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April 17, 2016

Staughton Lynd's Intellectual Origins of American Radicalism(1968) is a fantastic exploration of the ideological offshoots and effects of the Enlightenment in the United States, which all students of intellectual history should read. I took some notes on it here. But I'll also post them below:

The book begins with thoughtful philosophical analyses that set the Declaration of...

January 13, 2015

Here’s a (somewhat oversimplified) one-sentence summary of the origins, trajectory, and outcome of the American Revolution: it “ended in reaction as the Founding Fathers used race, nation, and citizenship to discipline, divide, and exclude the very sailors and slaves who had initiated and propelled the revolutionary movement.” In general, mutatis mutandis, that’s how re...

January 10, 2015

Notes on a classic.— Charles Beard’s Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (1913) is still worth reading, a hundred years later. He quotes E. R. A. Seligman’s formulation of “the economic interpretation of history” and calls it “as nearly axiomatic as any proposition in social science can be.” As Seligman says, “The existence of man depends upon his abi...

December 17, 2014

In the footnotes to chapter 6 of Chomsky’s Understanding Power are these illuminating remarks: “[Thomas] Jefferson did not support capitalism; he supported independent production… The fundamental Jeffersonian proposition is that ‘widespread poverty and concentrated wealth cannot exist side by side in a democracy.’ This proposition is dismissed by liberals making peace with the ri...

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