Power and History: Essential Readings for Tonight

If you have a free hour tonight, may I suggest two excellent articles?

1. “When the rich and powerful overplay their hand” – The Canadian writer James Laxer provides a brief but thought-provoking history of the French Revolution, and the parallels it might have for modern American politics. Before the revolution of 1789, Laxer explains how the French state was hobbled by a revolt from the nobility, which refused to pay its share of taxes to a debt-ridden imperial government. The nobles brought the French government to its knees, but precipitated a much wider revolution that fundamentally changed the nature of France… and wiped out the nobility as a class.

2. “The Power and the Glory: Myths of American Exceptionalism” – This is an older article (from 2005) by one of my favourite leftists, Howard Zinn. It is a searing indictment of an American foreign policy that predates the creation of the country. Zinn’s essential point is that the Bush Doctrine is not new; it is part of a centuries-old policy continuum that justifies the brutal exercise of imperial power on the basis of a supposed moral imperative.

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