and Denver city and county government offices. Given the skyline, I am going to estimate it was done in the late 1970s, early 1980s. Next, this is a mediocre attempt to address a very broad and complex subject. Every interpretation she made of events and outcomes is a potential, and probably actual, subject for intense discussion and disagreement. I'm glad I did a library copy. I found some of it interesting, little of it new (having lived half of the 20th), but overall I am glad it was checked-out and not purchased. Provided entertainment for my daily commute to and from the Colorado state capitol, did nothing to change or further inform my world view.
Date published: 2016-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favorite courses so far Well organized, well presented and just so darn interesting. Even though it's a longer one (you get a lot of information for your money) I really burned through it because I was always so eager to hear the next lecture!
Date published: 2015-12-05
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The 20th century transformed the political


Pamela B. Radcliff

The Spanish Civil War shared the same ideological fault line that fractured the first half of the 20th century. It represented a contest between left-wing revolution, liberal democracy, and authoritarianism or fascism.


University of California, San Diego

Pamela B. Radcliff is a Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego. She received her PhD in History from Columbia University. Her dissertation on the origins of the Spanish Civil War later became her first book, From Mobilization to Civil War. Her other books on Spanish history are Modern Spain: 1808 to the Present and Making Democratic Citizens in Spain. She also coedited Constructing Spanish Womanhood and has received teaching awards for undergraduate and graduate instruction.

By This Professor

How the Spanish Civil War Became Europe’s Battlefield
Framing the 20th Century

01: Framing the 20th Century

This lecture defines the perspective of the course, including what we will call the Enlightenment Project "the adoption of liberal, democratic, rationalist principles in much of the world" while emphasizing the unresolved nature of the struggle.

33 min
The Opening Act—World War I

02: The Opening Act—World War I

This lecture analyzes why most historians see World War I as the real beginning of the 20th century and why it had such a destabilizing impact on the existing world order.

30 min
Framing the Peace—The Paris Peace Treaties

03: Framing the Peace—The Paris Peace Treaties

A complex peace settlement embodies and feeds the contradictions of an uncertain world order, helping to set the stage for political challenges from inside and outside Europe.

30 min
Intellectual Foundations—Nietzsche and Freud

04: Intellectual Foundations—Nietzsche and Freud

This lecture begins to examine the "crisis of meaning" articulated by a generation of European artists and intellectuals, focusing on two influential thinkers, Nietzsche and Freud.

30 min
Art and the Post-War

05: Art and the Post-War "Crisis of Meaning"

Building on the intellectual foundations of Nietzsche and Freud, avant-garde artists turn isolated ideas into a popular movement, expressed by the Dadaists, Surrealists, and Futurists.

30 min
Gender Crisis—The

06: Gender Crisis—The "Woman Question"

This lecture examines the anxieties about gender roles and looks at the variety of solutions offered by liberal feminists and communists.

31 min
The Origins of

07: The Origins of "Mass Society"

The identity crisis exemplified by the debates over the "woman question" take a different form in anxieties raised by an emerging "mass society." We examine the phenomenon's paradoxical roots in the evolution of liberal democracy and capitalism in Western society.

30 min
Defining Mass Society and Its Consequences

08: Defining Mass Society and Its Consequences

This lecture defines the nature of mass society and how it functioned, emphasizing the pessimistic views articulated by the Frankfurt school of German philosophers in the 1920s and 1930s.

31 min
Crisis of Capitalism—The Great Depression

09: Crisis of Capitalism—The Great Depression

The Great Depression of the 1930s brings into question the economic system of capitalism and the liberal principles that brought prosperity to Europe and the West.

31 min
Communist Ideology—From Marx to Lenin

10: Communist Ideology—From Marx to Lenin

This lecture explores how the theories of Marx were adapted by Lenin and begins a discussion of communism and fascism as serious political challenges to liberal democracy.

31 min
The Rise of Fascism

11: The Rise of Fascism

We look at the fascist platform and at who joined the movement, and examine why it appeared at this moment in history.

31 min
Communist Revolution in Russia

12: Communist Revolution in Russia

The Russian Revolution provides the first opportunity for a communist movement to take power. This lecture analyzes why this happened and the revolution's symbolic meaning to the rest of the world.

31 min
The Totalitarian State? Nazi Germany

13: The Totalitarian State? Nazi Germany

Some scholars have argued that fascism and communism, though different in theory, create similar totalitarian regimes in practice. This lecture looks at Nazi Germany's unique combining of mass mobilization and dictatorial power.

31 min
The Totalitarian State? The Soviet Union

14: The Totalitarian State? The Soviet Union

While the Nazis were master manipulators of the tools of mass society, Stalin and his party use consent and terror to create mass society in an underdeveloped country.

31 min
China—The Legacy of Imperialism

15: China—The Legacy of Imperialism

We shift our focus to challenges to the West's political and moral leadership, beginning with the impact of Western imperialism on China and its role in shaping the 1911 revolution.

31 min
The Chinese Revolution

16: The Chinese Revolution

In this lecture, we follow the two major strands of Chinese nationalis - the liberal Nationalists of Sun Yat Sen, and the communists led by Mao Tse-tung.

31 min
India—The Legacy of Imperialism

17: India—The Legacy of Imperialism

This lecture introduces the Indian model of nonviolent anti-imperialism and examines the legacy of India's imperialist experience.

30 min
India—The Road to Independence

18: India—The Road to Independence

We follow the nationalist movement from its origins in the late 19th century to independence in 1947, including the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi and his role in Indian nationalism.

30 min
Mexico—The Roots of Revolution

19: Mexico—The Roots of Revolution

This lecture explores the legacy of imperialism and ends with a summary of the social, cultural, and economic problems that provoked a revolution a century after formal independence.

31 min
The Mexican Revolution and Its Consequences

20: The Mexican Revolution and Its Consequences

As in China, the Mexican revolution is a struggle for control between different nationalist visions. This lecture argues that the eventual settlement of the revolution was an attempt at compromise.

30 min
Japan—The Path to Modernization

21: Japan—The Path to Modernization

Japan provides a nearly unique instance of a non-Western country that resists Western imperialism and follows an independent path to economic and political modernization and empowerment.

31 min
Japan—A New Imperial Power

22: Japan—A New Imperial Power

This lecture explains how Japan becomes the first non-Western country to compete directly with the Western powers in the imperial arena and explores how this leads to war.

30 min
The Pacific War

23: The Pacific War

While the Pacific war is partly an extension of the struggle against fascism, it is also a battle over the imperialist world order - with race a fundamental element.

30 min
The European War

24: The European War

We follow the course of the war and analyze why Germany and its allies lost, moving on to the outlines of an emerging fascist world in German occupation policies.

31 min
The Holocaust

25: The Holocaust

This lecture describes the "final solution" and considers the broader international failure to stop the genocide as a culmination of the post-WWI "crisis of meaning."

31 min
Existentialism in Post-War Europe

26: Existentialism in Post-War Europe

This lecture examines the Existentialist movement's bleak but dignified way for individuals to survive in a post-Auschwitz world.

30 min
Origins of the Cold War

27: Origins of the Cold War

This lecture discusses how the Cold War emerged out of WWII, including American and Soviet perspectives on the question of responsibility.

30 min
The Cold War in American Society

28: The Cold War in American Society

This lecture considers the impact of the Cold War on American domestic and foreign policy, including a discussion of McCarthyism and its implications.

30 min
Science and the State in Cold War America

29: Science and the State in Cold War America

With the Manhattan Project, massive federal funding, monopolization, and the channeling of research into government projects create a new relationship between the state and private industry.

30 min
The Welfare State

30: The Welfare State

This lecture compares and contrasts the northern European welfare state and the American model constructed on the foundations of Roosevelt's New Deal.

31 min
The Process of Decolonization

31: The Process of Decolonization

This lecture introduces the phenomenon of decolonization that began in the first decades after World War II, including its symbolic importance in creating what became known as the third world.

31 min
Challenges for Post-Colonial Societies

32: Challenges for Post-Colonial Societies

We examine the problems faced by postcolonial nations: economic dependence, poverty, debates over neocolonialism, conflicts provoked by diversity, lack of an experienced political elite, and the influence of Cold War politics.

30 min
Competing Nationalisms—The Middle East

33: Competing Nationalisms—The Middle East

This lecture charts the evolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict and examines the broader issues of competing nationalist claims and the problematic collision of nationalism, ethnic and religious diversity, and democracy.

30 min
Development Models—Communist China

34: Development Models—Communist China

In this lecture we begin to look at different roads to development, using case studies to compare and contrast their successes and failures.

30 min
Development Models—Democratic India

35: Development Models—Democratic India

Because China and India began the process of development with similar problems, they provide ideal points of comparison. This lecture uses India as an example of the capitalist democratic model in the third world.

30 min
The Authoritarian Development State—Japan

36: The Authoritarian Development State—Japan

This lecture examines the hybrid model used to achieve Japan's spectacular prosperity, a model that has taken elements from both the classic liberal and communist approaches to development.

30 min
The Japanese Model—Available for Export?

37: The Japanese Model—Available for Export?

This lecture analyzes the adoption of Japan's "soft authoritarianism" by a variety of neighboring countries and speculates on the general applicability of the Japanese model in the third world.

30 min
Latin America—Dictatorship and Democracy

38: Latin America—Dictatorship and Democracy

Latin American countries have attempted many paths in their efforts to resolve long-standing economic and social problems. This lecture surveys those efforts and evaluates the prospects for democracy.

30 min
Hard Cases—Africa

39: Hard Cases—Africa

Africa's political and economic problems have seemed intractable. The lecture begins with a general consideration of the lack of measurable progress.

31 min
An African Case Study—Nigeria

40: An African Case Study—Nigeria

Scholars still debate the endemic versus colonialist roots of third-world problems. This lecture delves into the Nigerian case as a way to understand and evaluate this debate.

30 min
A Generation of Protests—Civil Rights

41: A Generation of Protests—Civil Rights

This lecture examines the challenge to racial discrimination in the United States.

30 min
A Generation of Protests—1968

42: A Generation of Protests—1968

This lecture analyzes movements in the United States, Western Europe, and elsewhere, with a focus on the mobilization of American students against the Vietnam War and the phenomenon of the counterculture.

30 min
Global Women

43: Global Women

This lecture discusses the origins and goals of contemporary feminism with a broad global perspective that acknowledges the many types of women's movements.

30 min
The Rise of Fundamentalist Politics

44: The Rise of Fundamentalist Politics

This lecture introduces the roots of fundamentalism as a global movement and the nature of its challenge to the secularism of both Western democratic and communist systems before narrowing its focus to Islamic fundamentalism.

30 min
Communism—From Reform to Collapse, 1956–90

45: Communism—From Reform to Collapse, 1956–90

We analyze the long-term crisis within communist society and the various failed attempts at reform, from Khrushchev to Dubcek, and, finally, to Gorbachev.

31 min

46: The "End of History"

This lecture argues that the final victory of Western liberal democracy has not yet been achieved and examines the parameters of the post-Cold War world, analyzing the complex prospects for democracy around the globe.

31 min
Globalization and Its Challenges

47: Globalization and Its Challenges

In the post-Cold War world, the prospects for democracy rest not only on the health of individual nations but on the increasingly complex interdependence that has been labeled globalization.

31 min
A New World Order?

48: A New World Order?

Despite the end of the Cold War, the "new world order" has yet to coalesce. We use the 2003 war in Iraq to discuss the dramatically different visions of the new world order that have emerged for the 21st century.

31 min