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The Modern West (HIS2113) Fall 2016

Final exam essays


Throughout the semester, we work at developing your historical thinking skills. So the final exam will ask you to
do such thinking and writing. For the final exam, you will do a modest amount of quizzing on basic facts (during
the exam period). However, the main parts of the final exam will be in the form of TWO TAKE-HOME ESSAYS
as described below. You may wish to have these essays in mind as we continue through the semester in order to
be planning information/ideas youll incorporate into your essays at the end of the semester.

TAKE-HOME ESSAY-WRITING
Applying lessons from history youve studied
ESSAY #1 Governing a nation

(750 or more words)

In our overview of modern history, we encounter various approaches to government:


Confederations of princes (such as the Holy Roman Empire in Luthers time)
Conquistador regimes (such as established in the New World after Columbus discovery)
Absolute monarchy (such as that of Louis XIV)
Enlightened despotism (such as that of Frederick the Great or Catherine the Great, where the ruler sought
to maintain firm control of the state but also strove to improve the governments effectiveness by using
reasoned, scientifically-informed policies)
Constitutional monarchy (such as existed in England after the Glorious Revolution and in the early days
of the French Revolution, when they allowed Louis XVI to remain on throne as an executive officer of
the government, while transferring most power to the new legislature)
Radical democracy (such as in the Paris Commune or the more violent days of the French Revolution, as
the populace rose up to take control of government and those in opposition to the majority opinion were
forced to agree with the majoritys agenda or else)
Representative republic (such as in the United States or other democratic republics, where elected
officials are answerable to the electorate)
Expansive imperialism (such as European nations ruling abroad in the late 19 th and early 20th centuries)
Fascist dictatorship (such as Mussolinis Italy, Francos Spain or Hitlers Germany)
Communist collective under totalitarian rule (such as Stalins USSR)
Social democracy (such as exist today in many European nations, or as advocated by some candidates in
the American political scene today where democratic institutions are in place, but the government takes
on more and more responsibilities for caring for the welfare of all persons by various social programs)
International governance (seeking cooperation between countries through organizations such as the
League of Nations or the United Nations1)

In todays world, there are several other international organizations in addition to the UN such as the
International Court of Justice and globalization instruments such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and
the World Trade Organization. We did not have time to address these as post-World War 2 developments, but you make
reference to them if you wish.

In the study of history, we also encounter various political and economic ideologies and approaches: royal
absolutism, mercantilism, conservatism, liberalism, economic liberalism (capitalism), socialism, Marxism
(communism), anarchism, fascism, totalitarianism.
Books we are reading during the semester (Luther the Reformer, various sections in The Making of the West
People and Cultures and various selections in The Past Speaks for Itself) devote some treatment (in some cases,
major treatment) to competing forms of government and ideas on how society and the state should be run.
Finally, in your catechism training as a youngster, you learned from Martin Luther (in his Small Catechism)
that when we pray, Give us this day our daily bread, one of the things included in our prayer is that God would
give us good government.

With all of this background in mind, compose your own essay (750+ words) that
attempts to answer the question: What constitutes good government?

Establish a theme for your essay that clearly delineates what you believe good government should be
or what it should do.
Provide examples from the history we have studied of what you consider to be good government
in action.
Provide also examples from the history we have studied of what you consider to be bad
government cases where government failed to meet the objectives that good government should
exhibit.
Note: Weave your examples into a thematic, well-written essay. Dont simply write an opening
paragraph and then follow with a bad government paragraph and a good government paragraph.
Give thoughtful consideration to the flow and arrangement of your essay. Your essay grade will be
based not only on the strength of your thoughts but also on the quality of your writing.
Note: Please dont be so simplistic as to make your theme, Good government is like the government
here in the United States. Not only would that rightfully be challenged by persons who are not U.S.
citizens, but also would fail to address how good government can exist in various types of states, with
different types of governmental systems. You may use examples from the United States, yes, but those
should not be your only examples used to illustrate what you see as positive tendencies. (Plus there are
also plenty of negative tendencies you could note in the way U.S. government functions.)
You are not required to cite sources when you compose this essay but you might improve the argument
of your essay if you do cite sources for some points that you make. Citing material from books we read
as a class or documents that constitute part of our Cyberhistory studies would be fine, or you could pursue
other reading/research as well. For instance, beyond the scope of our assigned years (up to the end of
World War II), you might find interesting material by looking at thoughts about why communism in the
USSR and Eastern Europe eventually collapsed. The last reading in The Past Speaks for Itself, Volume II
(selection #163) is Vaclav Havels postlude to communism. You might glean some thoughts from him.
Along the way in the semester we also are reading other PSI2 selections that might factor into your
thinking about political systems Hobbes and Locke, for example. (Or you could look at the Mussolini
excerpt on fascism as a counterexample.) And there are various ideological readings (promoting
socialism or anarchism, etc) also available for your reference in PSI2.

For essay #2, go to next page

ESSAY #2 Relations between nations

(750 or more words)

Over the course of the semester, in the history we study, we see various examples of wars, even to the point of
genocides. We know there will always be wars in the world (cf. Matthew 24, Mark 13). At the same time,
however, as Christian people we are urged, If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with
everyone (Romans 12:18), and that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people
for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives (1 Timothy 2:1,2). And certainly,
even from a purely secular, rational standpoint, the nations and people of the world could do better at striving to
reduce wars and clashes.

From the history we have studied, comment on human factors that


contribute to war, and how you think human societies could address those
factors so as to reduce the amount of conflict between nations and peoples.
Offer your thoughts in an essay of 750+ words.
Some notes / advice for addressing Essay #2:

As with essay #1
o Establish a theme for your essay that clearly delineates the direction of your thoughts.
o Provide examples from the history we have studied as a way of supporting your points.
o Compose a well-written, thematic essay. Your essay grade will be based not only on the strength of
your thoughts but also on the quality of your writing.

While certainly you look at the world from a Christian perspective, your answer to this question should not
be, If everyone believed in Jesus there wouldnt be wars. First of all, remember that some of the wars we
are studying were violent clashes between different groups of Christians. Secondly, you must acknowledge
that the whole world will not be converted to Christ. So your essay needs to take into account the fact that the
world is a place of multiple ethnicities, religions and opinions. Or, another way to look at it: Even Christian
writers have noted that God established two kingdoms the church and the state. This essay is aimed more at
that second kingdom the exercise of governmental authority in this world. Dont turn it into a kingdom of
God religious essay.
While Jesus did say we can expect there will be wars and rumors of wars, dont make it your answer to say,
Wars are going to happen because Jesus said so, and theres nothing we can do about it. Jesus prophecy
about the occurrence of wars is true, of course, but was not meant to give us an excuse to shrug our shoulders
and give up on peaceable goals. Indeed, Scripture says that those who love violence the LORD hates with a
passion (Psalm 11:5). God urges us as his people, Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling
lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34:13,14). More than once the Bible
urges us to make every effort to live at peace with everyone (cf. Romans 12:18, Hebrews 12:14). So as a
Christian you cannot take the stance that war is inevitable and you should not bother striving to be a
peacemaker.
Strive to be a statesman as you write this essay. Put yourself in the position of a world leader who wants to
achieve a greater level of international peace. Having learned from the lessons of history, how would you go
about that goal? And how would you use the lessons of history to persuade others toward your way of
thinking? [Indeed, an idea for formatting your essay would be to write it as a world leader addressing the
United Nations or giving a press conference or as a discussion between diplomats at a summit or as a
debate between candidates in an election.]