Tuesday, September 17, 2013
A Framework for History
My daughter’s High School history class. Her teacher is using an essay by Ian Johnson as an introduction to Western Civilization, to frame her students’ understanding of history. I wrote her some advice after reading the paper.
"Beyond all that, of course, wherever liberal capitalism moves, we need to remember Marx's analysis of how capitalism in the long run generates increasingly unstable and unequal economic conditions, so that it will eventually provoke a forceful redistribution of wealth and the development of a different economic system, either within capitalist countries themselves or world wide. As the gap between the rich and poor within the capitalist system continues to increase, with environmental disasters looming in many parts of the world, we have no reason to be complacent that the economic system which is apparently so triumphant at the moment will necessarily remain so."
Basically a socialist, and a wanna-be communist. As I once was. Like Marx, his view of history is overly simplified as he tries to paint a picture of good and evil in the world centered around primarily breaking down ideas supporting current economic and political realities. The promise therein is a utopian state. A pipe dream that does not exist but for which over the years many have sacrificed many a decent government, family, and church. Beware of such thinking, because it is naturally attractive in providing solutions to problems it purposely sets up in overly simplistic terms. A way of thinking commonly found in educational circles and espoused by professors. Don't pander too much to them. Be respectful but you are allowed to respectfully disagree.
It is sad that your teacher is espousing a Marxist approach to frame your study of the history of Western Civilization. Especially that the espousal of Marxism as a political framework nearly lead to the annihilation of Western Civilization within the last 50 years. Beware the one who claims open-mindedness but requires a certain religious set of glasses through which to view the world. In this case the religion is Liberalism/Socialism. Do not let this framework detract from objective learning and interpreting of facts and episodes in history. For to only use history as bricks to build a pre-planned house is to miss the many lessons that history can teach. Besides which the house may be quite on shaky ground.
Have a look: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marxism Note that if you are going to be in this class, you are going to have to work extra hard to learn truth. However, it can be done. But your grade may slip as you spend time reading a wider range of insights rather than succumbing to mind-numbing. The world-view that Johnston is teaching (and apparently your teacher as well) is truly so, and it interferes greatly with a clear thinking about history and many other areas of life and study.