It is as if there really is a "national interest" represented in the Constitution, in territorial expansion, in the laws passed by Congress, the decisions of the courts, the development of capitalism, the culture of education and the mass media. From his standpoint, the "peace" that Europe had before the French Revolution was "restored" by the diplomacy of a few national leaders. But for factory workers in England, farmers in France, colored people in Asia and Africa, women and children everywhere except in the upper classes, it was a world of conquest, violence, hunger, exploitation-a world not restored but disintegrated.
My viewpoint, in telling the history of the United States, is different: that we must not accept the memory of states as our own. Nations are not communities and never have been, The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interest sometimes exploding, most often repressed between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex.
And in such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners. Thus, in that inevitable taking of sides which comes from selection and emphasis in history, I prefer to try to tell the story of the discovery of America from the viewpoint of the Arawaks, of the Constitution from the standpoint of the slaves, of Andrew Jackson as seen by the Cherokees, of the Civil War as seen by the New York Irish, of the Mexican war as seen by the deserting soldiers of Scott's army, of the rise of industrialism as seen by the young women in the Lowell textile mills, of the Spanish-American war as seen by the Cubans, the conquest of the Philippines as seen by black soldiers on Luzon, the Gilded Age as seen by southern farmers, the First World War as seen by socialists, the Second World War as seen by pacifists, the New Deal as seen by blacks in Harlem, the postwar American empire as seen by peons in Latin America.
And so on, to the limited extent that any one person, however he or she strains, can "see" history from the standpoint of others. My point is not to grieve for the victims and denounce the executioners. Those tears, that anger, cast into the past, deplete our moral energy for the present.
And the lines are not always clear. In the long run, the oppressor is also a victim. In the short run and so far, human history has consisted only of short runs , the victims, themselves desperate and tainted with the culture that oppresses them, turn on other victims. Still, understanding the complexities, this book will be skeptical of governments and their attempts, through politics and culture, to ensnare ordinary people in a giant web of nationhood pretending to a common interest.
I will try not to overlook the cruelties that victims inflict on one another as they are jammed together in the boxcars of the system. I don't want to romanticize them. But I do remember in rough paraphrase a statement I once read: "The cry of the poor is not always just, but if you don't listen to it, you will never know what justice is.
I don't want to invent victories for people's movements. But to think that history-writing must aim simply to recapitulate the failures that dominate the past is to make historians collaborators in an endless cycle of defeat. If history is to be creative, to anticipate a possible future without denying the past, it should, I believe, emphasize new possibilities by disclosing those hidden episodes of the past when, even if in brief flashes, people showed their ability to resist, to join together, occasionally to win.
I am supposing, or perhaps only hoping, that our future may be found in the past's fugitive moments of compassion rather than in its solid centuries of warfare. That, being as blunt as I can, is my approach to the history of the United States. The reader may as well know that before going on. It built enormous constructions from stone tools and human labor, developed a writing system and a priesthood.
It also engaged in let us not overlook this the ritual killing of thousands of people as sacrifices to the gods. The cruelty of the Aztecs, however, did not erase a certain innocence, and when a Spanish armada appeared at Vera Cruz, and a bearded white man came ashore, with strange beasts horses , clad in iron, it was thought that he was the legendary Aztec man-god who had died three hundred years before, with the promise to return-the mysterious Quetzalcoatl. And so they welcomed him, with munificent hospitality. That was Hernando Cortes, come from Spain with an expedition financed by merchants and landowners and blessed by the deputies of God, with one obsessive goal: to find gold.
In the mind of Montezuma, the king of the Aztecs, there must have been a certain doubt about whether Cortes was indeed Quetzalcoatl, because he sent a hundred runners to Cortes, bearing enormous treasures, gold and silver wrought into objects of fantastic beauty, but at the same time begging him to go back. The painter Durer a few years later described what he saw just arrived in Spain from that expedition-a sun of gold, a moon of silver, worth a fortune.
Cortes then began his march of death from town to town, using deception, turning Aztec against Aztec, killing with the kind of deliberateness that accompanies a strategy-to paralyze the will of the population by a sudden frightful deed. And so, in Cholulu, he invited the headmen of the Cholula nation to the square. And when they came, with thousands of unarmed retainers, Cortes's small army of Spaniards, posted around the square with cannon, armed with crossbows, mounted on horses, massacred them, down to the last man.
Then they looted the city and moved on. When their cavalcade of murder was over they were in Mexico City, Montezuma was dead, and the Aztec civilization, shattered, was in the hands of the Spaniards. In Peru, that other Spanish conquistador Pizarro, used the same tactics, and for the same reasons- the frenzy in the early capitalist states of Europe for gold, for slaves, for products of the soil, to pay the bondholders and stockholders of the expeditions, to finance the monarchical bureaucracies rising in Western Europe, to spur the growth of the new money economy rising out of feudalism, to participate in what Karl Marx would later call "the primitive accumulation of capital.
In the North American English colonies, the pattern was set early, as Columbus had set it in the islands of the Bahamas. In , before there was any permanent English settlement in Virginia, Richard Grenville landed there with seven ships. The Indians he met were hospitable, but when one of them stole a small silver cup, Grenville sacked and burned the whole Indian village. Jamestown itself was set up inside the territory of an Indian confederacy, led by the chief, Powhatan.
Powhatan watched the English settle on his people's land, but did not attack, maintaining a posture of coolness. When the English were going through their "starving time" in the winter of , some of them ran off to join the Indians, where they would at least be fed. When the summer came, the governor of the colony sent a messenger to ask Powhatan to return the runaways, whereupon Powhatan, according to the English account, replied with "noe other than prowde and disdaynefull Answers. Twelve years later, the Indians, alarmed as the English settlements kept growing in numbers, apparently decided to try to wipe them out for good.
They went on a rampage and massacred men, women, and children. From then on it was total war. Not able to enslave the Indians, and not able to live with them, the English decided to exterminate them. In that first year of the white man in Virginia, , Powhatan had addressed a plea to John Smith that turned out prophetic.
How authentic it is may be in doubt, but it is so much like so many Indian statements that it may be taken as, if not the rough letter of that first plea, the exact spirit of it:. When the Pilgrims came to New England they too were coming not to vacant land but to territory inhabited by tribes of Indians. The governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, created the excuse to take Indian land by declaring the area legally a "vacuum. The Puritans also appealed to the Bible, Psalms "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
The Puritans lived in uneasy truce with the Pequot Indians, who occupied what is now southern Connecticut and Rhode Island. But they wanted them out of the way; they wanted their land. And they seemed to want also to establish their rule firmly over Connecticut settlers in that area.
The murder of a white trader, Indian-kidnaper, and troublemaker became an excuse to make war on the Pequots in A punitive expedition left Boston to attack the Narraganset Indians on Block Island, who were lumped with the Pequots. As Governor Winthrop wrote:. The English landed and killed some Indians, but the rest hid in the thick forests of the island and the English went from one deserted village to the next, destroying crops. Then they sailed back to the mainland and raided Pequot villages along the coast, destroying crops again.
One of the officers of that expedition, in his account, gives some insight into the Pequots they encountered: "The Indians spying of us came running in multitudes along the water side, crying, What cheer, Englishmen, what cheer, what do you come for? They not thinking we intended war, went on cheerfully So, the war with the Pequots began. Massacres took place on both sides. The English developed a tactic of warfare used earlier by Cortes and later, in the twentieth century, even more systematically: deliberate attacks on noncombatants for the purpose of terrorizing the enemy.
This is ethno historian Francis Jennings's interpretation of Captain John Mason's attack on a Pequot village on the Mystic River near Long Island Sound: "Mason proposed to avoid attacking Pequot warriors, which would have overtaxed his unseasoned, unreliable troops. Battle, as such, was not his purpose. Battle is only one of the ways to destroy an enemy's will to fight. Massacre can accomplish the same end with less risk, and Mason had determined that massacre would be his objective. So the English set fire to the wigwams of the village. As Dr. Cotton Mather, Puritan theologian, put it: "It was supposed that no less than Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day.
The war continued. Indian tribes were used against one another, and never seemed able to join together in fighting the English. Jennings sums up:. Forty years after the Pequot War, Puritans and Indians fought again. This time it was the Wampanoags, occupying the south shore of Massachusetts Bay, who were in the way and also beginning to trade some of their land to people outside the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Their chief, Massasoit, was dead. His son Wamsutta had been killed by Englishmen, and Wamsuttas brother Metacom later to be called King Philip by the English became chief. The English found their excuse, a murder which they attributed to Metacom, and they began a war of conquest against the Wampanoags, a war to take their land.
They were clearly the aggressors, but claimed they attacked for preventive purposes. As Roger Williams, more friendly to the Indians than most, put it: "All men of conscience or prudence ply to windward, to maintain their wars to be defensive. Jennings says the elite of the Puritans wanted the war; the ordinary white Englishman did not want it and often refused to fight.
The Indians certainly did not want war, but they matched atrocity with atrocity. When it was over, in , the English had won, but their resources were drained; they had lost six hundred men. Three thousand Indians were dead, including Metacom himself. Yet the Indian raids did not stop. For a while, the English tried softer tactics. But ultimately, it was back to annihilation. The Indian population of 10 million that lived north of Mexico when Columbus came would ultimately be reduced to less than a million.
Huge numbers of Indians would die from diseases introduced by the whites. A Dutch traveler in New Netherland wrote in that "the Indians There were no wars on that island, but by , only Indians were left there. Similarly, Block Island Indians numbered perhaps 1, to 1, in , and by were reduced to fifty-one. Behind the English invasion of North America, behind their massacre of Indians, their deception, their brutality, was that special powerful drive born in civilizations based on private property.
It was a morally ambiguous drive; the need for space, for land, was a real human need. But in conditions of scarcity, in a barbarous epoch of history ruled by competition, this human need was transformed into the murder of whole peoples. Roger Williams said it was. Was all this bloodshed and deceit-from Columbus to Cortes, Pizarro, the Puritans-a necessity for the human race to progress from savagery to civilization? Was Morison right in burying the story of genocide inside a more important story of human progress? Perhaps a persuasive argument can be made-as it was made by Stalin when he killed peasants for industrial progress in the Soviet Union, as it was made by Churchill explaining the bombings of Dresden and Hamburg, and Truman explaining Hiroshima.
But how can the judgment be made if the benefits and losses cannot be balanced because the losses are either unmentioned or mentioned quickly? That quick disposal might be acceptable "Unfortunate, yes, but it had to be done" to the middle and upper classes of the conquering and "advanced" countries. But is it acceptable to the poor of Asia, Africa, Latin America, or to the prisoners in Soviet labor camps, or the blacks in urban ghettos, or the Indians on reservations-to the victims of that progress which benefits a privileged minority in the world?
Was it acceptable or just inescapable? And even the privileged minority-must it not reconsider, with that practicality which even privilege cannot abolish, the value of its privileges, when they become threatened by the anger of the sacrificed, whether in organized rebellion, unorganized riot, or simply those brutal individual acts of desperation labeled crimes by law and the state? If there are necessary sacrifices to be made for human progress, is it not essential to hold to the principle that those to be sacrificed must make the decision themselves?
We can all decide to give up something of ours, but do we have the right to throw into the pyre the children of others, or even our own children, for a progress which is not nearly as clear or present as sickness or health, life or death? What did people in Spain get out of all that death and brutality visited on the Indians of the Americas?
For a brief period in history, there was the glory of a Spanish Empire in the Western Hemisphere. Beyond all that, how certain are we that what was destroyed was inferior? Who were these people who came out on the beach and swam to bring presents to Columbus and his crew, who watched Cortes and Pizarro ride through their countryside, who peered out of the forests at the first white settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts? Columbus called them Indians, because he miscalculated the size of the earth. In this book we too call them Indians, with some reluctance, because it happens too often that people are saddled with names given them by their conquerors.
And yet, there is some reason to call them Indians, because they did come, perhaps 25, years ago, from Asia, across the land bridge of the Bering Straits later to disappear under water to Alaska. Then they moved southward, seeking warmth and land, in a trek lasting thousands of years that took them into North America, then Central and South America.
In Nicaragua, Brazil, and Ecuador their petrified footprints can still be seen, along with the print of bison, who disappeared about five thousand years ago, so they must have reached South America at least that far back.
Widely dispersed over the great land mass of the Americas, they numbered approximately 75 million people by the time Columbus came, perhaps 25 million in North America. Responding to the different environments of soil and climate, they developed hundreds of different tribal cultures, perhaps two thousand different languages. They perfected the art of agriculture, and figured out how to grow maize corn , which cannot grow by itself and must be planted, cultivated, fertilized, harvested, husked, shelled.
They ingeniously developed a variety of other vegetables and fruits, as well as peanuts and chocolate and tobacco and rubber. He certainly had his dark side he seems to have been anti-semitic for at least part of his life, believing in a world conspiracy of "Jewish financiers" , but he was at the same time hugely progressive and forward-thinking in many other ways.
For example, he hired African-Americans, women and disabled people long before most other business owners did so, and was passionately committed to the principle of paying good wages to hire and keep the best employees. He was a relentless technological innovator, based on his commitment to creating "the best possible goods at the lowest possible price. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. They will be embarrassingly large. Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. Women, then, are the group presented with more choices. Interesting theory.
Also never tested. Economists also understand that irrational discrimination leaves statistical footprints. Returning to sports for the analogy. Blacks were completely excluded from baseball. When that idiocy came to an end, you could expect to see two things. One, those black players who broke into MLB would, on average, be much better than the average of all players. Two, those organizations that do not discriminate will out-compete irrationally discriminating ones because they will, on average, have a better talent pool.
And that happened, too. The NFL irrationally discriminated against black quarterback. It left the same kind of footprints. Summers posited that it should be possible to see these types of footprints in other organizations. You should really go back to Summers speech and read it through HIS eyes. There is a lot of research that finds that the distribution of men on almost all physical and mental elements is wider than women. Thus men will tend to be over-represented on the low and high ends of the distribution tails on intelligence, mental illnesses, physical stature, sense of taste, smell, etc.
This means at the elite levels of academia, cooking, wine tasting, etc. Men are also over-represented in prisons, mental hospitals, sewage treatment plant i. I also wonder about the validity of studies that supposedly show women are discriminated against with regards to pay, promotions, etc.
The fact that no one does this suggests that the studies do not accurately reflect reality. So, your idea is that if feminists were sincere, they would be working to raise the number of women in prisons and mental hospitals? Failure to do so shows that research about women getting low pay is inaccurate?
Curt Rice. Your reply does not seem to be open-minded E. On example is risk-averseness. Comparatively, very few women throw themselves out of perfectly serviceable aircraft. Skydiving is dominated by men. Physically, there is no reason for that domination. Couples could take up skydiving, but they generally do not. Let us say for the sake of argument that skydiving is a good proxy for risk-averseness and that the mean of the curve is the same for both sexes, only the distribution results in the skewing at the tails.
How will that play out in other areas where attitudes to risk are significant? Risk that is taken and pays of leads to outsize rewards. Risk that is taken and leads to failure leads to outsize penalties. Do we see skewed results in entrepreneurship, gambling, crime and homelessness? Sorry to be so thick. I get the distribution point. Explicit bias, it seems to me, potentially holds back excellence. Implicit bias does, too, of course, but also average-ness.
Why the excellent ones should be those who manage to break through is unclear to me. The skills for breaking the glass ceiling may be different than the skills for the position. Feminists argue that women should be equally represented in top positions as men, and the fact that this is not true means they are being discriminated against. Since men tend to have wider distributions than women on a wide variety of mental and physical characteristics, however, it is very likely that a disproportionate share of high performing people are men, which explains why they have a disproportionate share of top positions.
The wider distribution also means a disproportionate share of men are at the bottom of society. Feminists only focus on the supposed discrimination at the top, but they never show any concern about their under-representation at the bottom, perhaps because it would highlight the fact that gender differences in the distribution of abilities is a more likely explanation than systematic discrimination.
Generally that word means lazy or dis-incentivized.
It is important to document your progress. Do not whine… Do not complain. Nelson Mandela. Thanks for your thoughts, Desire. As a coach, I play not my eleven best, but my best eleven. Part 2.
Did you mean unsubstantiated? Check in the economics department. You will discover that the principle is very well substantiated indeed across many different areas of economic theory. The sawmill in my hometown is now the most efficient mill on the planet in terms of board-feet per man-hour. Because consistent irrational discriminatory American softwood tariffs and quotas have to be overcome.
The result is top performance. Toyota and the Japanese car industry in general are what they are because the have had to overcome structural barriers and irrational discrimination. These things leave footprints that can be discerned. One of them is that those firms or individuals that overcome them will skew toward the upper end of the curve. The nature of the irrational discrimination is irrelevant. Two equally sized groups with the same mean and distribution for the skills needed are considered for a number of positions. Beyond this irrationality, the rest of their attributes are rationally assessed.
The number of positions to be filled is the lower 10th percentile of the skewed assessment. An independent, rational observer comes in to measure performance. What will they find? Irrationality leaves footprints. Summers was raising the idea of an aptitude difference across large groups e.
If discrimination exists for reasons that actually are not relevant to the task being performed — is that what you mean by irrational? The discrimination is still a fact in that case. But maybe that is part of our disagreement. Which leads to another point, namely the value associated with a particular team vs the value associated with the individuals.
That has to somehow be worked into our assessments here, too. There is tremendous gender segregation in our country. And there are in fact industries that do just what you suggest, namely focus on hiring women to keep costs down. Pre-school teaching would be one example; nursing another. So it should be possible to explore this more carefully based on real-world studies. In fact, it should be easy. Curt Rice What E. Olson and I suggest to you is that such behavior should leave marked footprints. Firms that hire women because irrational discrimination at other firms has provided a pool of more skilled employees available at lower cost should reap the benefits in terms of lower costs and higher productivity.
Moreover, the productivity of the women who still do get hired at firms that are practicing irrational discrimination should skew to the upper end of the curve. They were every good candidates for the job, but barely got hired for the position. But it is not so easy to study in the real world. How many men train as pre-school teachers or nurses?
Of those men, are they preferentially employed in the field the percentage of graduating trainees employed in the field is skewed based on gender? Do they receive higher or lower pay? Are there union contracts in place? Do they leave the field? There are many variables — which Dr Summers attempted to elucidate, to the detriment of his career. The U. I personally believe that people should be allowed to do what they want and rise as far as their talents and interests take them, but I do not believe that doing so will result in perfectly equal distributions among the genders.
The conclusion could just mean that the kinds of measures that have been taken do not address the source of the problem, and that the structural issues that hold women back have not been eliminated in Scandinavia either — indeed, that is surely true. The debate really is about nature versus nurture.
Thus the solution is treat boys and girls identically and in the mean-time give women preferential treatment i. Larry Summers got into big trouble because he dared mention that perhaps men had some nature given advantages over women, which might explain why men dominated in physical sciences. Substantial evidence suggests that Summers is correct, yet to the extent that nature vs. This also means that those who do pursue research on the nature vs.
I suspect that pro-nurture results are also much more likely to get through the review process of top journals. As a American, I read this with some interest. My feelings twoard these structural institutions is that they have been around for years as patriarchal male only institutes. It has only been in the last years or less that women have been apart of these institutions in any meaningful way. I also must say that religious upbringing plays a large role in how men and women view themselves and their roles. Many people hold to the gender roles because of personal religious belief.
I think when these religious institutions start involving women in more authoritative positions rather then auxiliary functions, we could see more improvement in other areas. It does impact individual choice. If women are incapable of reaching the top, I wonder how we explain Thatcher then?
Or Helen Clark, come to that. Were they perhaps men in disguise? This article was originally published on Curt Rice - Science in Balance. Read the original article.
Published November 13, Discuss 66 Comments. Three things stopping women There are only three possible explanations for the lower numbers of women at the top level of these organizations. Women are not capable of doing the work that is required at the top. Women do not have the desire to be at the top. There are structural impediments preventing women from reaching the top. Those are the three options. A difference in brainpower? Time to fix it? You owe it to yourself and your organization to ask these questions: Are there disproportionately fewer women at the highest level of our institution?
Is that because women are less capable of doing the job? Or is there something else that gets in the way? After all, making your organization better for women will make it better for everyone. Elizabeth Halvorsen says:. November 14, at am.
November 14, at pm. TunedMassDamsel says:. November 18, at pm. Gillian Ramchand says:. November 15, at am. November 15, at pm. Jo Bakken says:. Tom Schulte says:. Karen Sund says:. January 7, at pm. Bror says:. February 15, at pm. Desire says:. February 15, at am. EMC says:. August 12, at pm. Ploum says:. November 17, at pm. February 10, at pm. Curt Rice says:. February 14, at pm.