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INTERMITTENT NOTESXML

The (untold) Untold History of the United States

Untold History coverOliver Stone has a new book out, co-authored with Peter Kuznick. There's a television series that accompanies the book, or perhaps it's the other way around. The book has cover blurbs from Mikhail Gorbachev, Douglas Brinkley, Daniel Ellsberg, and Bill Maher. Also Martin Sherwin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author I've never heard of, who writes, "Kuznick and Stone's Untold History is the most important historical narrative of this century." Wow! And it's a big book, clocking in at 615 pages of text, with an additional 135 pages of end material. Even so, Chapter 1 starts with World War I, thus leaving out quite a long stretch of events. A prequel may be called for.

After physically weighing the book and flipping through a few pages the first thing I did was to check the index for the word "constitution." It shows up as "Constitution, U.S." with 8 page references. I checked them all but they're rather anodyne or pedestrian or unexceptional; the word "constitution," statistically, had to show up somewhere in such a long book about U.S. history; most likely a computer algorithm flagged the word as index worthy. To Stone and Kuznick the possibility seems to be completely unknown that the U.S. Constitution might contain within it, like the Rosetta Stone, a fundamental explanation for America's war-making tendencies.

The U.S. Constitution, of course, contains within its dynamic structure fundamental explanations for almost all of America's problems but those explanations, as in the Stone and Kuznick example, go unnoticed by 99.99% of people who try to write about American history and politics. Moreover, among the few who do notice, the number are vanishingly small who think that to correct our problems the constitution might be changed.

To my surprise this is mostly true even in the somewhat specialized legal field of comparative constitutional law. After a reasonably thorough web search I think it is fair to suppose that no book, book chapter, or law review article exists that defines categories of constitutional procedures and then compares, contrasts and assesses overall U.S. constitutional performance with that of another country or countries. Or, if any such work does exist, it is so obscure that nobody cites it. Yes, you can find articles comparing the U.S. Electoral College with presidential selection mechanisms in Lebanon, or Germany, or discussions of the origins of the idea of separation of powers, etc., etc., but virtually nothing original of importance deals with the big picture. That, in turn, makes it very difficult for anyone who writes, as it were, in the secondary market, to develop insights regarding our fundamental constitutional flaws.

Difficult, but not impossible, since a political understanding of the law is not by nature or Act of God restricted to law schools, diverse hoity-toity academic departments or other establishmentarian gate keepers.

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Comments


First thing that popped for me was, what's wrong with Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States?


Why not try this one;

The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History

It is written by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

[From the Libertarian point of view. g.]


"what's wrong with Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States?"

Zinn's perspective has positive elements but it did help spawn the diverse hoity-toity academic gatekeepers that George referred to. The end result has been academically-fostered ethnic and gender sectarianism. Whatever historical wrongs it may have helped alleviate, it has long since been recuperated by the ruling system (no ruling system gives tenure to its dedicated enemies...) as a tool to keep the American populace divided and distracted.

"The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History

It is written by Thomas E. Woods, Jr."

Once again, libertarians are right on some things but they persist with this strange idea that one can abolish politics by abolishing government. One cannot build a mass movement based on individual autonomy, it is a contradiction in terms. Furthermore, most people will follow the lead of others regarding most decisions in their lives. That is not a reproach, it is simply sociological reality. Once you have leaders and lead, then you have politics and thereby you will have government, formally or informally.

Both the New Left and the Libertarians have made important intellectual contributions and both have long since become trapped by their own internal contradictions. No point spinning one's tires any further, take what is correct from each and overcome the rest.

[Thanks, Jonathan! g.]


No point spinning one's tires any further, take what is correct from each and overcome the rest.
~~~~~~~~~~
Agree; and that's what I do. I get it where ever I can find it.
Thanks for the Woods reference. Cheers.

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