Paper 3-The Final Assignment
In his translation of Fritz Kern’s, Kingship and law in the Middle Ages, S. B. Chrimes writes:
That attitude is doubtless necessary and proper in practical life, but it is the very reverse in
scientific endeavour of any kind. Science—and History, of course, in so far as it is an endeavour
find and state the truth about something, is no more and no less a science than all other such
attempts—cannot advance by compromising logic with life. On the contrary, the whole method of
scientific study consists essentially in the application of logic to life, and is therefore in a sense an
“artificial process,” though in another and better sense it is a natural one, being itself a
manifestation of life.
Now we all know that the Universe is one, and that the garment of Clio is a seamless web.
All history is one stem without any branches—history in the sense of the Past. But that is no
reason why we should not make for our own purposes branches of History in the sense of the
study of the past, being only an intellectually differentiated pieces of the study of the Universe, is
itself an artificial and arbitrary branch of study or science.(p. xi)
This quote should speak to us in a number of different ways. First, the Chrimes edition of the book
was published twenty-five years after it was published in 1914. The impact of science, the need for
the logical study of the past , was to discover and present the truth. There is as Chrimes
presents only one past, but there are many streams that run into that river.
With Chrimes in mind, look at the questions below. Understand that this is not about
experiencing every stream; it is about your logical presentation of your stream. What are the
elements of your stream? Where are rocks and the mild waters? What can say from the solid
ground of that meets the water? And most of all, where does the stream flow? Chrimes is right;
history is the true understanding of the past. Unlike the sciences, we face a foe that we know is
illogical, unpredictable, and as they are dead, unknowable to a degree. From our conflicts with the
past, this course has looked to show you how many historians have abused the past for their own
reasons and personal satisfaction. They often try to impost logic on people who are hardly logical.
See the complexities; confront your biases. Look for the truth and no matter what, present what
you find. You may find that the ground is not so solid and the answer is not so easy and this may
place you in a very different place than where you began in January.
Thus we begin where Paper 2 left us. What the presidential election of 1912 leaves us with
is a question of American identity. Perhaps thesis the fundamental problem throughout American
history (perhaps all history for that matter) and it is time we confront it.
What are we? Capitalist, mixed economy, a democracy, a republic, believers and followers
of a multitude of ideas or basically, fundamentally the same, each of these creates different
responses and sometimes these responses shift, when people are confronted with new and
different circumstances. Parties, factions, alignments shift from one political ideology to another,
moving across the spectrum of political thought. In the end, is there an American or some sense of
American-ness? Do we exist politically different than did the Founders? Are we any less partisan
in our politics than Whigs and their opponents in the 1730s, 1740s, 1750s, or 1760s? If they
believed at times that party was more important than nation, is the history of Democrats and
Republicans any different since 1877 or 1912? [Fundamentally, was French post-modern
philosopher, Michel Foucault, correct when he noted that this is all about power.] So, what are we,
if we continue to be this similar to the past?
When are we? Were any of the Founders in 1776 or 1787 any less interested in the
preservation of freedoms and opportunities established in the past, in jeopardy in their
contemporary world, and fearful of their maintenance in the future? Were members of the
Farmers’ Alliance or the American Federation of Labour any different? How about Taft, Roosevelt,
and Wilson in 1912? Were they seriously conservative reactionaries or proto-fascists? Did they
not see the historical development of problems that existed in the moment and looked for a path to
a different, if not better, future? What then of Roosevelt and the New Deal or, his opponent,
Herbert Hoover, or his critics Huey Long and Father Coughlin? Or, Chief Justice Earl Warren or
Lyndon Johnson, were these men any different in times of facing momentary problems with an eye
on the past and an eye on the future?
Who are we? Are we the nation that set out to secure successfully democracy and
capitalism in Japan and South Korea, and failed to build it in South Vietnam? Did this position
demand that we oppose, first, fascism, second, communism, and finally, the totalitarianism of
China or Iran? [If you believe in the ideas of the Declaration of Independence, then are not people
in Iran created equally and then endowed with life, liberty, and property. Should we help them
resist the totalitarianism of their present state?] If you agree with saving Europe in 1918 and
saving the world in 1945 from fascist German and Italy, and Imperial Japan, should we not confront
governments, such as China and Iran, and those in communion with drug cartels—totalitarian in
their own right? If we believe that all men are created equal, by our Christian duty, should we not
do all that we can to construct freedom. Is this not at one level a very conservative idea and one
that is freedom oriented and does this line of thinking not strike at the very nature of a twenty-first
century notion that all cultural perspectives are valid?
In a post-modern society, what is the matter with Kansas? In 1880, politics, economics,
and social change dictated a shift toward the Farmers’ Alliance and the Populist Party and similar
changes brought these people to the Republican Party in 1980 and 1984. Is there something of an
identity problem here? If all men have consciences, is this any different in 1776 or 1976? As much
as people beyond Kansas may reflect a scientific, personal rights-based social liberalism, many
still hold ethnocultural values and beliefs that are customary? Should Kansans be forced to
change and accept ‘modern’ thinking and practice? Is this not totalitarian? Should the
Constitution, then, be used as a means of furthering one agenda over another? Either yes or no,
how is this different from Thomas Jefferson’s administration or Lincoln’s defence of the Constitution
in 1861? Defending an interpretation of the Constitution is the real cause of the Civil War (this was
our starting point…) and this meant an inherent fight over identity—identity as defined by the
Constitution—and at the heart of it, the realisation that North and South were very identical.
The expansion of the Fourteenth Amendment since Reconstruction is partly to blame for
what is the matter with Kansas. However, the Amendment had help. The growth of the Federal
government, due to the Civil War and Reconstruction until the First World War was joined with the
growth of the state under the New Deal and the Second World War, and then again in the fifty
years after the end of the war. From Brown v. Board of Education to President Clinton’s home
ownership plan, we look to an ever-growing ‘totalitarian’ state. Is there anything that the Federal
government does not touch and when it does, what happens to freedom of choice and freedom to
act independently of the state? For people in Kansas, how does the past connect with the
present? Is this not what the Alliance and the Populists were looking to preserve—the agrarian
state? If nothing else, Taft, Roosevelt, and Wilson agreed, science and technology had brought
American to industrial strength, a return to an agrarian state was unlikely and undesired. Does this
not mean that science and technology, Darwin’s biological evolution, Nietzsche’s creation of the
wilful man, or Freud’s idea of the onward development of civilisation, won?
If the question for eighteenth-century British imperialists was a debate over the role for
colonies—to be producers or consumers as well as producers—have we moved to a world of overt
consumption? You are what you own. Is this not the present crisis? How do we continue to
consume? What happens to production and producers in an age of the drive to consumption?
What does this drive do to traditional values and beliefs? What happens to identity, who and what
we are when the objects which we own define us as opposed to the things we believe and value?
Herbert Hoover New Deal Yalta Brown v Board of Education
Theodore Roosevelt New Freedom Red Scare Carter and Malaise
T. Woodrow Wilson New Nationalism Civil Rights Act National Homeownership
Franklin Roosevelt Volstead Act Roe v Wade Farmaid
New Society McCarthyism VENONA Subprime Crisis, 2008
Ayn Rand Containment
This is sort of a start. Look to each weekly lecture and see what things—people, places,
events—appear. Look at the historians that are mentioned and the documents under investigation.
The lectures are like shovels. Start digging. You have all the room you desire…..
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