Themes in American History: Capitalism, Slavery, Democracy

The 20th Anniversary of September 11th


Today is the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001—an event which took place before many of you, the students in this class, were born, but which continues to shape our experience in ways both acknowledged and unseen.

Whether you are aware of it or not, many of you are among the first generations of college students who were born after Sept. 11, 2001—a milestone of sorts for those of us who remember that day vividly as something that shaped us in the prime of our lives, and have struggled to convey the meaning and significance ever since as witnesses and teachers.

For those of us who are able to remember that day in detail, it brings back a plethora of conflicting emotions: shock, horror, rage, disbelief, and, for far too many of us here in the New York City area, the unfathomable grief that attends the loss of a friend, family member, or loved one, even many years later.

At the same time, it is worth trying to consider 9/11 as an historic event—meaning that, among other things, we try to understand and evaluate it more or less objectively. How does our understanding of the events of 9/11 change if we view them as part of a continuum with the past and/or as an indicator of change over time, rather than as a seemingly random event with no history or context, as the sudden appearance of passenger planes headed towards the Twin Towers seemed to so many of us that day?

Another question we might ask is, “how has the United States changed in the twenty years since 9/11?,” Posing such a question almost unavoidably asks us to confront the deeper question of whether those changes have been for the better or the worse. Coming on the heels of a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan—the longest war in our country’s history, with failures spanning two decades and multiple presidencies, from President Biden’s responsibility for the withdrawal to President Trump’s signing of the terms of the agreement with the Taliban, to George W. Bush’s fateful decision to go to war in the days and weeks after 9/11—it feels like an especially appropriate time to contemplate that question.

In the twenty years since 9/11, there have been many excellent books, essays, documentaries, and think-pieces written about the events of that day and what has transpired since. Unfortunately, there has also been a tremendous amount of misinformation, disinformation, racially- and religiously-motivated hatred, and conspiracy theories. One of the questions we will try to address in this class, is how to distinguish between valid, less valid, and implausible or deceptive interpretations of historical events. With an event like 9/11, where there is still much that remains  unknown (and will probably always remain so), and where emotions are particularly raw, it can be particularly hard to separate fact from fiction. One place to start is the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, which has an ongoing and ever-changing series of exhibitions and events. If you have the time for a longer series, and feel you can handle a more unstinting look at what has transpired in our country in the years since 2001, I also recommend the Frontline documentary “America After 9/11.”

I invite you to weigh in on this blog post with your thoughts and comments, with a gentle reminder to keep your comments respectful and to avoid repeating unfounded facts or conspiracy theories. Although we will not return to this subject until the end of the semester (and probably only briefly then), I hope that by that time, we will have filled in enough of the gaps in our knowledge of American history as to begin to put the events of Sept. 11th, 2001, in perspective. Only then can we address the bigger question, which falls to all of us, but particularly to you as members of the coming generation: Where do we go from here?

Fulcher’s Capitalism

Quick Summary Of Fulcher’s Capitalism

Throughout history, we can see repeatedly that dominance is what keeps a nation alive and thriving but not everybody contributes to that. People that are not middle class or poor prefer the term free market to show their dominance. Fulcher’s perspective on capitalism includes dominance in the economy. Fulcher looks at capitalism as a way to invest money and make profits from that investment. The very short story written by Fulcher explores the origin of capitalism in Europe which was a powerhouse and a lucrative asset. Fulcher talks about industrial capitalism which was the center of attention because the economy can be evaluated on how well the industries are doing. But this example can also be looked at in this modern era where the stock market has so much power and there are people who can manipulate it. That just shows how capitalism and Fulcher’s perspective in gaining wealth has not died as people are making a ton of money.

Throughout the text, Fulcher talks about international trade-in and capital raise which shows capitalism at its best as it includes taking money from people then investing it. But at the same, you are also making a lot of money. Capitalism can be seen in many other historical times than Fulcher’s like when the British took over India. They wanted private ownership and all the resources but in return, they gave nothing instead they kept on gaining wealth. So that should tell you how big the concept of capitalism is something very which everybody wants but it does not benefit everybody especially in an economy where the nation relies on the labor force and taxes to maintain order.

But that is where capitalism shines because the economy people around have found loopholes that help them cheat the county people. This can be summarized in Fulcher’s saying as he expressed how you need to invest money to make money.

No class week of Sept. 6th!

Dear class,

Contrary to what I stated last class, and to what appeared the original version of the syllabus, we do not meet either Monday 9/6 or Wednesday 9/8. I’ve posted a revised version of the syllabus with that and a few other corrections. on Blackboard.

Enjoy the Labor Day holiday, and please use the extra time to catch up on readings and assignments (again, see the syllabus as well as announcements on Blackboard). And, if for some reason you are still not completely vaccinated against COVID-19, consider using the time to complete your vaccination requirements so that we will be in compliance and can get back to in-person or hybrid meetings ASAP!

This cartoon, from a booklet published by the American Public Health Association in 1930, shows that anti-vaccination hysteria and misinformation are nothing new.