The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln, Slavery and the Rights of Black Americans; Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities
Thank you for that very nice introduction and I'm very happy to be here in Tampa at this great university.
And as you heard I'm going to you know there's two occupational groups professors and psychiatrists who don't really know how to count because we think an hour is about 45 minutes. So I'm going to talk for the Professor's hour of 45 minutes and then I will spend a little time afterwards I'll be delighted to respond to any questions you may have for a little bit. So you know we will start from there. But before I begin I wanted to say obviously Abraham Lincoln is a iconic figure of American history. He's also a very valuable commodity. Lincoln is used in TV ads I think Guy go at him in a TV ad recently. And people collect Lincoln stuff. I've a little collection of Lincoln things and I brought along a couple of examples for you these articles about Lincoln that were that are in you know like supermarket tabloids you know I don't read these things with my students pass them along to me.
So he has two articles that were passed along. OK. You can I'm going to hold it. You can't really see it. But this is you see I had Abe Lincoln's baby. Out. There. She has. Some kind of cloning experiment. The funny thing is the kid looks like Lincoln. I don't want to go there.
And then even more unusual this is the Weekly World News you see can you read this. Abraham Lincoln's corpse revived.
He's kept alive for ninety five seconds and the student who passed this along wrote on it. Why didn't they have the sense to ask him what his plans for reconstruction were.
So we missed an opportunity there in 1876 the great black abolitionist Frederick Douglass gave a speech in Washington at the unveiling of what they called the Freedmen's Monument which is a statue it's still there if you're in Washington you could find it a statue of Abraham Lincoln conferring freedom on a kneeling slave kneeling before him and Douglass said. No man can say anything that is new of Abraham Lincoln. That was like 130 years ago. But in the interim this has not stopped. Innumerable historians biographers journalists lawyers psychologists literary critics from trying to say something new about Abraham Lincoln as you well know Lincoln has a unique hold on the American imagination. He seems to embody core ideals of our society. He's a self-made man a frontier hero and of course the liberator of the slaves. Every political group every religious group has tried to claim Lincoln as their own. And in the past few years with in 2009 was the bicentennial 200 anniversary of Lincoln's death a birth. Sorry. There was a great outpouring of all sorts of books about Abraham Lincoln. But I feel that too often the continual outpouring of books on Lincoln has somehow gone hand-in-hand with a narrowing of historians focus previous generations of scholars wrote books that really tried to put Lincoln in a broad political and social context. They published work with titles like Lincoln and the radical's Lincoln and the negro Lincoln and the war governors into many recent books. I think the wider world just disappears from view. You have very minute studies of Lincoln every major speech of Lincoln has a book about it. But the trouble is it seems like to understand Lincoln all you need to do is study Lincoln. You want to know why Lincoln did something as president. You study his early a law Korea for example there's a kind of introverted aspect to much of the current literature on Lincoln. Well as was said very kindly by the Dean I have just now published my own book on Lincoln given that we live in a capitalistic society I should say it's for sale on outside. And afterwards I'd be delighted to sign it if anyone wants to pick it up. But this book is about. What I'm going to talk about tonight the evolution of Lincoln's ideas and policies about slavery and race in America is not a full biography it's not about Lincoln and his relationship with his wife or his children etc. It's about Lincoln and slavery which is what most people really care about when they think about Lincoln. And I want to situate Lincoln within the broad spectrum of thinking about slavery particularly anti-slavery sentiment in his era thinking about slavery ranged from immediate abolitionists. That is people who demanded the immediate abolition of slavery and incorporating African-American people as equal citizens of the United States. Other people were gradualist they thought slavery might be abolished over a long period of time with monetary compensation to the slave owners. And very often people like that thought that some or all of the slaves ought to be the term at that time colonized that is sent out of the United States to some other place maybe to Africa or to the Caribbean. And then of course there were pro-slavery people in the south. But Lincoln was not of course one of them. But in approaching the subject of this this evolution of Lincoln's views I think the key the hallmark of his greatness was Lincoln's capacity for growth. Too many people try to take one moment one quotation from Lincoln and say Here is the essential Lincoln. But at the time of his death Lincoln occupied a very very different position with regard to these questions than earlier in his life. Throughout this book and my talk I want to draw attention to Lincoln's relationship with these abolitionists and with radical Republicans who kind of represented abolitionists in Congress. They often criticized him and Lincoln made some remarks about them. Lincoln was not an abolitionist. He never claimed to be an abolitionist but he saw himself as part of a broad anti-slavery movement that included radical critics of slavery and more moderate politicians like himself. He was very aware of the abolitionist significance in creating public sentiments hostile to slavery. Lincoln was a shrewd enough politician to know that. The political leader can not go too far ahead of public opinion abolitionists helping to create the public opinion that makes a politician like Lincoln possible. In 1858 Lincoln wrote a letter in which he said that every school boy every school boy said recognize the names of William Wilberforce and Grandville Shaw. We don't know those names today really but they were leaders of the British campaign to abolish the slave trade back in the 1790s. Every schoolboy knows the names of Wilberforce and Shaw but who can now name a single man who opposed them says Lincoln. In other words Lincoln sees himself as part of a long trajectory of anti-slavery sentiment and nobody knew Duree at and for most of Lincoln's life when that would happen. In fact in 1858 you know we know the Civil War happened. That's a great advantage to us in thinking about the history. But it's also a great disadvantage it's very hard to get ourselves into the mind of people before the war who didn't know they were living in the pre-Civil War period right in 1858.
The Chicago Tribune a radical anti-slavery newspaper said no man living will see the end of American slavery. That's 1858. No man living. Nobody had any idea when slavery was likely to end. Nor did Lincoln. But my point is that on issue after issue whether it's abolition in Washington DC or emancipation during the Civil War or enlisting African American soldiers in the Union Army. Every one of those or giving the right to vote to some black man on every one of those issues Lincoln eventually came to occupy a position that the abolitionists had first staked out. He follows in their footsteps so to speak. Now Lincoln of course was a politician. He was not a anti-slavery agitator for almost his entire life.
I think he ran for office for the first time at age 23 and for virtually his entire life he was either in office or running for office. I emphasize this because often when you read about Lincoln you forget about the fact that his life was being a politician. That's partly because politicians today don't want to say a thing about Florida. I'm not from this state but let's say New York politicians are held in low esteem by the public. In fact I saw a poll which said that ranked different occupations you know. And. Politicians were only above two. We're just third from the bottom. The only two groups below them were convicted felons. And Wall Street bankers.
And since those are basically the same. Politicians really only second from the bottom.
That link it was a politician. And in the early part of his career in Illinois and in the state legislature he was not interested in the slavery issue particularly he was interested in economic questions economic growth tariffs building roads and canals to stimulate the market et cetera. But at one point in his early career Lincoln did make a statement about slavery which I want to point to. This was in 1837 he was pretty young. He's a member of the Illinois legislature and the legislature passed a resolution. Now Illinois at that time even though a free state in the north was largely settled by people from the south including Lincoln I mean his family was from Kentucky and even though it was not a slave state it was quite sentiment. There was quite pro-slavery and the legislature passed a resolution condemning abolitionists and affirming quote our deep affection for Southern slave owners and their constitutional right to own slaves. This past the legislature of Illinois unanimously in the Senate and 77 to six in the House of Representatives. So only six guys in the whole legislature voted against it. One of those was Lincoln and then a couple of weeks later Lincoln actually issued a statement explaining why he'd voted against it. He said I believe that the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy but that the promulgation of abolition doctrines tends to increase rather than abate its evil. Now this was not a ringing condemnation of slavery although he said it was unjust. But more importantly it enunciated a position that Lincoln held to really up to the Civil War basically slavery was wrong. It was unwise. But the abolitionists by their vehement attacks on the institution only made things worse. Well as I say Lincoln in the 1840s thirties said rather little about slavery. He didn't really elaborate his views until the 1850s when slavery became the dominant political issue in national politics. You may remember in 2008 and early 2009 a print candidate and then President Obama was often compared to Lincoln in some ways. They're both from Illinois you know Obama kind of tried to channel Lincoln a little. He took the same train route from Philadelphia to Washington that Lincoln did for his inauguration. He had Lincoln's dinner. Wow I don't know what it was the night before his inauguration. Same dinner Lincoln had done. No. But anyway a lot of comparisons were made which were kind of pointless. But here's one comparison I think is actually legitimate. Both Obama and Lincoln became national leaders through oratory not through holding public office. Lincoln held no public office from 1848 when he ended his one term in Congress to 1860. Obama was in the Senate but nobody really associates Obama with any particular legislation. It was speeches that made both Lincoln and Obama prominent you know eloquent powerful speeches that made them important public figures and Lincoln in powerful speeches in 1850 condemns slavery as a fundamental violation of the founding principles of the United States as enunciated in the Declaration of Independence all men are created equal.
All are entitled to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
What did that pursuit of happiness mean to Lincoln the notion of the pursuit of happiness meant the right of people to enjoy the fruits of their own labor to improve their condition in life in a in a society based on free labor. There are many grounds for condemning the institution of slavery. Religious political moral etc.. Lincoln referred to them all at one time or another. But ultimately he saw slavery as a form of theft. The theft of labor by one person of another person's labor. Lincoln read the writings of pro-slavery thinkers like John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. They argued that slaves were actually better off than free workers. After all a slave as they said was taken care of in old age. A slave is never unemployed. It's better to be the slave of a individual master. They argued then of the impersonal capitalist market place at the mercy of the winds of economic change.
Lincoln insisted this was a total misreading of Northern society free the free States he argued offered numerous opportunities for people from humble origins like himself who was born in pretty poor circumstances to rise in the social scale and obviously slaves did not have that. Opportunity. Lincoln was frequently charged by Democrats with believing in. And this was sort of the nuclear weapon of politics back then negro equality charge of believing negro equality. Lincoln denied it as we'll see but there was one ground of equality he did insist he did believe in and in fact in his in one speech. He chose a black woman as his illustration he said in some respects she is certainly not my equal but in her natural right to eat the bread she earns with her own hand without asking the leave of anyone else she is my equal and the equal of all others. The natural right to the fruits of your own labor. And of course slavery denied that Lincoln spoke of slavery as a monstrous injustice. But he was not an abolitionist. I said why not. And in fact the shadow of Lincoln should not obscure the important role of. People like Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison and other abolitionists who was so important in moving the country toward confronting the problem of slavery. But the thing is the abolitionists were a small group in the north.
Hardly any in the south and north very small group outside a few places.
If you had any political ambitions you were not going to be an abolitionist. And if you were from central Illinois the way Lincoln was living among migrants from Kentucky you're not going to be an abolitionist. Now I'm not saying Lincoln was a kind of secret abolitionist who just couldn't say so for political reasons some books argue that no there were other differences too. Abolitionists believed that the moral question of slavery was the fundamental problem confronting the country dominating all others. Lincoln didn't feel that. In 1855 Lincoln wrote a famous letter to a friend of his about a time previously when they had seen slaves being bought and sold and how this was a shock to him. He said that sight was a continual torment to me and I see something like that every time I come near the Ohio River the boundary between free and slave states. You ought to realize he's writing to his friend as the southerners. You ought to realize how much the great body of the Northern people crucify their feelings in order to maintain their loyalty to the Constitution and the union crucify their feelings. They suppress their feelings because of their loyalty to the union. William Lloyd Garrison the abolitionists burned the Constitution in 1854 because of its clauses protecting the institution of slavery the fugitive slave clause and things like that. Lincoln revered the Constitution. He felt the United States had a mission to exemplify to the world the virtue of democratic government of self-government. That of course is what he said in the Gettysburg Address later on. This war was about whether a government of the people by the people for the people could continue. Now I should add that Lincoln was not a believer in what was called at the time manifest destiny that the United States just had a right to spread our freedom our insouciance to anybody whether they wanted it or not invade other countries in order to bring them freedom. Now that wasn't Lincoln's idea. Lincoln felt the way to exempli to spread democracy was by example. You build a good society here and other people will follow you by example. Not because your military might. He opposed the Mexican War for example when the United States invaded Mexico and seized a lot of its territory as you know. But Lincoln saw the United States as an example of democracy to the entire world and that is why he feared that this this agitation you might say of the issue of slavery would actually destroy this symbol of democracy and therefore be counterproductive. Slavery was an obstacle to the fulfillment of this democratic mission of the United States. On the other hand agitating the slavery question made it impossible for the United States to continue as a unified nation. Another key difference between Lincoln and abolitionists was in their views about race.
Abolitionists insisted that once freed as I said the former slaves should be incorporated as equal members of American society. They viewed the struggles against slavery and against racism as interrelated. Lincoln did not see it that way.
When Democrats charged that Lincoln that he believed in negro equality as I say he denied it. He insisted that black people were entitled to the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence. I think the negro he said is included in the word man used in the declaration. Therefore slavery was wrong therefore they are entitled to life. Liberty. That is they shouldn't be slaves. And the pursuit of happiness the right to improve their condition but all other rights were regulated by the local states and blacks were not necessarily entails those rights. He insisted I went charged with this in the great debates of 1858 and again Stephen A. Douglas he said no I do not believe in Negroes I'm not in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes nor qualifying them to hold office nor to intermarry with white people those were politically determined rights. And the white majority did not have to give them to black people in fact Lincoln was one of large numbers of people. We forget this before the Civil War thought that this idea of colonization was the solution to the question of slavery and race that slaves should be freed and encouraged to leave the United States. Lincoln did not believe in forcible deportation but he kept insisting black people really should go to their homeland in Africa or maybe a colony in Central America or to Haiti. We sometimes forget this was a very prominent idea. Thomas Jefferson and Henry Clay the two political leaders most revered by Lincoln were avid promoters of colonization colonization was a completely crazy idea in some way. It's very hard to convince four million people to just pick up and leave to some other country but it enabled people to think about the end of slavery without confronting the question of race without confronting the question what is going to be the status of these people as free people in a future American society. So Lincoln believed that slave owners would never agree to the abolition of slavery unless it were coupled with colonization and he felt that slavery must the only way the slavery to end was with the consent of slave owners. There was no legal way to get rid of slavery unless slave owners agreed. So this question of the future of blacks in the United States one might say was something Lincoln just didn't want to confront until well into the Civil War when he began for the first time to start thinking seriously about this. But in that way he was typical of most Northerners most Northerners even anti-slavery northerners. But Lincoln did talk of a future without slavery. Lincoln even though as you if you studied American history you know that the political question in the 1850s was whether slavery should be allowed to spread westward. They weren't debating the abolition of slavery. They were debating whether it should go into these western territories. But Lincoln always insisted that the key aim of the Republican Party that he became a major leader of was not just stopping expansion but what a phrase he used the ultimate extinction of slavery ultimate extinction. Now that's an interesting political phrase and its meaning may depend on which word you give emphasis to. Ultimate can be a long time you know. I mean Lincoln once said it might take a hundred years to get rid of slavery. That's pretty ultimate. That would mean slavery be around in the 1950s. On the other hand to talk about the extinction of slavery was a red flag to white Southerners. They didn't care if you had 100 years. They didn't want someone being president who was committed to the the future end of slavery. And that's why in Lincoln's election in 1860 led inexorably to the secession of 11 Southern states. And of course the civil war now in the Civil War. Lincoln had to do more than talk about slavery. He had to make policy. How did Lincoln move from his pre-war views which were anti-slavery but without any really coherent policy to deal with it. How did he move to becoming the great emancipator as he comes to be known. Now of course as everybody knows the Civil War did not begin as a war to abolish slavery from the beginning abolitionists and radicals said to Lincoln now that the South seceded they have lost the constitutional protections of slavery as a war measure you can attack this institution for military purposes. Lincoln slowly began well actually not that slowly. I'll take back the words slowly Many people claim Lincoln was slow. I don't think he was that slow. In November 1861 that's six seven months into the Civil War when no significant battle had taken place yet. Lincoln already is putting forward a plan of gradual emancipation. Lincoln calls in the one congressman from Delaware. Delaware is a tiny state and only had about 2000 slaves. Lincoln calls in the congressman he says look we've got to get this process of abolition going somewhere. Delaware is the easiest place. The federal government will pay you for your slaves. Give us a price. We will. The federal government will compensate you for your slave property and we will free the slaves. We will colonize them somewhere else and this will get the ball rolling. Well of course what are the slave owners of Delaware say. Forget it. Lincoln Lincoln you don't understand. We don't want your money. We want our slaves. We're not willing to give up our slaves with slave owners. Don't you understand. How can you be a slave owner of your own slaves.
So this plan went nowhere. But nonetheless Lincoln kept proposing it in early 1862 to the other the four border states the states that remained in the union even though they were slave states Delaware Maryland Missouri and Kentucky. Lincoln kept proposing one or another version of this plan of gradual emancipation with monetary compensation and with colonization of the freed slaves. Problem was they all said forget it. Lincoln was not interested. And one of the greatness of Lincoln as he began to realize many politicians don't have this capacity if I'm pursuing a plan which isn't working I might add well I want to try something else rather just stick with this failing policy. There was another problem with his plan. Black people did not want to leave the country. Lincoln promoted the idea of columnist. There were a few.
There was Martin Delaney who thought African-Americans should emigrate to Africa but most black Americans slave or free thought of themselves as American. They did not want to emigrate to some other place.
In 1862 Lincoln had a meeting at the White House with a black delegation. He was by the way the first president in our entire history to meet with black people in the White House not as slaves or plenty of black people in the White House before but they were slaves working there. Lincoln was the first one to meet with black people to discuss public policy. He met with Frederick Douglass. He met with Harriet Tubman. He met with delegations of black church leaders. He met with a whole bunch of them and he met with a delegation in 1862 to encourage them to promote this idea of colonization among their people. This is often seen as one of the lower points in Lincoln's career. He said look. Blacks will never gain equality in this country. He said you know racism is so deep that black people will never gain equality. It's much better for you to leave. You also said you know it's only the black presidents that is the cause of the civil war.
If you weren't here we wouldn't be fighting among ourselves. That was a little much. Frederick Douglass condemned them he said. Why doesn't Lincoln say that slavery is the cause of the Civil War. It's not black people who are the cause of the Civil War is the institution of slavery that is the cause of the Civil War. But the main point is this black delegation and all the other they said no. Lincoln We do not want to leave this country of our birth. So Lincoln's plan kind of runs aground because nobody wants to take it up. And by the middle of 1862 he's moving toward a different an entirely different view of what to do with slavery and a whole series of events pushed him in that direction. You know we have a lingo of professors sometimes like to talk in obscure language so students think they're very educated and can understand what they're talking about. And we have a term we like to use called overdetermined emancipation was overdetermined. What that means is there was just a lot of causes for it. That's English you know a lot of things lead to emancipation. Here are some of them. One. The union was not winning the civil war fighting the war as a war of army against army was not working. You had to start attacking the infrastructure of Southern society. Which was the institution of slavery. Second of all. Many northerners fear Britain and France might intervene on the side of the Confederacy and many people felt that if you turned the war from a war for the union to a war against slavery it would make it very difficult for the British to side with the with the Confederates of any British people here I don't want to say that to offend anyone.
The British. Well the British I. I've lived among them they're very nice people but they're they're kind of weird. You know the British for two centuries the British made enormous amounts of money over the sleigh from the slave trade. They were the greatest slave trading nation then in the early 19th century they got a fit of morality and they abolished the slave trade and then they abolished slavery and then they went around the world telling one how moral they were and patting themselves on the back. And by this point 1860 they were not going to side with the South if slavery was really the fundamental issue in the war and Lincoln kind of realized that very important is the fact that slavery was already beginning to disintegrate whatever the Lincoln administration said from the outset of the war slaves saw the war as threatening the institution of slavery or as an opportunity to strike for their freedom. They began running away from plants when it wherever the Union Army went. Slaves ran away to find refuge with the Union army. At first as generals sent them back you know they said we don't want to be bothered with these slaves go back and work. But very early in the war a general first General Benjamin Butler and then others butler at Fortress Monroe in Virginia. A bunch of slaves turned up at Fortress Monroe and Butler. Well what do you do it is well we've been digging fortifications for the Confederacy over there. But we'd like to be free and Butler well. But this is the policy the government is to send you back why should I send you back to build fortifications get for against my army. I'll tell you what here's a shovel built some fortifications for me.
And so why should I send back so laborer's that our soldiers who are assisting the Confederate army so slaves were ever the Union army of slavery is a threat the presence of these slaves running away to the Union Army forces the federal government to start making policy. In fact one of the earliest anti-slavery measures in early 1850 62 is a law of Congress which Lincoln signs forbidding the Army to send back fugitive slaves. In other words if you run away to the Union Army you're free. Now most slaves on of the opportunity to do that. But it shows you how things are changing during the war and also very important enthusiasm for enlistment is waning in the north. You know this often happens in war at the beginning everyone's gung ho after a year. It's kind of hard to fill up the army Black people have been offering to enlist but the army is all white. They don't want black soldiers. Lincoln is afraid that if blacks join the army white soldiers won't fight. But by this point the reservoir of black manpower cannot be ignored. So all of these pressures it's a long complicated story which I will not go into but as you all know Lincoln decides in the summer of 1862 that he's going to issue this proclamation. He uses a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in September and on January 1st 1863 is the Emancipation Proclamation one of the most misunderstood important documents in American history. If you think that Lincoln freed all the slaves with a stroke of his pen that's certainly not true. If you believe that Lincoln didn't free any slave. That's not true either. It is certainly true that the proclamation did not apply to those four border states. There in the union this is a military measure. Kentucky Delaware etc. there in the union you can't abolish slavery there. They still have their constitutional protection is about. I don't know about 300000 slaves. There are 400000 slaves that are not include covered. Then there were certain areas of the South that Lincoln exempts because the union army is in Ah-Q is occupying those areas. And therefore the war is over and therefore it's not a military necessity. And there's so overall about 800000 slaves of 4 million are not covered at all by the Emancipation Proclamation but that leaves about 3.1 million or so that are the fact is however that in most of the South the proclamation was not enforceable on the day Lincoln issued it it was it was behind Confederate lines. What would happen is that as the army moved further into the south. Now one of its tasks became to recognize and protect the freedom of the people. Lincoln had declared free on January 1st. Now if you ever read the Emancipation Proclamation some people find it kind of disappointing. My mentor Richard Hofstadter famously wrote it has all the moral Grandier of a bill of lading. This was not fair because a bill of lading was a rather important document in the nineteenth century. That was how goods were shipped and everything. But it's not like the Declaration of Independence. It doesn't really begin with a statement of the rights of mankind or anything like that only at the suggestion of Secretary of Treasury. Chase did Lincoln at the very end issue and a little sentence at the end saying this is believed to be an act of justice an act of justice but all the rest is about. It's a military measure. It's issued and under Lincoln's role as commander in chief of the army to help win the Civil War and one of its key features is that for the first time it authorizes the enlistment of black soldiers into the Union army and by the end of the war something like 200000 black men will have served in the Union Army and Navy playing a critical role in the victory of the Union in the last two years of the war. The Proclamation did not end slavery on the day it was issued but it was the death knell of slavery. If the union won the war because it now linked Union and emancipation as twin goals of the war effort. From our point of view I think what's interesting is the proclamation represented a complete shift in Lincoln's attitudes towards slavery. You go back to his previous policies. Every one of them is now abandoned. Gradualism. This is immediate. It says they free today. No more gradual emancipation. Compensation money. Know nothing about money. They're not going to get the money anymore. This is the largest confiscation of property in American history. The four million slaves represented an enormous amount of wealth among other things. That's all liquidated. No it's getting paid for their slaves anymore. And as to colonization Lincoln still is vaguely interested but putting blacks in the army represents a very different vision of their future than telling them they got to leave the country and in fact as the war goes on Lincoln comes to believe that by serving in the Union Army African-Americans have staked a claim to citizenship in the postwar Republic. This happens in many wars but it happened with a vengeance. Being in the army changes the society's vision of black men and and their role in the future. The future society. So the proclamation changes the character of the Civil War and Lincoln although he may have been slow coming to it never is willing to go back on the Emancipation Proclamation once it is issued in 1864. When war weariness was very strong in the north. Many Republicans thought Lincoln was not going to be re-elected. Know he's running for re-election. The Democrats are calling for peace basically and they're calling for giving up the proclamation. Democrats are saying it's this emancipation proclamation that is prolonging the war. If they say if you say come on back with slavery the south will stop fighting. And there were some Republicans who said Iligan you know maybe you should do that. You know I don't know if they'll accept it but you've got to diffuse this. Say you are willing to give up the Emancipation Proclamation Lincoln refuses. He said no. He said I would be damned in time and eternity. Were I to promise people freedom and then rescind the promise. So he is willing to lose the election rather than go back on this new policy which he has inaugurated in 1863. And as I said before in the last two years the war is when Lincoln really begins thinking seriously for the first time about race in America and about the possibility of America as a bi racial society. And he becomes he doesn't come to a final conclusion. He is assassinated while his thinking is still you know evolving. But I want to finish by just pointing to two of his last pronouncements on this question to show you how far Lincoln has come. By the end of his life one is what we call his last speech he was given at the White House April 1865. Really a few days before his assassination. Now Lincoln didn't know it was his last speech. Right. So we couldn't shouldn't take it as a final statement but. This speech was about reconstruction in Louisiana a new state government have been set up. Lincoln wanted to bring him back into the Union but they didn't allow black people to vote. And the free black community of New Orleans which was a rather prominent group very educated propertied. They petitioned they went and sold Lincoln and they said hey why shouldn't we have the right to vote were as talented and qualified as a lot of these white people how come we can't vote in this speech for the first time in his life. Lincoln publicly said I think we should give the right to vote not to all black men because unfortunately women could vote anywhere at this time. But to some blacks he said I would prefer it if the vote were given to the very intelligent that these free negroes. But then he adds and those who have served our cause as soldiers. That's a very different group. Those are all slaves basically as slaves. But that's a good indication of how the service of black soldiers has pushed Lincoln forward in thinking about the rights black people or to enjoy when the war is when the war is over. And then there's one of the greatest speeches in all of American history. Lincoln's second inaugural address which he gave in March March 4th 18 65. Now you know one of Lincoln's Liggins a genius as a orator or was he understood the value of brevity. The Gettysburg Address takes about two minutes. The second inaugural takes about five minutes. Lincoln You know like Vice President Biden doesn't understand that or some of these other guys you know brevity. Today we remember it for its famous closing words with malice toward none. Charity for all. We bind up the nation's wounds. But before that Lincoln gave the country a brief and very philosophical discussion of the meaning of the Civil War. First of all he said look let's get serious here. Everybody knows slavery was the cause of the civil war.
You know if you hear people say states rights was the cause of the Civil War the tariff was forget it and everyone who lived through the Civil War was about slavery you know. So that's absurd. And Lincoln is not even worth discussing. We're all here. Let's be serious. Everyone knows slavery is the cause of the civil wars. Let's move on to something interesting. What is that. But Lincoln referred to it not as it would have been so easy for Lincoln to blame the south under those circumstances right. The evil South caused the Civil War. No. Lincoln doesn't say that. He doesn't say it's southern slavery he said it's American slavery. We are all complicitous in this evil. That's why my book is called The Fiery Trial coal and Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.
I'm a northerner it's very easy for us to blame Southerners but northerners were equally guilty. You know my town New York get rich by transporting cotton to England. Who do you think grew that cotton there wasn't you know paid laborers down here. So we got a lot of money from slavery to in New York. American slavery. Lincoln went on. Unlike current politicians who many of them are all directly connected to the Almighty and know exactly what his views are on every political issue. Lincoln said explicitly we do not know God's will. Man does not know God's will. But it is possible he said that this war is God's punishment on the entire nation for the sin of slavery. And if that's the case he said you know we want the war to end but it might continue until in this very dramatic setting them till all the wealth piled by the bond man's. Two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk and every drop of blood drawn with the lash is repaid by another drawn by the sword. I mean two hundred and fifty years of unrequited labor. There's that theft of labor again one more time. Every drop of blood drawn by the lash repaid by one drawn by the sword.
Liggett is reminding the country that the terrible violence of the Civil War had been preceded by the terrible violence of slavery and there was some moral balance being imposed on the nation there. This is one of the very few times in his entire life that Lincoln spoke of the physical brutality of slavery. He generally appealed to the reason of his audience not their emotions in this way but basically in this speech Lincoln is asking the country to confront directly the legacy of slavery. What does it mean in this country that we have had 250 years of this institution. What is it. What obligation comes from that what is necessary to enable the former slaves to and their descendants to enjoy the pursuit of happiness that Lincoln had always said they were entitled to. That was their natural right. Lincoln did not live to provide an answer and in some way. We are still grappling with those questions 150 years later.
So thank you very much for listening.
Don't miss being your masters for our shoes our universities remember that arts and sciences remember that word and word means there is our universities in the States and your doctrine yours from the Secret Service on this one. Jesus you are a member of the main services and were never in a rush for using the word either. Center for Constitutional issues was left here to get to class for a little education session just for discussion or not. Why RCC which is a awesome.
I remember reading abilities you know on a strong word dharma.
Well thank you so much. Is this volume all right for everyone. Good. And thank you for having me here. And I'm particularly happy that I got a chance to go to a class today because I have a feeling now that the humanities are really alive and well here. And I was just so impressed by that the kind of questions the students were pursuing So maybe we'll come back to that and in the Q&A because I did think it showed me you know that liberal education really does produce a kind of thoughtful citizen that I'm talking about and I've noticed that by reading a rather more pessimistic quotation from one of my heroes the Indian poet educator and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore whose hundred 50th anniversary of his birth we're celebrating this coming year and in 1917 during the first world war. Thinking about the changes in education that already he was seeing around him. He wrote history has come to a stage when the moral man the complete man is more and more giving way almost without knowing it to make room for the commercial man the man of limited purpose. This process aided by the wonderful progress in science is assuming gigantic proportion and power causing the upset of man's moral bounds obscuring his human side under the shadow of soulless organization and then a very similar thing written at a similar time by John Dewey who started a very similar school in the campus of my University in Chicago. Dewey wrote in his book 1915 democracy and education achievement comes to denote the sort of thing that a well-planned machine can do better than a human being can and the main effect of education the achieving of a life of rich significance drops by the wayside. Well we're in the middle of a crisis of massive proportions and grave global significance and I don't mean the global economic crisis is still continuing. At least everyone knows that that crisis is around us and world leaders are working desperately to find solutions. And they know that their jobs depend on that. No I'm thinking of a crisis that largely is going unnoticed and that is likely to be in the long run far more damaging to the future of democratic self-government. And that is a worldwide crisis in education. Radical changes are occurring in what democratic societies teach the young. Both in K through 12 and in college and universities. And these changes have not been well thought through. Eager for national economic growth nations and their education systems are heedlessly discarding skills that are needed to keep democracies alive. Well what I'm talking about of course is primarily the fact that the humanities and the arts are being cut away both in schools and in college and university education. In virtually every nation in the world seen by policymakers as useless frills at a time when nations have to cut away all useless things to focus on remaining competitive in the global market. They are rapidly losing their places in curricula and in the hearts and minds of parents and young people. In fact what I would call the humanistic aspects of science and social science. The imaginative creative aspect and the aspect of rigorous critical thought is also losing ground as many nations prefer to pursue short term profit at the expense of these deeper aspects of even scientific inquiry consider these three examples and these examples are focused on higher education. My book focuses on schools as well. But tonight let's focus on higher education. In the fall of 2006 the U.S. Department of Education's commission on the future of higher education chaired by Bush administration Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings released a report on the state of higher education in the nation called a test of leadership charting the future of U.S. higher education. This report does contain a valuable critique of equal access to higher education and I think that's a terribly important issue. So I don't want to say there's nothing valuable to see there. But when it comes to subject matter the report focused entirely on education for national short term economic gain. It concerns itself with perceived deficiencies in science technology and engineering. But once again not even basic scientific research but only highly applied skills that can quickly generate profit making strategies. The humanities the social sciences and the arts were simply absent from the whole report and by omitting them the government was suggesting that it might be perfectly alright if these abilities were allowed to wither away in favour of more useful disciplines. And I'm afraid this isn't an issue that's gone away.
The Obama administration is pursuing very much the same course despite the fact that Obama went to two liberal arts institutions and it would be nice if he reflected on that in his public speeches but he doesn't. OK second example in the fall of 2009 in Britain the Labour government issued new guidelines for its research excellence scheme which is to assess all individual scholars and departments in British universities. According to new criteria 25 percent of the grade for each scholar will come from what's known as impact and that is defined as primarily economic impact of that person's research. Well what does that mean for the humanities. What is the impact of a philosophical argument or a study of a poem. Well what's happening is that those disciplines either are getting NASA's cut or they have to form partnerships and become a pitchman for some product that they can perhaps generate in partnership with some other disciplines but they will lose their claim to funds. If that's not possible and since that time several philosophy departments have been completely closed some have been merged with social science and all humanities programs have been severely cut back. And here's one that's in the recent news this fall Sooni all but made drastic cuts in the humanities completely closing classics theater and several modern languages and severely cutting other humanities departments and there are things like that happening in many other public universities particularly University of Nevada Las Vegas lost its funding for its graduate program in philosophy. Many other things like that so there are hundreds of stories like these and new ones arise every day in the U.S. in Europe in India which is a nation I'm particularly interested in and so my book does focus on that. And no doubt in other parts of the world the profit motive suggests to most concern politicians that science and technology are of crucial importance for the future health of their state or their nation.
And I don't want to say that I am against that we should have no objection to good scientific and technical education and nations should continue to try to improve in that regard. My concern is that other abilities equally crucial for the health of a nation or a state are at risk of getting lost in the competitive Flury abilities crucial to the internal health of any democracy and to any hope we may have of generating a constructive global culture capable of discussing reasonably the world's most terrible problems. These are abilities that are associated primarily with humanities and the arts. The ability to think critically. The ability to transcend local loyalties and to approach world problems. As a citizen of the whole world and the ability to imagine sympathetically the predicament of another person well all right. So to think about education for democratic citizenship we have to ask ourselves what democratic nations are and what they strive for. So what does it mean for a nation to advance to improve its quality of life. Well on one view that's long been dominant in development economics with which I've been struggling all through my career. It simply means to increase gross national product per capita that measure of national achievement has for decades been the standard one used all around the world to rank and order Nations as if it were a good proxy for everything else nations try to do. So the goal should be economic growth. Never mind about distribution and social equality. Never mind about the preconditions of democratic freedoms or political stability. Never mind about the quality of race and gender relations and never mind about the improvement of other aspects of a human being's quality of life that we know are not well correlated with economic growth such as health and education. One sign of what this model leaves out is the fact that in the old days South Africa under apartheid used to rise to the top of the list of developing nations because there was a lot of wealth around there in South Africa. Never mind that it did not translate into improvement of the lives of the vast majority of the people. This model of development has by now been rejected by many serious development thinkers and I must say to give great credit to President Sarkozy of France. He recently commissioned a group of economists to write a new report on what it is to measure the quality of life and they came out with the very different model that I'm about to get to now. But they rejected this. So if you google Sarkozy Commission report you can see that. So what.
What is the alternative to that model.
Well it would be a model that sees development as doing things for people. What's it's called the human development paradigm as putting people in a position to lead fruitful creative and multifaceted lives focusing on health on education on political liberties and on many things that the growth model does not take up well and what kind of education do the two models suggest. Education for Growth suggests basic skills literacy and numeracy and then it requires some people to get much higher levels of technological competence.
But notice that equal access is not terribly important given the nature of the information economy. Nations can increase their GNP without worrying very much about the distribution of education so long as they create a competent technological and business elite. And this is a huge problem in India where certainly growth is taking place.
But at the expense of worrying about equal access for the rural poor. After that education for economic growth needs perhaps a rudimentary acquaintance with history and economic fact on the part of the people who are going to get beyond elementary education in the first place. But there will probably be taken less at the historical and economic narrative generate critical thinking about class about whether foreign investment is really good for the rural poor and so forth. So if you study the systems of Singapore and China you find that history and all the social sciences are presented in a way that do not lead down the road to critical thinking about the structure of the nation's commitments. What about the arts.
Well the arts first of all are very likely to be regarded by educators as this growth model as useless because they don't look like they're generating a profit. But even more they are very likely to be regarded as threatening because as we've seen throughout history independent artists are often subvert years of tradition and they're not reliable servants of any ideology not for long. Those So Tagore thought that the fashion and education for democracy with the arts at the heart of the school. And so we see that educators for enrichment if they include the arts at all keep them on a very short leash. So Singapore recently invited NYU to set up a film school but then immediately announced they can't produce their films off campus. They show all their films on the campus of that school that that's all they can do. Well all right so how much how else might we think of education if we thought of the human development model. So according to this model what's important is what opportunities or I call them capabilities. Each person has in areas ranging from life health and bodily integrity to political liberty political participation and education. This model of development recognizes that each and every person ought to have access to these abilities so a decent nation will give each citizen a bare minimum anyway of access to these. Well if the nation wants to produce that type of humane people sensitive democracy one that is dedicated to promoting opportunities for life liberty and the pursuit of happiness as our founders rightly said what abilities will it need to produce in its citizens through its system of education. At least these three seem crucial. First the ability to deliberate well about issues affecting the nation to examine reflect argue and debate differing neither to tradition or to authority. Second the ability to think about the good of the nation as a whole not just out of one's own local group and to see one's own nation in turn as part of a very complicated world in which issues of many kinds from environment to trade require intelligent transnational deliberation for their resolution and then finally running through all of these. The ability to have concern for the lives of one's fellow citizens. To imagine what policies of many types mean for the opportunities and experiences of one's fellow citizens of many types and also people outside one's own nation. But before we can follow this into some thoughts about higher education we first need to understand the problems we face on the way to making young people responsible democratic citizens who might possibly pursue an agenda for human development. So what what is it about human life that actually makes it so hard to sustain egalitarian democratic institutions and so easy to lapse into hierarchies of various types or even worse projects of violent animosity. Whatever these forces are it's ultimately against them. The true education for human development must fight. So as I put it following Gandhi It has to fight the clash of civilizations within each person as respect for others and compassion for their well-being. Contends against narcissistic fear and aggression. Well so what do we know about the forces in the personality that militate against Democratic reciprocity and respect. First we know by now that people have a very high level of deference to authority. Psychologist Stanley Milgram. Some famous experiments show that experimental subjects were willing to administer to the people that they thought were patients. A very high and described as dangerous level of electric shock. So long as the supervising scientist was ordering them to do it even when the people in the experiment who of course were just paid by the experimenter when they were faking the pain but they were screaming and writhing and people would go on pushing the button more and more solemn and ash earlier show that people also have a high degree of deference to peer pressure. That what he did was to set up various simple perceptual judgment experiments and there would be 10 people nine of whom were working for him. And then the tenth was the experiment subject and the first nine you know asked are these lines parallel or not. They would give an answer that was clearly wrong. The your own senses could show he was wrong and the tenth person almost always went along because they were embarrassed not to say the same thing as the other people. So both Malcolm's work and ashes have been put to work effectively by historian Christopher Browning to illuminate the behavior of young Germans in a police battalion that murdered Jews during the Nazi era. So great was the influence of both peer pressure and authority on these young men that the ones who couldn't bring themselves to shoot the Jews felt ashamed of their weakness. Still other research demonstrates that apparently normal people are willing to engage in behavior that humiliates and stigmatize as if their situation is set up in a certain way casting them in a dominant role and telling them that others are their inferiors. One particularly chilling example involves schoolchildren whose teacher informs them that children with blue eyes are superior and children with brown eyes are inferior and almost immediately stigmatizing and cruel behavior ensues. Then the next day the teacher comes in and says Oh sorry I made a mistake it's the other way round. Children with brown eyes are superior and blue eyes are inferior and the children having learned nothing from the pain of exclusion. Just simply reverse the cruel behavior. The most famous experiment of this type is one called the Stanford Prison Experiment in which psychologist Philip Zimbardo randomly cast the experimental subjects in the roles of prison guard and prisoner and almost immediately the ones that were cast as prison guards started behaving authority in an authoritarian and more and more cruel stigmatizing ways and the prisoners lapsed into an enemy and despair. Other research on the emotion of disgust which interests me particularly and on which I've drawn in writing a book on the on topic shows that discussed has a primary function which is to deal with the waste products of our bodies and other reminders of our anality and mortality. But in every society. It's not enough to keep ourselves free from contamination by bodily waste products. Instead people create project onto subordinate groups of people who are identified as disgusting and contaminating saying that they're dirty smelly bearers of disease and so on. There's a lot of good historical work done on how such attitudes figure in the history of anti-Semitism misogyny racism and homophobia. And in fact in southern racism as you may well remember we have the idea that an African-American would drink from the same drinking fountains swim in the same swimming pool eat the same lunch counter was thought it was just unthinkable to southern racists and I grew up. My father was such a southern racist and I grew up being told that if an African-American had drunk from a certain drinking glass he would never use that glass again. So these magical think thoughts about contamination are suffuse our society in one or another form. Well what else have we learned. We learned that these forces take on much more power when people are rendered anonymous or are not held personally accountable. People behave much worse under the shelter of anonymity. This pertains to the Internet pertains to how you drive when you don't think somebody is watching you. They just all around in life when you think you're not held personally individually accountable. You behave worse. Second people behave much worse when the people they're acting toward are rendered anonymous so the prisoners in the experiment were given numbers rather than names and immediately that facilitated the cruel treatment of those people. And then finally they behave worst for no one raises a critical voice in ashes experiments. If even one of the nine people said something different that freed the tenth to follow the evidence the clear evidence of that person's own sense. So a lot of relevant material that we need to think about in designing a curriculum for citizenship. The other side of the internal clash and I think Ghandi was just right about this is the capacity that we all have for compassion and concern and for overcoming selfish aggression in the direction of compassion and respect for others. One of the easiest ways of regaining control in an uncertain world is to make slaves of other people. But it's also possible to learn skills of interdependence and mutual respect and reciprocity and of course it's that that has got to be understood. A democratic culture really really needs. So OK now that we have a sense of the terrain on which education goes to work I want to return to the ideas I mentioned earlier saying some things that are very general and of course they have to be made concrete. In each situation about what education would look like if it wants to help the internal clash come out the right way and I would focus as I said on higher education. But of course it all has to start in the family and in the schools. Well then first we have this capacity for Socratic self-criticism and critical thought about one's own traditions. As Socrates argued democracy needs citizens who are accountable for their own thinking who examine themselves and who can think for themselves rather than deferring to either authority or peer pressure who can reason together about their choices rather than simply trading posts and claims and that is a skill that is SOCRATES And who is often in short supply in democracies the ancient Athenian democracy was in many respects very similar to our own in the sense that people trying to get prestige for their own side by scoring points rather than having a really responsible argument. They often therefore went astray and they allowed authority figures tradition and peer pressure to jostle them into doing things they later regret. Well on the other hand if people have really a trained capacity for critical thinking then they will be inclined to think about the reasons why they support one thing and another. And when politicians bring simplistic propaganda that their way as politicians in every nation and every era have a way of doing they will have a hope of preserving independence and holding the politicians accountable if they really contest the logic of what is said and imagine alternative ways of making the argument students who are exposed to instruction in critical thinking also learn a new attitude to people who disagree with them. They learn to see people who disagree not as opponents to be defeated but instead as people who have reasons for what they think. And so when the arguments of those people are reconstructed it might even turn out that the two sides share certain assumptions or certain premises and then we better understand where the differences really come from. I interviewed for my earlier book on education saying a young man who was a student at a business college in Massachusetts and he was taking a required core philosophy course and he had been assigned to argue against the death penalty in a classroom debate although he actually favors the death penalty and he was really bright very good student. He said this was the first time he'd ever had the idea that you could produce arguments for a position that you don't hold yourself well and that that shows you a lot about political debate. And now he sees the whole thing in a different way. So the idea that one would take responsibility for one's own reasoning and exchange ideas with others in an atmosphere of mutual respect for reason is essential. It can be started very early. We know that children's capacity for this is great and it would be nice to start it already in elementary school but it's also very important to make it a centerpiece of higher education because this is the time often when young people have moved away from the direct control of their parents and have a strong interest in their own independence and accountability. So it's a great opportunity and I think on the whole it's best promoted by courses in philosophy. Certainly the whole humanities curriculum deals with critical argument but philosophy has that feature in it that has its focus the examined life in the Socratic tradition is what it's all about. And you learn those techniques in a much more focused way than you do elsewhere. Well let's turn now to the next one. That is world citizenship so. So this is what I want to have in mind here is the ability to see yourself as part of a heterogeneous nation that has many different groups to understand something about the history and trajectory of those groups and then to relay all of that to the outside world. Well that's a very complicated one and one that no one brought up in my Euro did well at all with him. Even in college and university education. We didn't learn anything about the other non Judeo-Christian world religions. We didn't learn much about history outside of Europe in the US. And we also learned American history without learning about minority groups and their histories and their struggles a lot of that has changed and that's what my book cultivating humanity celebrates. But we still have to focus on that because these things are always at risk of being cut away. So I would say that all young citizens should learn the rudiments of world history and should get rich and non-stereotypical understanding of the major world religions and then should learn how to inquire in more depth into at least one unfamiliar culture. You can't always know where life is going to put you down and might end up learning about India college and then going to China but it's learning how to ask the questions learning what are the differences to look out for and what your ignorance is the level of your own ignorance. So learning to inquire in greater depth and I think also all should learn one foreign language well even if that's the language of a relatively familiar culture still you learn an essential lesson namely that each intelligent group of human beings divides up the world in a slightly different way that all translation is really a kind of jolt in her halting interpretation. And so that I think is very important part of learning to be a world citizen. Now of course the first two have to be related to one another. Good instruction in world history has to be infused by searching critical thinking by learning how to use historical evidence learning how to ask questions about the evidence learning how to be accountable for the historical story that you're going to tell your friends or tell your children. Now to the third the third ability of the citizen then I think closely related again to the first two is what I would call the narrative imagination. This means learning how to think what it would be like to be in the shoes in the shoes of a person different from yourself to be an intelligent reader of that person's story and to have some kind of understanding of the emotions and wishes and desires that such a person would have but also to know the shortcomings of your own understanding. Now the moral imagination is always at risk of becoming insular. It's always much easier to face the world in a little band of like minded people and to do what. Psychologist Robert J. Lifton called splitting that is thinking very sensitively about your own group treating the rest as some sort of objects to be manipulated. So in particular that ability has to take you outside your little in-group into lives that you're particularly likely to see ignorantly and obtusely learning how to see another human being not as a thing but a full human person is not an automatic achievement. It needs to be promoted by an education that really refines the ability to investigate as it were to treat your entire audience. And I think that these carefully crafted courses in literature but also in the other arts theater dance music are all excellent ways of doing things. But as I say thought needs to be given Do what your particular blind spots are likely to be and the course material chosen in consequence. Ralph Ellison the great novelist wrote much later about his great novel Invisible Man that a novel like his could be as he put it quote a raft of perception hope and entertainment on which the American democracy might negotiate the snags and whirlpools that stand between us and the democratic ideal. Now the novel from page one takes the inner eyes of the white reader as its theme and its target. The hero opens the novel by telling us that he's invisible to the white society around him not because of a chemical accident to his epidermis but rather because their inner eyes are not trained to see him. Now what does he mean when he means what they see as they see an object they see. Not a full person with an imagination and a heart and so on. So so the idea is that you have to educate the inner eyes and that's what the novel sets up to do. In my book I look also at music because I'm a great lover of music and I think that participating in music with others is a valuable way of getting access to another cultural group or another culture world culture. I tell the story of the Chicago Children's Choir which is a choir that's largely at the high school level which organizes 4000 kids in Chicago to participate in many many world musical cultures and to feel that there's no culture that's closed to them and no culture that any one of them belongs to that's not of interest to somebody else. So that's a really wonderful example of how from school the arts can perform this function of educating the inner eyes. Well those are the three things I'm talking about and of course there's much more to be said about each of them and I hope you and I hear some of your experiences on this campus. In each of them. But let me then try to take stock of our present. How are the three abilities of citizenship doing in our world today. Not very well I'm afraid.
Education of the sort that I favor is still reasonably comparatively healthy in the place where I first studied it and that is the liberal arts portion of US college and university curriculum and it's worthy of cherishing. We're the only nation apart from Korea that has a liberal arts system at the undergraduate level. What it means is that young people can study one thing. That's the preparation for a career. But also at the same time get this general preparation for citizenship and life and what a wonderful combination. I think it's this part of the curriculum in many institutions that particularly attracts philanthropic support and it should because people realize when they get out into the world and they're doing something that has succeeded they realized what that gave them and how precious that time was for them. Now however there's increasing strain foundations spending on the humanities in this whole liberal arts portion of the curriculum has gone down just in two years from 17 percent to 14 percent of total foundations spending on higher education in the New York Times about a year ago. Harvard's president Drew Faust reports that the economic downturn has reinforced the picture that the value of a university degree is largely instrumental and that university leaders are increasingly embracing a market model of their mission in consequence cutting back on the liberal arts things outside the U.S. many nations whose university curricula don't include a liberal arts component are struggling to build one because they see how vital it is to the success of their ability to absorb new immigrant populations and to generate a productive Democratic debate. In an era of growing religious diversity. But it's not being supported by and large by politicians. And furthermore it's not really supported by the structure of their university systems where typically there are no liberal arts core courses and you endure just to read one discipline. So it's it's an uphill struggle. So the University of the world universities of the world have great merits and great promise but growing problems by contrast to the universities. I think the abilities of citizenship are doing increasingly poorly quite rapidly in every nation in the crucial years of K through 12 education. Here are the demands of the global market have made everyone from parents to principals focus on scientific and technical proficiency as the key abilities and the humanities and the arts are increasingly left behind in the US national testing under the No Child Left Behind Act has already made things very problematic as national testing often does. Because look at the things that I've said those are the first and third abilities are not well tested by multiple choice exams at all and the second is not very well tested in that way and no one is even trying to solve that problem.
Whether a nation is aspiring to a greater share of the market like India are struggling to protect jobs like the US the imagination and the critical faculties are getting neglected and even Singapore and China that both conducted education reforms in 2005 to beef up imagination and critical thinking because of they saw that even for the purposes of business that was crucial. They're still doing this kind of national testing so it isn't really happening because the teachers incentives are to produce better test scores. And so the reforms have largely stalled. What will we have if these trends continue. Nations have technically trained people who don't know how to criticize authority use for profit makers with a loose imaginations. Mr. Gore observed studying the educational institutions of his own time a suicide of the soul. That's those are strong words but I think it's something to worry about. And in fact when we consider the Indian state of Goodrum to which I studied apropos of the killings of innocent civilians in 2002 that was a state where they went down that road very early with no critical thinking in the schools and a very narrow focus on profit making skills. And I think it's not accidental that that's the state that has produced this false deferential kind of waves of religious violence.
So when you're egged on by politicians to do something no critical pushback to the democracies have great rational and imaginative powers. They're also prone from ancient Athens to serious flaws in reasoning to parochialism haste sloppiness selfishness and excessive deference education based mainly on profitability in the global market. Magnifiers these deficiencies producing greedy looseness and a technically trained disability to threaten the very life of democracy itself. And that certainly impede the creation of a decent world culture if the real clash of civilizations is as I believe a clash within the individual person as greed and narcissism contend against respect and compassion. All modern societies are rapidly losing that battle as they feed the forces that lead to dehumanization and fail to feed the forces that lead to cultures of respect and compassion. If we don't insist on the crucial importance of the humanities and the arts they will fade away because they don't make short term profit. They only do what is much more precious than that make a world that's worth living in. People who are able to see other human beings as full people with thoughts and feelings of their own deserve respect and curiosity and nations that are able to overcome fear and suspicion in favor of sympathetic and reasoned debate.
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- This video features two lectures hosted by Phi Beta Kappa at the University of South Florida. The first lecture is given by Dr. Eric Foner, who discusses Abraham Lincoln's stance on slavery, and the current state of racial relations in America. The second lecture is given by Dr. Martha Nussbaum, who discusses the importance of education in the field of the humanities and arts.
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- Chicago: “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln, Slavery and the Rights of Black Americans; Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities,” WUSF, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 22, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_304-3331zrwh.
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- APA: The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln, Slavery and the Rights of Black Americans; Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities. Boston, MA: WUSF, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_304-3331zrwh