Over the years, I’ve studied American History in both college and on my own. In line with this, I’ve read various schools of historical thought so I could form an educated opinion on the subject. The historians I’ve studied range from those with Marxist interpretations, to moderates who emphasized Liberalism from classical to modern, to traditionalists. Needless to say, since history is somewhat an interpretative discipline that uses facts to shape narratives, the views of America by different historians are often profoundly different.
The Marxist influenced historians I’ve read tend to view America’s history as a series of events meant to cement in the power of the ruling class. Therefore, their views of America lacked the optimism other historians had. The moderate historians, who sometimes reflected Classical Liberalism, emphasized how the American ideal of equality of opportunity, became a key feature as America evolved and influenced the world. The traditionalist historians tended to view the United States as a good and decent country with few strong critiques. Over the course of my studies, I’ve come to the conclusion that the moderate historian’s dynamic view of American history seemed reasonable. In addition, I’ve realized that Classical Liberalism – as exemplified by the philosopher John Locke and our Founding Fathers, was not quite the same as modern Liberalism. As many know, Classical Liberalism has much in common with modern Conservatism.
Those frustrated with America often claim that human rights progress has not been fast enough. Therefore, they sometimes turn to Marxist theory in hopes of finding answers. Although some find this theory attractive, this hope is often tempered by the fact that Marxism in practice, as opposed to theory, has not always respected human rights. In reality, Representative Democracies such as the United States seem to provide the strongest support for human rights advancements. Prior to the development of modern democracies – a movement America helped inspire, human rights protections were more rare. The Founding Fathers vision of America – as shown through the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, has provided many of the seeds of hope to address oppression. Our Constitution’s Reconstruction Amendments – which addressed racial injustice, provide proof of this. Also, modern civil rights and human rights legislation draws somewhat on the inspiration of our Founding Fathers.
The United States, as well as other democracies, has checks and balances setup to maintain societal and political balance. Understandably, this is a constant work in progress. And yes…in looking through history, America has treated certain groups unfairly. This is shown by the injustices suffered by Native Americans through the years, as well as the slavery, Jim Crow laws, and racism impacting the lives of African-Americans over time. However, if there was ever a society capable of acknowledging and rectifying historical wrongs, and respecting human rights, it’s the type of Representative Democracy America has. As many can attest to, the United States has been one of the most durable and hopeful societies in human history.
70 thoughts on “Looking Back At United States History”
Welcome back, Perry! I think you’re making a great comeback.
I’m inclined to agree with you in general. There is a disquieting paradox in the Marxist view, in that they claim to represent human rights while at the same time lacking a certain faith in humanity. This results in not permitting humans to make their own choices in key matters, and leaving such choices up to the government. For me, that is antithetical to human rights advocacy.
I can’t quite comment on the traditionalist view at this moment. But I am attracted to the moderate view based on the classical liberalism of John Locke. Here, both personal and economic are emphasized, though not at the expense of the rule of law. This aligns with my own philosophy, with which I am certain you are conversant.
And yes, the picture of the “classical liberal” differs widely from that of the “liberal” in today’s society. (But that might be the theme of a different thread.) It will be interesting to hear what your other readers have to say.
Hey A.P.! Welcome back to you too + so nice to hear from you. You made some great points! 🙂
I just love your snow picture. It reminds me of my hometown of Syracuse, New York.
Since I worked a 12 hr. shift in the I.C.U. today + am heading to bed to do another 12 hr. shift tomorrow, I’m gonna keep it brief for now and will get back with more of a comment in the next few days.
Talk to ya soon A.P + best of luck with your writing + music!
I’ll look forward to hearing your points, Perry, as well as those of others among your usual readers. About the snow picture, it’s also one of my favorites. I took it last Winter along with a panorama of our pleasantly snow-filled community. A far cry from our present-day experience, but c’est la vie.
I left out the word “freedom” after the word “economic” in the second paragraph of my comment.
Hey A.P.! I can write more now since I’m rested up. Just love that snow picture. 🙂
Those are such valid points that you make! Since I studied a bit of Marxism, Marxist influenced social sciences, + hung out w avowed Marxists, I can attest to what you say. The paradox of Marxism is amazing insofar as their ideals never seem to match the reality of their policies. And yes, their sometimes rigid ideas do reflect a certain lack of faith w humanity in general. After all, as you eloquently point out, there are so many decisions that they seem to feel that the individual is not qualified to make.
I agree w you that the “Classical Liberal” views of Locke – whereby a certain amount of personal + economic freedom is allowed, makes sense. Interestingly, the modern liberals of the 60s, 70s, + 80s were more closely aligned w “Classical Liberals” than they are now. Back then, when the idea of the social safety net – a totally valid concept, was introduced, there was still a lot of room in their idealogy for the individual to make their own choices. When we fast forward to today, we can see how the modern Liberal has become more aligned w a strong socialism as opposed to the mild socialism of the Social Democrat variety. I have always been an avowed Social Democrat.
Yes, it will be interesting to hear the take that some others have on these topics. However, I have been out of the loop for over a yr. Oh well, it was a good break. When the health problems I have were combined w the intensity of the political scene, it seemed best for me to sit back w my wife + family – my daughter + grandson live w us, work on my music, + just stare at the sky + dream.
Take Care + thx for stopping by A.P. + best of luck w your music + your book! 🙂
Well-done, Perry. Today’s Right and Left both have shallow views of history. The Right says Civil Rights laws give political equality to all, so equality is here — no more work needs to be done. The Left laments that things have not equalized more quickly. Both are misjudgments based on the same problem – underestimating the magnitude of the problem. Things have steadily improved since MLK days – and if one fully understands the enormity of the problem left over from slavery, one could argue things have moved surprisingly quickly. Prof. John McWhorter has been making this point for years, but I only have handy the stats from his 2001 article: “[From 1940 to 1970 to 1990, the percentage of blacks in the middle classes (defined as above twice the poverty line) went from 1% to 39% to over 50%. Poverty-stricken blacks, who in fact represent less than 25% of African American families, are always presented as the whole picture. In the three decades prior to 1990, the number of black doctors doubled and the number of black college graduates between the ages of twenty-five and twenty-nine tripled.]” My conclusion echoes yours, Perry: the US liberal democracy is doing a reasonably good (not perfect) job of moving toward equality. With much work left to be done, history has shown that it’s a better bet than the alternatives – Marxism, wokeness, or reactionary conservatism — or to put it geographically, a better bet for progress toward freedom and equality for all than the systems we see outside of the Western liberal democradies — e.g., Russia, China, Middle East, central Africa ….
Welcome back Daedulus + great to hear from you. 🙂
As usual, you make some amazing points.
Since I worked a 12 hr. shift in the I.C.U. today + am heading to bed to do another 12 hr. shift tomorrow, I’m gonna keep it brief for now and will get back with more of a comment in the next few days.
Talk to ya soon + best of luck with your writing!
Excellent points Daedulus + thx so much for stopping by! 🙂
After being away from the blogging scene over a yr, it feels good to converse w eloquent people on the blog again.
That’s a good point you make about how the progress being made w minority human rights is not being publicized. Unfortunately – especially after lifting the Fairness Doctrine, one-sided news stories are now almost the norm. Therefore, rational + calm voices get drowned out in a rush to maximize ratings. Just like we saw in the movie from the 70s that predicted modern media – “Network,” the news media now sometimes caricature to a point that can border on the absurd. ( For a reference point on this change in media tone, check out old footage of network news or the political shows that feature “talking-head” debate prior to 1990.) A casual glance will show much has changed in political dialogue the past 30 yrs. Obviously, political theatre has become more fashionable.
As you point out, the ability to truly evaluate + improve on gains made in civil rights now can get drowned out in a cacaphonous sea of noise coming across the spectrum. Such a shame…
And yes, Representative Democracies – of the kind the American experiment helped usher in across the world, seem in some ways to now be teetering toward a de-evolution process. This process makes it fashionable to adopt rigid dogmas that threaten the democratic process. The grand 240 yr democracy experiment that revolutionized the world sometimes seems to be on life support.
Till recently, it was assumed that a range of political thought, as opposed to a rigid one-way dogma, was good for all. Within this moderate range it was considered fashionable to realize that a freely evolving political dialogue was in everyone’s best interest.
Hopefully, discussions such as ours can help rekindle hope in Democracy.
Thx for stopping by Daedulus + thx for staying in touch! 🙂
We think alike, Perry. Yes, the Western liberal democracies are on life support, as internal illiberal/authoritarian pressures (from both Left and Right) dovetail with external antagonists. And yes, the media has deteriorated rapidly, per the Fairness Doctrine, as you point out, but I also noticed another major slide with the 2016 election, as firewalls between news and op-ed crumbled rapidly in the face of Trump coverage on both sides. Now the media either presents the 10% at one extreme as if it were 100% or the 10% at the other extreme as if it were 100%. The 80% of us in the middle can only turn off the news or scour haplessly abroad for reasonal sources of US news.
Such in-depth points Daedulus! Yes, we do think much alike + you hit the nail on the head. 🙂
In either responding to pressure on both sides of the political spectrum – or in vain attempts to push the political dynamic even more extreme to look cutting-edge + drive ratings, the media does appear to be laying out narratives lately that speak to a smaller part of the political spectrum. And as you say, the approximately 80% of the population that’s moderate often feels left out of the news equation or genuinely befuddled. This is why so many moderate people “tune out the news or roll their eyes at it.”
Like you, I sometimes go abroad to get a different take on life in the United States.
See ya my friend!
Thank you for this post. It is timely and relevant in a moment when debates swirl around Critical Race Theory, truths and reconciliation commissions and reparations for our countries past policies.
You mention that we are all influenced by our interpretations of history.
Your statement is true,
“The The Founding Fathers vision of America – as shown through the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, has provided many of the seeds of hope to address oppression. Our Constitution’s Reconstruction Amendments – which addressed racial injustice, provide proof of this”.
However, the reconstruction amendments, (13,14 &15) were ratified almost 100 years after the constitution was signed by the slave owning founding fathers.
As you mention, through our countries history, some indecent things have occurred and are still occurring. Despite the gains made and commented upon by one of your readers, It is difficult to deny the statistics that show glaring disparities among populations, of all ethnicities, regarding education and basic needs.
From what little I know, the founders wanted a nation held together by collective will, and that will, would be tempered by a common accountability to a higher power. That shared belief in a cosmic accountability, minimized the need for external control (laws), hence we are a nation where laws are by exception, not by permission.
A person is allowed, except, where prohibited. Compared to allowance by permission. Most governing methods are more onerous and limiting, freedom is not assumed and exists only where permitted. Where as we the States, assume basic liberties, except, for few prohibitions.
I have not studied Marx or many of their other socialist theorists, yet it appears to me the impingement is in the execution of system of governance, and that is where things fail apparat.
I think the instructive part of history is that human motivations have not significantly changed. The Greek democracy lasted around 200 years and If you consider the Roman republic a representative democracy lasting nearly 500 years; both fell due to selfish human tendencies.
Maybe this grand experiment in democracy will be different. But I would be cautious given self interested factions competing against broader, greatest good for the greatest number, social interests.
Already we see vehement condemnation of all sorts of social initiatives, demonizing social justice and environmental improvements as authoritarian/totalitarian control.
Your readers have remarked on this swing from one extreme to another as being a bit of a side show.
As students of history, this too has happened before. Will humans be smarter this time and see through the gaslighting of the self-interested and join our fellows in a common desire to form a more perfect union? Will we embrace our founding fathers vision of a union bound, not by loyalty to flag or personality, but loyal to a shared belief in our divinely inspired potential?
Welcome back Tom + thx for your timely insights! Your thoughts further the discussion in many ways. 🙂
I decided to write a blog on America’s history to acknowledge that the audacity + beauty of the American experiment influenced many in the world to give Democracy a try. As such, this influence created a forum to imagine a world where human rights could be advanced in a public forum. Prior to the formation of America – Democracy on the worldwide stage was limited + not held in practical regard. Therefore, human rights advancements were often put on the back-burner.
And yes Tom, thx for bringing up the somewhat divine nature of the inspiration for America. The Founding Fathers did have a general belief in the divine nature of life + some of them wished to impart a respect for religion to the American way of life. These beliefs ranged from the more conventional forms of Christianity to the form of Deism that was popular during the Enlightenment. As such, they wanted America to be tolerant of religion. This respect for religious thought is partly why many different faiths exist in America today.
Even though America, the Founding Fathers, + American history are not above complaint – as many students of history know, the American concept of Democracy has had profound impact on the world. This concept of Democracy – complete w checks + balances that acknowledge the imperfect nature of humankind, has had profoundly positive impacts.
Your point about the United States being a nation of limited laws held together by a collective will – or social contract, is so valid. By believing in the Enlightenment ideal that the individual could + should make some decisions for themselves, the Founding Fathers opened the door to allowing people to have a larger role in their lives than they previously did under monarchies.
And yes…any form of government is subject to the whims + machinations that ultimately can bring it down. Hopefully, dialogue such as this can help to create an understanding of how important it is to remain vigilant.
Thx for stopping by Tom! 🙂
Just want to add the I echo what Daedalus says. Both the Left and Right suffer from underestimating the magnitude of the problem. At the extremes, the Right thinks the problem is already solved, and the Left thinks there has been no progress whatsoever. For me, the Left-Right schism as it is being presented is little more than an obfuscation. The Big Boys love to put left against right, black against white, young against old, gay against straight and male against female in an effort to distract us all, as long as they can keep getting richer and the ret of us get poorer. Perhaps my paradigm is an overstatement? We shall see, though possibly not until after the Second American Revolution.
Hey A.P.! Your comment is so true! And yes, Daedulus is quite perceptive.
Although human nature is such that its hard to pin down exactly what some elites want, many of us understand that there’s a familiar trajectory to those that allow power to be abused. Therefore, a kind of collective unconscious often develops – that often goes unstated, that allows some in power to naturally pit people against each other. After all…if many common people are divided, they’ll be more focused on arguing w each other instead of looking to the leaders who promote division.
Unfortunately, some of the more honorable elites who don’t aim to divide people, tend to be somewhat timid in their approach.
And yes…you’re so correct – the Right-Left schism is overstated. After all, we’re all human beings. Although we’re different, we’re similar too. Too often recently, the political process is viewed as some kind of miraculous way to solve all problems facing humanity.
This is why some people have the “we must win at all costs” mindset. People like this truly feel that – instead of working w opponents to find common ground, they must totally defeat them for good. This mindset goes against democracy.
A.P., Your paradigm is not an overstatement. Hopefully, through discussions like these, we all can start to turn the high amount of negativity on the political landscape around.
Thx so much for the deep thoughts A.P.! 🙂
Thanks, A.P. Nice to see you again. To expand on your point, I often tell my young lefty friends who think they are radical, that you can’t be radical if you’re still stuck in the old left-right spectrum. The only radical position today is to shatter the whole spectrum — jettison the deadening assumptions of today’s so-called “progressives” as well as today’s conservatives — start over again with just heart and imagination to guide your judgments and political arrangements with others.
Let us start fresh + shatter the Us vs. Them concept by using our hearts + minds in new ways!
Happy 4th of July to all! 🙂
Happy Independence Day. By the way, I’ve selected today to be the day that I scour the script to Eden in Babylon and do a final scrub. After a number of workshops and readings involving singer/actors from the University and nearby theatre companies, I think Draft 5-S is producible. 5-T will just a scrub, removing typos and that kind of thing. But I wanted to wait a few months before doing it — I recall becoming very emotional toward the end, when it depicts a world in which the super-rich and super-poor come to a benign understanding. The audience may or may not share my emotion – but here goes. I’ll attach it in an email to you guys if you want to check it out.
Perry Casilio wrote: “Till recently, it was assumed that a range of political thought, as opposed to a rigid one-way dogma, was good for all. Within this moderate range it was considered fashionable to realize that a freely evolving political dialogue was in everyone’s best interest.”
I’ve found the absence of this “freely evolving political dialogue” to be heartbreaking. If I could afford to live in Berkeley California and not just land back on the streets, I would almost move back there, because I doubt seriously that in the Berkeley atmosphere, the evolving political dialogue would have become as restricted as it is in many other parts of the country. The Free Speech Movement inaugurated in 1962 still plays a great part in the communal atmosphere. Of course, this also leads up to everybody bein at each other’s throats, which does not occur up here.
Up here, however, in an effort for all people in this “small blue town in a red state” to get along, I find an excess of “party line liberals” who appear to actually feel threatened and uptight when someone states a view that violates the strict party line. With freethinking discouraged among liberals, I hesitate to identify as a liberal among them. It hearkens to the words of Barack Obama: “Are you really trying to effect positive change, or are you only trying to feel good among those you already agree with?”
Daedulus Lex wrote: “I often tell my young lefty friends who think they are radical, that you can’t be radical if you’re still stuck in the old left-right spectrum. The only radical position today is to shatter the whole spectrum — jettison the deadening assumptions of today’s so-called ‘progressives’ as well as today’s conservatives — start over again with just heart and imagination to guide your judgments and political arrangements with others.”
This is my experience as well, especially as I now live in a college town of 26,000 where the average age of a resident is 26. Impressionable young people often don’t recognize the extent to which pressure from the “academic Left” is robbing them of their capacity to think for themselves. It is particularly refreshing, however, when a young person begins to see that classism is an as-yet-unaddressed issue in our society, obfuscated by the intensity of a renewed focus on racism. (This recently happened when I had an inspiring conversation with a young woman who had just gotten her degree in journalism and her first job as a reporter with a local paper. This is the type of person who ought to be writing commentary and op-eds, imho.)
Finally, I need to state truthfully that the words “I’m a liberal” have not emerged from my mouth during the last twenty years or so. If “progressive conservative” were not such an oxymoron, I might identify as such. I just put “Other” on all my social media political identifications — and leave the rest to questions.
I am smack in the middle as well… eh maybe a bit left leaning. And your right… it’s classism. All work and worry for way too many people. There are solutions however. And I think This is how they are found.
I think we can have conversations however. As long as we speak and listen with love then we can.
We all want and need the same things. We want to be heard and understood. Keep your head up, we will be just fine.
Thx for the dialogue DEsp! 🙂
Yeah…classism – as A.P. says, is often an overlooked part of the situation. And these kind of necessary conversations are indeed one the best ways to find solutions.
Thx for stopping by!
Really interesting post and Blog
Thx so much Leyla! 🙂 So glad that you stopped by.
I also enjoy viewing your popular photography blog. Since my family loves to garden, your photos are truly awe-inspiring!
If ya get a chance, I’d love for you to e-mail me the script to Eden in Babylon. 🙂 Your idea about the rich + poor coming to a benign understanding at the end sounds great + underscores that one of the best ways to address classism is to address issues w the human soul. Often, the only way to address to classism is to promote the government to get involved. Although this has merits, its not the only way to address this issue.
Yeah, the concept of free speech – whereby different opinions are aired + ideas hashed out without an attempt to totally win the argument, is the foundation of a free society. After all, as most of know – our minds are flexible + subject to change. All of us have had experience w all sorts of things where we change our mind on something. For instance – many of us have evolving food tastes which are subject to change. And so it is w political ideas. If an opposing idea is allowed to sit – as opposed to trying to defeat it, we sometimes actually have a chance to consider it later on. Such is the beauty of free speech – a continuous evolving occurs.
And yes, the comments that Daedulus made about starting anew, are well-spoken. Since we’re in danger of losing the ability to freely converse + exchange ideas, Democracy itself is in danger of being lost. And if Democracy is replaced by rigidly followed competing dogmas, then we run the risk that winning at all costs will be supported + a race to the bottom will ensue.
Ironically, as you point out, the formerly open-minded reputation of the left – as evidenced by the tenor of many college campuses such as your town, has been replaced by a groupthink that runs counter to the left’s previous stance. Your idea about the young journalist is spot-on!
Yeah…Progressive Conservative may be a good way to describe your views. Liberal has become a much different word over time w different interpretations. I call myself a Social Democrat – this is the way most Democrats in America used to be, + it also now fits in w many Republicans since they agree often w aspects of mild socialism. A social safety net is important for civil society. However, it’d still be great – as you say, to allow individuals to make decisions for themselves on some of the more crucial aspects of their lives.
Take Care A.P. + thx again for the enlightened dialogue 🙂
America is a transcendent idea, something of the metaphysical wrestled into a fairly workable yet imperfect system of governance. The idea brought forth 250 years ago had never been tried before, it was unique, and even today it is still beyond the imagination of most.
Today as we’ve descended into “factions”, so dreaded by the founders (even when they themselves succumbed to their passionate allure). We tend to grapple with this or that policy, either from this or that political experience or perspective. This focus on action before principle is half-baked and backwards. It can only lead to divisions and hostilities, rather than any cohesive harmony and unity of purpose.
But if we return to the unique ideal which is America, that “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, and align ourselves with its perfection in, at least, ourselves, if not in the wider world, then the transcendent is achievable.
Sounds like a sophomoric platitude, but if we do not direct ourselves to some guiding principle, as individuals and as a society, then what is the purpose why we are here in the first place? We are already on the precipice, one more step toward nihilism and we fall into the abyss of Yeats’ The Second Coming. Only with a true rededication to the defining idea of America will the center hold.
Wow…amazing words + thx for stopping by PJ! 🙂 I just love the Yeats quote!
Yeah, you hit on something very profound – the process of Democracy is probably more important than this or that particular policy goal. If we think about it, this feature of our Democracy – the search for perfectibility, as opposed to the search for an absolute state of unreachable utopian perfection, is really the powerful allure.
After all, just like chasing a mirage on the desert, or pushing a boulder up a hill, utopian theorists sometimes encourage followers to create a difficult to maintain communal perfection. As is known, some utopian ideas have historically been proven difficult to achieve. And this passionate zeal for a broad-based state of perfection that all must follow, is what sometimes creates the intensity of competing factions.
The brilliance of the Lockeian-inspired Founding Fathers is that they setup a system – that you echoed, that enforces the idea of individual perfectibility. After all, each person – along with their subculture, has somewhat slightly different ideas about perfectibility + its goals.
When factions lose track of the fact that a working Democratic Republic allows for different subcultures to live in harmony by respecting the rule of law, we begin to resemble the chaos that Yeats felt when he wrote his great poem after WW1. Unfortunately, we’re starting to resemble the chaos Yeats warned of. Some factions believe that their particular dogma cannot live side by side with competing dogmas. They now feel that their faction is perfect + that other subcultures must be controlled to comply. This is where the trouble starts to brew.
Thx for the words of wisdom PJ! 🙂
Slavery was around long before America became. The people who came here, from so many other countries, came from places where slavery was a part of life. The founding fathers, in working together, framed a Constitution, and with their words, set up the opportunity to destroy slavery, which many or most people who came here opposed slavery. **It’s best if people read the founding fathers own words, read about the American Revolution before all the propaganda became these past few decades, and read about life across the country over the years. Also, they should read about the Soviet Union (i.e. War and Peace, Adrei Sakharov’s Memoires, and more about the Soviet Union) so they can broaden their understanding about our world as they learn continually.
Welcome to the conversation Dolphinwrite + thx so much for pointing out that the Founding Fathers – with their own words, provided the seeds of hope to eventually do away with the oppression of slavery! Excellent point. 🙂
As you point out – the worldwide Democracy revolution that America helped initiate 250 yrs ago elevated the discussion of human rights. And yes, by setting forth the Constitution as they did, the Founding Fathers laid the groundwork to ultimately have slavery defeated.
Unfortunately, slavery + indentured servants were a norm in some parts of the world. Monarchies, + other harsh forms of dictatorial government were common before the advent of Democracies worldwide. As you allude to, some interpretations of history fail to connect the evolutionary dots that show that Democracies led to a state of mind that allowed for a free-flowing debate to occur which would allow for improvements in human rights.
And yes, if one acquaints themselves with the history of the Soviet Union, they’ll find that even in more modern times, that oppressive forms of government have taken hold.
Thx for the comment Dolphinwrite + long live Democracy! 🙂
Just wanted to make a small yet important clarification,
When I’d said, we should be “loyal to a shared belief in our divinely inspired potential” I want to stay clear of any divine assumptions. Certainly it is that the claim of moral certainty has been the justification for the worlds worst atrocities.
To me “divinely inspired” is the world of mathematics. There are many thankful, soldiers, pilots, astronauts, patients and every day people who Thank God for the miracles of modern science.
“It is my sense of God that is my sense of wonder about the universe,” ~ Albert Einstein.
Many of the noted philosophers and theologians, were also mathematicians. Plato, Aristotle, Newton, Descartes, Kant, Russell, Bacon, Hume, and on. This is no coincidence, as the discipline of reason and logic are associated with both Math and our endeavor to know from whence we came.
So too, is the desire to know where we as a species are going.
It is logical and reasonable to turn to the discipline of math and science.
This is not to diafy the sciences.
To study religiously, is to be a disciple. There is much in common in the study of religion and the study of sciences. In fact, many if not most, of the great works in every branch of science, were accomplished by religious devotees.
The pseudo schism between science and religion is one fabricated to promote faith without works, disguised as acceptance through grace.
Faith without work is wholly dishonest as every religion practices a form of salvation through service. Our own Judeo-Christian faith declares , “Faith without works is dead” James 2:14.
More to the point, peddlers of faith of the intangible has propagated belief in poltergeist, Big Foot, UFO’s, and an infinite number of conspiracies, all while diminishing faith in the tangible sciences.
Demonization of the sciences is rife amongst the “faithful”, ironically at the very moment we need shared solutions to common problems.
True that history has given us many examples of the destructive power of moral certainty and the decaying effects of moral abdication.
That being said,
one more thing about the seemingly divine nature of math; the equal sign. As long as each side of the parallel lines are equivalent, you have a valid statement.
Equal substitution is the basis for commerce, our sense of fairness and much of our scientific advances, it is the ethics of utilitarianism.
But there is also the Deontological ethics of divine nature, our founders were influenced by the ideals of Kant and Mill.
This is where the equation can only be satisfied,
if, and only if,
the exact object is on the other side of those parallel lines.
Which of course, there can’t be,
life is not a fungible commodity.
Hence we are bound by a belief in a power greater than ourselves to weigh what is on the scales.
That is why I call the equal sign, Gods’s sign. The parallel lines themselves represent this, the two can never meet. The chasm between life and death, though sometimes seemingly small, can never crossed again.
We must value each as born of the same creator and equally deserving of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Unfortunately, many interpret this passage of the U.S. Constitution to mean the pursuit of wealth.
If you have money, you can afford health care and have a better life.
If you can afford lawyers you enjoy greater freedom.
And who isn’t happier if they have an excess of money laying around?
This prevailing view of utilitarian ethics has led many justify privatization of gains and dumping the liabilities on the public, not paying taxes and seeing money as a form of speach, and so on.
The utilitarian view denies our divine nature and deontological ethics scare most people.
Fascinating points Tom! 🙂
Yes, Mathematics can unleash so many positive things in so many ways. I’m currently reading yet another book on the history of Mathematics, along with Quadrivium – the medieval university book that tied together Math, Music, Geometry, + Astronomy, etc. Fascinating stuff.
In reading about how Mathematics can be used for philosophical outlooks – I’m often reminded of how the study of Math can be used not only for more abstract ideas such as Einstein’s theories, Quantum, or String Theory, but also for the more seemingly concrete study of symmetry as shown to us in life such as how Fractals are so common through nature, + how the Golden Mean appears in nature + has influenced the arts, architecture, + philosophy. As many know, this recognition + adoration of symmetry is why the writer Goethe called architecture “frozen music” since some music – especially with an A – B – A form, can seem similar to the Golden Mean influenced A – B – A form of certain buildings.
And yes Tom, you’re correct to note that the study of Math + the Sciences can help us form a balanced view of life. Interestingly, many religious thinkers have also been influenced by Math + the Sciences + have contributed to their growth. Historically, we see how the Catholic Church preserved the great Math + Science of ancient Greece + advanced scientific theories, the Hindu influence on Indian Math, + the Muslim influence on Algebra, are just a few examples.
Also…your point about Utilitarianism is interesting since its such an important – yet controversial concept. Obviously, the greatest good for the greatest number is totally valid. However, how often have we seen some with questionable ethics use this concept to rationalize things that’ve proven unfortunate to many.
Sadly…this concept can also mean that if someone is one of the rare examples of a person who falls victim to misfortune due to a Utilitarian approach to a certain topic or situation, its not much consolation if they have suffered as a minority for a policy that brought benefit to the majority. Humm…
As you say – Utilitarianism + even Deontology can seem to negate the search for the divine.
Therefore, the Founding Fathers were correct to realize that although Science is very important, that recognition of the eternal mystery of life – the search for the religious divine, needs to be respected + protected in America.
Thx for the dialogue Tom! 🙂
As always Perry, great topic, great responses. What PJ wrote was spot on.
Hi oh quoted me as saying
“As you say – Utilitarianism + even Deontology can seem to negate the search for the divine.”
What I said was,
“our endeavor to know from whence we came. So too, is the desire to know where we as a species are going”
Nothing of a search for the divine.
Just a search for solutions to everyday problems.
The problems of today are as different yet as similar, as when the founders drafted the constitution. Apart from domestic matters, our nations globalist aspirations are something that would have fueled fierce debate 200 years ago,
Yet today most people want the US to be a world power.
Thanks again of doing what you do so well. TE
One of the main things that’ll help with today’s intense political climate is an ongoing search for dialogue to find common ground. That’s what I try to do with the blog. And thx for contributing to the dialogue Tom. 🙂
Yes, our nation’s globalism aspirations create fierce debate. Since we as humans need some sort of grounding for a collective consciousness, the concept of the nation-state lives on. And with that sense of national pride often comes – as we see today, a desire to influence affairs across the globe.
Currently, in addition to the United States, it appears that China, Russia, + some of the EU countries, are very powerful on the globalism stage – with many other countries ranging across the globe vying for contention. This concept of what country in the world is the most powerful has been a part of human nature since the dawn of modern civilization. Yet, as we all know – the stakes in today’s world are high + many yearn for a collegial sense of leadership to develop on the world stage.
Interestingly, since modern life has become so complex, it is now necessary to not only look for elegant + collegial dialogue, but to look also for globalism policies that have a certain transparency + benefit for all. This is the tricky part.
Take Care Tom!
Historical facts are so difficult to have agreement on because it stirs emotions as to events that have occurred; especially events like wars and major crisis. Many accounts are also slanted to the biases of the writer too depending on their beliefs as with classic liberalism, traditionalism, Marxism, etc.
For example, we all knew when 9/11 and where and who were involved at the time or where most of us were at the time it happened, but since then there have been a variation of this event that ranges from violent radicalism to government demolishing buildings covertly and then everything in between.
Another example is how its written. “A family homesteading killed by natives is considered a ‘massacre’ while killing natives in their own village would be a ‘victory,’ yet another writer would give you the opposite description. What we do know is atrocities occurred in that time era for many people and more than others by the dominating culture we know of by today.
Lastly, as with Marxism there is the erasing of history or changing history. We have experienced some of that just recently by the dismantling of memorials and symbols regardless of how controversial they may be. This is nothing new as we seen this with the NY Times and Holocaust. We see it today (or lack of) with the Chinese Muslim Uegers (spelling).
The digital age will change it all. From censureship to outright altering footage will undoubtedly keep us skeptical and confused about events. We will have to depend on our own empirical experiences to get a grasp of history moving forward.
In respects to political addresses all party’s, right or left and in between, it is all dysfunctional and we are far away from what our forefathers invisioned. I would argue we have become what they feared. A bloated corrupt government spending us into poverty. We are not immune to economy no matter how far we kick that can down the road. We can love the republic guided by democratic means, but we don’t live it because of all the agencies created by this government that appoint (not elected) individuals that seem to be able to enact their own laws apart from the constitution.
Thx for the in-depth comment JP + for stopping by! 🙂
You accurately point out the complex nature of historical study. Since the study of history – like many social sciences, is somewhat interpretive, there’s such a wide variety of narratives that are attached to historical events. This is why so many of us are left scratching our heads about just what to believe. As you say, at some point in the future we’re maybe going to use mostly our own empirical evidence to form assessments. When this empirical evidence is combined with cross-referencing competing data, we will then be able to navigate the contradictory historical interpretations that exist.
And yes, your examples point out that what could be termed a massacre by one interpretation, could also be called a victory by yet another interpretation. In addition, the influence of Marxist interpretations of history on contemporary society often results in a revision of historical narratives that have stood the test of time for decades. Suddenly, those narratives – due to a Marxist influence on social sciences, are now considered antiquated.
Lastly, you are so correct to point out that “virtual reality” has sapped us of the ability to truly believe our eyes. After all, it is now often so easy to alter images with computer technology.
As to what our forefathers would think if they could time travel to today, it is interesting to entertain. After all, the concept of the career bureaucrat enveloped in the highly layered cocoon of modern government was foreign to the rationalist mind of the nation’s Founding Fathers. Great point!
Thx again for the dialogue JP + I look forward to talking with you again!
Hello Perry. I love and appreciate your analysis as well as Marx’s. Labor unions and their strikes, I strongly considered, would cause a severe crash to the US economy. So, today we have economic competition and every person thriving to become wealthy? Another flaw is that after 1913 the US banks belong to foreign investors. An economic crash is destined. The US economy is falling apart. People will always find ways to place themselves into a social class, without wealth being a criterion. Karl Marx did not express any ideas of rolling back economies to previous times. Theoretically, there would be no cost-of-living increases, no labor unions and no price hikes. All wages would be set and maintained for every profession and worker. No outsourcing and no foreign investors. Without going to war, we have no chances of overcoming the power grabbers. 🥺
Thx for stopping by again America On Coffee + great to hear from you again!
Since I’m coming off my multi-day stretch of 12-hr shifts at the ICU where I work, I’m getting back to you now. When I do those shifts, I basically just work + sleep. 🙂
Yeah…economic theory + economics in practice, is complex + contradictory. And as you point out, modern economics – due to the complexity of central banking w the Federal Reserve, unions + other factors, creates a lot of inflation. As a result, the idea of setting prices + wages so that inflation is kept at bay, seems out of the question. The real question is just how much inflation can be tolerated.
And yes, the cyclical push of economic boom + bust, is always on the horizon. As for the common man creating meaningful change so that economic downturns are not so dramatic, one can only hope. Through discussions like these, the seeds of hope can be planted.
Also, I sure enjoy your coffee blog that highlights the incredible history + use of coffee in America.
Take Care + stop by again!
My pleasure . Thank you for the kind compliment. Blessings!
Treated unfairly, just like every other country, so it is unfair to say that need to destroy America for the past, because other countries did same to others, so, lets destroy the whole world?
Thx for the dialogue Nadiia! I’ve been enjoying your blog with the nice landscape + animal photos of the Ukraine. The Ukraine is a beautiful part of the world with its famous Black Sea shores. 🙂
As you say, many countries through history have been treated unfair. And yes, sometimes the study of history can make people focus mostly on the past instead of looking to the future. After all, many countries have been treated unfair in the past. If we focus mostly on the past it can be frustrating. Hopefully, we can focus more on creating a good future for all the world.
We who live on the other side of the ocean have always looked to America as a country where everyone was happy. But later we found out that there are millions of homeless people, millions of sick people without health insurance. Economic crisis and companies that close. So where did the American dream go?
The American Dream was never the government taking care of us. That we forgot our history, the reasons for the founding fathers’ actions and words, that education was used to prevent the youth from remembering, that’s part of how we are here today, along with socialists, communists, and marxists who weeded their way into political positions and other positions of authority. **The dream is still there, with those who believe what the founding fathers believed.
Nice to hear from you dolphinwrite!
Yes…the American Dream was unique. Since the United States broke away from a monarchy, our Founding Fathers setup a country with an intricate set of checks + balances. These checks + balances – the hallmark of a Democratic Republic, allowed America to evolve in a way that allowed for + encouraged, a certain independence of spirit.
Although modern life in the 21st Century definitely creates the need for a certain amount of Social Democracy, it goes without saying that the concept of limited government that the United States championed in the past is no longer with us today. Hopefully in the future, America can retain some features of Social Democracy while also still adhering to the dream of equality of opportunity + independence that has been its hallmark.
In the continuum between free-markets + Social Democracy, there have been examples – such as Sweden today, of countries that have backed off certain socialist ideals for the sake of a balance that leans more in the direction of a free-market. It’ll be interesting to see how the United States evolves in relation to this balance in the coming years.
Thx for stopping by! 🙂
The founding fathers wiped out populations of Native Americans who already had their own civilization and culture. Perhaps America’s decline had already been announced by one of the leaders of those tribes. Because if you govern using power and violence, perhaps sooner or later this will backfire against power itself. I only say maybe because it is obviously a hypothesis. Or the decline is given, as happened to the Roman Empire, by the arrival of less efficient populations from an organizational and social point of view. Italy, where I live, is also a state in decline, and the reason is the same. The closure of large companies, brought to countries where labor is cheaper, has also caused this very bad situation. Even the Romans had a colonization carried out with violence and believed a lot in power but now Rome has become a large container of human garbage. So even there, perhaps the peoples who had been conquered are now destroying it in revenge for its violence.
Excellent point about the cyclical nature of history + rise + fall of great countries/civilizations!
Although The Founding Fathers themselves weren’t totally responsible for the subjugation of the indigenous cultures of the New World, the culture they were part of did set up the cycle of using strong power to subjugate + conquer. Therefore, as we see in so many other parts of the world, the pattern was indeed set for a sense of retribution to rise up. And yes…although common in the evolution of cultures + nations, this form of growth period through subjugation can inevitably lead to a form of burnout.
The good news about America is that even though there is much to question in its past, there has been a strong movement to address these issues. Therefore, a sense of ideological assimilation is occurring which may allow it to thrive in the future while still acknowledging the problems in its past. And ironically, the documents of our Founding Fathers have often provided the seeds of hope to address past oppression. Therefore, there is a chance that the historical pattern of retribution may be lessened.
And thx so much for the excellent point about how the forces of market economics – whereby there is a desire to seek cheaper labor elsewhere, can also lead to a decline in a nation-state + culture. This is so very true.
Since my family came from both the Abruzzo region of Italy + Sicily, its great to dialogue with a fellow Italian from the old country. Thx so much for the great dialogue Fairy Queen! 🙂
Thx for stopping by Fairy Queen + nice to hear from a fellow Italian! Your question about the American dream is excellent. 🙂
In a nutshell, it seems that what made the American dream powerful in the past was the opportunity for advancement that the United States offered. When the American concept of equality of opportunity was combined with the rich natural resources this country offered, it created a magical blend that became famous around the world. When we fast forward to today, its apparent that today’s image of America is not what it used to be.
Although still powerful + admired in many ways, it seems that the United States has become a victim of its own success. In a sense, the sense of unity that used to allow the United States to truly respect divergent views, has given way to a sense of rigid dogma that discourages different groups from working together.
Therefore, as you say – America is now beset with problems that it didn’t have in the past. Hopefully, we can regain a better sense of unity.
Thx for this excellent insight from Europe!
Regarding what is happening today, what we see and hear on television and other electronic media, but also in print and in talks, there is something more to consider. It came to be, though I had already considered it, while reading about some views in the former Soviet Union. Though, I would never agree with communism, socialism, or Marxism, I understand how they use what they currently see in America to further their agendas, for what we see in America is not the freedom we hoped for. “We” hoped for freedom with responsibility. But we also understand, and we hope those in communist and socialist countries understand this, why we’re currently failing is not because of the founding fathers’ efforts, the early Americans’ efforts, or the U.S. Constitution, or the American Dream. It’s this: In our efforts, “weeds”, the seeds of destruction, were already here, but they also came from abroad as I maintained above. Here’s the thing. To have freedom, responsible freedom, includes the citizens to be moral, strong, and determined to remain free, watching always for signs of future destruction. What we see in America is the dropping of “eyes,” people not watching, people given to selfishness and immoral desires, then the rest of society listening to rhetoric, propaganda, and lies, some for their own selfishness, some for self-protection, some out of fear, and some who thought they were being accepting. Never accept wrong. Why? Because it is wrong, and parents must be the example for their children. Prayers.
Thx for the deep thoughts regarding the current situation in the United States!
Yeah…there seems to be a sort of unspoken tipping point in societies that lose their sense of personal responsibility. Dolphinwrite…your use of the term responsible freedom is very powerful! Indeed, as you say, a sort of collective unconsciousness seems to take hold when a society loses track of responsible freedom. And just as you alluded to about the former Soviet Union, I’ve also talked w people from communist countries about how human behavior can change in these situations. In a sense – no matter what one’s political leaning, personal responsibility of the sort Locke eloquently spoke of, is the linchpin that holds society together. And yes, this kind of personal responsibility is also very important in the many countries that have the mild socialism of Social Democracy. Personal responsibility is not just for countries that are totally laissez-faire.
However, + unfortunately, personal responsibility – as well as the concept of personal freedom, has become somewhat tarnished by some as only a right-wing idea. In reality, + this holds true for Social Democracies, personal responsibility + a certain amount of personal freedom, are the glue that holds societies together. Even in today’s technocratic world – where a certain amount of socialism is deemed necessary due to our complex high-tech life + large populations, it is very necessary to have an educated populace that is able to make many decisions for themselves on a daily basis. In addition, it is important even today, to respect those that seek truth w civil debate on the complex issues of the day.
Ths dolphinwrite for bringing the powerful concept of responsible freedom to the discussion! 🙂
We, myself and fellow bloggers, are encouraging more and more people of real thought, substance, to continue sharing. They benefit readers, many on the fence. Blogs, while a mode of speech freedom can be useful in truly educating, but at least, setting people back on themselves to start thinking for themselves, which most do not. Well, they think, but they don’t follow the rabbit of reason down the trail of understanding, and certainly not all the way to the natural conclusion.
**What has happened, and “they” knew what they were doing, was to stop real education, which I believe is why the Soviet society, WWII German society, even North Korea society, was never taught at any real length, even when education was pretty good. They wanted young people to grow up ignorant, for in this way, when they became adults, they would have nothing of substance to share with their future children. Then, these public propaganda camps could continue destroying real information, which we continue to see. This is also why, more and more parents are home schooling. ***But here’s one more aspect. People don’t know what they don’t know, and the criminal media elements and terrible news agencies, along with Hollywood, are working night and day to mold us into unthinking, selfish, self-involved worriers who only think of what they can get. It’s fascinating, but very troubling. And those in communist countries, who know their country is messed up, see and wonder how we can allow all of this.
All the best.
Hey dolphinwrite…you have some intriguing insights!
I agree, through blogging – we can create dialogue w the many people who want a way around the typical media / social media scene. And yes, many of these people are kind of on the fence regarding their ideas. After all, since so many ideas nowadays are often presented in a binary way, there are many who don’t want to commit since there’s such intense debate these days.
As you mention, the use of reason + logic – the Socratic Method, is being downplayed in recent times. As a former educator, you’re well acquainted with the fact that reason + logic, the hallmark of the enlightenment, were powerful forces in modern life for so long.
And yes, there is a difference between the type of education – whereby a range of ideas are presented, + a narrower range of education that borders on indoctrination. Hopefully, through dialogue such as ours, + its influence on many others, we can help to re-establish that a certain amount of critical thinking has benefits for all.
Thx so much for the dialogue + insights! 🙂
I’m introducing a new, but well-known, two word phrase: toxic conformity. We encourage everyone to think for themselves, as you do, with responsibility. We call it following the rabbit of reason down the trail of understanding. If one does that, they will always be safe in understanding. It just requires patience.
Excellent! I agree…just excellent! 🙂
Though I’m not American, I have gone to Grad school in the US, have worked with Americans a lot and have strong ties with the US. I have also lived in a variety of countries across the world most of which qualify as tyrannies.
Yes, there are many “imperfections” in American history and still now. You point out a few, but, Man, compared to most of the world, I would still vote for the US as a great democracy. Checks and balances, rule of law… Again many things can still be improved but there is no comparison with more than half the word.
It’s the people that need to educate themselves.
I so agree Dolphinwrite!
Education – done in a way that promotes critical thinking, is so necessary for a healthy Democratic Republic. 🙂
Nice to hear from you again Equinoxio21! 🙂
I agree with you that America – when one looks at the situation holistically, has many amazing things going for it. Since your blog features your travels throughout the world, you definitely see that. By the way – its a great blog that you have + I learn much from it.
Interestingly, we’re in a stage of United States history where our imperfections are starting to define us more + more. Unfortunately, the lens through which we look at history, can sometimes only show the negative. Ironically, before the development of modern Democratic Republics like America, the ability to discuss human rights abuses were more rare in many countries through the world.
Like you say, although there are many imperfections in the United States, it still has many checks + balances which allow for a relatively high level of freedom.
Thx for stopping by Equinoxio21!
You’re only too nice about my blog. I just try to share some stuff I like. As for the US, (or Europe) we all have to be careful. There are dangers and possible improvements all the time.
Thanks for your post, it was very interesting. Will be back. Cheers.
Take Care Brian, enjoy your travels, thx for the words of wisdom, + talk to ya soon!
I’m not computer saavy. I noticed readers, but couldn’t return comments as they don’t seem to show up on my comment site. Don’t know why. Found many in another folder, so I returned comments there. If you’ve written, but I haven’t responded, it’s because comments aren’t showing up in my folder.
I just placed some comments to your site in the comment section of your blog pieces. All of the comments I wrote said that they were ‘awaiting moderation.” Let me know if these comments show up soon. Best of luck! 🙂
Thanks. All good.
Dude. You need to write articles.
Thx so much dolphinwrite for the interest in my blog + encouragement to write more articles!
I’d love to write more – except my life has gotten incredibly busy as of late. 🙂 Although I’d like to write more, I’m glad the 27 articles I’ve posted over the last 8 years are being read around the world. In the meantime – between articles, I try hard to find time to follow fascinating blogs such as yours!
Do well in your endeavors. 🙂
Your post is hope that true Democracy is strong and still alive in America. The last 3 years, we’ve seen democracy being reshape by powerful politicians whoever they want, and that democracy of one is more over democracy of the other. We’ve witnessed America last Insurrection shift from United States to Divided States, Red, Blue and the Extremist. 2022 hasn’t shown promise for things to be better, now it’s war, inflation and more politics. Until America is able to bring all its people together as one, democracy will always be threatened because the nation is only great when it’s people work together to make it great. Observing response of NATO and the U.S. over war on Ukraine by Russia, one can sense politics is holding back what needs to be done.
Thx so much for stopping by Island Traveler! I’ve been enjoying your blog + photos. 🙂
Yes indeed, democracy is a tricky balance that requires a sense of respect + fair play to flourish. You are so correct to say that America needs a basic unity to thrive. That way, the whole of the nation will be greater than the sum of it’s parts. As you talk of, the United States is currently in an extremely fragmented period. Some say that we’re more divided than at any point since the Civil War.
And yes – some politicians are holding back on what needs to be done to preserve democracy. This short-sighted approach is leading to more division. For our democracy to survive + thrive, America needs to attempt to return to the concept of having a basic unity. This unity is achieved not through coercion. Instead, it’s based upon an ability to agree to disagree civilly, civil debate, + respect for the rule of law + common decency.
You make some excellent + poignant points here Island Traveler! Till next time. 🙂
Perry Casilio, this is some interesting stuff.
Thx so much for stopping by Ragnar! 🙂
Yeah…although a bit complicated, it seems good to look at the different interpretations of history. This approach can help us achieve a balanced understanding as to how we got where we are today!