The History Book Club discussion

ART - ARCHITECTURE - CULTURE > 13. FROM DAWN... August 24 ~ August 30 - Part Three - Chapter XX (519-550 ) Non-Spoiler

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 27, 2009 09:35AM) (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
This is the reading assignment for this week:

August 24 – August 30 ~~ Part III, The Mother of Parliaments (519-550)

The moderator tries to stimulate/instigate discussion but please feel free to open up with any questions of your own or your own opinions. These threads are for all of you.

Additionally, it is never too late to pick up the Barzun book and participate. We welcome all of the membership to this discussion. We always keep the threads open of the previous spotlighted book even though it will be moved to an Archive spot until the completion of the next in line selection so there is still plenty of time to get caught up.

This is a weekly non spoiler thread, When posting, please post in the appropriate weekly thread.


From Dawn to Decadence 500 Years of Western Cultural Life 1500 to the Present by Jacques Barzun

message 2: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 67 comments The Mother of Governments chapter discusses the change in government from predominantly manarchist to decomcratic..and then to experiments with socialism.

On Page 520-521 Burke's theories on change in government is addressed when he says "stable governments depend not on force but on habit - the ingrained, far from stupid obedience to the laws and ways of the country as they have been and are.. Change .. serves a good purpose only when gradual." This comment made me think of our policies in Iraq. It seems like in this case a democracy was imposed on a people unsuccessfully.

Can democracy ever be imposed by force or can it only be achieved successfully through a natural progression?

message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 02, 2009 08:38PM) (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Sarah, you raise a good point. I have been thinking about Iraq right along and wonder why anyone believes that nation building and creating a democracy is going to take just a few years. The First Continental Congress met in September 5, 1774.

In the case of our own country, the founding fathers started drafting the Articles of Confederation in 1776 at the Second Continental Congress and the ratification for the Articles of Confederation was not ratified until March 1781. The Articles of Confederation worked out so so and we ratified our new constitution in 1788.

We had sixteen different terms during the Articles of Confederation phase of our country's initiation and 14 different chairmen during these 16 terms (two of these folks served twice). In fact, the first eight terms were just the chairmanship of the Continental Congresses; it wasn't until John Hanson in 1781 was anybody elected under the Articles of Confederation as President when it was finally ratified. In fact, it was a revolving door in terms of who was chairing the Continental Congress in any given year.

Then in 1789 the founding fathers elected George Washington under the new Constitution (Electoral College) and somehow despite all of the other leaders; he became known as the first president of the United States (under the new Constitution).

It wasn't even until Andrew Jackson in 1829 was there a president who was actually elected by the people. Since it took our country decades to evolve and we wanted this democracy; how does anyone think logically that we can just flick the switch and that overnight Iraq will be a full fledged democracy. The folks who went into Iraq knew it; but the American people did not unfortunately.

I guess the answer is: it depends. I guess like a dictatorship any government can be imposed by force; but that is not what democracy is based upon.

I wonder if Iraq knows what democracy means; I am not sure how they would when women and some religious minorities are not treated very well and they have lived under a terrible dictatorship for so long; maybe somehow even by force democracy will evolve in time.

But we knew with our democratic experiment that we had to have a separation of church from state to have a chance for success; Iraq doesn't even have that basic understanding from what I can see.

How can a stable government not be put into place with anything but force there? They never had this form of government ingrained; and like Burke stated: "Change...serves a good purpose only when gradual."

What this is telling me is that there will be a number of folks advising and a US presence for many years to come. Maybe John McCain was right....100 years.

I certainly hope not and I certainly hope that the troops are all brought home as we were promised; but how will this fledgling government survive without being bolstered by someone. I just hope that the UN will step in to take on that role permanently. We haven't heard much about Iraq recently and when all of the troops will really be home so I surmise we are in for the long haul (the ingrained period of time).

The natural progression will surely take as long as it took us!

I have to say that Barzun's book really makes you start to think about the realities of transitions.

message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 02, 2009 08:59PM) (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
I am wondering Sarah if some of the Loyalists - those folks who still wanted to be part of England felt that democracy (or a government absent a monarch) was being forced upon them? They probably did. But is that the same thing as forcing democracy on Iraq; probably not. But just another thought.

I also think that abolishing slavery and treating minorities better also takes time and is a real progression. Raising the status and the standard of living and modifying the mindsets of those parties involved also takes a lot of time.

I think all transitional phases in changing any part of the environment of people's lives are gradual and there is a steep learning curve.

Just some other points I was considering when thinking about the exceptional analogy you surfaced for us.

back to top