Opium production has filled the coffers of brutal warlords vying for power from the 1980s to the present, spanning the Cold War and the U.S. invasion in 2001. It financed the C.I.A.-sponsored mujahideen in their battle against the Soviet Union in the 1980s and only skyrocketed from there, being used today by both the Taliban and even the Afghan government (informally) as a bountiful cash crop.
In China, food scarcity is not a new problem. Famine is deeply embedded in Chinese history and ingrained in the public’s historical consciousness. Censorship programs by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) aim to wipe memories of the Great Leap Forward and its catastrophic consequences from the minds of the Chinese, but interviews with survivors and aggressive research has led to scholars estimating that between 35 and 45 million people died between 1958 and 1961 because of the CCP’s collectivist agricultural policies.
Tobacco’s history and China’s reactions thereto reflect the profound impressions that colonial intervention has left on China’s historical consciousness. By considering China’s former opium trade and its current tobacco industry, one may discover a paradox that is both a product of and a response to its modern history.
More than 60 million people in China have disabilities. The scope of these problems has increased in recent years not only in size but in proportion to the population. They persist not only as a result of political apathy, but because of deeply ingrained cultural perceptions that render them far more formidable than many of China’s other problems.
The Internet has wrapped us all in a cocoon of social media, drawing us closer to each other in ways unimaginable even a century ago. It allows us to marvel at the glory of ancient and faraway civilizations; reading their literature and gazing at their artwork provides a glimpse into the lives of our ancestors. But this globalization has not halted the irreversible destruction of our shared culture, as political movements like IS, the Taliban, and the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq make poignantly clear. Will we cherish the monuments of humanity’s creativity, and stop their demolition, or will we continue to allow usurping ideologies to trample on the only relics we can truly take pride in as a collective species?