Posts Tagged ‘History’

You Got To Watch Out For Those Deer.


Those damn tyrannical, liberty stealing deer acting as Obama’s minions! We simply must organize our militias, and crush these horned seditionists with our Walmart semi automatic weapons!

PETITION: Join over 1,000,000 strong telling Republicans to end their War on Women

More Sordid Tales From Zinn City: Emma Goldman and Mark Twain Speak Out on American Imperialism.

English: Photographic portrait of Emma Goldman...

Image via Wikipedia

Feminist and Anarchist Emma Goldman gives her take on the Spanish-American war, many years afterward:

“How our hearts burned with indignation against the atrocious Spaniards!…. But when the smoke was over, the dead buried, and the cost of the war came back to the people in an increase in the price of commodities and rent- that is, when we sobered up from our patriotic spree-it suddenly dawned on us that the cause of the Spanish-American war was the price of sugar…. that the lives,blood,and money of the American people were used to protect the interests of the American capitalists.”

And this from Mark Twain, circa 1900:

“I bring you the stately matron named Christendom, returning bedraggled,besmirched,and dishonored from pirate raids in Kiao-Chou, Manchuria, South Africa, and the Phillipines, with her soul full of meanness, her pocket full of boodle, and her mouth full of pious hypocrisies.”

With the exception of WWII (and even that war was a golden opportunity to extend our sphere of corporate interest) every single war, “police action”, and military intervention has been about making corporations wealthier while our soldiers kill or be killed under the pathetic guise of patriotism. Only the names and locations of our “enemies” change; the motive remains the same.

Tin foil props to Howard Zinn, and “A People’s History of The United States.”

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A Limerick For John Boehner. (Last One, I Swear)

A man named John is our speaker.
It’s clear he’s a Koch brothers tweeker.
He laps up their cash,
Lets our job market crash.
He wants us all milder and meeker.

A Limerick For Obama.

There once was a man named Obama.
We hoped he would change the Bush trauma.
He forgot all about us,
And caved to Teahadist.
Our country is fucked by this drama!

Poststructuralist/Postmodernist History: LOL, What?

Michel Foucault

Image via Wikipedia

I’m finally coming to the end of my historical theory class, and our mad professor saved the best for last: Poststructural/Postmodern theory. Yikes!

Poststructuralism and Postmodernism carries this tenet when applied to history: History is essentially made up of texts or signs and symbols which make up discourse. Since we the historian can never know the true meaning of these texts, we analyze and draw our conclusions based upon our own bias, which is created by external influences of the present day. Following that line of thinking, we can never present a whole and true version of history, therefore, what we present is myth, or fiction.

Is your mind blown yet? Mine sure as fuck is.

Look at it from this perspective: History is a house to be built. Each historian, or builder, contributes to the construction of the house using their specialized technique and materials. When the last piece is installed, the house is finished. The Poststructialists/Postmodernists say that we can only see one part of the house no matter what angle we view it from, therefore we can never truthfully know that the house is finished. In that sense, the house is constantly subject to revision.

Wow. Just. Wow.

It took me three readings of the text book to even grasp what in the name of Foucault they were talking about. At first I thought Poststructuralist theory was hooey, now I’m starting to think it just may be on to something.

Think about it, me and two other historians are assigned to analyze text from a certain period, and come to our own conclusions. Based on what we know and think, we’re likely to draw three different conclusions, so the analysis can never be 100% accurate. Future historians, based on their external influences and internal bias, may interpret the same texts completely different from the conclusions that we drew. Therefore, our conclusions would be myth and fiction from their perspectives.

Discourse shapes reality:
Poststructuralism/Postmodernism baby! The surreal meets the real.

I love History :)

One more thing: the analysis and interpretation I just provided is based on how discourse in my life has shaped my reality. Therefore, this post can only be perceived as myth or fiction.

Wrap your head around that for a while ;)

Questions From a Worker Who Reads

While studying for my historical theory class during my lunch hour today, I came across this treasure from Bertold Brecht (1898-1956). Brecht was a Marxist poet, playwright, and theatre director, who often used poetry and the theatre to express his political ideology. This poem, written in 1935, is a wonderful example of not only Marxist history, but of People’s history as well. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Without further adieu, I share with you:

Questions From a Worker Who Reads.

Who built Thebes of the 7 gates ?
In the books you will read the names of kings.
Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock ?

And Babylon, many times demolished,
Who raised it up so many times ?

In what houses of gold glittering Lima did its builders live ?
Where, the evening that the Great Wall of China was finished, did the masons go?

Great Rome is full of triumphal arches.
Who erected them ?

Over whom did the Caesars triumph ?
Had Byzantium, much praised in song, only palaces for its inhabitants ?

Even in fabled Atlantis, the night that the ocean engulfed it,
The drowning still cried out for their slaves.

The young Alexander conquered India.
Was he alone ?

Caesar defeated the Gauls.
Did he not even have a cook with him ?

Philip of Spain wept when his armada went down.
Was he the only one to weep ?

Frederick the 2nd won the 7 Years War.
Who else won it ?

Every page a victory.
Who cooked the feast for the victors ?

Every 10 years a great man.
Who paid the bill ?

So many reports.

So many questions.

And The Winner of Pick Your Topic Tuesday Is:

There were some great topics as usual to choose from; my thanks go out to everyone who submitted such wonderful suggestions! As much as I would love to write about toilet paper, I decided that I would just go ahead and make it History week here at BTTFH (sorry Shane). In keeping with my History theme this week, our winner is Tracy at Kansas Mediocrity. His suggestion is that I write about some aspect of the European invasion (not The Beatles) of America, and how it affected the indigenous civilization that lived there.

I will have a 300 word minimum post up no later than Friday evening, giving Tracy full credit for the suggestion, as well as talking a little bit about his very cool blog.

Thanks to everyone who posted suggestions; I hope to see you all here next Tuesday!

Why I Love History

Howard Zinn at Babylonmedia's international an...

Image via Wikipedia

Every now and then, I have to remind myself why I decided to go back to school; I work 50 hours a week, and coupled with the hours I must devote to school, it makes for a very chaotic life for me and my partner! Then, like a refreshing summer rainstorm, I encounter passages such as these two while studying during my lunch break.

From historian Staughton Lynd‘s book, Intellectual Origins of American Radicalism:

“… that the proper foundation for government is a universal law of right and wrong self evident to the intuitive common sense of every man; that freedom is a power of personal self direction which no man can delegate to another; that the purpose of society is not the protection of property but fulfillment of the needs of living human beings; that good citizens have the right and duty, not only to overthrow incurable oppressive governments, but before that point is reached to break particular oppressive laws; and that we owe our ultimate allegiance, not to this or that nation, but to the whole family of man.”

And this from Howard Zinn‘s The Politics of History:

” History cannot provide confirmation that something better is inevitable; but it can uncover evidence that it is conceivable. It can point to moments when human beings cooperated with another (the organization of the underground railroad by black and white, the French Resistance to Hitler, the anarchist achievements in Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War). It can find times when governments were capable of a bit of genuine concern ( the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the free medical care in socialist countries, the equal-wages principle of the Paris Commune). It can disclose men and women acting as heroes rather than culprits or fools (the story of Thoreau or Wendell Phillips or Eugene Debs, or Martin Luther King or Rosa Luxemburg). It can remind us that apparently powerless groups have won against overwhelming odds (the abolitionists and the Thirteenth Amendment, the CIO and the sit down strikes, the Vietminh and the Algerians against the French).”

It’s historians such as Staughton Lynd that have helped guide me to follow this path of becoming a historian at this stage of my life. This is why I write historical posts on this blog relating actions of the historically oppressed. It’s to put you and myself into the shoes of those who were and are oppressed, and deliver the message that although change may not be inevitable, it is possible. I read and write in this manner to understand stereotype and oppression, and to help overcome the complacency that slows human progress concerning human rights.

Call me radical, call me a bleeding heart, call me a lib-tard. I don’t care. I’m proud of those monikers; I proudly wear them on my chest as badges of compassion and human dignity. I may never be a Zinn or Lynd, but it doesn’t matter. It is my passion, as well as my duty to follow in their giant footsteps.

I am Tin Foil Hat Man, and I am a radical historian. I can never be anything else.

Annales This!

I am so entrenched in my Historical Theory class, that I still can’t come up with anything to write about other than theory itself. Since misery loves company, I’m going to share a little of what I’ve read today.

Today, I read about Annales, a French method of history which focuses less on major events, and leans more to analyzing the social history of cultural practices. Co-founded in 1929 by historians Lucien Febvre and Marc Bloch, Annales tends to focus on the social scientific view of Premodern History. Annales theory was developed as a counter to the popular French historian method of only focusing on economic and political events during the rise of industrialism

Annalistes tend to focus on historical patterns that are identified from social,economic, and cultural history statistics, as well as medical reports, family studies, and psychoanalysis. They focus on geographical, historical, and sociological effects of particular cultures in particular regions. Annales historians also tend to focus on the tendencies of a culture as they develop over long periods of time. During the 1970’s, Annales was expanded to group mentality of particular cultures as well, although that course of analysis has seemingly died off in the last couple of decades.

French born, Annales theory has become popular in Europe and South America. In North America and Britain, it is largely ignored for more fact and class struggle driven approaches such as Empirical, Marxist, and Post Modernism.

There you go; you now know what I’ve learned about Annales theory. Don’t you feel enriched? I certainly do… As well as a little drowsy :)


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