Jul 25

Conceptualizing the idea of race as a discourse

Abstract: In this paper I look at the literal and extended meanings of discourse, and at how it can be at once a tool or model that describes, defines, and delineates narrative, and the narrative itself. I look at how that process has presented historically when the topic is race, where a predominantly pathologizing discourse has led us, and what influences are at play in choosing our direction forward. Underlying is the story of an academic coming of age, Cultural Anthropology’s. Having freed us from colonial bionarratives only to abandon us, celebrating our newfound ethnicities, submersed in a whitewash of suppressed but self-perpetuating race-isms, many within the discipline urge greater responsibility for the ways their science is used. I conclude it requires persistent activism in concert with a clear concept of race as a discourse to achieve a post-race society.

Of all the definitions of discourse available on the Internet (e.g., at Google.ca; type definition:discourse) the one I find most helpful is on a list of rhetorical terms one can download in Word format here

Dis • course
spoken or written language, including literary works; the four traditionally classified modes of discourse are description, exposition, narration, and persuasion.

WikiPedia has a reasonably comprehensive discussion of conceptualize [redirects to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concept] and what concept has meant to philosophers Plato, Locke, Kant and to contemporary cognitive theorists such as Fauconnier and Turner. According to this account concepts are mental representations or they are abstract objects… or both. According to Deleuze and Guattari’s What Is Philosophy?, philosophy is the “discipline that involves creating concepts” (1994, p. 5). My task as I see it then is to describe the “Idea of Race,” expose its origins and effects, listen to and translate its narration, determine the direction and depth of its persuasion, and bring all that together, using imagery and metaphor, to create an idea of who, what, where, when, how, and why race has described, exposed, narrated to and persuaded us all. Such a discourse will inform where we are, how we got here — and where we can go from here.

Where we are

Faye Harrison (1998, p. 609) locates us in an age of globalisation characterised by a technologically enhanced compression of time and space, and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a mighty few. We have for several generations spoken incessantly and obsessively of sex (Foucault, 1990) and yet within the most recent decades anthropologists have depreciated race, even undertaken a concerted effort to deprecate, disguise, and deny it (Harrison, 1998; Smedley, 1998; Wolf, 1994); racism, however, is not so easily subdued (Goldberg, 1993; Harrison, 1998; Smedley, 1998). It is surreptitious and persistent, with an “ability to reinvent itself in new postcolonial and postmodern forms” (Harrison, 1998, p. 609). As we shall see again in the next section, anthropology owes much of its existence and early growth to the endeavour to establish race as scientific fact (Banton, 2000; Goldberg 1993), and later attempted to undo some of the social and cultural damage enabled by the racializations this premise empowered. Even as society declared itself enlightened and professed to rid itself of racist dogma, race-based discrimination — power allocation with a multitude of restrictions on access and privilege, predicated on categories or hierarchies of physical and biological characteristics, for example skin colour, lips, hair, sexual organs (Gilman,1985) or origin and ethnocultural proximity — endured. The record of anthropology itself bears witness to this complex play between overt and covert racializations, as Fluehr-Lobban (2000) attests in but one example: the case of Anténor Firmin, a Haitian-born scholar educated in colonial Haiti, published in France, a presage of Boas — who remains widely unknown and under-celebrated to this day, due at least in part to his skin colour and ethnic origins; “[Firmin] awaits his reclamation as an early anthropologist” (451).

These colonialist juxtapositions of power and influence are not things of the past. Morbey and Granger (2002, p. 2; also Marchart, 1998) call to light “Two particular ideological viewpoints, among others, are dominant players in colonizing roles: the “American New Frontier” notion, deployed in narratives of cyberspace and standing in the tradition of one of the American founding myths of conquering new geographic spaces, and Japanese ”techno-colonialism”, a technical inter-discourse consisting mainly of “oriental” consumer technologies and objects.”

Many in the social sciences and liberal arts feel a social responsibility and an obligation to address all this (Harrison, 1998, p. 612). Thus we have come to “a moment when anthropologists’ interest in race and racism has been revitalized” (2005, p. 1). It is also a moment when we are poised either to repeat or reject in the cyberworld the mistakes and transgressions of global coloniaism.

How did we get here?

Human beings have not always paid much attention to physical and biological differences, nor based so many social privileges and restrictions on them (Smedley, 1998; Banton, 2000). Deployments of affiliations (Foucault, 1990, p. 106) and relationships to power have always been present, but the ancients tended to rely on kinship and lineage, language and geographical proximity (Wolf, 1994, p. 2) to establish and reinforce these. The practice of expanding territories and subjugating existing occupants necessitated justifying the atrocities of war and later the needs of industry, and explaining the right of one group to dominate another. The Greeks and Romans facilitated this by dividing the peoples of the world into civilized, barbarian and monstrous; Christianity transmuted this inherited trichotomy into faithful, redeemable, and unredeemable (1994, p. 3). Up to this point though, many avenues existed for persons to change stations, including intermarriage and advancement by demonstration of merit. Two discourses emerged to compete for the role of lodestone to the moral compass of the dominant groups (Sanjek, 1994): a) humans share common ancestry and are therefore of equal worth and potential, so may claim equal rights and access to privilege or b) the human species was split into subspecies (“races”) by irreversible physical and biological facts that led ultimately, both by evocations of divine authority and by (pseudo-) scientific reasoning, to the conclusion that one was superior and given the often “divine” role of dominance over the rest (Smedley, 1998; Banton, 2000).

Skin colour was not the first consideration. Harrison (1998, p. 617) highlights Orser and Smedley as just two scholars who have pointed out how “racial Othering” of the Irish by the English narrated those two people’s relationship during the centuries that corresponded roughly with the Age of Discovery (a.k.a. Exploration… or Conquest) and the rise of Imperialism (modern day Colonialism). Lengel (1996) points out that the dichotomous debate I alluded to above, which Banton (2000, p. 53) denotes as polygenist vs. monogenist, was in full swing in mid-19th century Ireland, and quite overt. The monogenist Liberals dominated policy and popular press up to the Great Famine; polygenist essentialists abetted by Robert Knox (1850) and medical science (which as Foucault (1990) has shown was wholly enthralled with pathologism) dominated post-famine. Yet in the closing sentences of his essay Lengel also states, quite emphatically, that it made no difference which narrative one preferred: the English persuaded themselves that the Irish were incorrigibly savage.

It is worth emphasizing in any case that Liberals and racialists agreed on the basic qualities of Saxon and Celt; but while Liberals explained this difference in a gendered discourse of moral inequality, racialists insisted that the ineradicable boundaries of biology would forever separate the two peoples. In both instances, Britain would forever be the master and Ireland the subject. Lengel (1996)

The English reduced humanity to a binary of civilized vs. savage (Harrison, 1998, p. 621), which they exported to the New World where a concurrent narrative of difference in physical features in general, and skin colour in particular, easily transformed into white vs. black (Smedley, 1998). The pathology of Knox and the racialists[1] asserted the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon (not simply “white”) race. Indeed, even the Irish could find partial redemption when they emigrated to a place where there were ample black Africans who appeared even less human than they. Even so, Irish-American “whiteness” was not obtained without a long fight. In 1851 the English satirical magazine Punch referred to the Irish as “A creature manifestly between the Gorilla and the Negro.” (Orser, 1998, p. 665). The election of an Irish Catholic president a full century later was considered nearly as remarkable as that of an African American in 2008[2].

Thus “…racism preceded ‘races’: the ‘master race’ was created to make logical and natural its domination over the rest” (Delacourt, 2005). Race was developed as “…a way to rationalize the conquest and brutal treatment of Native American populations and especially the retention and perpetuation of slavery for imported Africans” (Smedley, 1998, p. 694). It was designed and tailored, using a warehouse of interchangeable and complimentary fabrics and patterns, to dress the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant ethnocultural group for success — and privilege and dominance.

Where do we go from here?

I’ve described a concept of race that is malleable. Race can mean different things to different cultures, or in different regions, or in the same cultures and regions at different points in time. The idea of race is contextual. It exposes power relationships, and is utilized to establish and control them. It often explains how people of different groups interact and “get along.” Yet there is a second aspect of the narrative I have thus far neglected to point out in detail, the aspect Audrey Smedley refers to as “the problem of how individuals and groups perceive who they are—the problem of ‘identity'” (1998, p. 691). The 20th century has witnessed increased emphasis on the concept of ethnicity, which, although it draws from the long tradition of regional, linguistic and kinship based systems that are described and exposed by the concepts of culture and acculturation, expands the narrative to reveal the ways in which groups identify and construct identity for themselves. This seems to present new ways for scholars to discuss the important aspects of societies and their internal and external relationships, ways that may avoid the racialized terminology that now seems so ugly and power/privilege-driven in an age of globalisation. Jumping to such a conclusion ignores the fact that the power relationships still exist, and are no doubt amplified by the same factors that compress time and space and increase the capacity for cross-cultural multiethnic interaction. The higher emphasis on kinship, for example, when coupled with the celebration of common origin inherent in identity construction often leads to nationalistic sentiments presenting consequences far beyond the original self-venerating motives (Wolf, 1994, pp. 5-7).

There is general agreement in the literature that the politics of power has regularly appropriated, and often usurped the science of anthropology in order to construct artificial categories it then turns to explaining and justifying its own actions and intentions. The basic human curiosity and inherent interdisciplinary connectedness that so often fosters a scholarly interest in anthropology[3] comes with a conscience, as evidenced by anthropologists’ well-documented efforts to fight back against the most nefarious ways in which their work is misused. But power is omnipresent and oblivious to truth, thus many writers are recognizing the need for their discipline to take and active stance and a purposeful role in shaping the globalized multiethnic, multicultural society of the near future.


A conceptualization of “race” as a discourse must somehow convey the absence of any real scientific basis or meaning of the word itself, while exposing and undressing the elaborate stitching, the warp, woof and weft of the effects of racializations—the insidious racism—that persist in the minds, institutions, and actions of folk everywhere. From Firmin and Boas to Smedley, Wolf, Sanjek, Goldberg, and Banton we hear an underlying plea to the obligation of the discipline to go beyond conceptualization of a discourse towards an efficacious and effectual effort to influence the unfolding of future interactions. A post-race discourse must narrate the construction of self-affirming identities and yet persuade the affirmed of the benignancy of others’ self-affirmations, the benevolence of affirmation of the Other.

Conceptualizing & illustrating race as discourse



Banton, M. (2000) The Idiom of Race: A critique of presentism. In Back and Solomos (Eds.) Theories of Race and Racism: A Reader. London: Routledge.

Delacourt, J. (2005) Weaving Identities: Refugees, Immigrants, and Local People in a European World of Differences. In Harrison (2005) 191-208.

Fluehr-Lobban, C. (2000) Anténor Firmin: Haitian Pioneer of Anthropology. American Anthropologist 102(3), pp. 449-466.

Foucault, M. (1990) The History of Sexuality Vol. 1: An Introduction New York: Vintage.

Gilman, Sander L. (1985) Black Bodies, White Bodies: Toward an Iconography of Female Sexuality in Late Nineteenth-Century Art, Medicine, and Literature. Critical Inquiry, 12(1) “Race,” Writing, and Difference, 204-242.

Goldberg, David T. (1993) Racial Knowledge. In Racist Culture, Philosophy and the Power of Meaning. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

Grant, James (1844) Impressions of Ireland and the Irish. 2 volumes (London: Hugh Cunningham), 2, pp. 186-191.

Harrison, Faye V. (1998) Introduction: Expanding the Discourse on “Race” American Anthropologist 100(3), pp. 609-631.

Harrison, Faye V. (2005) Introduction: Global Perspectives… In Resisting Racism and Xenophobia: Global Perspectives on Race, Gender, and Human Rights. 1-34. Toronto: Altamira Press.

Knox, Robert (1850) The Races of Man. London: Renshaw

Lengel, E. (1996) A “Perverse and Ill-Fated People”: English Perceptions of the Irish, 1845-52 Essays in History [On-line serial], 38. Available: http://esoterictexts07.tripod.com/Irish.BritishPerception1800.htm Retrieved: 2013-07-15.

Marchart, O. (1998). The east, the west and the rest: Central and eastern Europe between techno-orientalism and the new electronic frontier. Convergence: The Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 4(2), 56-75.

Morbey, Mary Leigh and Granger, Colette A. (2002) Cybercolonialism in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia: Does it Matter? Available: http://www.yorku.ca/irlt/reports/2002CybercolonialismSHM.pdf Retrieved: 2008-11-11

Orser, Charles E. (1998) The Challenge of Race to American Historical Archaeology. American Anthropologist 100(3), pp. 661-668.

Sanjek, R. (1994) The Enduring Inequalities of Race.

Smedley, Audrey (1998) “Race” and the Construction of Human Identity American Anthropologist 100(3), pp. 690-702.

Wolf, Eric R. (1994) Perilous Ideas: Race, Culture, People. Current Anthropology 35(1) 1-12.

Jul 25

Conceptualizing and illustrating the idea of race as a discourse

Abstract: In this paper I continue looking at “race” as a discourse, how that discourse describes, defines, and delineates narratives of race and the narratives themselves. I look more closely at how this discourse permeates the iconography of our culture, and how it presents around ideologies and such notions as identity, agency, and normalcy. Any discourse develops a grammar that helps shape and reinforce the narrative. Yet the discourse of race is unparalleled, save perhaps by that of sexuality, in its ability to partition power and privilege.

As Robert J. C. Young states so clearly, “…Foucault’s notion of discourse offered an alternative way of thinking about the operations of ideology, both as a form of consciousness and as a lived material practice. The result is a more robust and comprehensive understanding than previously offered by, for example, Marx’s elevation of mainly economic factors” (1995, p. 159). The basic techniques, Young explains, include analysing literary texts, travel logs, memoirs, academic and other writings produced by a subject group during a period of interest. An important goal is to determine “what could be said and what recognized as truth” among these subjects of culture and history (pp. 159-60).

There’s a certain obviousness to the idea of divining the “operations of ideology” from the idioms of the operators, yet it is of course not without implications and potential pitfalls. With discourse and discursive analyses these can manifest in both philosophical and linguistic terms. Before I attend to these it may prove fruitful to provide some illustrations of how conceptualizations of discourse casts both light and shadow upon such understandings.

Popular iconography

Sander L. Gilman (1985) is ideally illustrative—he analyses illustrations; his iconography, “Black Bodies, White bodies…” exposes the imagery or symbolism of a body of art specific to the late 19th century1. Gilman establishes the fact and power of myth within the “overlapping and intertwined systems of conventions” held by classes or groups (p. 224). He draws linkages between the conventions of aesthetics and those of medicine to relate how the latter’s elevation to the status of science extended the implicit authority of that status, discursively, onto works of art (Goldberg, 1993). Discussing the obsession with pathology, in particular a pathology of sexuality, that drove 19th century medical discourse Gilman demonstrates how the Hottentot female came to represent all black women, and how black women and prostitutes came to represent all sexualized females. This manifests throughout the artwork of the period (Gilman, 1985, pp. 223-8) but is perhaps most eloquently revealed in the Hottentot-esque derrière of Manet’s 1877 Nana and Picasso’s 1905 parody on Manet’s 1863 Olympia, in which a naked black Olympia is offered fruit by two naked men (p. 253).

In a more recent iconography of a particular period of cinema, known as the peplum or “sword and sandal” period, Richard Dyer distils “…characteristics applicable to all muscleman films and even to most constructions of white masculinity” (1997, p. 289, emphasis mine). Dyer develops two constructs within his conceptualization of the cinematic discourse—body image and colonial narrativity—and then applies them to “other images of white men.” The continuity of discourses within a culture is implicit in his comparison of peplum hero Maciste in a particular scene to the painting of Adam by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. Dyer even comments that this particular icon would be all the more recognizable to the Italian movie consumer (p. 292). This same concept of discursive continuity becomes explicit in the long discussion of Mussolini and Fascism. Mussolini understood and utilized well the power of physique, spectacle—and whiteness—that the producers of sword and sandal cinema mirrored and emulated (pp. 294-9). The specificity of ‘race’ as a discourse is exemplified throughout Dyer’s discussion but is perhaps most tellingly revealed in the perpetual casting of whites in lead roles and blacks as primitives “possessed of a slave mentality:” in various plot lines the white lead actor eschews slavery only to see the blacks in supporting roles choose subaltern positions anyway (p. 307). The discourse maintains, and more importantly sustains the idiom that this hierarchy is not man made but results from the natural order.

The “embedding of transforming racialized distinctions into the ordinary processes, categories and outcomes of reasoning, into Reason itself” become “conceptions of what sorts of behavior morality requires… who is capable of moral action and who is subjected to it, who is capable of moral autonomy and who should be directed,” examples of “conceptualizing the logics of racializing discourse and racist expression” (Goldberg, 1993, p. 148). David Goldberg illustrates how such conceptualizations fuel processes that extend themselves subtly or surreptitiously into the formalized knowledges production—or reproduction—that form our academic discourse: one of the pitfalls of discursive analysis I mentioned above (p. 148). Texts of analysis are no less “framed” in the racialized experience than the subjects they attempt to analyze. Another set of texts populates the domain of racist discourse; Goldberg calls these “expressive” (1990, p. 297). The forms of expression, as we have partly seen, include the scientific, economic, bureaucratic and linguistic, among others, a discursive formation that “consists of a totality of ordered relations and correlations…” (p. 297). Goldberg (1990) makes special note of the linguistic nature of the field of racist discourse by devoting a bold titled section to the grammar of racist discourse. By pointing out how racist discourse informs and infects many others, for but two examples the discourses of colonialism and of sexuality (Foucault, 1990; Stoler, 1995; 2002), Goldberg calls attention to a certain uniqueness of this particular discourse: it can not be so easily unified as it “does not consist simply in descriptive representations of others.” There is no “singular trans-historical stylistic or normative pattern” to racist expression. “The grammar of racist discourse assumes coherence and uniqueness only when compared from the vantage point of the discourse as a whole with another discursive field” (1990, p. 300).

The linguistic nature of any discourse contains obstacles besides the necessity to identify a coherent grammar and syntax. The very vocabulary itself can be suspect. Precise language can illuminate and clarify, such as when Daniel Yon (1999) speaks of the importance of understanding “difference between and difference within” (p. 625, emphasis mine) or even more pertinently reports that “students contest both the “black” and “community” in notions of ‘The Black Community'” (p. 626). Similarly Morris (2005/07), referring to Thesen (1997), spotlights “the way much discourse analyses neglect individual agency and ignore how identities are shaped by practices of labelling and relabelling. […] Language alone is not sufficient for accounting for human experience, nor are subjects merely an effect of discourse” (Morris, 2005/07, pp. 138-9). Beckett and Hager (2002), citing Barbara J. Thayer-Bacon, have the following observation and resulting advise:

Language affects how we view the world, and how we make sense of the experiences we have. But it is also true that much of what we experience remains unnamed, and cannot be reduced to its articulated meanings. I urge people to be receptive and attentive to the inarticulate too, not just what is named (Thayer-Bacon, cited in Beckett and Hager, 2002, p. 167).

Makonde sculpture

Fig. 2.
Makonde sculpture, Mozambique

photo P. Deramaix “…it recalls the community of the village, clan was supported by the patriarch and overcome by the mother”

To understand how language itself, and all the cultural constructs that accompany language—idiom, metaphor, double entendre, “wax and gold2“—frames every conversation and influences understanding one need only consider the familiar predicament of attempting to tell certain jokes to someone who grew up speaking another language. Certain things don’t translate, and when translated their meanings may change… and when their meanings change neither party may know or recognize the extent or direction of the miscommunication. Perhaps, as Robert Young (1995) challenges us to ponder, all knowledge really is phantasm, and knowledge production necessarily creates the reality it attempts to describe. This is why, he tells us, Spivak chooses to “focus on the kinds of exclusion produced not only by colonialism itself but by current forms of understanding… an interrogation of, as she sees it, the increasing commodification in academia of the category of ‘marginality’ itself” (pp. 162-163, emphasis mine). This sounds much like the conclusion Karl Popper drew, that “Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory but a metaphysical research programme” (1976, p. 151). But he continued, “And yet, the theory is invaluable. I do not see how, without it, our knowledge could have grown as it has done since Darwin” (pp. 171-2). This is precisely what Young means by, “at worst [this controversy produces] a certain lack of historical specificity. At best it has resulted in greater attention to the reality of the subaltern thorough the history and testimony of those colonized (1995, pp. 160-161).

In illustrating the conceptualization of race as discourse it has been impossible not to refer to other discourses, a function of the interweaving and interdependency of all discourse. Yet no discourse commands quite the power as that of ‘race’ to partition power and privilege, and none has inspired such energy to contrive and control ideologies of difference. Race has increasingly become the whispered discourse, while that of sexuality is louder than ever. Yet there is no mistaking the relationship between the two. Stoler (2002), summarizing Foucault (1978/90), states that “racial discourse was a part of the technologies of sex that arose in the eighteenth century to regulate sexual conduct and by which populations could be expanded and controlled” (p. 149). If Foucault missed the significance of an “imperial politics of exclusion… reworked… on colonial ground” (Stoler 2002, p. 151) he nonetheless referred to the “symbolics of blood” to illustrate how one discourse literally shaped and steered another (Foucault, 1978/90, pp. 148-50), all the while fuelled by, and fuelling, a cultural machine—itself a machine of culture. Hegel’s dialectic is one of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis; Marx stands that dialectic on its head. In such a picture it seems to matter little whether “modern racism appears as a consequence of that class body in the making” or race was “constitutive” of the making (Stoler, 2002, p. 152).


Fig. 1 This image, from WikiPedia, of a popular “Sword and Sandal” film poster and its caption demonstrate how well understood the concept of period artwork as discourse revealing ideology and conventions is within our society.
Fig. 2 – Makonde sculpture, Mozambique
“…il évoque la communauté du village, clan soutenu par le patriarche et surmonté de la mère.1” photo P. Deramaix, coll. privée3



  1. Gilman’s understanding in 1985 that “visual conventions [are] the primary means by which we perceive and organize the world around us” (1985, p. 223) was prescient of more recent revelations about the way Web 2.0 technologies, especially visual/video-based technologies, enhance understanding in modern day communications (WOW Project, 2007; Churches, 2009).
  2. I’m referring to Levine, Donald N., (1965) Wax and Gold: Tradition and Innovation in Ethiopian Culture, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, of which I was unable to obtain a copy for this essay. This book moved me deeply when I read it as a teen; I did not then understand that it is a discursive analysis of the highest magnitude, presaging Young and others. From a publisher’s description: “Using the insights and the tools of several disciplines, Professor Donald Levine looks on Amhara culture as history, as an outlook on life, a way of growing up, a social structure, a kind of psychological orientation, and, finally, as a “combination of opposites.” […]The author has found one key to Ethiopian society in its poetry, where the “wax” is the obvious meaning, the “gold” the hidden meaning. He finds reflections of this ambiguity at all levels of Ethiopian culture and holds that an appreciation of it is essential to understanding the problems facing Ethiopians in their movement toward modernization and their unique role among African nations.” [Amazon]
  3. Photographer’s caption: “…it recalls the community of the village, clan was supported by the patriarch and overcome by the mother” http://www.amigos-de-mocambique.org/cine/desob.htm retrieved 2009/11/21

Analyzing race and representation



Banton, M. (2000) The Idiom of Race: A critique of presentism. In Back and Solomos (Eds.) Theories of Race and Racism: A Reader. London: Routledge.

Beckett, D. and Hager, P. (2002) Life, Work and Learning: Practice in Postmodernity, London: Routledge.

Churches, Andrew (2009) ICT Tools and the Visual Learner http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/ICT+and+the+Visual+Learner, retrieved 2009/11/15.

Dyer, Richard (1997) “The White Man’s Muscles” in Race and the Subject of Masculinities, ed. Harry Stecopoulos and Michael Uebel Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 286-314.

Foucault, M. (1978/1990) The History of Sexuality Vol. 1: An Introduction New York: Vintage.

Gilman, Sander L. (1985) Black Bodies, White Bodies: Toward an Iconography of Female Sexuality in Late Nineteenth-Century Art, Medicine, and Literature. Critical Inquiry, 12(1) “Race,” Writing, and Difference, 204-242.

Goldberg, David T. (1990) “The Social Formation of Racist Discourse” in The Anatomy of Racism, ed. Personal author, compiler, or editor name(s); click on any author to run a new search on that name.Goldberg, David Theo, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Goldberg, David T. (1993) Racial Knowledge. In Racist Culture, Philosophy and the Power of Meaning. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

Haraway, Donna J. (1991) Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge.

Haraway, Donna J. (1990) Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science. New York: Routledge.

Harrison, Faye V. (1998) Introduction: Expanding the Discourse on “Race” American Anthropologist 100(3), pp. 609-631.

Harrison, Faye V. (2005) Introduction: Global Perspectives… In Resisting Racism and Xenophobia: Global Perspectives on Race, Gender, and Human Rights. 1-34. Toronto: Altamira Press.

Morris, Gayle (2005/07) “Performing Pedagogy and the (Re)construction of Global/Local Selves” in Globalizing Education: Policies, Pedagogies and Politics, Michael W. Apple, Jane Kenway, Michael Singh eds., New York: Peter Lang.

Orser, Charles E. (1998) The Challenge of Race to American Historical Archaeology. American Anthropologist 100(3), pp. 661-668.

Popper, Karl. (1976) Unended Quest: An Intellectual Autobiography Glasgow: Fontana/Collins.

Sanjek, R. (1994) The Enduring Inequalities of Race.

Smedley, Audrey (1998) “Race” and the Construction of Human Identity American Anthropologist 100(3), pp. 690-702.

Stoler, Ann Laura (1995) “Placing Race in the History of Sexuality” in Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault’s History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things, Duke University Press.

Stoler, Ann Laura (2002) “A Colonial reading of Foucault” in Colonial Knowledge and Imperial Power, Berkley CA: University of California Press.

Thesen, Lucia (1997) Voices, Discourse, and Transition: In Search of New Categories in EAP, TESOL Quarterly 31(3), 487-511.

Wolf, Eric R. (1994) Perilous Ideas: Race, Culture, People. Current Anthropology 35(1) 1-12.

WOW Project (2007) Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies/Learning Styles http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Web_2.0_and_Emerging_Learning_Technologies, retrieved 2009/11/15.

Yon, Daniel A (1999) ‘Pedagogy and the “problem” of difference: on reading community in The Darker Side of Black’, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 12 (6), 623-641.

Young, Robert: Colonial Desire: White Power, White Desire (London: Routledge, 1995).

Jul 25

Analyzing race and representation

Abstract: In the final paper in this series I discuss representations of race and consider how perceptions of such representations must be different across gender, age and cultural differences. I discuss research showing how symbolism can be appropriated across these artificial boundaries. I speak of my own evolving sense of White Privilege, with anecdotal examples, and speculate how it benefits me, sometimes to the detriment of others, whether or not I am aware of it or complicit.

Merkato, open air market Addis Ababa, EthiopiaEducators, business people, and many others in potential leadership roles are for the most part quite familiar by now with the assertion that it is important their classrooms, businesses, and organizations are representative of the communities they serve. This can be reflected in many ways, for but a couple of examples, in the pictures they hang or the people they hire. But the apparent simplicity of such a description of problem and solution falls away quickly when one contemplates even the simplest scenario. Let’s say I’m a teacher and I know I have black students in my class, and I wish to display photographs representative of the “black community.” Shall I hang a picture of Barack Obama? …Nelson Mandela? … Michaëlle Jean? …Michelle Obama? …Sean Combs? All are black, but what does each “represent?” And what possible justification could I have for assuming they represent the same things to my students as they do to me, or that they represent anything at all?

. . . identity is formed at that point where the unspeakable stories of subjectivity meet the narratives of history, of a culture . . .

— Stuart Hall (1987, p. 44)

Identity is about belonging, and how we choose where we belong, but also how that is chosen for us. Narratives, our interpretations and retelling of history, shape our views of ourselves and our worlds, so “discourses [can be regarded as] formative, rather than expressive, of identities” (Hall, 1987 referenced in Parker and Song, pp. 583-4).

Vanilla IceWhat is representation?

In the first several pages of Urban Portraits of Identity: on the problem of knowing culture and identity in intercultural studies Daniel Yon exposes the highly complex and deeply nuanced topic of identity and representation from the point of view of a number of adolescents attending public school in a diverse and cosmopolitan city, Toronto (Yon, 2000). Adolescence is widely understood as the stage in human development when we begin to decide what we will do with our lives, and consequently not just what, but who we will be when we grow up, so this is a very good place to begin an analysis. Reading Yon, it soon becomes apparent that, far from being a “simplistic reading of bodies,” (p. 143) the students being interviewed construct identities not only from the corporeal universe within which they dwell, but also from the vast cache of stories and imagery they encounter there. Representations of identity are “more spontaneous” (Parker & Song, 2009, p. 584). Our attempts to contain real students in neat “visible minority” boxes fail because their own view is much “thicker” (see Geertz, 1973). Regardless of any obvious or predictable connection their constructions often “defied neat reduction” to nationality, race or ethnicity (Yon, 2000, pp. 143-5).

This orientation towards community assumes relationships between “personal identity” and “cultural identity” as unproblematic. Either the relationship is imagined as being smooth, or where there is disjuncture then either identity or the culture is constituted as a “crisis.” Education is perceived as the means through which the crisis may be resolved. This is the same discourse that incites desires for curriculum that “reflects” the identities of the learners. In school-based efforts such assumptions about culture, identity, and community are therefore crystallized in a discourse of “inclusive education.” It structures, for example, the call for “African-centered curriculum” as an alternative to “Euro-centered curriculum” while generally offering little or no critique of the structures of knowledge or the meaning of culture that produce these “centerings” in the first place. In these various ways cultural relativism, and the discourse of community as inheritance that it produces, has come to privilege differences “between” while suppressing engagement with difference “within” communities.

Daniel Yon (1999, p. 624)

It’s worth a pause here to consider that none of those three terms is itself neatly reducible; nationality often connotes citizenship, yet ethnicity may allude to that, but contains an element of DNA and a suggestion of tradition and ritual — race has a pseudo-scientific legacy in the realms of anthropology and biology but nonetheless has been applied as a synonym for either or both of the other terms… culture underpins them all (Smedley, 1999). These collisions, this flux between self-identifying and identifying self, is the starting point of my analysis.

The subject is a web of tensions and release, and just as “discourse structures the possibilities for thinking and acting” thinking and acting shapes the discourse. Thus, culture is deemed to be elusive, “…emergent, both product and process” (Yon, 1999, p. 626). Representation, then, can be seen not only as a marker of “social hermeneutics” used by those attempting to read a particular culture from the outside, but also as a tool by those within (or in proximity to) a culture to define and partition the boundaries of the culture, to decode the relationships of themselves and others to the culture (e.g., membership), and similarly to encode or declare their own relationship to a culture (Hall, 1997; 2007). We must, to quote Hall (1997), quoting Richard Hoggart (1958) “…try to see beyond the habits to what the habits stand for, to see through the statements to what the statements really mean…” (Hall, 1997, p. 43).

This is a challenging undertaking, as representations and their symbolisms can be insidious and pervasive—and contradictory, subject to interpretation. It is accepted that observers bring their own baggage to observations. In researching identity this may mean biases and preconceptions, or pre-established categories constructed around them, resulting in research and reflection that becomes an attempt to justify the choice of those particular categories. Lucia Thesen observes that “…identity can be seen as the dynamic interaction between the fixed identity categories that are applied to social groupings (such as race, gender, ethnicity, language, and other, more subtle representations that are activated in certain discourse settings) and the way individuals think of themselves as they move through the different discourses in which these categories are salient.” (Thesen ,1997, p. 488) Thesen draws a useful distinction between discourse (systemic, societal, institutional) and voice (individual). She too acknowledges the tension and flux I alluded to above, as “…linguistic representations of the fundamental tensions between structure and agency in social life.” (1997, p. 494) She cautions, “…discourse theory downplays agency in the sense that new identity categories and combinations of categories, generated by research subjects themselves, fail to emerge in educational understandings.” She advocates for “…research that brings the locus of interpretation closer to students to find out in which discourses they perceive themselves to be operating.” (1997, p. 507) Both Yon, in what he termed an identity “snapshot,” (1999, p. 626, 2000, p. 144) and Thesen in her “exploration of identity in movement, over a period of time” (1997, p. 506) encounter agency and uncover students’ ability to negotiate multiple discourses, even to self-identify using multiple representations, as in the initially surprising case of a Serbian student who self-identified as “Spanish.” My category (“Serbian”) refers to an ethnicity or a geographical origin, but the student perceived, negotiated, and appropriated for herself certain specific representations around music and apparel she perceived as “Spanish” (Yon, 2000, p. 147). My category prepositions the student, furthermore I could undoubtedly deduce it from paperwork and never need to meet with her to do so. Were one to ignore the young woman’s perceptions and the process by which she achieved this appropriation—her agency in the construction—one would not only dismiss the person, but miss the point of undertaking the analysis.

hoodieWhat about race?

I said earlier that race underpins representations of nationality and ethnicity, and that is for a variety of reasons both objective and subjective. Having grown up and attended school during the 60s, and for the most part in the United States, I spent most of my life believing there are three distinct races differentiated by distinct physical characteristics including skull shape, facial features, and skin colour. I was raised to believe such things made no difference as to how people of different races should be treated, and I was astute enough to recognize this wasn’t always the reality. I travelled, and at some point during the 70s I began understanding and using the word “ethnicity” to describe a more general concept I understood to mean not just race, but to encompass culture, language, and other things I had probably associated with “nationality” prior to acquiring the new vocabulary. Not until perhaps two years before taking this course did I even hear the hypothesis that race was an entirely a cultural construct, with no scientific basis, and I was sceptical. How could this be? What about pigment? What about eyelids? What about hair?

Upon reflection I soon came to accept that race is a construct, that these are variations on a theme—but that they represent many other things in many other contexts. It had been, as Goldberg exposed it, “comfortable” to think of race, and in racialized terms (Goldberg, 1993, p. 150). My travels resulted in an extended stay (1970-1974) in a “Third World” country (Ethiopia) and there’s no question in my memory that I understood it to be “primitive.” I learned it was more “advanced” than many other “primitive” countries—the proof was offered in such facts as having the only airline in Africa in the 1970s that could boast of all Ethiopian pilots and maintenance crew, from shop foreman to the most junior mechanic. I don’t recall ever hearing explicit reasons given for this bit of trivia, but I know that I inferred from somewhere that it was due to three things. First, Ethiopia was a “Christian country since the 4th century AD.” Second, Ethiopia is “one of only two countries in Africa that were never colonized by a European power” (see e.g., ImperialEthiopia.org or Henze, 2000, rev.). And third, Ethiopia was an ally of the United States. While it’s also very true that I heard of Emperor Haile Selassie’s stirring 1936 speech to the League of Nations, and I knew that, many years before my arrival, he had insisted English become the language used in all school and schooling beyond grade 7. I now recognize that I probably never fully credited the emperor or the Ethiopian people for any of these creative ideas or accomplishments; my knowledge was racialized, the Primitive internalized, and the Otherness of Africa was a given (Goldberg, 1993, pp. 150-7).

In the post-colonial Africa of the early 1970s, even in a country occupied (by Italy, 1936–1941) but never colonized, I experienced and benefited from White privilege. A 15-year-old boy might carry the only white face in the Merkato, but in 1974 he could walk anywhere without fear, and command attention, authority, and respect—though he might not ponder its especially British Colonial legacy. Many years later I considered what representations I likely manifested meeting narratives of colonial history—unconsciously, unwittingly, and unintentionally, through the same accidents of birth—and I understood that my “burden of representation” (Alexander, 2009, p. 465), while undeniably present, was relatively light.

White privilege

I’m now aware I have benefited from, and I continue to benefit from, white privilege—every waking hour of every day of my life. I have from the moment of my birth, and very well may until death. At 21 in California I stood patiently in line at the unemployment insurance office, spoke to the educated white workers in educated white English, quickly decoded the system, mastered the rules and collected full benefits weekly for the maximum number of weeks I was eligible. I can say with a clear conscience, however, that by 21 I didn’t believe for one second the African and Hispanic Americans in line (who usually weren’t “eligible,” and certainly weren’t as eloquent or composed) were to blame for their frustration—I remember thinking I’d be just as desperate were I held in that cycle of perpetual unemployability, just as rude and angry if I were being treated as I saw they were. When my benefits ran out I dressed just as appropriately and spoke just as eloquently at my next job interview, and quickly rejoined the world of the employed. As a white male I’ve enjoyed that level of freedom all my life, and exploited it often, sometimes without even knowing, other times with blatant arrogance.

A more recent example is when the Canadian born woman, whom I identified by my limited knowledge of accents as being of “Jamaican” heritage, accepted my expired health card and told the very next person, who spoke with a Caribbean accent similar to her own, she needed to see proof of his citizenship, which he then produced. How many times in that man’s life has he been asked to take just one more step to get to the finish line than I’ve been? Good thing she didn’t ask me, I’m an immigrant from the USA—and I didn’t have proof of my permanent residency! As a white male with no perceptible accent I’m identified as Canadian—included, eligible, okay. And while there may be little difference between a Canadian and an American in one context, there may be other times and places that a differentiation might be desired. That’s systemic, it’s about racializations and subliminal attitudes we all carry—yet none of us is “a racist.”

Implications for the 21st century classroom

The 21st century classroom is distinct because it’s often situated, at least in part, in cyberspace, and so is defined and restricted by a different set of boundaries (Parker & Song, 2009). The asynchronous nature of this classroom enables the emergence of “post-colonial subjectivities” providing multiple points of reference enhanced by global communications. “These emergent cultural formations cut across any simplistic binary between ‘pure’ old ethnicities, and multi-dimensional, progressive ‘new ethnicities’” (p. 600). Educators can benefit by becoming aware and respectful of these sensitivities. Framing the design of learning situations as opportunities to draw forth and empower multiple representations may be a powerful approach to engagement and community building that reaches far beyond more traditional perceptions of what classrooms are about (Parker & Song, 2009; WOW Project, 2007; Yon, 1999, 2000).

I believe an important first step is to acknowledge that the pathologizing concept of “race,” while lacking evidence to support its claims on our biology, is still part of our psychology, and is reflected in our attitudes, behaviors, and in our political systems and our policies. We must work as individuals to address the first two. We must work as societies to fix the last. It is—deeply and fundamentally—an education issue.



Alexander, Claire, (2009) “Stuart Hall and ‘Race’”, Cultural Studies, 23: 4, 457 — 482.

Banton, M. (2000) The Idiom of Race: A critique of presentism. In Back and Solomos (Eds.) Theories of Race and Racism: A Reader. London: Routledge.

Beckett, D. and Hager, P. (2002) Life, Work and Learning: Practice in Postmodernity, London: Routledge.

Bourdieu, Pierre and Loïc Wacquant (1999) ‘On the Cunning of Imperialist Reason’, Theory, Culture & Society 16: 41–58.

Foucault, M. (1978/1990) The History of Sexuality Vol. 1: An Introduction New York: Vintage.

Geertz, Clifford (1973) Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture, pp. 3-30, in The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays, NY: Basic Books, 470 pages.

Gilman, Sander L. (1985) Black Bodies, White Bodies: Toward an Iconography of Female Sexuality in Late Nineteenth-Century Art, Medicine, and Literature. Critical Inquiry, 12(1) “Race,” Writing, and Difference, 204-242.

Goldberg, David T. (1990) “The Social Formation of Racist Discourse” in The Anatomy of Racism, ed. Personal author, compiler, or editor name(s); click on any author to run a new search on that name.Goldberg, David Theo, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Goldberg, David T. (1993) Racial Knowledge. In Racist Culture, Philosophy and the Power of Meaning. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

Hall, Stuart (1987), ‘Minimal Selves’, in Identity: The Real Me, ICA, London, p. 44.

Hall, Stuart (1988) ‘New ethnicities’, in Black Film/British Cinema, London, ICA.

Hall, Stuart (1997) ‘ “The Centrality of Culture”: Notes on the Revolutions of Our Time’, in K. Thompson (ed.) Media and Cultural Regulation, vol. 6 of the Culture, Media and Identities Course Books. London: SAGE and The Open University.

Hall, Stuart (2007), Richard Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy and the cultural turn, International journal of Cultural studies, 10(1):39-49.

Harrison, Faye V. (1998) Introduction: Expanding the Discourse on “Race” American Anthropologist 100(3):609-631.

Harrison, Faye V. (2005) Introduction: Global Perspectives… In Resisting Racism and Xenophobia: Global Perspectives on Race, Gender, and Human Rights. 1-34. Toronto: Altamira Press.

Henze, Paul B. (2000), Layers of Time – A History of Ethiopia, Christopher Hurst & Co. London, pp 372.

Hoggart, Richard (1958) The Uses of Literacy. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.

Parker , David and Song, Miri (2009), New Ethnicities and the Internet: Belonging and the negotiation of difference in multicultural Britain, Cultural Studies Vol. 23, No. 4 July 2009, pp. 583—604

Roediger, David R. (2001) ‘Critical Studies of Whiteness, USA: Origins and Arguments’, Theoria (South Africa) 98: 72–98.

Roediger, David R. (2006) A reply to Eric Kaufmann, Ethnicities, 6 (2): 254-262.

Sanjek, R. (1994) The Enduring Inequalities of Race.

Smedley, Audrey (1998) “Race” and the Construction of Human Identity American Anthropologist 100(3):690-702.

Stoler, Ann Laura (1995) “Placing Race in the History of Sexuality” in Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault’s History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things, Duke University Press.

Stoler, Ann Laura (2002) “A Colonial reading of Foucault” in Colonial Knowledge and Imperial Power, Berkley CA: University of California Press.

Thesen, Lucia (1997) Voices, Discourse, and Transition: In Search of New Categories in EAP, TESOL Quarterly 31(3), 487-511.

Wolf, Eric R. (1994) Perilous Ideas: Race, Culture, People. Current Anthropology 35(1) 1-12.

WOW Project (2007) Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies/Learning Styles http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Web_2.0_and_Emerging_Learning_Technologies, retrieved 2009/11/15

Yon, Daniel A (1999) ‘Pedagogy and the “problem” of difference: on reading community in The Darker Side of Black’, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 12 (6), 623-641

Yon, Daniel A.(2000) ‘Urban Portraits of Identity: On the problem of knowing culture and identity in intercultural studies’, Journal of Intercultural Studies, 21: 2, 143 — 157

Young, Robert: Colonial Desire: White Power, White Desire (London: Routledge, 1995)

Jul 04

The Genuine Cato’s Letters: republicanism & publick virtue in the American revolutionary era


…not your crazy uncle’s 21st century neo-Libertarian doublethink

ABSTRACT: Part 1 of this essay is reflections on the context of my own introduction to Cato’s Letters: Essays on Liberty, Civil and Religious, and Other Important Subjects by John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, 144 essays published 1720-23—that of an American teenager living abroad—and how that fit with and influenced the direction of my own education. I discuss my brief flirtation with Libertarianism, when I learned of its historical roots in Anarchism and Socialism, and I’ll shine a light on its differences from the neo-Libertarianism we see in the U.S.A. today. I present ideas from the work of several noted feminists regarding the philosophy and its protagonists at the turn of the 21st century. I fact check and correct myself  on some fuzzy perceptions I’ve held in the past. In Part 2 I also begin with context: the cosmopolitan aspirations—and liberal education—of the generation that fomented the American Revolution. I look at the misappropriation of the historical Cato’s Letters by the “Libertarian” think tank. By critically analysing the language and arguments of a contemporary “Cato’s Letter” relative to some  authentic Trenchard and Gordon (1720-1723) I reveal the degree by which the modern message differs from its namesake’s.

The Cato Letters: the TEA1 Party is not the first group to steal a name from history, shroud it in Orwellian doublespeak to skew its message and meaning towards a purpose. But this essay is not about the TEA party, Libertarianism or the Cato Institute. It’s about times and thinking of the genuine Cato’s Letters: Essays on Liberty, Civil and Religious, and Other Important Subjects by John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, 1720-23—or rather what they told us, 300 years in advance, about groups like the TEA party, (neo-)Libertarians, and the Cato Institute, who go about borrowing names.

Background… where I’m coming from

For some years I’ve been fond of saying, “I distrust anyone who did not embrace libertarianism at 15 almost as much as I do those who continue to embrace it after about 21.” This is because I learned the word when, at 15, I told my father I liked the sound of “few laws, well enforced” and he replied “Sounds like you may be a libertarian!” I’ve also called libertarianism “an adolescent male fantasy.” This is because, my father’s comment having resulted in my soon looking them up, I uncovered some self-described libertarians in my neighborhood and observed they idealized a world like the Wild Wild West, or believed in such untenable ideas as returning to a gold standard2. At the time I was also learning jazz guitar, I was painfully aware there were no women in my musical circles, there were also very few at jazz or fusion shows, so I needed an extra-curricular activity that presented some chance of meeting women—but even then it took about 15 minutes to understand why they wouldn’t be at a meeting of these particular libertarians, anyway.

So far this is all anecdotal. That there are more neo-Libertarian men than women is accepted by everyone. Susan C. Herring, discussing online harassment, reports how a “rhetoric of harassment” manifests from libertarian principles of freedom of expression, “…constructing women’ s resistance as ‘censorship’—a strategy that ultimately succeeds, I propose, because of the ideological dominance of (male-gendered) libertarian norms of interaction on the Internet. (Herring, 1999:152).

Some Libertarian men who blog about the lack of libertarian women tend to be condescending and demeaning, as Darrell Anderson’s “when a woman finally understands the fallacies of statism and the proverbial bell rings in her head …” (Anderson, no date given) or prejudiced and demeaning, as James (2002):

I know what you’re thinking. “Women shouldn’t be so sensitive. Women shouldn’t be afraid of confrontation. Women shouldn’t be so hung up on niceties. Women…” Guess what? It doesn’t matter. They are.

Libertarianism is patronizing because it is patriarchy in perpetual adolescence. Tong (1992) and Walby (1990) stand at the forefront of a large body of work supporting the belief that the oppression (or “consciousness-shaping” (Seiler, no date)) of women results from a complex articulation of patriarchy and capitalism. Wood (1997:321) (as summarized by Seiler, op. cit.) highlights two aspects that distinguish Muted-Group Theory, which I find particularly relevant here: “focusing on how language names experiences” and “…paying close attention to the way that a dominant discourse silences or mutes groups that are not in society’s mainstream.” We see in the examples above, hundreds like them on the Internet, just as in the IRC chat rooms (Herring, 1999) an overt sexism is innate and omnipresent in libertarian thought and expression.

Age 15 is also when I moved to the province of Quebec, Canada, enrolled in the “Social Sciences” program at John Abbott College, and signed up for The History of Western Philosophy, Calculus for the Social Sciences, (one I didn’t think they’d teach as well in the States:) Marxism, and thought I’d treat myself to at least one cushy course. An American in Canada should be able to ace US History, right? Maybe—but not if the teacher is Neil Cameron. We learned the phrase “primary source,” we read personal letters of founders and everyday colonial Americans (e.g., Beers, 1891), we read The Federalist, we read Alexis de Toqueville , we read Aristotle’s Rhetoric — and we read several of Cato’s Letters.

At the time Professor Cameron’s telling of the War of 1812 engaged me more, for I’d heard it told so differently I’d finally caught my old US school texts red-handed re-writing history… but I always recalled discussing ‘publick spirit,’  ‘virtue’ and in the phrase ‘…to hear the worst things called by the best names…’ the clear understanding of what Orwell would many years later develop into ‘doublespeak’.

It was well past 1984 that I heard of The Cato Institute and gradually learned what such rhetorical phrases as individual freedom and free markets mean within their context, and that they took their name from John Trenchard’s and Thomas Gordon’s essays. I believe that’s where my anger at the Cato Institute began.


Leave men to take the full reward of their fancied merit, and the world will be thought too little for almost every individual, as Alexander thought it for him. He had the fortune to ravage the world, and from thence believed he had a right to it.
— Thomas Gordon,
Cato’s Letter Vol. 4 No. 1. Saturday, August 24, 1723


Men who are advanced to great stations, and are highly honoured and rewarded at the publick cost, ought to look upon themselves as creatures of the publick… They ought to reflect, that thousands, ten thousands of their countrymen, have equal, or perhaps greater, qualifications than themselves; and that blind fortune alone has given them their present distinction: That the estate of the freeholder, the hazard of the merchant, and the sweat of the labourer, all contribute to their greatness; and when once they can see themselves in this mirror, they will think nothing can be too grateful, nothing too great or too hazardous to be done for such benefactors.
— John Trenchard,
Cato’s Letter Vol. 1 No. 20. Saturday, March 11, 1721

I don’t recall Neil Cameron ever reducing American intellectual thought to Locke et praeterea nihil, what Robert E. Shalhope has called the “orthodox” position on American republicanism (Shalhope , 1972). Shalhope points to the work of such historians as Neal Riemer and Caroline Robbins as what has slowly and steadily nudged the literature towards a deeper underestanding of American Revolutionary thought. Taken as a whole, this entire train of thought that has transpired in academia since my studies with professor Cameron is referred to as the republican synthesis.

The republican synthesis

Daniel T. Rodgers has written a thorough yet wonderfully readable (downright engaging) summary of this school of thought.

The republican synthesis can only be understood within a succession of paradigms: Beardian, Hartzian, and republican. The Beardian paradigm organized American history around a restless sea of conflicting material interests; the Hartzian around a stable liberal consensus; the republican around the importance of liberalism’s precedents and rival”


To a left critic …like Isaac Kramnick, to leave Locke and bourgeois liberalism out of the story was to dissolve class relations into a court/country schematic “too confusing to be useful.” To a Hartzian [on the right] like John Diggins, America was nothing if it was not Locke and Calvin, acquisitiveness and guilt, locked in tragic embrace. For all of them, the new stress on language and ideology sharply compounded the problem: for Appleby because it allowed too little room for dissent and novelty, for Kramnick because it was too soft, for Diggins because it imputed behavioral consequence to ideas at all.”
(Rodgers, 1992)

But when Shalhope says “… radical whigs such as Robert Molesworth, John Toland, Thomas Gordon, John Trenchard, Richard Baron, and Thomas Hollis… did manage to transmit their libertarian heritage to America where it acquired great vitality…” (emphasis mine) he is not speaking of the same libertarianism now flogged by such factions as the Cato Institute. Caroline Robbins’s important contribution to understanding English libertarian thought was by way of the story of Thomas Hollis (1720-1774), whose “peculiar kind of liberty …reflected in the writing of Milton, Marvell, and others [asserted] …public virtue and private frugality seemed to be the only way to avoid [luxury causing political decline as  seen in ancient republics]. The best way for a people to maintain their liberties was to guard them carefully and have frequent …elections …to enforce restraints upon their rulers. Robbins made it explicit that Hollis’s peculiar brand of liberty struck a responsive chord in America” (Shalhope, 1972).

While Shalhope (1972) clearly refers to Trenchard’s (1662-1723) political heritage as  “libertarian”, but according to others the first recorded use of the term was in 1789 by William Belsham (Belsham, 1789), after the American Revolution. Woodcock (1967) traces the line of philosophical thought preceding from Winstanley (1649) through Godwin (1793) to the first self-described anarchist, Proudhon (1840). An astonishing number of self-identified “libertarians” I’ve encountered, some who hold positions of authority within the most prestigious “libertarian” institutions are apparently unaware of its kinship with Anarchism, “the ultimate projection of Liberalism and Socialism,” (e.g., Chomsky, Socialist Libertarian) or that “For a century, anarchists have used the word ‘libertarian’ as a synonym for ‘anarchist’, both as a noun and an adjective. …However, much more recently the word has been appropriated by various American free-market philosophers…” (Ward, 2004). Some say this view, in pure and distilled form, casts libertarianism as a license to all imaginable rights with few responsibilities (libertarians quite expectedly dispute this and offer counter-arguments, e.g., Long, 2004). But it is a faux libertarianism, one I call neo-Libertariansism.

Originally, libertarianism was anti-capitalist and opposed accumulation of property. Usage of the term in the US and Canada, with notions of “free-market” “prosperity” reflects the power of business in these countries. “At times, and particularly in the United States, the broadening appeal of libertarian ideas has also led to their adulteration, so that anarchism often appears as only one element in what can be described as a climate of rebellion, an insurrectionary frame of mind, rather than a new revolutionary ideology. ” (Woodcock, PS:1975; Chomsky referenced in Leiter, 2009). Neo-Libertarianism emerged in the 1840s (Woodcock, 1967). Libertarians have been “wont to project,  to look outside their community and see their values in leaders and movements separated by history and geography.” As Woodcock explains,

“However, while it is true that some of the central libertarian ideas are to be found in varying degrees among these men and movements, the first forms of anarchism as a developed social philosophy appeared at the beginning of the modern era, when the medieval order had disintegrated, the Reformation had reached its radical, sectarian phase, and the rudimentary forms of modern political and economic organization had begun to appear. In other words, the emergence of the modern state and of capitalism is paralleled by the emergence of the philosophy that, in various forms, has opposed them most fundamentally.” (Woodcock 1967).

*  *  *

A mitigation

Twitter, as most of us know, allows “tweets” of 140 characters or less. It can be very challenging to compose a coherent thought, or adequately support an argument, but it’s a challenge millions accept many times a day, all day, all over the globe. And every day some percentage of those challenges result in imprecise language, and some generally fastidious authors get lazy to conserve space.

I did that recently on Twitter when I called the Institute “the Koch’s Cato” and, similarly, when I referred to the Koch’s Heritage Foundation as Cato’s “sister.” “Cousin” would have been accurate.  I also referred to the Cato Institute as “Orwellian” and “demagogues.” Those I got right, as I’ll demonstrate below. First, here’s what needs qualification:

  1. It is widely acknowledged that Cato has retained a nonpartisan, libertarian identity and therefor should not be exactly equated with Koch-funded propoganda/special interest outfits like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute (National Journal, 2012-06-19).
  2. Many people know that Cato was originally founded by Murray Rothbard, Ed Crane and Charles Koch in 1974 as the Charles Koch Foundation. It changed its name to the Cato Institute in 1976. It appears less well known that the Institute performs no contract research and does not accept government funding (Cato, 1977, 1994, 2001). The Kochs provided about 4 percent of Cato’s revenue during the past decade (Forbes, 2012-03-11).

Perhaps, though, Cato simply wasn’t ripe. Last March, and again in April, the Koch’s sued the Institute and attempted to reverse “what they called a “board-packing scheme” to weaken their influence. ” (Bloomberg, 2012-04-10) Robert A. Levy, chairman of Cato’s board, knows that skewing brand-name research and scholars in support of political advocacy groups is what the Kochs do (NYT, 2012-03-06). In the final week of June 2012 the dispute was settled. On Monday June 25, 2012 parties announced Crane would be replaced by former BB&T Corp. (BBT) chairman John A. Allison, and stated they believe the agreement assures “…that Cato is not viewed as controlled by the Kochs” but will “…be a principled organization that is effective in advancing a free society” But “Under the terms of the agreement, Cato will cease to be a stockholder corporation and instead will be governed by the members, who will double as institute directors and who will elect their own successors, the parties said.” and “The initial Cato board will include 12 long-term directors including David Koch, three other Koch designees and Allison, who holds the option to nominate one or two additional directors. 3

Whether the Kochs provide 4% or 94% of Cato’s funding, is there anyone anywhere who denies that the policies Cato advocates will make the Kochs more money, that the brothers are aware of this, and they’ve demonstrated their resolve to see this continue, by whatever means are available?

*  *  *

Where-ever publick spirit is found dangerous, she will soon be seen dead. – Thomas Gordon #35. Saturday, July 1, 1721. Of Publick Spirit.

“Citizen of the World,” the American colonial farmer

John Fea paints a rich picture of the social life of the colonies circa 1773 by following several days in the journal of Philip Vickers Fithian, a resident of rural New Jersey. This educated and upwardly mobile son of a farmer, mild-mannered candidate for the Presbyterian ministry, headed off to Princeton to the College of New Jersey and became radicalized. On December 22, 1774 Fithian donned feathers and war paint, and burned all the tea that had been surreptitiously offloaded there by the captain sailing the Greyhound for the East India Company, who hoped to avoid being turned away in Philadelphia, and having his cargo rejected (Stockton, 1896/2003). Fitihian wasn’t the first nor the last young colonial in the latter half of the 18th century to be radicalized by a liberal education from Princeton. In the decade before the American Revolution “…Princeton was becoming a political training school… a school attended by future revolutionists, founding fathers, supreme court justices, and even by a future president. Men like Luther Martin, William Paterson, Oliver Ellsworth, and James Madison… The results were suggested by the attendance figures for the Constitutional Convention: sixteen percent of the delegates were Princeton men.” (Haskett, 1949).

John Fea (2003) translates Fithian’s desire to be part of a “republic of letters,” a trans-Atlantic exchange of ideas “…was above all else a rational republic, with little tolerance for those unable to rid themselves of parochial passions. Participation required a commitment to self-improvement that demanded a belief in the Enlightenment values of human potential and societal progress. The best citizens of the republic maintained primary loyalty, not to family, friends, faith, or land, but to an international commonwealth of humankind” (464). The republic of letters had a long tradition in France, where “…The ideal was that all members of the community were equal, or at least that everyone had an equal chance for advancement. But that same ideal dictated that one must advance on the community’s terms.” There were inevitably “greats” among them, but “…Since their greatness stemmed in large part from their communal service, to use them as a model—accurate or not—was to promote the cohesion of the Republic” (Goldgar, 1995) .

Cato’s Letters (Trenchard & Gordon, 1720-1723)

“Cato’s Letters,” says Clinton Rossiter (1953), “…was the most popular, quotable, esteemed source for political ideas in the colonial period.” An estimated half of colonial libraries owned bound copies of the 144 essays that were published from 1720 to 1723, over 10 years before the birth of many Founders, a full 20 before Madison (1751) (op. cit.). I report honestly, I was only able to do a cursory search of current US history textbooks (and in most cases I was unable to see or search their indexes), the AP US History exam, and journals, but I found almost no mention, and absolutely no description, of these definitive writings. If James Madison is the “Father of the Constitution,” surely Trenchard and Gordon are “Fathers of the Revolution.”

The pre-Revolutionary colonists were by no means against government. Government that protects life, liberty and property, provides for its citizens and makes life easier is successful government, and causes a society to succeed: “And therefore whatever state gives more encouragement to its subjects than the neighbouring states do, and finds them more work, and gives them greater rewards for that work; and by all these laudable ways makes [the] human condition easier than it is elsewhere, and secures life and property better; that state will draw the inhabitants from the neighbouring countries to its own…” (Gordon, #67, Feb. 1722).  Moreover, they thought critically about government, understood the responsibility implicit in big republican ideas like government by the people; i.e., they knew that people make both better governments and worse ones. They were politically astute; above all they knew the power of well chosen words used in specific styles and arguments. Cato’s Letters reveal a clear understanding of the technique, dubbed “doublespeak” centuries later by George Orwell (emphasis mine):

 NO. 13. Saturday, January 21, 1721. The Arts of misleading the People by Sounds. (Trenchard)

“…I will own, however, that government makes more fools, and more wise men, than nature makes; and the difference between nation and nation, in point of virtue, sagacity, and arms, arises not from the different genius of the people; which, making very small allowances for the difference of climate, would be the same under the same regulations; but from the different genius of their political constitutions…

 “…Yet even in countries where the highest liberty is allowed, and the greatest light shines, you generally find certain men, and bodies of men, set apart to mislead the multitude; who are ever abused with words, ever fond of the worst of things recommended by good names, and ever abhor the best things, and the most virtuous actions, disfigured by ill names. One of the great arts, therefore, of cheating men, is, to study the application and misapplication of sounds—a few loud words rule the majority, I had almost said, the whole world…”

In Volume 2, #67 (February 24, 1722) Gordon describes the woes of places in history “where a few have liberty, and all the rest are slaves” then proceeds to describe an antidote—which may sound very much like a market economy: “And nothing can free mankind from this abject and forlorn condition, but the invention of arts and sciences; that is, the finding out of more materials and expedients to make life easy and pleasant; and the inducing people to believe, what they will readily believe, that other things are necessary to their happiness, besides those which nature has made necessary. Thus the luxury of the rich becomes the bread of the poor” (op. cit.). But it is decidedly not an unfettered free market and in no uncertain terms Gordon reveals, as he and Trenchard do frequently throughout the letters, his deep distrust of markets and the selfish men they often described as dominating them, “…unworthy men, who, by faction and treachery, by mean compliances with power, or by insolently daring of authority, having raised themselves to wealth and honours, and to the power of betraying some considerable trust, have had the provoking sauciness to call themselves the government…” (Trenchard, #13, Jan 21 1721) Great men in governments of the people must behave differently: “all the projects of men in power ought to refer to the people, to aim solely at their good, and end in it.”

Trenchard argued for social justice, his and Gordon’s letters were against the corruptions of money and power.

NO. 20. Saturday, March 11, 1721. Of publick Justice, how necessary to the Security and Well-being of a State, and how destructive the Neglect of it to the British Nation. Signal Instances of it. (Trenchard)

…Men who are advanced to great stations, and are highly honoured and rewarded at the publick cost, ought to look upon themselves as creatures of the publick, as machines erected and set up for publick emolument and safety. …and that blind fortune alone has given them their present distinction…

…There is no analogy between the crimes of private men and those of publick magistrates: The first terminate in the death or sufferings of single persons; the others ruin millions, subvert the policy and oeconomy of nations, and create general want, and its consequences, discontents, insurrections, and civil wars, at home… But amongst the crimes which regard a state, peculatus, or robbing the publick, is the greatest; because upon the careful and frugal administration of the public treasure the very being of the commonwealth depends…

Almost 300 years ago Trenchard and Gordon described a political climate very much as we see in Washington today. An unfettered ability to aggregate wealth was widely understood to lead to subversion. Today we see financial tricksters carry on with impunity, back-to-back wars,  the creation of “think tanks” and special interest groups, we see revolving doors between government and lobbying groups. We hear educated otherwise reasonable people repeating nonsense (e.g., the health care debate’s “death panels”) and supporting positions contrary to their own interests, as Trenchard and Gordon wrote in 1721:

NO. 17. Saturday, February 18, 1721. What Measures are actually taken by wicked and desperate Ministers to ruin and enslave their Country. (Trenchard)

…It is the business and policy of traitors, so to disguise their treason with plausible names, and so to recommend it with popular and bewitching colours, that they themselves shall be adored, while their work is detested, and yet carried on by those that detest it….

…They will be ever contriving and forming wicked and dangerous projects, to make the people poor, and themselves rich…

…They will engage their country in ridiculous, expensive, fantastical wars, to keep the minds of men in continual hurry and agitation, and under constant fears and alarms…

...They will create parties in the commonwealth, or keep them up where they already are; and, by playing them by turns upon each other, will rule both. By making the Guelfs afraid of the Ghibelines, and these afraid of the Guelfs, they will make themselves the mediums and balance between the two factions; and both factions, in their turns, the props of their authority, and the instruments of their designs…

*  *  *

A Republican Language
The Founders and the Sons of American Revolution, who would have been Trenchard and Gordon’s sons or grandsons, understood that the American experiment required a distinctive language of its own. John Adams wrote to Congress from Amsterdam in 1780, “the form of government has an influence upon language” and language influences “not only the form of government, but the temper, the sentiments, and manners of the people.” (John Adams, 1780, quoted in Howe, 2006:77) Thomas Paine, Noah Webster, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson all called for an Americanized English to purge political language of “every vestige of monarchy.” Benjamin Franklin rejected language reflecting class distinction, arguing for language that promoted equality. (op. cit.:77-79) These sentiments are why, for example, we say “Mr. President,” and not “Your Excellency.” The questions that emerged, such as the meaning of public virtue,the obligations of citizens towards the greater good, how much democracy a republic can safely contain—and how all that related to individual freedoms—these have been at the heart of American political discourse since the beginning of the American experiment in republican government (op. cit.,:81-91).

*  *  *

Rhetoric: the art of persuasion:
The new Cato’s Letters generated by neo-Libertarian “think tank” The Cato Institute are very different. For example, #12 “The Rise of Government and the Decline of Morality,” essentially an assertion these two things are interdependent. As Aristotle tells us there are 3 parts to any persuasion. “The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker; the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind; the third on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself” (Rhetoric, 1356a). By setting up “Cato” as an Institute and giving its footsoldiers titles like “Vice President of Academic Affairs” a group arguing for fewer laws curtailing their economic activities is trying to cover the first base, the credibility of the speaker. The frame of mind all Cato publications attempt to set, using words and phrases such as “dependent,” “meddling,” “sacrificed freedom,” “undermines incentives,” or “intervention” is self-righteous anger. Dorn’s argument in neo-Letter #12 is representative, and is essentially that “…economic and social legislation over the past 50 years has had a negative impact on virtue”(Dorn, 1996). To make this point Dorn and other promoters of unfettered free markets employ mainly what Aristotle called “rhetorical enthymemes.” In an enthymeme, part of the argument is assumed. If you use a word your audience already accepts as a negative, such as “dependent,” the audience fills in the blanks.

Dorn’s article contains virtually no references and makes a litany of unsubstantiated assertions. Dorn helps the audience synthesize a mythical definition of “American virtue” by appealing to collective memories of white European immigrants at the turn of the century. “At the turn of the century, there was no welfare state,” says he. Dorn claims white Polish immigrants came to this country, or to Baltimore anyway, with a morality and apparently a natural inclination towards founding building and loan associations. By 1929 60% owned their own homes. Predictably Dorn glosses over the socialist implications of “pooling resources to help each other…” (Dorn, 1996).

Dorn knows next to nothing about Polish immigrants, however, who arrived in North America before the Mayflower, or if he does he would prefer the rest of us don’t.  They had skills. They were labor activists who in 1619 staged the first strike in the New World (Seidner, 1976). Many Polish immigrants originally had no intention of staying, and many returned to Poland, having made enough to advance their standing in the old world (Lopata & Erdmans, 1995).

In fact, the turn of the 20th century is generally regarded as the beginning of the Progressive movement in America, largely in repsponse to the excesses of industry. In his a-historical rush to invent a past that suits his argument Dorn fails to consider that, while Poles generally came voluntarily, Baltimore had generations of freed slaves who often had no skills or were forced to take unskilled jobs to make room for skilled whites (Polish immigrants?) (Fuke, 1997). One of Dorn’s measures of “moral decay in America are the prevalence of out-of-wedlock births.” At the turn of the century Dorn romanticizes unwed mothers were handled mainly by religious institutions in partnership with all levels of government. Although she speaks of turn-of-the-century Indianapolis not Baltimore Mary Mapes makes the point that public/faith-based partnerships were a good fit that lasted well past the 1930s, and adds “This history calls into question the once widely held belief that the voluntary sector must necessarily contract in size as the welfare state expands.”  (Mapes, 1999).

In one ludicrous leap Dorn reveals both his obsession with attacking  liberal fantasms of his own creation and his low opinion of his audience’s intelligence, asserting that in 1960s Baltimore “the way to survive is not to take responsibility for one’s own life and family, but to vote for politicians who have the power to keep the welfare checks rolling.” In the long history of Baltimore’s annexation both national parties quickly saw the advantages of the suburban and rural votes and did all they could to garner their votes. As for Dorn’s utterly simplistic notion that 40 years of “growing government” and “welfare” caused Baltimore’s urban troubles in the 1960s, Joseph Arnold provides some historical perspective (emphasis mine): “The century and a half of intense belligerency between Baltimore and Baltimore County, largely over suburban territory, provided an important historical perspective on current city-suburban problems which plague not only Maryland and the South, but the whole nation.” (Arnold, 1978).

This Cato’s letter, as all Cato Institute’s propoganda does, paints a nostalgic, incomplete, innacurate portrait designed to stoke the emotions and mislead the listener. The Cato Institute’s scientific strength is in the psychology of division and deception; their socio-political analyses, as should be obvious from the simplistic language, are meaningless blather to be memorized and repeated by the types of dullards who see them as affirming or vindicating the opinions they already held when they sought out the Cato Institute to affirm and vindicate their opinions!

What’s in a name?
The Cato Institute (which we have accepted is not as closely associated with the Koch brothers as Heartland Institute, Heritage Foundation, James Madison Institute etc., who all use this technique) make a great point of calling public education “government schools.”  Do the same people drive on “government roads” walk their dogs in “government parks” or borrow books from “government libraries?” No, of course they don’t. Frank Luntz is described as “a Republican strategist and one of the nation’s foremost experts on crafting the perfect political message.” Luntz is responsible for changing “taxing” the rich, which Americans support, to “taking from” the rich. Luntz has been largely successful in removing the word “entrepreneur” and substituting it with “job-creator.” Luntz feared, especially after Occupy Wall St., that Americans were changing their views on capitalism, seeing it as “immoral.” “I’m trying to get that word removed and we’re replacing it with either ‘economic freedom’ or ‘free market,’ ” Luntz said. (Yahoo News, 2011)

The free-market dogma of the Cato Institute is distantly removed from the spirit of the Cato’s Letters of Trenchard and Gordon, which are widely regarded as representative of pre-Revolutionary Colonial American political thought. Philosophically and politically, the Fathers of the American Revolution were nothing like the so-called Libertarians of 21st century North America, who have much more in common with the “tyrants” “boasters” and “knaves” Trenchard and Gordon regularly disparage for their greed and lack of “publick spirit” (e.g., #35). They did not despise government, only tyranny of the minority, and they believed equally that role of a government limited by common sense and the mutually negotiated contracts was both to protect the lives, liberty, and property of its members but also to regulate and limit the ability of power to aggregate in the hands of a few.

The United States of America owes its very existence to 18th century  France, the French Enlightenment, the Republic of Letters, and the liberal education so many movers and shakers of the period acquired at the College of New Jersey in Princeton. Fithian’s journal indeed discusses how his father suspected he might be indoctrinated there (Howe, 2009). Our nation’s history shows how he was inspired there.

The language these self-promoters use, such as “government schools” and “school choice” is loaded and incendiary, crafted to stir emotions and divert from reason. Those who speak in such terms are disingenuous, and should not be invited to the table until they cease and desist from such wilful diversions. At Cato, “Freedom” means freedom for the privileged, “liberty” means those who already have the most are at liberty to make the rules work so they will acquire more. The authentic Cato’s Letters said this: “…In every country, and under every government, particular men may be too rich. “

Among the darkest perversions The Cato Institute prepetrates are its attacks on science and education. Benjamin Franklin is perhaps the most touted revolutionary American who explored science and invention, but it is very important to note that the revolutionary period in the British-American colonies coincided with the Scottish Enlightenment. During this period Scotland reaped immeasurable benefits by establishing  free trade with England and “Europe’s first public education system since classical times. Under these twin stimuli, Scottish thinkers began questioning assumptions previously taken for granted; and with Scotland’s traditional connections to France, then in the throes of the Enlightenment, the Scots began developing a uniquely practical branch of humanism.” No further evidence of The Institute’s agenda-affirming cherry-pick of history is required: they love Hume’s free trade but ignore his science and humanism.  The Cato Store features a library of climate science denial of potential benefit to the fossil fuel industry, their benefactors. The genuine Cato’s Letters said this: “Ignorance of arts and sciences, and of every thing that is good, together with poverty, misery, and desolation, are found for the most part all together, and are all certainly produced by tyranny. – G #67”

The debate over public virtue and individual rights is older than the nation, but no Founder would have advocated letting his neighbor’s house burn because he hadn’t paid his insurance. Incendiary right wing rhetoric of the type contrived by Cato and the wholly owned Koch subsidiaries to which it is related is a blight on the national discourse. As Americans we must always criticize government, but we can never hate it—it would be to hate ourselves. The authentic Cato’s Letters said this:  “Where-ever publick spirit is found dangerous, she will soon be seen dead. – G #35”

Definitions of morality necessarily contain values, and free people necessarily must ask, “Who defines morality and virtue? Whom do the resulting definitions benefit? How are such decisions made? Who decides?”


This essay is dedicated to Neil Cameron of Montreal, PQ, who taught me to prefer source materials and make up my own mind—especially if the topic is US history and politics.

1 “Taxed Enough Already,” a favourite slogan of the so-called astroturf (“corporate funded” or “faux-populist”) group. Such a spelling takes a small step towards diminishing the utterly wrong association with “The Boston Tea Party of 1773,” and event in American history during which anti-corporate rebels destroyed the property of The East India Tea Company, a private corporation many Patriots believed would “rob them blind.” The issue was not taxes, but representation; they wanted their tax dollars to go to local services, not to subsidize an offshore private corporation. One patriot, George Hewes, who boarded the ships and dumped the tea later explained it was the corporation’s habit of using close ties to the monarchy to alter laws. The TEA Party, in stark contrast, is largely funded and organized by the very people who use extraordinary access to manipulate laws in favor of large corporations today. The Patriots of Boston Harbor, 1773, wanted a stronger democracy, while the TEA party seems to focus on resisting and obstructing the acvtions of a specific president.

See this article for details and scholarly references.

 2 For an economist’s assessment of the see, for example, Roubini: Supporters of a Gold Standard Are ‘Lunatics and Hacks’ By Peter Gorenstein, Daily Ticker – Wed, Nov 23, 2011 http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/roubini-supporters-gold-standard-lunatics-hacks-181958239.html

3 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-25/cato-koch-brothers-settle-suits-over-control-of-think-tank-1-.html

References and further reading

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Arnold, Joseph L., (1978) Suburban Growth and Municipal Annexation in Baltimore, 1745-1918 Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol 73 No 2 June 1978

Belsham, William (1799) Essays, philosophical, historical, and literary, London: G.G. and J. Robinson, 526 pp.

Bloomberg (Andrew Harris, 2012-04-10) http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-10/koch-brothers-file-second-lawsuit-against-cato-institute-1-.html retrieved 2012-06-22.

Broderick, Francis L. (1949), Pulpit, Physics, and Politics: The Curriculum of the College of New Jersey, 1746-1794, The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Jan., 1949), pp. 42-68

Cato Institute (1977) Articles of Incorportion, archived at D. B. A. Press retrieved 2012-06-22.

Cato Institute (1994) Restated Articles of Incorportion, archived at D. B. A. Press retrieved 2012-06-22.

Cato Institute (2001) 2001 Annual Report http://www.cato.org/pubs/papers/25th_annual_report.pdf retrieved 2012-06-22.

Dorn, James A. (1996) The Rise of Government and the Decline of Morality, online, Cato Institute http://www.cato.org/pubs/catosletters/cl-12.pdf retrieved 2012-06-23

Herring, Susan C. (1999) The Rhetorical Dynamics of Gender Harassment On-Line The Information Society: An International Journal Volume 15, Issue 3, 1999 pp151-167 Taylor & Francis.

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Fea, John (2003) The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian’s Rural Enlightenment, The Journal of American History, September 2003, 462-490.

Forbes (Jim Powell, contrib., 2012-03-11) The Cato Institute Controversy: Why Should Anyone Care What Libertarians Think? http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimpowell/2012/03/11/the-cato-institute-controversy-why-should-anyone-care-what-libertarians-think/ retrieved 2012-06-22.

Frezza, Bill (2012) George Orwell’s Doublespeak Dominates Every Corner of Economic Policy, USA, Blog post, http://www.pinnacledigest.com/blog/bill-frezza/george-orwell%E2%80%99s-doublespeak-dominates-every-corner-economic-policy retrieved 2012-06-23.

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Hamowy, Ronald (1995) [Trenchard, John and Gordon, Thomas (6th ed., 1755)] Cato’s Letters, or Essays on Liberty, Civil and Religious, and Other Important Subjects. Four volumes in Two, edited and annotated by Ronald Hamowy (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1995). Accessed from http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/737 on 2012-06-23.

Haskett, Richard C. (1949) Princeton Before the Revolution: Notes on a Source The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Jan., 1949), pp. 90-93.

Herring, Susan C. (1999) The Rhetorical Dynamics of Gender Harassment On-Line, The Information Society, 15:151—167.

Howe, John (2009) Language and Political Meaning in Revolutionary America, Boston: Univ of Massachusetts Press, 296 pages.

Jones, W. T. and Fogelin, Robert J. (1969) A History of Western Philosophy: Hobbes to Hume, Volume III, London: Wadsworth Publishing, 381pp.

Kramarae, Chris. 1981. Women and Men Speaking. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

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Lopata, Helena Znaniecka & Erdmans, Mary Patrice (1995) Polish Americans, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 297pp

Mapes, Mary (1999) Religion and Social Welfare in 20th Century Indianapolis, Research Notes Vol 2, No 3 June 1999

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—————–          Postscript 1975: http://www.ditext.com/woodcock/postscript.html retrieved 2012-06-27

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