The day after the elections, I had this exchange with a friend and former colleague:
friend (9:21:07 AM): So, with all of the election mayhem, I keep hearing the phrase “All politics is local.” Well, if all politics is local, then why do we need a federal government?
bk (9:21:18 AM): funny
friend (9:21:49 AM): I would argue that “politics” is *so* local, we shouldn’t have any government at all.
bk (9:22:19 AM): I don’t think I can help you on that one. Unless you want to know more about the history of the centralization of government.
friend (9:22:53 AM): Ideally, I should know more about the history of government in general.
Well, Gary North’s article on LRC today, “Teaching American History,” is really great on this issue, and I highly recommend it.
FROM REPUBLIC TO EMPIRE
I would deal with the post-1765 era in two parts: the creation of a national republic and its evolution into an empire. This of course would guarantee a commercial failure. The public school establishment will not consider the word “empire” in relation to the United States, except as something America battles internationally. The Christian school establishment agrees entirely with the public school establishment on this issue.
It is the central political issue, and both establishments get it wrong. Self-realization is the most expensive realization of all.
So, being a marketer, I would follow the example of state-history textbook author William Marina. I would use the word “centralization” in place of “empire.”
It’s great for me in another way, as well, because my current after-hours obsession is my son’s homeschooling in history. Yes, I know we have at least another 5 years to worry about it, but my impression is that the task is monumental.
With every other subject, so far, I’ve gotten the sense that there’s good homeschooling material already commercially available, but history seems to be uniformly bad.
Gary North recommends www.RobinsonCurriculum.com. I sent North this query:
Looking over his reading list, I started to wonder if Dr. Robinson’s curriculum doesn’t have a particular Hamiltonian (nationalist, imperialist) bias:
The Life of George Washington by Josephine Pollard
Our Hero General Grant by Josephine Pollard
Four Naval Heroes by Mabel H. Beebe
Boy Knight: A Tale of the Crusades by G.A. Henty (which I’ve begun to read and am enjoying, but Henty was a famous British imperialist)
Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant by Ulysses S Grant
Life of Washington by Washington Irving
Diaries of George Washington by George Washington
Life of Lincoln by L. P. Brockett
The Soldier in Our Civil War by Frank Leslie
The Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt
Memoirs of William Tecumseh Sherman
My African Journey by Winston Churchill
The World Crisis by Winston Churchill
Lincoln’s Speeches and Letters by Abraham Lincoln
Fifty Years in the Royal Navy by Admiral Sir Percy Scott
I realize that a history student needs to know the Establishment version before he can really grasp historical revisionism, but I’m not confident that’s the approach that this curriculum has in mind.
There is no such thing as a curriculum without this bias. There never has been. The winners write the textbooks.
I forwarded that exchange to a history professor I know who also plans to homeschool his kids. He replied:
One thing I know for sure is that no matter how good a homeschool program is, I’m not making my kids waste their time and warp their brains by reading volume after volume of TR/Churchill ideology.
A decade from now, there will be at least a few Austro-libertarians homeschooling: Bob Murphy, Stephen Carson, Tom Woods …
I’m hoping we’ve come up with some good materials by then.