From the WhatIfAltHist Youtube Channel
I recently finished American Republics by Alan Taylor and liked it quite a bit – some random disjointed thoughts
- America is optimized for grand irony and strives for it at all times
- The whole notion of states rights, and that people saw themselves as citizens of individual states is quite true but incomplete – during the early American days there was no “American” identity with which to identify – it would be like identifying as a member of NATO
- John Marshall was much more influential than one would think in the long term
- American did not have priorities as much as it had an agenda of “Let’s support whatever the settlers are already doing and act like it’s our idea”
- There was much, much more European involvement in North America than I would have thought, or knew about
- It was mostly a record of American public crime and barbarism, which is fine, the shoe fits, but it does leave out anything that could be labeled “good” or “neutral” – it barely discusses any sort of technology or anything that happened in the free states, or immigrants
- The whole notion of defensive imperialism makes more sense now – it’s similar to Russian imperialism over time in some ways
- The whole notion of States Rights is truer than I would have thought, but slavery was built way into the fabric of society to about the same degree that I thought too (very, very built in) – the two notions are an odd sort of separate, but related in practice
- Andrew Jackson (and Polk) were more thorough bastards than I would have thought possible
- Settlers led, and the government followed
- Anti-British sentiment loomed larger than I would have thought
- Being informed about the relative populations put a lot of things into focus
- The fear of slave revolts (which never really happened at all) was a driving force behind a lot of things
He has a very interesting article on the War of the Triple Alliance. RTWT.
I’ve made them non-political, strictly symbolic. They are
- The national anthem shall be changed to America the Beautiful; an accessible song with a solid melody and natural meter; and the Star Spangled Banner will be consigned to history, where it will be of much interest to our eventual tone-deaf robot overlords
- Daylight Savings Time shall be abolished. Trying to fool the sun sets a bad example for children and weakens our moral fiber
- Calvin Coolidge shall be worked into Presidents Day somehow. We’re long overdue for rewarding people who do their job quietly, with no drama
- We shall come up with a simple way to properly fold the US Flag that does not require two people
What would y’all do?
- Lincoln and the Jews – from the Federation of American Scientists
- The Solitude of Alexander Selkirk – the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe
- Two from Charlie Rose, specifically this interview with Petraus’ main counter insurgency adviser David Kilcullenm and also with Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater.
I got this from Megan McArdle, it’s the Civic Literacy Quiz!
I scored 57 out of 60 correctly — 95.00 %!
How about y’all?
PurpleSlog has an interesting thought experiment of What Five Places/Events Would You Visit With A Time Machine? They are
- Israel at the start of Christianity (the same as PurpleSlogs)
- The Kennedy Assassination – I’m partial to the Oswald acted alone theory, but it would be nice to know for sure.
- The Russian revolution
- The writing of the US Declaration of Independence and Constitution
- The White House with Lincoln during the Civil War
I was listening to this diavlog recently and one of the participants (Daniel Deudney) remarked that the Wilsonian “Make the world safe for democracy” mantra of World War I was not so much referring to bringing democracy to monarchic parts of the world so much as making the world non-threatening enough so that America could maintain it’s non-militaristic way of life and avoid becoming a “Garrison State”.
I haven’t thought about it for a while, but several years ago I thought that was the strongest argument for the Iraq war. Not sufficient on it’s own, but a good reason. The threat in WWI was European militarism; now it’s “The Gap” but the example still holds. The term “Garrison State” is a useful one to describe a militarized police state.