A. Political pragmatism is a mask behind which hide despair and contempt.
B. Just as those pretending to try to stop the climate from changing are the real climate change deniers(1), those most likely to scoff at the idea of American Exceptionalism seem most likely to believe that, when it comes to tyranny, America is not like other nations. Unlike every other democracy in history, America isn’t and can’t be slipping into tyranny. We don’t need to worry about demagogues, unless those demagogues are on the Wrong Side of History(tm). The examples of the French, Russian and Chinese revolutions, and the fall of Germany and Italy to Fascism don’t need to concern us, again, as long as we’re on the right team.
If I accept that America is not exceptional in the sense of being immune to all the forces that have ended so many other nations and governments in tragedy, and so anticipate its fall and talk and prepare for it as an inevitability, I will be labeled a nut and told I am ignorant and unenlightened. Thus, Orwell rears his head: knowing history is ignorance; shining the light of human experience on the events of today is benighted.
C. For next year, I am planning to set aside all other reading materials and muscle through 2 or 3 feet of bookshelf now occupied by the various Education books I’ve been accumulating. I will finish Mission: Tomorrow (and review Mike Flynn’s story, at least!) and Somewhither (a book that is not really to my taste, but fun anyway), then it’s works by and about the great Catholic educators, and their tenebrous and sinister counterparts in American education history.
D. This is so I can write a book, the only book I probably have any business writing: a critique of Catholic education in America, how bad it has really gotten under the influence of the secular anti-Catholic education establishment, and what to do about it. Perhaps this book exists – I have not come across it. If so, I will be freed; if not, I sense a grim duty to write the damn thing.
E. On that note, two of the biggest holes in my knowledge of education history are 1) a blow-by-blow account of what really went down when the NYC Catholic schools compromised with the state education establishment so that, for a while, Catholic schools were publicly funded. What were the conditions of the compromise? Was adoption of the graded classroom model part of it? And 2) a good source for what academic life was like in medieval universities. Anyone got anything here?
F. Finally, I am not posting a picture of our cat enthroned on the keyboard of my home computer, because we don’t do that sort of thing here on this blog, but his insistence on being so enthroned is at least one small contributing factor to the scarcity of post these days.
- The climate changes. Always has, always will. We are now, by any reasonable geological perspective, in an inherently unstable position, climate-wise: current conditions have prevailed for some tiny fraction of the last 60 million years – under 1% of the time has there been comparatively small icecaps with temperatures and ocean levels where they are now. Mostly, it’s been warmer, with sea levels about 100′ higher than they are now, or, for about the last 3.5 million years, there have been massive ice sheets and sea levels 300 lower than they are now for all but about 200,000 years, tops. Stopping climate change so as to maintain current conditions would be balancing a feather on a knife point. To ‘believe’ in climate change is to believe those efforts will fail of necessity.