Monuments: Symbols of Power, Reminders of History - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1905 Words
Date:  2023-04-06


Monuments are structures, usually three-dimension, which are made to memorialize an event or a person. Examples of monuments include historical buildings, statues, cultural assets, and archaeological sites. Monuments, as works of art, serve as a representation of the power wielded by governments. They also serve as a reminder of events or individuals that are significant to the history of a particular society or citizenry (Karam, 75). The memory of the commissioners and creators of the monuments, the values, and principles they represented are always at risk despite the external appearance of strength and endurance. Counter monumentalism is a practice that has become increasingly common over the past few decades, illustrating the fragile nature of the tools that previous regimes used to showcase their power through the public embodiment of leaders and representatives of the regime values, principles, and policies (Roberts, 513). Counter - monuments are those that discard and renegotiate these traditional structures that represent past events. In recent decades there is a rise in anti - monuments globally. This paper will be examining the consequences of counter-monuments to power and hence coming up with a conclusion on whether it's a source of state power or not.

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Monuments such as cities are medium and the critical outcome of power. They are not only in the administrative or the economic but also in a symbolic sense. Hegemonic ideologies are attained when beliefs of the ruling party are referred through hegemony, the creating consensus of the subordinate sets in their marginalization (Young, 412). Therefore, the ruling party may influence the small groups due to their power. If the ruling party uses counter-monuments in any way, it may affect its state power. For example, if they spread the ideologies of anti-monuments to the marginalized groups, they may end up gaining state power. However, it may also lead to a decline in the state power of the ruling party. Thus, it can affect the state power either positively or negatively due to their ideologies. According to the top-down reactions, anti-monuments may stimulate the state power of a given state (Young, 412). The top-down response is where people make decisions directly from the monument before going into its inner meaning. Statues that were used by dictators to show power may not fare well with the current leaders. Hence counter-monuments will be the source of state power in this case.

The many structures or orifices that are designed to make the representation of values and principles of the past have managed to strike a balance between memories that represent power imposed by past regimes on the people through brutality and abuse, and the memories of people or events that mark great achievements and milestones of the citizenry over the history. For some people, counter monumentality is just an idea and does not necessarily have to be a physical work of art. This notion led to the establishment of many foundations whose main goal was to get rid of all monumental representation of the values that are unpopular with a particular regime or the public. For instance, after the second world war, an Allied forces committee used legislation that commissioned the destruction and destruction of all monuments that represented the values and principles of the Nazi regime (Roberts, 513). There still exist several organizations and individuals in the US that, although they don't have the approval of the government, seek to destroy or remove monuments that do not represent the values of society.

Political leaders use monuments to denote their dominant worldviews in space. Accordingly, monuments signify selective historical tales concentrating only on actions and identities that contented the political leaders. Dominant status is one that is accepted by the majority (Roberts, 513). The ruling party will not take this for granted. As a result, if people believe in counter monuments, it may be taken for granted by the ruling body. Politically this dishonor of the statues found to be valuable by people may have a negative impact. The decline of socialism as a political ideology in the world was surprising to those who lived in the times when socialism was portrayed as an ideological regime that would last forever. The permanence of socialism can be seen in many monuments across the world, such as the Staline statues and those of other communist leaders around the globe (Osborne, 39). The architectural designs of many structures in many countries whose regimes were communists are inspired by designs that serve as symbols and representations of communist power. Most of the communist statues are being destroyed and removed from urban/public spaces in many countries in the world. The removal of such symbols of power and dominance is enough evidence that people, especially the younger generation, are tired of the nostalgic memories of dictatorial repressive regimes that these monuments bring. For instance, people cheered with jubilation when the shiny red star that stood on the central committee of the communist party tower in Sofia.

As monuments symbolize power, they are seen as a representation of the values and principles to which a particular regime and country subscribes (Young, 412). Revolutions have seen the monuments and statutes that represent past leaders, and their values brought down and new ones erected. The new monuments are meant to convey a message of the original values and principles that come with a particular revolution. When the Jim Crow system was set up in the 1890s, many monuments that represented the values and principles of the confederates were erected. The monuments were defaced and brought down in the 1920s at black disenfranchisement was at its peak (Stevens, 466). The monuments showed that in the United States south, white supremacy was still something that the people treasure. The people who commissioned the statues represented what the tools of power stood for, and the beliefs of the people. The monuments were also set-up to counter the influence of civil rights movements that fought for the rights of black plantation and domestic workers (Forest, Benjamin, and Juliet, 128). The rights groups were also at the forefront of the antislavery campaigns. Such a scenario is evidence that monuments are a representation of state powers, dominant beliefs, and hegemonic ideologies. Although the confederates lost the civil war, the statues and the anti-monuments were erected to send the message that the south still believed in white supremacy.

Although an artist conceives monuments, they are not a free delivery of their vision, but merely an expression of the values and principles of a state. The state has the authority to speak or dictate what it wants to be done, and no artist or group of artists can go against the will of such a powerful institution. Therefore, when a new regime comes into power, it is entirely its decision to keep or allow some monuments to stay. The state can decide to replace monuments of the previous regime and replace them with monuments that represent their values and principles. The removal of such monuments by the public or the states is not a violation of the first amendment act of the united states constitution. The state has no right to bar the public from removing monuments of a past that they feel they should not be associated with (Forest et al., 128). For instance, although the monuments in Virginia were set up by local authorities when the values of slavery, white supremacy and racism defined the citizenry of the region, generations later, the public is removing and defacing the monuments probably because they are not defined by the values associated with the monuments.

Monuments can also be considered as the hub of the collective memory in an urban center. To critically understand how a monument can be a tool of power by being a carrier of collective memory, one needs to view urban space as a meeting point between social-cultural and material aspects of a particular society (Paver, 254). The tangible nature of monuments and anti-monuments allows us to view society in terms of physical items that are produced through human effort and which are interconnected through cultural, traditional, and social practices. When people associate themselves or are identified through the artifacts or physical objects such as city-scapes, villages, collective households, public parks, etc. it is apparent that such physical locations are considered as symbols of power.

Art can generally be defined as a resistance virtue. This is why it is mostly the primary driving factor towards the rising popularity of counter monuments in recent decades. These artistic monuments offer a different commemorative experience than traditional monuments (ERoSS, 238). The counter monuments express the people's desires for change and show how much they detest the conventional means of remembrance. According to Jensen (711), the difference between monuments and anti-monuments lies in the fact that monuments are based on traditional art, while anti monuments are based on classical art.

On the other hand, if the statues honored, then it will have a positive impact on state power. State-imposed monuments are statues or symbols which show the power of a given state. These monuments are mostly developed by the ruling government to show its potential. For example, it may be a statue of the ruling president. It also may be the coinage or currency of the state to show its power (Garcia-Moreno, 360). If these statues will not be put in use, it indicates that there will be no power of a country to teach. Hence, counter monuments as the state-imposed monument is a tool of state power. The anti-monuments are meant to elicit different responses or opinions regarding issues that represent the policies of the institutions of power. Through counter monuments, people voice or express their displeasure at the continued repetition of the commemoration of events that necessarily do not have a positive impact on their lives or even any impact at all.

Monuments are a representation of things that happened in history and that are significant to society and the nation. Because they represent the values and principles of the community and society at a particular period in time, they should be preserved and protected for memorial purposes (Garcia-Moreno, 367). They may remain for the mere use of memory and not as a representation of what the society and the current regime stands for. The removal of monuments from the public place does not necessarily have to be destructive (D'Arcus, n.p). The proper channels and methods of removal should be followed to ensure that destruction is avoided as much as possible. For instance, in Bulgaria, after the fall of communism, the statues of communist politicians, senior regime workers, and also Lenin statues are preserved and displayed at the Sofia museum of social art. Therefore, the confederacy monuments should be removed in a manner that protects them regardless of the bitter and controversial past they represent.

Cites across the united states are reevaluating monuments and anti-monuments. In New York City, the city monuments task force decided that a plaque with historical significance should be placed at the feet of a statue of Christopher Columbus. Christopher Columbus is considered as a controversial and polarizing figure in the region. In san Francisco, the decision to remove the statue of a Native American at the feet of a Christian missionary and a Spanish cowboy was reached by the authorities (Krzyzanowska, 467). A statue of Stephen Foster, a local music composer with a black slave at his feet, was also removed. These are just a few monuments that represent historical power relationships. In the past, white sup...

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