When discussing history…

By Seamus O'Sparks on March 28, 2017 — 4 mins read

…I frequently hear people say, “they didn’t even TRY to teach us that in school.” This amuses me for reasons that are too vast to go into on a FB post. People also like to invoke history to back up their, oftentimes, political position, i.e. Republicans are more sympathetic to the cause(s) of minorities because of Lincoln, etc… I like history too and just for the very hell of it here are some historical points that are pretty fun to consider:

The French get a bad rap and are often thought of as cowardly. But, did you know, from about 481 CE until the 20th century the “French” were the military powerhouse of Europe? That’s about 1500 years of kicking ass. Not bad for a bunch of yellow bellies. It’s also worth noting that the French played a crucial role in the American Revolution. If it hadn’t been for their help, we might all be speaking English right now.

Speaking of revolution. After we kicked England out of our faces the founding fathers tried to implement a form of government that upheld the lofty ideals of revolutionary rhetoric. For seven years, under Articles of Confederation, the government could do very little but scratch its ass. The founding fathers, those men of vision who conservatives perpetually deify, came to the conclusion that this very limited form of government sucked balls. Consequently, they adopted a new strategy. They pondered the best way to strike a balance between the liberties and inalienable rights preached by revolutionary firebrands and the nuts and bolts practicalities of running an effective system of government. They decided to go with what they knew(and what had been working for over 150 years in the colonies) and lifted the governing machinery off of the most progessive and liberal nation on earth: England. So, they took the English model and adapted it to fit the nascent American nation. We essentially fought the English so that we could replace the “tyranny” of their system with, well, itself.

The Monroe Doctrine of 1823 was intended to protect the Americas from further colonial manipulation and molestation by European powers. Although issued by the United States, the enforcement of this policy was squarely in the hands of…The British Navy? Yes-It was the British military who made the Monore Doctrine viable at its inception. The nexus of Anglo-American interests in Latin America made this cooperation possible . And while the Monroe Doctrine was initially well received in Latin America it set the process in motion for an increasingly meddlesome and paternalistic relationship between the United States and our southern neighbors.

And while we’re talking neighbors to the south, you know who gets a bad rap? Santa Anna. Sure, he was a piece of work, but there’s more to his motivations than often meets the gringo eye. When the Napoleon of the West came to straighten out the Texicans, he was looking at the long game. Texas was not the only Mexican state in rebellion and the fledgling nation was vulnerable both internally and externally. In his efforts to quash the rebellion in Texas with merciless brutality, Santa Anna attempted to send a clear signal to a rapaciously expansionist United States (and Britain and France and on and on) that he was as big a bastard as anyone else. Santa Anna’s severe message was simple: DON’T FUCK WITH MEXICO OR YOU’LL GET IT TOO. Ultimately, he did not acheive this goal and his defeat at San Jacinto would confirm his (and Mexico’s) worst fears. Twelve years after losing Texas, Mexico lost the entirety of their northern holdings (basically what came to be called the “American” west) to The United States. Say what you will about the Generalisimo, but he wasn’t wrong in his assesment of what was at stake when dealing with Texas and the anglos…he also gave us chewing gum.

Republicans like to talk about how much they support limited government. 100 years ago that was not the case. Some of the most prominent movers of the Progressive Movement came from the very religious, very upper class, very very republican set. That’s right! If you’re a conservative republican today you’re great grand parents would have been ANATHEMA to you. Teddy Roosevelt, William Taft, Elihu Root, Burton Wheeler, Robert La Follette, etc, etc… were all republican politicians who supported so-called big government…at least they supported bigger government. Why? Fear and decency. Fear of radical influence and uprising (see Haymarket Riot, Pullman Strike,et, al.). Decency: there are innumerable documents about the ass-sucking plight of working people who lived during the laissez-faire industrial age of American capitalism. 12 plus hour workdays, deadly working conditions, company towns, scrim…it was a near Manorial system except that wage serfdom came with much less security. It was so bad that pro-slavery arguments used the free wage model as an example of how much worse industrial worker’s lives were than those who suffered under chattel slavery. There was also great concern about the unscrupulous practices of industry under the aegis of a pure free market. When Upton Sinclair released his expose of the Chicago meatpacking industry(with its depictions of bugs, rats, rat shit, poison to kill the pests, and the occasional human who fell into the rendering vat all being processed into the final product then sold American) President Roosevelt, who despised a radical punk like Sinclair and doubted the veracity of his claims, sent inspectors to check things out at the meat facilities. The meat industry was given notice and time to clean up their act before the inspectors arrived. Roosevelt’s inspectors inspected and when they reported back to the President they told him the situation was much worse than described in the book.

Man…maybe that’s enough for now…But there’s so much more fun stuff… Not sure why I posted this but I’m also not sure why I have enchiladas for breakfast…

Posted in: History, Politics

The Story of Seamus

Seamus O'Sparks is the seventh son of a Seventh Day Adventist who went on a seven-day bender starting on July 7, 1977 at a strip club called Seventh Heaven at the corner of 7th St. and 7th Ave. in the West Village.