The Occupy Movement and the Politics of Educated Hope

By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout, posted on, May 22, 2012

 “To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair inevitable.” —Raymond Williams 

American society has lost its claim on democracy. One indication of such a loss is that the crises produced on a daily basis by crony capitalism operate within a discourse of denial. Rather than address the ever proliferating crises produced by market fundamentalism as an opportunity to understand how the United States has arrived at such a point in order to change direction, the dominating classes now use such crises as an excuse for normalizing a growing punishing and warfare state, while consolidating the power of finance capital and the mega-rich. Uncritically situated in an appeal to common sense, the merging of corporate and political power is now constructed on a discourse of refusal—a denial of historical conditions, existing inequalities and massive human suffering—used to bury alive the conditions of its own making. The notion that neoliberal capitalism has less interest in free markets than an enormous stake in the dominance of public life by corporations no longer warrants recognition and debate in mainstream apparatuses of power. Hence, the issue of what happens to democracy and politics when corporations dominate almost all aspects of American society is no longer viewed as a central question to be addressed in public life.(1) 

As society is increasingly organized around shared fears, escalating insecurities and a post 9/11 politics of terror; the mutually reinforcing dynamics of a market-based fundamentalism and a government that appears immune to any checks on its power render democratic politics both bankrupt and inoperable. The hatred of government on the part of Republican extremists has resulted not only in attacks on public services, the cutting of worker benefits, the outsourcing of government services, a hyper-nationalism and the evisceration of public goods such as schools and health care, but also in an abdication of the responsibility to govern. The language of the market with its incessant appeal to self-regulation and the virtues of a radical individualization of responsibility now offer the primary dysfunctional and poisonous index of what possibilities the future may hold, while jingoistic nationalism and racism hail its apocalyptic underbelly. 

The notion that democracy requires modes of economic and social equality as the basis for supportive social bonds, democratic communities and compassionate communal relations disappears along with the claims traditionally made in the name of the social justice, human rights and democratic values. Entrepreneurial values such as competitiveness, self-interest, deregulation, privatization and decentralization now produce self-interested actors who have no interest in promoting the public good or governing in the public interest.(2) Under these circumstances, the 1 percent and the financial, cultural and educational institutions they control declare war on government, immigrants, poor youth, women, and other institutions and groups considered disposable. Crony capitalism produces great wealth for the few and massive human suffering for the many around the globe. At the same time, it produces what João Biehl calls “zones of social abandonment,” which “accelerate the death of the unwanted” through a form of economic Darwinism “that authorizes the lives of some while disallowing the lives of others.”(3) 

As market relations become synonymous with a market society, democracy becomes both the repressed scandal of neoliberalism and its ultimate fear.(4) In such a society, cynicism becomes the ideology of choice as public life collapses into the ever-encroaching domain of the private, and social ills and human suffering become more difficult to identify, understand and engage with critically. The result, as Jean Comaroff points out, is, “In our contemporary world, post 9/11, crisis and exception has become routine and war, deprivation and death intensify despite ever denser networks of humanitarian aid and ever more rights legislation.”(5) In addition, as corporate power and finance capital gain ascendancy over society, the depoliticization of politics and the increasing transformation of the social state into the punishing state has resulted in the emergence of a new form of authoritarianism in which the fusion of corporate power and state violence increasingly permeates all aspects of everyday life.(6) Such violence with its every expanding machinery of death and surveillance creates an ever-intensifying cycle, rendering citizens’ political activism dangerous and even criminal as is obvious in the current assaults being waged by the government against youthful protesters on college campuses, in the streets, and in other spaces now colonized by capital and its machinery of enforcement.(7) 

In opposition to the attacks on critical thought, dissent, the discourse of hope and what Jacques Ranciere calls the erosion of “the public character of spaces, relations and institutions,”(8) the Occupy movement has provided both a call to and demonstrated a common investment in what Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s call the need “to hang on to intellectual and real freedom” and to insure that thinking does not become “immune to the suggestion of the status quo,”(9) thus losing its “secure hold on possibility.”(10) This is evident in the willingness of the protesters’ “challenge to capitalism front and center among its concerns and passions [and] to make economic injustice for the 99 percent and the ruling economic system central, defining issues.”(11) Worth noting is that the Occupy protesters believe that intellectuals (those willing to exercise critical thought) come from a broad range of jobs, fields and institutions and should inhabit the realm of politics, be willing to cross intellectual and physical boundaries, connect questions of understanding and power and unite passion, commitment and conscience in new ways in order to reflect on and engage with the larger society. This intervention is both intellectual and political and it suggests contesting neoliberal capitalism on several registers.


At issue here is that the protesters seek to rescue the political possibilities of ambivalence from the powerful, break open the sordid appeal to common sense, unmask casino capitalism’s most pernicious myths (especially the alleged belief that capitalism and democracy are the same), struggle to restage power in productive ways, enact social agency from those places where it has been denied and work to provide an accurate historical accounting of the racial state and racial power. What has emerged in the Occupy movement is the refusal on the part of protesters to accept the dominant scripts of official authority and the limitations they impose upon individual and social agency, thus using spaces of critique, dissent, dialogue and collective resistance as starting points from which to build unfamiliar, potential worlds. In the process of thinking seriously about structures of power, state formation, militarism, capitalist formations, class and pedagogy, the protesters have refused to substitute moral indignation for the hard work of contributing to critical education and enabling people to expand the horizons of their own sense of agency in order to collectively challenge established structures of financial and cultural power.


This rethinking of politics bristles with a deeply rooted refusal to serve up well-worn and obvious truths, reinforce existing relations of power, or bid retreat to an official rendering of common sense that promotes “a corrosive and demoralizing silence.”(12) What emerges in these distinct but politically allied voices is a pedagogy of disruption, critique, recovery and possibility, one that recognizes that there is no viable politics without will and awareness and that critical education motivates and provides a crucial foundation for understanding and intervening in the world. As Stanley Aronowitz argues, “The system survives on the eclipse of the radical imagination, the absence of a viable political opposition with roots in the general population and the conformity of its intellectuals.”(13) While a pedagogy of disruption and possibility offer no guarantees, it does create the formative culture necessary to create the conditions to enable the hard work necessary to make the “long march” “through the institutions, the workplaces and the streets of the capitalist metropoles.”(14)


Collectively, the Occupy movement also explores, in different ways, how politics demands a new language and a broader view of pedagogy that is both critical and visionary. This commitment translates into a pedagogy capable of illuminating the anti-democratic forces and sites that threaten human lives, the environment and democracy itself; at the same time, its visionary nature cracks open the present to reveal new horizons, different futures and the promise of a global democracy. And yet, under the reign of neoliberal ideology, racist xenophobic nationalisms, the rise of the punishing state, and a range of other anti-democratic forces, citizenship is increasingly privatized, commodified, or subject to various religious and ideological fundamentalisms that feed a sense of powerlessness and disengagement from democratic struggles, if not politics itself. Neoliberalism presents misfortune as a weakness and the logic of the market instructs individuals to rely on their own wits if they fall on hard times, especially since the state has washed its hands of any responsibility for the fate of its citizens. And it is precisely this marriage between fate and the dictates of capitalism that the Occupy movement is challenging.


If the act of critical translation is crucial to a democratic politics, it faces a crisis of untold proportions in the United States, as the deadening reduction of the citizen to a consumer of services and goods empties politics of substance by stripping citizens of their political skills, offering up only individual solutions to social problems, and dissolving all obligations and sense of responsibility for the other in an ethos of hyper-individualism and a narrowly privatized linguistic universe. The logic of the commodity penetrates all aspects of life, and the most important questions driving society no longer seem concerned about matters of equity, social justice and the fate of the common good. The most important choice now facing most people is no longer about living a life with dignity and freedom, but facing the grim choice between survival and dying. As the government deregulates, privatizes and outsources key aspects of governance, turning over the provisions of collective insurance, security and care to private institutions and market-based forces, it undermines the social contract, while “the present retreat of the state from the endorsement of social rights signals the falling apart of a community in its modern, ‘imagined’ yet institutionally safeguarded incarnation.”(15)


One consequence is that the specters of human suffering, misfortune and misery caused by social problems are now replaced with the discourses of personal safety and individual responsibility. Increasingly, as social institutions give way to the machinery of surveillance, punishment and containment, social provisions along with the social state disappear. Similarly, the exclusionary logic of ethnic, racial and religious divisions render more individuals and groups disposable, excluded from public life—languishing away in prisons, dead-end jobs, or the deepening pockets of poverty—and effectively prevented from engaging in politics in a meaningful, powerful way. Instead of vibrant democratic public spheres, neoliberal capital creates what João Biehl calls “zones of social abandonment,” the new domestic “machineries of inscription and invisibility” that thrive on the energies of the unwanted, unbankable and unrecognized—a category that now includes more and more groups including students, women, immigrants, poor people of color and those who refuse to narrate themselves in the sphere of consumer culture.(16)


As the machineries of social death expand, politics seems to take place elsewhere—in globalized regimes of power that are indifferent to traditional forms of power and hostile to any notion of collective responsibility to address human suffering and social problems. Chris Hedges captures the spirit and politics of this mode of corporate colonialism and it is worth repeating. He writes:


We are controlled by tiny corporate entities that have no loyalty to the nation and indeed in the language of traditional patriotism are traitors. They strip us of our resources, keep us politically passive and enrich themselves at our expense…The colonized are denied job security. Incomes are reduced to subsistence level. The poor are plunged into desperation. Mass movements, such as labor unions, are dismantled. The school system is degraded so only the elites have access to a superior education. Laws are written to legalize corporate plunder and abuse, as well as criminalize dissent. And the ensuing fear and instability—keenly felt this past weekend by the more than 200,000 Americans who lost their unemployment benefits—ensure political passivity by diverting all personal energy toward survival. It is an old, old game.[17]
It is an old game reinforced by an authoritarian politics that is unapologetic about its abuses and ongoing production of violence and human misery. It is a politics that owes more to the older fascist regimes of Germany, Italy and Chile than to any notion of democracy. And it is precisely in the reclaiming of politics, one that challenges the current structures of power and ideology, that the Occupy movement offers its greatest promise. What is particularly important in this movement is the growing recognition that moral condemnations of greed, corruption, consumerism and injustice provide only “the minimal positive program for socio-political change,” which further demands addressing the more crucial need for systemic transformations in American society.(18)


We live at a time when the crisis of politics is inextricably connected to the crisis of education and agency. Any viable politics or political culture can only emerge in a determined effort to provide the economic conditions, public spaces, pedagogical practices and social relations in which individuals have the time, motivation and knowledge to engage in acts of translation that reject the privatization of the public sphere, the lure of ethno-racial or religious purity, the emptying of democratic traditions, the crumbling of the language of commonality and the decoupling of critical education from the unfinished demands of a global democracy. As the Occupy movement increasingly addresses what it means politically and pedagogically to confront the impoverishment of public discourse, the collapse of democratic values, the erosion of its public spheres and the corporate colonizing of the American society, it puts in place a language for developing public spheres where critical thought, dialogue, exchange and collective action can take place. At work here is the attempt to develop a new political language for rescuing modes of critical agency and social grievances that have been abandoned or orphaned to the dictates of global neoliberalism, a punishing state and a systemic militarization of public life. Against such hard times for the promise of democracy, the Occupy movement offers an incisive language of analysis and hope, a renewed sense of political commitment, different democratic visions and a politics of possibility.


Political exhaustion and impoverished intellectual visions are fed by the widely popular assumption that there are no alternatives to the present state of affairs. Within the increasing corporatization of everyday life, market value replaces social values and people with the education and means appear more and more willing to retreat into the safe, privatized enclaves of family, religion and consumption. In this case, hope is privatized and foreclosed, just as the conditions disappear in which certain kinds of democratic politics are possible. Those without the luxury of combining individual, political and social rights that make choice meaningful pay a terrible price in the form of material suffering and the emotional hardship and political disempowerment that are its constant companions. Even those who live in the relative comfort of the middle classes must struggle with a poverty of time in an era in which the majority must work more than they ever have to make ends meet.


Mainstream theorists, intellectuals and talk-show pundits revere the thought that politics as a site of contestation, critical exchange and engagement is in a state of terminal arrest or has simply come to an end. The only politics that matters for this diverse group of extremists is a politics that benefits corporations, the rich and the servants of finance capital. However, the Occupy movement argues in diverse and often complex ways that too little attention is paid to what it means to think through the realm of the political, particularly how the struggle over radical democracy is inextricably linked to creating and sustaining public spheres where individuals can be engaged as political agents equipped with the skills, capacities and knowledge they need not only as autonomous political agents, but also to believe that such struggles are worth taking up. The growing cynicism in American society may say less about the reputed apathy of the populace than about the bankruptcy of the old political languages and the need for a new language and vision for clarifying intellectual, ethical, economic and political projects, especially as they work to reframe questions of agency, ethics and meaning for a substantive democracy.


For the Occupy movement, there is a pressing need to get beyond the discourse of negation in order to imagine another world, a future that does not simply reproduce the present. Hope, in this instance, is the precondition for individual and social struggle, involving the ongoing practice of critical education in a wide variety of sites and the renewal of civic courage among citizens, residents, and others who wish to address pressing social problems.(19) Hope says “no” to the totalizing discourse of the neoliberal present; it contains an activating presence that opens current political structures to critical scrutiny, affirms dissent and pluralizes the possibilities of different futures. In this sense, hope is a subversive force.


In opposition to those who seek to turn hope into a new slogan or to punish and dismiss efforts to look beyond the horizon of the given, the promise of the Occupy movement lies in its ability to develop the spaces and places for a democratic formative culture, language of collective struggle, one that embodies and becomes both a project and a pedagogical condition for providing a sense of opposition and engaged struggle. As a project, Andrew Benjamin insists, hope must be viewed as “a structural condition of the present rather than as the promise of a future, the continual promise of a future that will always have to have been better.”(20) At the same time, as Alain Touraine points out, “Opposition to domination is not enough to create a movement; a movement must put forward demands in the name of a positive attribute.”(21) Clearly, hope in this instance is not an individual proclivity or a simple act of outrage, but rather a crucial part of a broader politics that acknowledges those social, economic, spiritual and cultural conditions in the present that make certain kinds of agency and democratic politics possible.


Hence, hope is more than a politics—it is also a pedagogical and performative practice that provides the foundation for enabling human beings to learn about their potential as moral and civic agents. Hope is the outcome of those pedagogical practices and struggles that tap into memory and lived experiences, while at the same time linking individual responsibility with a progressive sense of social change. As a form of utopian longing, educated hope opens up horizons of comparison by evoking not just different histories, but also different futures; at the same time, it substantiates the importance of ambivalence while problematizing certainty. In the words of Paul Ricoeur, it serves as “a major resource as the weapon against closure.”(22) Critical hope is a subversive force when it pluralizes politics by opening up a space for dissent, making authority accountable and becoming an activating presence in promoting social transformation.


The current limits of the utopian imagination are related, in part, to the failure of many individuals and social groups to imagine what pedagogical conditions might be necessary to bring into being forms of political agency and social movements that expand the operations of individual rights, social provisions and democratic freedoms. At the same time, a politics and pedagogy of hope is neither a blueprint for the future nor a form of social engineering, but a belief, simply, that different futures are possible, which holds open matters of contingency, context and indeterminacy. It is only through critical forms of education that human beings can learn to “combine a gritty sense of limits [of the present] with a lofty vision of possibility.”(23) Hope poses the important challenge of how to reclaim social agency within a broader struggle to deepen the possibilities for social justice and global democracy. The Occupy movement recognizes that any viable notion of political and social agency is dependent upon a culture of questioning, whose purpose is to “keep the forever unexhausted and unfulfilled human potential open, fighting back all attempts to foreclose and pre-empt the further unravelling of human possibilities, prodding human society to go on questioning itself and preventing that questioning from ever stalling or being declared finished.”(24)


The project of asking questions that make power accountable, of reclaiming politics from exile, must strike a careful balance between leaving itself forever open to future questions and acting decisively to change the lived experience of ever-expanding ranks of dispossessed and disposable peoples. Reclaiming politics requires a form of educated hope that accentuates how politics is played out on the terrain of imagination and desire as well as in material relations of power and concrete social formations. Freedom and justice, in this instance, have to be mediated through the connection between civic education and political agency, which presupposes that the goal of educated hope is not to liberate the individual from the social—a central tenet of neoliberalism—but to take seriously the notion that the individual can only be liberated through the social.


Central to the Occupy movement is the premise that hope as a subversive, defiant practice should provide a link, however transient, provisional and contextual, between vision and critique, on the one hand, and engagement and transformation on the other. But for such a notion of hope to be consequential, it has to be grounded in a pedagogical project that has some hold on the present. Hope becomes meaningful to the degree that it identifies agencies and processes, offers alternatives to an age of profound pessimism, reclaims an ethic of compassion and justice and struggles for those institutions in which equality, freedom and justice flourish as part of the on-going struggle for a global democracy. One of the great promises of the Occupy movement is its recognition that the greatest threat to social justice and democracy is not merely the existence of casino capitalism, but the disappearance of critical discourses that allow us to think outside of and against the demands of official power as well as the spaces where politics can even occur, where people can learn and assert a sense of critical agency, embrace the civic obligation to care for the other and refuse to take “shelter where responsibility for one’s actions need not be taken by the actors.”(25)


An inclusive democratic politics must be responsive to the varied needs of the citizens who comprise it. In order to facilitate critical thought and nurture the flexibility it requires, the Occupy movement protesters do not provide totalizing answers as much as they offer better questions. They open up conversations in which acts of critical recovery unleash possibilities that have been repressed by official history or caught in the trap of existing social realities. In an age when the dominant tendency among academics is to follow power and fashion, the protesters exhibit both a strong sense of political conviction and an admirable civic courage in their willingness to speak against the status quo, take risks and struggle to give history back to those who are increasingly removed from the political sphere. They also put their bodies on the line in the face of a society that is willing to unleash the police on its youthful protesters rather than invest in their future.


There is more at stake here than saying no, making power visible and recognizing that our individual and collective experiences are not dictated by fate. There is also the challenge of confronting the actual with the possible, of pulling hope down to earth, of making sure that the possibilities we mobilize engage real problems and concrete expressions of domination and power. In addition, there is the need to translate theoretical concerns into public action, lift up the level of discourse in an attempt to connect the academy to the dynamics of everyday life and give worldly expression to our critical work. Politics as an act of translation is essential to the struggle against the coming darkness that brands critical judgment as an enemy of the state and destroys public space, paving the way for existing elements of authoritarianism to crystallize into new forms that deform language. A democratic politics may take many forms, but central to connecting its diverse expressions is the need for individuals, groups and social movements to be able to reveal individual problems as public concerns, use theoretical resources to change concrete and systemic relations of power and challenge “a hateful politics toward the public realm, toward politics.”(26)


Such a challenge is essential to any emancipatory politics of hope and meaning. Without the ability to see how each of our lives is related to the greater good, we lack the basis for recognizing ourselves bearers of rights and responsibilities—the precondition of our being human—who can assume the task of governance rather than simply be governed. We lack the basis for raising questions about the goals and aims of our society and what we want our society as a whole to accomplish, especially in the context of the challenge of creating a global democracy. In short, we lack what makes a democratic politics viable. The alternative is a growing national security state and a species of authoritarianism that encourages profit-hungry monopolies; the ideology of faith-based certainty; the pursuit of ethno-racial purity; the militarization of everyday life; the destruction of civil liberties; the practice of torture; and the undermining of any vestige of critical education, responsible dissent, critical thought and collective struggles. The crises facing American society are much too urgent to give up on and necessitate a resurgence of critique and a discourse of hope premised on the feasibility of a more democratic and just future along with the social movements that will make it possible.




1. Colin Crouch, “The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism” (London: Polity, 2011), pp. viii-ix.
2. Manfred B. Steger and Ravi K. Roy, “Neoliberalism: A Very Short Introduction,” (Oxford University Press, 2010). See also Stuart Hall, “The Neo-Liberal Revolution,” Cultural Studies, Vol. 25, No. 6, (November 2011), pp. 705-728.
3. João Biehl, “Vita: Life in A Zone of Social Abandonment,” (Los Angeles, California: University of California Press, 2005), pp. 20.
4. This theme is taken up particularly well in Jacques Ranciere, “Hatred of Democracy” (London: Verso Press, 2006).
5. Jean Comaroff, “Beyond Bare Life: AIDS, (Bio)Politics and the Neoliberal Order,” Public Culture, 19:1, (Duke Press: Winter 2007), pp. 197-219.
6. I take up this issue in great detail in Henry A. Giroux, “The Twilight of the Social: Resurgent Politics in the Age of Disposability” (Boulder: Paradigm, 2012).
7. For a broader theoretical framework for understanding the militarization of American society, see Stephen Graham, “Cities Under Siege: the New Military Urbanism” (London: Verso, 2010).
8. Jacques Ranciere, “Democracy, Republic, Representation,” Constellations 13, no.3 (2006): 299-300.
9. Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer, “Dialectic of Enlightenment” (London: Verso Press, 1989), 243.
10. Theodor W. Adorno, “The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture,” ed. J. M. Bernstein (London: Routledge, 1991), 292.
11. Richard D. Wolff, “Capitalism is Taboo in America,” Truthout (May 15, 2012). Online here.
12. Ellen Willis, “Three Elegies for Susan Sontag,” New Politics X, no.3 (Summer 2005),  (accessed January 2007)
13. Stanley Aronowitz, “The Winter of Our Discontent,” Situations, IV, no.2, (Spring 2012). p. 68.
14. Ibid., Stanley Aronowitz, “The Winter of Our Discontent,” Situations, p. 68.
15. Zygmunt Bauman, “Has the Future a left?” The Review of Education/Pedagogy/Cultural Studies (2007) , pp. 1-26.
16. João Biehl, “Vita: Life in A Zone of Social Abandonment,” (Los Angeles, California: University of California Press, 2005), pp. 10-11.
17. Chris Hedges, “Colonized by Corporations,” Truthdig (May 14, 2012). Online here.
18. Slavoj Žižek, “Occupy Wall Street: what is to be done next?” The Guardian UK, (April. 24, 2012).
19. On the related issues of hope and pedagogy, see Mark Cote, Richard J.F. Day and Greig de Peuter, eds. “Utopian Pedagogy: Radical Experiments Against Neoliberal Globalization” (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007).
20. Andrew Benjamin, “Present Hope: Philosophy, Architecture, Judaism” (New York: Routledge, 1997), 1.
21. Alain Touraine, “Beyond Neoliberalism” (London: Polity Press, 2001), p. 6.
22. Bauman, “Work, Consumerism and the New Poor” (Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1998), 98.
23. Ron Aronson, “Hope After Hope?” Social Research 66, no.2 (Summer 1999): 489.
24. Zygmunt Bauman and Keith Tester, “Conversations with Zygmunt Bauman” ( Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2001), P. 4.
25. Zygmunt Bauman, “Liquid Life,” (London: Polity Press, 2005) pp. 213.
26. Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, “Why Arendt Matters” (New York: Integrated Publishing Solutions, 2006), 6.

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What Does It Mean To Be Literate In The 21st Century?

By Sheila Moorcroft, Shaping Tomorrow, posted on, June 19, 2012


Our economies have for many years been moving away from old style manufacturing to services. That transition is set to continue, and requires new skills sets. Meanwhile, traditional and digital technologies are converging and becoming more integrated; and changing how we find, use, present and understand information….All of these will require new literacies not only for work but for living a fulfilled life, coping with the new complexities of our societies, and engaging as a citizen. Literacy refers, traditionally, to the ability to read and understand printed formats. Transliteracy has been coined to highlight the need to be able to ‘read and understand’ concepts and ideas across a growing range of formats and platforms – oral, print, visual, digital – as technologies merge and integrate, enabling radically new approaches to presentation, verification and distortion of content. They focus ever more on critical thinking, the ability to question, analyse, challenge; seeing arguments from different perspectives; articulating ideas…It is almost certainly a case of both and, not either or nature and nurture. With social mobility, unemployment and the need for growth all hot political topics, new literacies could be the key to opening new routes to success. 

© 2012 Shaping Tomorrow All rights reserved.
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Full text

Our economies have for many years been moving away from old style manufacturing to services. That transition is set to continue, and requires new skills sets. Meanwhile, traditional and digital technologies are converging and becoming more integrated; and changing how we find, use, present and understand information. Robots are becoming ever more intelligent and have been forecast to be capable of replacing millions of lower skilled, and increasingly higher skilled, jobs in the USA alone in coming decades.

All of these will require new literacies not only for work but for living a fulfilled life, coping with the new complexities of our societies, and engaging as a citizen.

Literacy refers, traditionally, to the ability to read and understand printed formats. Transliteracy has been coined to highlight the need to be able to ‘read and understand’ concepts and ideas across a growing range of formats and platforms – oral, print, visual, digital – as technologies merge and integrate, enabling radically new approaches to presentation, verification and distortion of content. They focus ever more on critical thinking, the ability to question, analyse, challenge; seeing arguments from different perspectives; articulating ideas.

As with all skills, the need for these skills can be seen as a continuum from the functional – enough for day to day life, through socio-cultural to enhance life chances through to transformational which can underpin high levels of innovation.

Practical life skills are in short supply.  A recent survey in the UK indicated that 45% of children under the age of 13 could use a DVD or iPod but not tie their shoelaces – not in itself a problem given the availability of Velcro and slip on shoes, but tying a knot is important.

Another item highlighted 27 essential literacies under six headings, – financial, thinking, success, social, practical, happiness – which it claimed were not being taught in schools.  These ranged from critical thinking to knowing how to mend things, listening skills to budgeting.

Science literacy is also a growing necessity. Issues such as addressing climate change and the benefits of new technologies, feeding growing populations all require an understanding of science. In order to understand the complex trade-offs and underlying issues, cause and effect.

Why is this important?

On one level, these discussions are not new. Howard Gardner discussed the idea of multiple intelligences as early as 1983. Daniel Goleman had a best seller in the 1990s with Emotional Intelligence. Work related profiling systems such as Myers Briggs examine individual capabilities across different skill sets. The discussion of ‘new literacies’ could be seen as little more than rebranding of old ideas, but in doing so it may focus attention and gather momentum for change and new solutions for our new economies.

Countries in the OECD face a double whammy: high unemployment and skills shortages. 23 million people aged 15-24 – about 17% on average are unemployed and not in education or training across the OECD; youth unemployment in Spain and Greece rises to 50% and over. At the same time, 40% of employers across the OECD complain of skills shortages affecting their ability to grow. The new OECD skills strategy aims to help identify and best enable the development of the skills needed to support economic growth. The question will be what skills, taught where, when, how and by whom? Soft skills and the new literacies will need to be part of the process.

A report from the Work Foundation in the UK bears this out. It looks into the issue of those young people not in employment, education or training. Its conclusion is that many of them lack not only formal qualifications, but the ‘soft skills’ needed in today’s economy such as communication. It makes a range of policy recommendations on how to develop these skills.

The nature versus nurture debate in achievement and life success is a longstanding one. Recent research may indicate that soon we may be able to untangle some of the intricacies. A research team has identified small but significant links between 200 (of out 25,000 or so) human genes and ability in maths and language. It is very early days, but they think they may be able to develop genetic tests which are predictors of ability.

Elsewhere, nurture continues to focus strongly. Research into levels of early communication by parents with their childrenunder the age of 3 demonstrates a link between the numbers of words heard and later achievement. A difference of about 23 million words heard separated the highest from the lowest achieving. This includes not only the number of words, but also the type of communication – discursive and exploratory or repetitive and narrow.

It is almost certainly a case of both and, not either or nature and nurture. With social mobility, unemployment and the need for growth all hot political topics, new literacies could be the key to opening new routes to success. 

© 2012 Shaping Tomorrow All rights reserved.
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Abandoned O.J. Project Shows Shame Still Packs a Punishing Punch

By Shankar Vedantam, WashingtonPost, November 27, 2006 

The whole project was pure shamelessness. A controversial former football star, who many believe got off scot-free after killing two people, writes a book about how he might have committed the murders. It was an end zone dance in the worst possible taste. Everyone was outraged but had to concede that O.J. Simpson, once acquitted, was beyond the reach of the law. 

But Simpson and his publisher, Judith Regan, were within reach of another powerful tool that is not much used in American society: shame. Facing growing outrage and scorn, News Corp. chief executive Rupert Murdoch canceled the book project last week. 

For Stephanos Bibas, a law professor and former prosecutor, the saga was grounds for celebration, because it showed that shame remains a powerful tool in America.

For nearly two centuries, using shame as a weapon against wrongdoing has steadily fallen into disfavor in the United States, even as it continues to be an essential part of social discourse in more traditional societies. After the rise of penitentiaries around 1800, the idea of shaming wrongdoers was replaced by more impersonal forms of punishment such as incarceration. 

But in the past decade or two, a number of scholars have become interested in the uses of shame, especially in the criminal justice system. Bibas and others think the steady erosion of shame in U.S.courts and society has proved financially costly to the country, deprived victims of a sense of vindication and kept wrongdoers from feeling remorseful.

“I was very pleasantly surprised to see shame, and the shaming of Rupert Murdoch, triumph over O.J.’s shamelessness,” Bibas said. “There are, apparently, some things that still go too far.” 

Murdoch’s withdrawal of Simpson’s book and a Fox television special about it scheduled to run during the November sweeps was evidence that shame could be effective where the law was impotent, said Bibas, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. There was nothing illegal about the book, but the widespread media coverage of the project and the collective revulsion of the country shamed Murdoch into retreat. 

Where shame was once integral to how wrongdoers were dealt with — offenders publicly whipped, put in stockades and pilloried in Colonial America — it faded out of the justice system based on the idea that offenders should not be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. And psychotherapists, including Sigmund Freud on down, showed how shame can damage people. 

Bibas doesn’t want a return to public floggings and other forms of cruelty, but he does want a way to reattach society’s voice of moral outrage to offensive behavior. When someone commits a crime nowadays, society allows offenders never to have to speak directly to victims and their families. Bibas thinks this is why prison sentences are growing longer, but packing offenders off to jail does not give victims the public acknowledgment they seek that they were harmed. Societies that use shame to censure criminals often require such acknowledgment of the offense, along with reparative ceremonies involving the families of both offender and victim. 

When those techniques work, as Cornell University law professor Stephen P. Garvey explored in an analysis of shaming punishments, society saves money because offenders do not have to be locked away for eons, victims have a sense of being made whole again and punishment becomes more than retribution — social pressure from family and peers can shame wrongdoers into remorse in a way that locking them up and throwing away the key cannot. 

The idea has many critics, who warn that shaming will lead to violations of dignity and to abuse and vigilante-style justice. Broadcasting the names of married men found guilty of visiting prostitutes through the mass media, as some police departments have done, can harm the men’s families as much as the offenders. And sometimes, critics say, it is less important that offenders be remorseful than it is that they be locked away and kept from hurting their victims again. 

Garvey and Bibas acknowledge these concerns and say shaming punishments have limitations when it comes to violent crime. But done right, they say, creative punishments have an element not just of justice but poetic justice. One program sent men found guilty of soliciting prostitutes to a “School for Johns,” where they received lectures from former prostitutes. Neo-Nazis were made to watch the film “Schindler’s List,” listen to stories of Holocaust survivors and meet with a preacher they planned to kill. What about having auto thieves wash their victims’ cars every weekend? Or have vandals beautify their city? 

No one expects that shaming punishments will always lead to a change of heart.University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner pointed out that Murdoch owns tabloids that publish “grotesque” stories such as what meals people on death row are eating, meaning that his retraction of the Simpson book may be less about remorse than damage control. 

But even superficial changes driven by shaming can lead to deeper effects. When a 3-year-old hits his brother and his parents make him apologize, the apology may be utterly insincere, but repeated apologies teach the child to internalize the idea that hitting other people is wrong. 

“People may do things insincerely, but social psychology teaches us that we conform our beliefs to our actions,” Bibas said. “If we have to act in a way that professes repentance and sorrow, we will eventually learn those as values.”

A Liberal Translation By Timothy Garton Ash

New York Times, January 24, 2009

Missing from Mr. Obama’s address was only the proper name of the political philosophy, coded into the constitutional DNA of theUnited States, that proposes this and other balances: liberalism. – the Inaugural Address presented, in substance, a blend of classical constitutional and modern egalitarian liberalism. 

Over the last two decades a truly eccentric usage has triumphed in American public debate. Liberalism has become a pejorative term denoting — to put the matter a tad frivolously — -The United States is not the only place where “liberalism” is fiercely contested. – worldwide conceptual cacophony – combinations and balances belong to liberalism’s defining essence, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.— for example, the free market — dominates, then the result can be illiberalism. The vital, never-ending debate over liberalism is not just over its indispensable ingredients, but also over their form, proportion and relation to one another. 

A plausible minimum list of ingredients for 21st century liberalism would include liberty under law, limited and accountable government, markets, tolerance, some version of individualism and universalism, and some notion of human equality, reason and progress. – But somewhere in this contested, evolving combination there is a thing of enduring value.

This has been an American argument, some would say the American argument, for more than 200 years. In fact, the United Statesis still full of liberals, both progressive or left liberals and, I would insist, conservative or right liberals. Most of them just don’t use the word. Liberalism is the American love that dare not speak its name. -free-market liberalism, a k a neo-liberalism, –  markets remain an indispensable condition of liberty. – those of us who believe in the universal, enduring value of liberalism – has decisively reasserted the importance of equal liberty under the rule of law 

Seeking a more just and efficient balance between government and markets is at the heart of his domestic agenda. He has also found ways to present the traditional liberal value of tolerance in new language that speaks to our increasingly mixed-up world.

Has America’s Stolen Election Process Finally Hit Prime Time?

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman,, December 30, 2011

It took two stolen US Presidential elections and the prospect of another one coming up in 2012.

For years the Democratic Party and even much of the left press has reacted with scorn for those who’ve reported on it.

But the imperial fraud that has utterly corrupted our electoral process seems finally to be dawning on a broadening core of the American electorate—if it can still be called that.

The shift is highlighted by three major developments:
1. The NAACP goes to the United Nations

In early December, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the largest civil rights organization in America, announced that it was petitioning the United Nations over the orchestrated GOP attack on black and Latino voters.

In its landmark report entitled Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America, the NAACP directly takes on the new Jim Crow tactics passed in fourteen states that are designed to keep minorities from voting in 2012.

The report analyzes 25 laws that target black, minority and poor voters “unfairly and unnecessarily restrict[ing] the right to vote.” It notes “…a coordinated assault on voting rights.”

The Free Press has been reporting on this coordinated assault since the 2000 election, including the heroic struggle of voters in Ohio to postpone the enactment of the draconian House Bill 194 that was the most restrictive voting rights law passed in the United States. (See Voting rights activists fight back against new Republican Jim Crow attack in Ohio)

The NAACP points out that this most recent wave of voter repression is a reaction to the “…historic participation of people of color in the 2008 presidential election and substantial minority population growth according to the 2010 consensus….”

It should be no surprise that the states of the old Confederacy – Florida, Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina – are in the forefront of repressing black voters. Three other Jim Crow states with the greatest increase in Latino population – South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee – also implemented drastic measures to restrict minority voting.

The report documents that a long-standing tactic under fire since the 1860s – the disenfranchisement of people with felony convictions – is back in vogue. This has been coupled with “severe restrictions” on persons conducting voter registration drives and reducing opportunities for early voting and the use of absentee ballots complete these template legislative acts.

Most of these new Jim Crow tactics were initially drafted as model legislation by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a secretive and conservative corporate policy group whose founder, according to the NAACP, is on record in favor of reducing the voting population in order to increase their own “leverage.”

The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that the 25 laws passed in these 14 states could prevent as many as 5 million voters from voting, a number easily exceeding the margin of victory in numerous presidential elections.

Ohio’s HB 194, which awaits a 2012 referendum vote, would disenfranchise an estimated 900,000 in one of our nation’s key battleground states.

An important statistic in all the legislation is that 25 % of African Americans lack a state photo identification, as do 15% of Latinos, but by comparison, only 8% of white voters. Other significant Democratic constituents – the elderly of all races and college students – would be disproportionately impacted.

Ohio voters have just repealed a draconian anti-labor law passed by the GOP-dominated legislature and the state’s far-right governor John Kasich. Whether they will do the same to this massive disenfranchisement remains to be seen. But the fact that it’s on a state ballot marks a major leap forward. Ohio activists are also drafting a constitutional amendment that includes revamping the registration, voting and vote count procedures.(Can we transform labor’s Buckeye victory into a new era of election protection?)

2. The Justice Department awakens

On Friday, December 23, 2011, the U.S. Justice Department called South Carolina’s new voter ID law discriminatory. The finding was based in part on the fact that minorities were almost 20% more likely than whites to be without state-issued photo IDs required for voting. Unlike Ohio, South Carolina remains under the 1965 Voting Rights Act and requires federal pre-approval to any changes in voting laws that may harm minority voters.

The Republican governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley denounced the Justice Department decision as “outrageous” and vowed to do everything in her power to overturn the decision and uphold the integrity of state’s rights under the 10th Amendment.

The US Supreme Court has upheld the requirement of photo ID for voting. Undoubtedly the attempt by US Attorney General Eric Holder to challenge this will go to the most thoroughly corporate-dominated Court in recent memory. The depth of the commitment of the Obama Administration to the issue also remains in doubt.

3. The EAC finally finds that voting machines are programmed to be partisan

Another federal agency revealed another type of problem in Ohio. On December 22, 2011, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) issued a formal investigative report on Election Systems & Software (ED&D) DS200 Precinct County optical scanners. The EAC found “three substantial anomalies”:
• Intermittent screen freezes, system lock-ups and shutdowns that prevent the voting system from operating in the manner in which it was designed
• Failure to log all normal and abnormal voting system events
• Skewing of the ballot resulting in a negative effect on system accuracy

The EAC ruled that the ballot scanners made by ES&S electronic voting machine firm failed 10% of the time to read the votes correctly. Ohio is one of 13 states that requires EAC certification before voting machines can be used in elections. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported in 2010 that the voting machines in heavily Democratic Cuyahoga County had failed during testing for the 2010 gubernatorial election. Cleveland uses the same Republican-connected ES&S ballot scanners – the DS200 opti-scan system. Ohio’s Mahoning County, home of the Democratic enclave of Youngstown, also uses the DS200s. The same opti-scan system is also used in the key battleground states of Florida, Illionois, Indiana, New York, and Wisconsin.

Voting rights activists fear a repeat of the well-documented vote switching that occurred in Mahoning County in the 2004 presidential election when county election officials admitted that 31 of their machines switched Kerry votes to Bush.

But a flood of articles about these realities—including coverage in the New York Times—seems to indicate the theft of our elections has finally taken a leap into the mainstream of the American mind. Whether that leads to concrete reforms before another presidential election is stolen remains to be seen. But after more than a decade of ignorance and contempt, it’s about time something gets done to restore a semblance of democracy to the nation that claims to be the world’s oldest.

 Bob Fitrakis is a Political Science Professor in the Social and Behavioral Sciences department at Columbus State Community College. He and Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection, including Did George W. Bush Steal America’s 2004 Election?, As Goes Ohio: Election Theft Since 2004 , How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008, and What Happened in Ohio
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Bush’s failed Machiavelli messes up big time

by Andrew Sullivan, Times/UK, March 25, 2007

If you have a reputation for being a Machiavellian, you aren’t one. That was Machiavelli’s view, at least. The key to all successful power-mongers, he argued, is the appearance of innocence, and a reputation for honesty and benevolence. Underneath, of course, you’re stitching the system up.

So it doesn’t take a genius to realise that if Niccolo were around today he would laugh heartily at the idea that Karl Rove is a master of the art of ruthless politics.

President George W Bush’s right-hand man has a reputation as one of the nastiest, toughest players in the business. Last week Congress prepared but did not deliver a subpoena to have him testify about the highly suspicious firing of eight allegedly independent US attorneys in battle-ground states. He is regarded as being at the centre of the outing of Valerie Plame, the former covert CIA agent.

A true Machiavellian would never be associated with these tawdry and counterproductive political manoeuvres. A true Machiavellian would keep his eyes on the big power moves while coming off like Mother Teresa.

But just as Rove has become entangled in petty scandal, he has bungled the bigger strategy as well. Six years into the Bush presidency Rove’s fantasy of a permanent Republican majority is fast becoming a B-movie of a broken political movement.

The myth of Rove’s political brilliance is not hard to dispel. He has often picked the easiest and sleaziest short-term tactic over the more difficult long-term strategy. He began his career race-baiting and liberal-bashing a moribund Democratic party in the Deep South. It wasn’t hard to fell those teetering timbers in the 1970s and 1980s.

Yes he shepherded Bush to be governor of Texas in the 1990s, but again the political winds were strongly behind him. Texas had been trending Republican ever since the Lyndon B Johnson era, and Rove found in Bush a congenial and single-minded fellow to occupy a relatively weak executive office.

Rove does deserve credit for creating an aura of inevitability around Bush in 1999 and 2000, and for sliming John McCain in the South Carolina primary (after a near-fatal setback for Bush in New Hampshire). But much of the credit for Bush’s eventual razor-thin victory goes to Al Gore.

Even so, Rove actually advised Bush to stop campaigning the weekend before the vote, and suppressed a drunk-driving record that emerged very late in the campaign and nearly derailed the entire effort. These tactical errors made Bush’s victory a statistical rounding error.

Then came what in retrospect seems the stupidest decision made in a very long time in American politics. Rove advised a moderate, congenial and compassionate Republican, elected with a minority of the popular vote, to forget about retaining the political centre. Rove believed that appealing to moderates was a fool’s game when there were millions of alienated evangelical voters waiting to be tapped.

“Play to the base” was Rove’s mantra — and he could create what he called a “permanent majority”. If four or five million fundamentalists who had previously never voted could be marshalled into a new political movement, victory would be his. The rest could be bribed with large amounts of government spending (cash for churches, pills for the elderly, tax breaks for big business, tariffs for steel, subsidies for agriculture).

So Bush cut taxes, turned on the spending spigot and stuck to a strictly religious line on social policy: no new federal embryonic stem cell research, judicial appointments designed to reverse the Roe vs Wade case that established women’s right to abortion, a constitutional amendment to ban civil recognition of gay couples and a clumsy attempt to play politics with Terri Schiavo, a woman in Florida in a permanent vegetative state.

Bush’s response to 9/11 fell exactly into this Rovian pattern. Some war leaders respond to an attack by bringing the opposition party into their cabinet (as Winston Churchill did) and creating a government of national unity. Bush did the opposite, forging a war policy solely in the executive branch, sidelining the Senate and then running a mid-term election strategy by accusing Democrats of being soft on terror. It worked in the short term. But by the 2004 election the strains were beginning to show. Mistakes in Iraq were not viewed as national faults, to be corrected, but as the president’s sole responsibility, to be denied.

In wartime, Americans tend to back their president: those reelected to a second term do so with big majorities. Bush, thanks to Rove, broke this pattern, gaining a mere 51% in wartime with an economy goosed by Keynesian spending. Yes, he won — and he was lucky again in his opponents. But the basic structure was weak.

Just how weak is beginning to become clear. The Rove coalition has no viable candidate for 2008. Rudy Giuliani is a social liberal; McCain loathes the Rove base, and the feeling is mutual; Mitt Romney was only very recently boasting that he would be more pro-gay than Edward Kennedy. Evangelicals are splitting between those who want to keep their focus on sexual issues and those who want to take a more public stand on issues such as the environment and torture.

The mismanaged war has removed the Republicans’ advantage on national security. The younger generation is overwhelmingly Democratic. I remember when it was actually cool to be conservative. Those days are gone. In 2002 the parties were tied at 43% each across all Americans. After five more years of Bush, according to a survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Center released last week, the Democrats have 50% support compared with the Republicans’ 35%.

The survey also found big drops in religious intensity and big increases in the percentage eager to see government play a larger role in taking care of the poor. One of Rove’s ideological legacies may be the revival of old-school liberalism.

What Rove has also done by centring the Republican party in the Deep South is alienate many moderates and centre-right voters in the Rocky Mountains and Midwest. A state such as Colorado that was once evenly split now looks increasingly Democratic. California — the state of Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon — was abandoned long ago. And the one issue that really fires up the white base of the Republican party is hostility to illegal immigration. But a policy like that could turn off the huge and growing Hispanic vote, isolating the Republicans even further into a white, narrow and angry image.

Rove, in other words, may be on the verge of a historic realignment of the kind he used to boast of. He may indeed have created a new and permanent majority — but for the Democrats, not the Republicans. Machiavelli would be unimpressed.

Occupying a Cause by Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers Essay: March 1, 2012

What’s the common cause behind Occupy protesters? 

BILL MOYERS: By coincidence I first met with Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson on the very day Occupy Wall Street had sprung up in lower Manhattan. And I wondered, as so many others did, were we seeing the advance guard of a movement by organized people to challenge the power of organized money? Well, it’s still too soon to know. But in the weeks that followed, every time we went down to the encampment, there was no mistaking the message.

LINNEA PALMER PATON: I don’t have thousands of dollars to go buy myself a lobbyist to lobby for my views, but corporations do.

BILL MOYERS: Linnea Palmer Paton is 23 and an Occupy Wall Street Volunteer.

LINNEA PALMER PATON: This is supposed to be a government for the people, run by the people and if our voices don’t matter because we’re not wealthy, that’s really unacceptable and it’s dangerous.

HERO VINCENT: My name is Hero Vincent, I’m 21 years old. I’ve been here since day one. My parents were foreclosed on, my father’s been unemployed a couple of years. My mother was the only one taking care of the family for a while. I’ve been working since I’ve been 14 years old, you know, trying to put food on our table, trying to help out with the bills. So all these circumstances– my sister is in college and she– we can barely afford it, you know. And so it brought us here. The struggle brought us to this occupation, this day, this moment.

[NATSOT]: It ain’t hard to occupy if you’re set on freedom.

BILL MOYERS: Amin Husain is a former corporate lawyer. He’s now an artist who has become one of the many organizers of Occupy Wall Street.

AMIN HUSAIN: This connection between government and state regulating money and the flow of money at the expense of 99 percent of the population is untenable and it’s no longer being accepted. There’s been a shift in the way that people think of themselves in this political process. That there has been a level of empowerment. But this movement is about transforming society.

WOMAN AT PROTEST: I just need to interrupt one second and say you’re doing a great! I love you. All of us who are sleeping at home, we’re writing letters, we’re thinking about you.

AMIN HUSAIN: Thank you, thank you. I really appreciate it.

WOMAN AT PROTEST: We’re changing our bank accounts!

YESENIA BARRAGAN: My family’s home was almost foreclosed in Hackensack, NJ. First by Providian Bank, then by Bank of America, then Chase. The names changes. And we were almost homeless.

BILL MOYERS: Yesenia Barragan is working for her doctorate in Latin American history at Columbia University.

YESENIA BARRAGAN: We were able to gather enough resources, enough money within our family to save the house. So we like to say that we were the lucky ones. And I’m basically here because I don’t want to live in a world where there are lucky ones and unlucky ones.

DANIEL LYNCH: My name is Daniel Lynch, I live in Manhattan. And in my spare time I try to trade stocks. I might even be center-right! And I still support this, and I want people to know that, right, 99 percent exactly, right? I’ve been worried for a long time about problems with wealth inequality in the country, income inequality, and I just wanted to throw my support a little. I don’t march, I don’t carry a sign. But I come down at night I talk to some people.

I believe in capitalism, I believe in capital markets. But unchecked like this, especially the way we have estate taxes, income taxes, it subverts capitalism, it becomes feudalism. Owners of capital are winning so much more than laborers, right capital it has no roots, right? To just deny that that’s happening and not have a little bit of an activist tax policy about it, I think is naïve, it’s destructive, and it’s just absurd.

NELINI STAMP: My name is Nelini Stamp, I’m 24 years old.

BILL MOYERS: Nelini Stamp is a community organizer. She joined Occupy Wall Street on its first day.

NELINI STAMP: I’ve been fed up with having to worry about living pay check to pay check because of corporate greed and because we don’t have a very high minimum wage in New York. I really just wanted to take a major leap in fighting back.

I think that we need to, first of all, have public financing of elections. That is a huge deal one of the reasons is why corporations– because there’s an unlimited amount of donations that they can give to political campaigns. And it’s about time we all stand up and take this back.

TYLER COMBELIC: I found my voice. I’ve been very apathetic, very cynical of the system that: do I matter? Do I matter to politicians? Do I matter to government when policies are being made?

BILL MOYERS: Tyler Combelic is a volunteer with the media outreach team.

TYLER COMBELIC: Personally, I want to see money out of government. I’m a very big proponent of campaign finance reform, of limiting the role of lobbyists, and limiting the role of corporate personhood because I feel right now, who has the largest war chest is the determiner of who’s going to be elected for a specific office or what kind of laws are going to be passed by Congress. And that corporatist-type of government is not what the United States is supposed to be.

MAN AT PROTEST: You got a better chance of being an organ donor than seeing any retirement money!

PETER CRAYCROFT: I think this is a perfect kind of forum for us all to come and talk about–

STEPHEN HAYS: Back and forth.

PETER CRAYCROFT: Yeah. I’ve seen many souls changed in the last three days.


PETER CRAYCROFT: Yeah. On all sides. Including the other side of the–

STEPHEN HAYS: You see I came through the Woodstock generation and I thought it’s just back to business as usual and sort of it was a big party. That’s what I see this as, a party with no cover. I’m a defender of money. Freedom, individual freedom, rich people. Because I’m still, even though I’ve got gray, I’m still trying to be one. Because the more money I have the more good I can do. And it will be my decision as to how I allocate that good. How I allocate that capital.

When I look around at all these buildings, hospitals, colleges, I don’t see many poor people’s names. They’re all rich people. Reverend Ike a black minister who used to preach up here in New York. Used to say, “If you curse the rich, you’ll never be one.”

CALVIN BELL: Look at the people out here! You think they’re out here just hanging out? I mean, that blows my mind that you came out here and you said, well, people out here, you know, they have something against wealthy people, you know, wealthy people should be allowed to be wealthy people, because while we’re wealthy people we’ll throw money out and sprinkle them all and make people’s lives better. It’s not happening. Wealthy companies are not making the common person’s lives better. They’re taking their money, they’re moving it abroad, they’re doing different things. What’s that got to do with anything?

STEPHEN HAYS: You’ve got a nice camera, you’ve got clothes, you’re blessed.

CALVIN BELL: I just told you that I’m not one of the ones—

STEPHEN HAYS: I can’t be so pessimistic about things.

CALVIN BELL: I’m being realistic.

I live in a very nice house, my family’s blessed. So I’m not going to pretend that, you know, I don’t have anything. But I do also recognize that a lot of the situations we’re in now is because of greed. It’s because – it’s not what he said, you just let people take their money and they’ll do good things with it. Not all people do good things with their money.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: (During a teach-in) The one percent have dominant political power over both parties.

BILL MOYERS: Organizers invited Bill Black to lead a teach-in at “the people’s microphone.”

WILLIAM K. BLACK: (During a teach-in) How many think they stole from all of us?

BILL MOYERS: A senior federal regulator in the 1980s, Black cracked down on banks during the savings and loan crisis. He now teaches economics and law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: What we have is recurrent, intensifying financial crises driven by elite fraud and now it’s done with almost absolute impunity. So the whole idea of noblesse oblige and such and that the rich were supposed to have special responsibilities, that’s all gone, right? They have a God-given right to the lowest conceivable taxes.

When you put anti-regulators in charge of the agencies who believe that regulation is bad and completely unnecessary and they destroy it, creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that produces massive fraud at the most elite levels.

But, worse, it all feeds into politics. So, once you get a group that completely dominates the economy, they’re going to completely dominate politics, as well.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: (During a teach-in) There is no excuse for not prosecuting. It is an obscenity. It’s surrender to crony capitalism.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: What’s distressed me, and I think is one of the major reasons we get recurrent intensifying crises, is we seem to have lost our capacity for outrage. And it’s only people getting outraged that produces really positive social change.

[NATSOT]: We are the 99 percent! So are you! We are the 99 percent! So are you!

MARILYN BRANDEE: I’ve been waiting years for people to get angry enough to do something. We want to just support these young people and the people who are sacrificing so much comfort for all of us.

RONNI TERR: I have a brother who’s been out of work for two years. He has a family, I think it’s just terrible that they don’t care. They’re making millions of dollars. Mitch McConnell is a multi-millionaire, John Boehner is a multi-millionaire. They don’t care about the people, they really don’t. And their own districts have many people who are unemployed, who are having foreclosures. And it’s time they stop playing this game and really said, you know I think maybe we’ll pass something that will help build our infrastructure or get people back to work. So this is a start, I hope that it makes a dent. But the fact that it’s not just here, it’s all over the country now, means that somebody is waking up.

BILL MOYERS: Waking up is right. Waking up to the reality that inequality matters. It matters because what we’re talking about is what it takes to live a decent life. If you get sick without health coverage, inequality matters. If you’re the only breadwinner and out of work, inequality matters. If your local public library closes down and you can’t afford to buy books on your own, inequality matters. If budget cuts mean your child has to pay to play on the school basketball team or to sing in the chorus or march in the band, inequality matters. If you lose your job as you’re about to retire, inequality matters. And if the financial system collapses and knocks the props from beneath your pension, inequality matters.

I grew up in a working class family. We were among the poorest in town, but I was rich in public goods.

I went to a good public school, played sandlot ball in a good public park, had access to a good public library, drove down a good public highway to a good public college, all made possible by people I never met. There was an unwritten bargain among the generations — we didn’t all get the same deal, but we did get civilization.

That bargain’s being shredded. The occupiers of Wall Street understand this. You could tell from their slogans. A fellow young enough to be my grandson wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the words: “The system’s not broken. It’s fixed.” That’s right. Rigged. And that’s why so many are so angry. Not at wealth itself, but at the crony capitalists who resorts to tricks, loopholes, and hard, cold cash for politicians to make sure insiders prosper and then pull up the ladder behind them.

Yes, Americans are waking up. To how they’re being made to pay for Wall Street’s malfeasance and Washington’s complicity. Paying with stagnant wages and lost jobs, with slashing cuts to their benefits and to their social services. And waking up to the grotesque Supreme Court decision defining a corporation as a person, although it doesn’t eat, breath, make love or sing, or take care of children and aging parents. Waking up to how campaign contributions corrupt our elections; to the fact that if speech is money, no money means no speech.

So the collective cry has gone up loud and clear: enough’s enough. We won’t, as I said, know for a while if this is just a momentary cry of pain; or whether it’s a movement that, like the Abolitionists and Suffragettes, the populists and workers of another era, or the Civil Rights movement of our time, gathers force until the powers-that-be can no longer sustain the inequality, the injustice and yes, the immorality of winner-take-all politics.

Our coverage of politically engineered inequality continues in our next two broadcasts. First, David Stockman, a one-time enforcer of the Reagan revolution.

DAVID STOCKMAN: There was clearly reckless, speculative behavior going on for years on Wall Street. It was encouraged by the Federal Reserve which is dominated by Wall Street.

BILL MOYERS: And John Reed, a banker’s banker who was there when Washington loaded the dice, and Wall Street rolled them.

JOHN REED: It wasn’t that there was one or two or institutions that, you know, got carried away and did stupid things. It was, we all did. And then the whole system came down.

BILL MOYERS: And at our new website,, I interviewed two Occupy Wall Street organizers who give us insight into the movement and what it hopes to accomplish. We’ll also link you to our interview with the editors of Mother Jones magazine, and their coverage of the “dark money” that has cast a deep shadow across this election year. That’s at See you there, and see you here next time.

Religious Diversity in America

by Randall Balmer, Professor of American Religious History, Barnard College, Columbia University ©National Humanities Center,

Ever since the first days of European settlement—and even before that with the wide variety of Native cultures—diversity has been one of the distinguishing features of religious life in North America. Sometimes the juxtaposition of religious groups created conflict, as when Spanish settlers sought to impose Roman Catholicism on the Pueblos in the Southwest, leading to the Pueblo uprising of 1680, seventy years after the founding of Santa Fe as the first European capital city in North America. At other times, religious groups have accommodated to one another, as in the Middle Colonies, where rampant ethnic and religious diversity forced various groups to find some way to coexist.

New Netherlandprovides a particularly graphic example. In 1524 Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian navigator in the service of France, discovered the inlet to what is now New York harbor through the Narrows that now bears his name. Nearly a century later, Henry Hudson, an Englishman under contract to the Dutch West India Company, nosed the Half Moon through the same Narrows and up the River later named in his honor. Hudson failed in his search for a northwest passage to Asia, but he opened the way for immigration. The first group of settlers to disembark at Manhattan were Walloons, French-speaking Belgians, followed soon thereafter by a modest influx of Dutch, Germans, and French. Early reports filtering back to Amsterdam from New Netherland told of Huguenots, Mennonites, Brownists, Quakers, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, even, according to a contemporary, “many atheists and various other servants of Baal.”1 English Puritans settled toward the eastern end of Long Island. Jews, seeking asylum, arrived in New Amsterdam from Recifé (on the Northeast coast of Brazil) in 1654, following the Portuguese takeover of the Dutch colony there. The English Conquest of New Netherland a decade later further added to the diversity of the colony renamed in honor of the Duke of York, and English attempts to tame some of the religious and ethnic diversity of their new colony met with considerable resistance.

In contrast with most of New England, where the Puritans sought to impose religious uniformity, other colonies in the Middle Atlantic were also characterized by pluralism. Quakers and Scots-Irish Presbyterians, among many others, inhabited what is now New Jersey. Further south, the Swedes, flush from their crucial engagement in the Thirty Years War, sought to establish a beachhead in the New World with settlements along the Delaware River, settlements that yielded to Dutch rule in 1665 and then to the English nine years later. Maryland, named for the wife of England’s Charles I (not for the Blessed Virgin, as many believe), was founded by Lord Calvert as a refuge for English Catholics, but he recognized even from the beginning that Catholic settlers would have to accommodate believers from other traditions in order to ensure toleration for themselves. William Penn, an English Quaker, founded his “Holy Experiment” in 1680, a place of religious toleration that attracted Lutherans and Quakers, along with smaller groups such as Moravians, Mennonites, Amish, and Schwenckfelders.


Religious Diversity and the New Nation

The religious and ethnic pluralism in the Middle Atlantic persisted throughout the colonial period, and when it came time for the framers of the Constitution to configure the relationship between church and state for the new nation, they looked both to Roger Williams’s notion of a “wall of separation” as well as to the religious diversity in New York and elsewhere. Williams, a Puritan minister who arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1631, quickly ran afoul of the Puritan ministers because he recognized the dangers to the faith of too close an association between religion and the state. He wanted to protect the “garden of the church” from the “wilderness of the world” by means of a “wall of separation.” The Puritans of Massachusetts Bay had no patience with such ideas; they expelled Williams from the colony, whereupon he migrated south to organize what became Rhode Island as a haven for liberty of conscience and toleration of religious diversity. The notion of disestablishment, the absence of a state religion, was utterly unprecedented in England and Europe, but New York had been functioning for decades with de facto disestablishment, proving that religious pluralism posed no threat to the secular order and that government could function without the backing of a particular religion.

The First Amendment’s guarantee of “free exercise” of religion together with its proscription against a state church set up a kind of free market of religious life in theUnited States. The absence of an established religion means that all religious groups are free to compete in this marketplace, and (to extend the economic metaphor) American history is littered with examples of religious entrepreneurs who have competed for a market share. This system (in theory, at least) disadvantages no one, so all religious groups, regardless of their historical or ethnic origins or their theological inclinations, are free to compete in that marketplace.


The Crucible of Pluralism

Americans, however, have not always welcomed religious newcomers with open arms. The immigration of the Irish, following the Potato Famines in the Old World, met with resistance from American Protestants, who wanted to retain their hegemony. Germans and Italians also faced hostilities in the nineteenth century, in part because of the newcomers’ faith but also because Catholic immigrants did not share Protestant scruples about temperance. Opposition to “Rum and Romanism” became commonplace.

Religious diversity not only had an ethnic valence, it was racial as well. Many Africans, who were brought forcibly to the New Worldas slaves, adopted the Christianity (so-called) of their captors. But others sought, against formidable odds, to retain vestiges of their ancestral religions; more often than not, those expressions manifested themselves in enthusiastic worship. African-Americans also sought independence from white churches, finding at least a measure or institutional autonomy in such organizations as the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Episcopal Methodist Zion Church, and, later, in the Moorish Science Temple of America and the Nation of Islam. (See also: African American Religion, Pt. I: To the Civil War)

Asians began to arrive late in the nineteenth century, many to the West Coast to help with the construction of the transcontinental railroad. The numbers of immigrants prompted the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and other Asians also met with resistance. The notorious case of Bhagat Singh Thind, a Sikh whose application for citizenship in 1923 was denied because he was not considered “white,” eventually created pressure to redress that injustice; President Harry Truman signed the Luce-Cellar Act in 1946, which essentially reversed the Thind decision, although it retained quotas on immigrations fromIndia.


Living Up to American Ideals

The movement for civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s paved the way for a greater acceptance of religious diversity, not only for African-Americans but for other Americans as well. Jews, who had their own struggles for acceptance following their immigration to the United States in the nineteenth century (see also: The American Jewish Experience in the Twentieth Century: Antisemitism and Assimilation), joined the civil rights movement, and Native Americans also began to assert their religious and ancestral identities, as with the occupation of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay and Wounded Knee, South Dakota, site of one most brutal massacres of Sioux Indians at the hands of the United States Cavalry in 1890.

When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Hart-Cellar Immigration Act in July 1965, immigration quotas finally were removed. This opened the way for a new wave of immigrants, many from South Asia and Southeast Asia. Once again, Americans were confronted with religious diversity, as Islamic mosques, Shintō temples, Sikh Gurdwārās, Buddhist stupas, and Hindu temples literally transformed the religious landscape of the United States. As before, the newcomers met resistance. But Americans tend, sooner or later, to rise to their better selves and make good the promises in our charter documents that everyone is created equal and enjoys “free exercise” of religion—or, if they prefer, no religion at all.


Guiding Student Discussion

American history generally—and American religious history in particular—tends to be presented through the lens of New England, especially in the colonial era. The story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving is imprinted on our consciousness, and that generally gives way to the Puritans—John Winthrop, the “city upon a hill,” Anne Hutchinson, Roger Williams, and theSalem witch trials.

When talking about religious diversity, however, it’s much more useful to divert our attention to the Middle Colonies, present-dayNew York,New Jersey,Pennsylvania,Delaware, andMaryland. Here you find a rich pastiche of religious groups, everything from Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians, and Quakers to Dutch Reformed, Swedish Lutherans, Baptists, Huguenots, and various German groups. The story of how these groups learned to live together provides a rich contrast toNew England, where the Puritans sought—unsuccessfully—to impose religious uniformity.

This translates, in turn, to the formation of the new nation. The founders adapted the ideas of Roger Williams, a Puritan dissident and founder of the Baptist tradition in America, along with the experience of religious diversity in the Middle Colonies to provide for freedom of religious expression and no state church, as encoded in the First Amendment to the Constitution. The First Amendment itself, much debated throughout American history and especially in recent years, is worthy of examination and discussion, emphasizing that this notion of a government that was not buttressed by a state religion was utterly unprecedented in the eighteenth century. The First Amendment provided, in effect, a free marketplace of religion unimpeded by the state, thereby allowing a rich variety of religious groups to flourish.

One suggestion would be to study both New Englandand the Middle Colonies and then ask students which region more nearly anticipated the contours of American society. Another exercise would be to read the Flushing Remonstrance of 1657, when the citizens of Flushing, New Netherland (nowNew York), protested against the attempts of Pieter Stuyvesant, director-general of the West India Company and governor of the colony, to prohibit Quaker worship. The Flushing Remonstrance is often cited as the first expression of religious freedom inAmerica, and it is notable that none of the thirty-one signatories was himself a Quaker.

The story of religious diversity in the nineteenth century is tied inextricably to immigration. The arrival of non-Protestant immigrants, especially Roman Catholics and Jews, threatened Protestant hegemony; many Protestants resisted. A good topic for discussion here might be what role the cities played in bringing about religious accommodation. With the massive urbanization of American society late in the nineteenth century, various religious and ethnic groups—Jews from Germany and Eastern Europe, Roman Catholics from Ireland and Italy—were thrown together into the cauldron of urban life. Despite inevitable differences and conflict, these groups eventually learned to coexist in the cities.

The twentieth century saw the spectrum of religious diversity expand even further, from Protestants, Catholics, and Jews to a wide range of Asian religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintō, Sikhism, Jainism, and many others. At the same time, various indigenous religious gained in popularity: Mormonism, Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Nation of Islam, to name only a few. The Hart-Cellar Immigration Act of 1965, coming—significantly—on the heels of the civil rights movement, opened the doors of the United States to new waves of settlement and thereby eliminated the quotas of the Johnson Act of 1924. Both pieces of legislation merit study. And it is worth speculating about whether President Johnson or any of those associated with the passage of the 1965 bill anticipated how thoroughly that legislation would change the religious complexion (quite literally!) of the United States.

Finally, what about those who choose not to embrace religion in any form? The First Amendment provides for the “free exercise” of religion, but does it also protect “no exercise” of religion? Clearly, it does, but how did we as a nation come to this conclusion? How have religious atheists and agnostics been treated throughout American history? What does it mean that many of the founders, including Thomas Jefferson, were Deists? What do we make of the fact that Jefferson once opined that Unitarianism would eventually become the dominant religion of an enlightened nation? Does the addition of “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” emblazoned on our currency—both added in the 1950s, during the Cold War—violate the rights of those who choose not to believe in God or a Supreme Being?


Scholars Debate

From Perry Miller’s “rediscovery” of the Puritans in the 1920s until the 1980s, Puritanism dominated the historiography of colonial America. By the early 1980s, however, about the time that Edmund S. Morgan declared that “we now know more about the Puritans than any sane person should care to know,” historians began to look at religious life in other colonies. Several examples in this genre include Jon Butler, The Huguenots in America: A Refugee People in New World Society; Catharine Randall, From a Far Country: Huguenots and Camisards in the New World; Ned C. Landsman, Scotland and Its First American Colony, 1683-1675; A. G. Roeber, Palatines, Liberty, and Property: German Lutherans in Colonial British America; and Randall Balmer, A Perfect Babel of Confusion: Dutch Religion and English Culture in the Middle Colonies. All of these books address the challenges of religious pluralism, the conflicts associated with such diversity, and, generally, the resolution of those conflicts.

Several books have been written about Roger Williams: Perry Miller, Roger Williams: His Contribution to the American Tradition; Edmund S. Morgan, Roger Williams: The Church and the State; and Edwin S. Gaustad, Liberty of Conscience: Roger Williams in America. Gaustad has also written a useful book about Thomas Jefferson, who contributed greatly to the configuration of church and state that allowed religious diversity to flourish: Sworn on the Altar of God: A Religious Biography of Thomas Jefferson.

Religious diversity in the nineteenth century took many forms, and it met with spirited opposition from Nativists, those who opposed new immigrants. Ray Allen Billington examines this opposition in Protestant Crusade, 1800-1860: A Study of the Origins of American Nativism. A number of case studies demonstrate how religious diversity played out, especially in American cities. See Jay S. Dolan, The Immigrant Church: New York’s Irish and German Catholics, 1815-1865 as well as his In Search of an American Catholicism: A History of Religion and Culture in Tension. Robert Anthony Orsi’s The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem deftly traces the congeries of religious and ethnic diversity both within and beyond a single parish in New York City. John T. McGreevy examines intra-Catholic tensions in Parish Boundaries: The Catholic Encounter with Race in the Twentieth-Century Urban North.

No scholar has more thoroughly examined the history of Jews in Americathan Jonathan Sarna. See, in particular, American Judaism: A History and The American Jewish Experience. In addition to tracing the persistent dilemma of Jewish assimilation or particularity, Sarna demonstrates as well the internal diversity within Judaism.

Internal diversity also marks other religious movements too often seen, by outsiders, as homogeneous. One example is evangelicalism, America’s “folk religion.” My own book, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America, seeks to portray American evangelicalism as anything but monolithic, with its rich diversity of fundamentalism, pentecostalism, the holiness and charismatic movements, the sanctified tradition, and many others.

African-Americans have faced their own peculiar struggles in expressing their religious life. The best account of the days of slavery is Albert J. Raboteau’s Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South. The quest for black religious autonomy is recounted in Segregated Sabbaths: Richard Allen and the Rise of Independent Black Churches, 1760-1840, by Carol V. R. George. Following the Great Migration to northern cities at the turn the twentieth century, African-Americans began increasingly to develop their own institutional religious life, especially in the cities. Several colorful figures appeared including Daddy Grace, the Noble Drew Ali, Marcus Garvey, Father Divine, and Elijah Muhammad—all of whom sought space for religious expression. Several biographies are useful: Colin Grant, Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey; Jill Watts, God, Harlem U.S.A.: The Father Divine Story; Marie Dallem, Daddy Grace: A Celebrity Preacher and His House of Prayer. Though considerably dated, Arthur Huff Fauset’s Black Gods of the Metropolis: Negro Religious Cults of the Urban North, an early sociological study of new black religions, provides a snapshot of extraordinary religious diversity within the African-American urban context.

The Nation of Islam remains one of most striking examples of religious diversity. The Autobiography of Malcolm X is indispensible, but other studies of the movement and its context are also useful: Richard Brent Turner, Islam in the African-American Experience and Edward E. Curtis IV, Black Muslim Religion in the Nation of Islam, 1960-1975.

As in the nineteenth century, religious diversity in the twentieth century was inextricably tied to immigration. In Protestant Missionaries, Asian Immigrants, and Ideologies of Race in America, 1850-1924, Jennifer Snow finds that missionaries often protested against the various attempts to exclude Asians from coming to the United States. In 1965, a decade after Will Herberg had articulated three ways to be American in Protestant-Catholic-Jew, changes to the immigration laws finally ended decades of exclusion and opened doors to new forms of religious diversity. The Pluralism Project at Harvard University provides a range of resources for understanding this new diversity, including a sophisticated website. The director of the project, Diana L. Eck, has also written A New Religious America: How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation.

Finally, several scholars have sought to understand all of American religious history through the lens of pluralism. See, for example, Catherine L. Albanese, America: Religions and Religion and another survey of religion in America, Religion in American Life: A Short History, by Jon Butler, Grant Wacker, and Randall Balmer. This topic also forms the basis of William R. Hutchison’s Religious Pluralism in America: The Contentious History of a Founding Ideal.



1 J. Franklin Jameson, ed., Narratives of New Netherland, 1609-1664 (New York, 1909), 123-125.


Randall Balmer is professor of American religious history at Barnard College, Columbia University and a visiting professor at Yale Divinity School. He has taught at Columbia since earning the Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1985 and has been a visiting professor at Princeton, Rutgers, Yale, Drew, and Northwestern universities and at Union Theological Seminary, where he is also an adjunct professor of church history. He has published a dozen books, including A Perfect Babel of Confusion: Dutch Religion and English Culture in the Middle Colonies, which won several awards, and Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America, now in its fourth edition, which was made into a three-part documentary for PBS. His most recent books are Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America and God in the White House: A History: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush.

Address comments or questions to Professor Balmer through TeacherServe “Comments and Questions.”

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Randall Balmer is professor of American religious history at Barnard College, Columbia University and a visiting professor at Yale Divinity School. He has taught at Columbia since earning the Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1985 and has been a visiting professor at Princeton, Rutgers, Yale, Drew, and Northwestern universities and at Union Theological Seminary, where he is also an adjunct professor of church history. He has published a dozen books, including A Perfect Babel of Confusion: Dutch Religion and English Culture in the Middle Colonies, which won several awards, and Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America, now in its fourth edition, which was made into a three-part documentary for PBS. His most recent books are Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America and God in the White House: A History: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush.

The Constitution of the United States

 (Note: The following text is a transcription of the Constitution in its original form.
Items that are underlined have since been amended or superseded. Amendments follow the Constitution. The First 10 amendments are The Bill of Rights.)

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Article. I. 

Section. 1. 

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of theUnited States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. 

Section. 2. 

The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature. 

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of theUnited States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen. 

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of theUnited States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.


When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.


The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.


Section. 3.


The Senate of the United Statesshall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.


Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.


No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of theUnited States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.


The Vice President of theUnited Statesshall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.


The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of theUnited States.


The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of theUnited Statesis tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.


Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under theUnited States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.


Section. 4.


The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.


The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.


Section. 5.


Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.


Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.


Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.


Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.


Section. 6.


The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of theUnited States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.


No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.


Section. 7.


All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.


Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it.If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.


Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.


Section. 8.


The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;


To borrow Money on the credit of theUnited States;


To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;


To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout theUnited States;


To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;


To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of theUnited States;


To establish Post Offices and post Roads;


To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;


To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;


To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;


To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;


To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;


To provide and maintain a Navy;


To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;


To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of theUnion, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;


To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;


To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;–And


To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.


Section. 9.


The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.


The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.


No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.


No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.


No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.


No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another; nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.


No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.


No Title of Nobility shall be granted by theUnited States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.


Section. 10.


No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.


No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
Article. II.


Section. 1.


The executive Power shall be vested in a President of theUnited States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:


Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under theUnited States, shall be appointed an Elector.


The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.


The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout theUnited States.


No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.


In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.


The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from theUnited States, or any of them.


Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:–”I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”


Section. 2.


The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.


He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.


The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.


Section. 3.


He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.


Section. 4.


The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of theUnited States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Article III.


Section. 1.


The judicial Power of theUnited Statesshall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.


Section. 2.


The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;–to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;–to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;–to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;–to Controversies between two or more States;– between a State and Citizens of another State;–between Citizens of different States;–between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.


In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.


The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.


Section. 3.


Treason against theUnited States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.


The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
Article. IV.


Section. 1.


Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.


Section. 2.


The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.


A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.


No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.


Section. 3.


New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.


The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to theUnited States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of theUnited States, or of any particular State.


Section. 4.


The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.
Article. V.


The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
Article. VI.


All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against theUnited Statesunder this Constitution, as under the Confederation.


This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.


The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Article. VII.


The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.


The Word, “the,” being interlined between the seventh and eighth Lines of the first Page, the Word “Thirty” being partly written on an Erazure in the fifteenth Line of the first Page, The Words “is tried” being interlined between the thirty second and thirty third Lines of the first Page and the Word “the” being interlined between the forty third and forty fourth Lines of the second Page.


Attest William Jackson Secretary


Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,

G. Washington
Presidt and deputy from Virginia


Geo: Read
Gunning Bedford jun
John Dickinson
Richard Bassett
Jaco: Broom


James McHenry
Dan of St Thos. Jenifer
Danl. Carroll


John Blair
James Madison Jr.


North Carolina
Wm. Blount
Richd. Dobbs Spaight
Hu Williamson


South Carolina
J. Rutledge
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Charles Pinckney


William Few
Abr Baldwin


New Hampshire
John Langdon
Nicholas Gilman


Nathaniel Gorham
Rufus King


Wm. Saml. Johnson
Roger Sherman


New York
Alexander Hamilton


New Jersey
Wil: Livingston
David Brearley
Wm. Paterson


B Franklin
Thomas Mifflin
Robt. Morris
Geo. Clymer
Thos. FitzSimons
Jared Ingersoll
James Wilson
Gouv Morris


Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New York, on Wednesday
the Fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.


THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution


RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.:


ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.


Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


Amendment II
A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of afree State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.


Amendment III
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.


Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.


Amendment VII
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of theUnited States, than according to the rules of the common law.


Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.


Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


Amendment X
The powers not delegated to theUnited States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.


Passed by Congress March 4, 1794. Ratified February 7, 1795.

Note: Article III, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by amendment 11.

The Judicial power of theUnited Statesshall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of theUnited Statesby Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of anyForeignState.
Passed by Congress December 9, 1803. Ratified June 15, 1804.

Note: A portion of Article II, section 1 of the Constitution was superseded by the 12th amendment.

The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; — the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; — The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. [And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. --]* The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of theUnited States.

*Superseded by section 3 of the 20th amendment.
Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865.

Note: A portion of Article IV, section 2, of the Constitution was superseded by the 13th amendment.

Section 1.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within theUnited States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.

Note: Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of the 14th amendment.

Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in theUnited States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of theUnited States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of theUnited States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2.
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age,* and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4.
The validity of the public debt of theUnited States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither theUnited States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against theUnited States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

*Changed by section 1 of the 26th amendment.
Passed by Congress February 26, 1869. Ratified February 3, 1870.

Section 1.
The right of citizens of theUnited States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by theUnited States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude–

Section 2.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913.

Note: Article I, section 9, of the Constitution was modified by amendment 16.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Ratified April 8, 1913.

Note: Article I, section 3, of the Constitution was modified by the 17th amendment.

The Senate of theUnited Statesshall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.


Passed by Congress December 18, 1917. Ratified January 16, 1919. Repealed by amendment 21.

Section 1.
After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from theUnited States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

Section 2.
The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Section 3.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.


Passed by Congress June 4, 1919. Ratified August 18, 1920.

The right of citizens of theUnited Statesto vote shall not be denied or abridged by theUnited Statesor by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Passed by Congress March 2, 1932. Ratified January 23, 1933.

Note: Article I, section 4, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of this amendment. In addition, a portion of the 12th amendment was superseded by section 3.

Section 1.
The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

Section 2.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

Section 3.
If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.

Section 4.
The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.

Section 5.
Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.

Section 6.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.
Passed by Congress February 20, 1933. Ratified December 5, 1933.

Section 1.
The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of theUnited States is hereby repealed.

Section 2.
The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or Possession of theUnited States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
Passed by Congress March 21, 1947. Ratified February 27, 1951.

Section 1.
No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

Section 2.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.
Passed by Congress June 16, 1960. Ratified March 29, 1961.

Section 1.
The District constituting the seat of Government of theUnited States shall appoint in such manner as Congress may direct:

A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

Section 2.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


Passed by Congress August 27, 1962. Ratified January 23, 1964.

Section 1.
The right of citizens of theUnited States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by theUnited States or any State by reason of failure to pay poll tax or other tax.

Section 2.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Passed by Congress July 6, 1965. Ratified February 10, 1967.

Note: Article II, section 1, of the Constitution was affected by the 25th amendment.

Section 1.
In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2.
Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Section 3.
Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Section 4.
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
Passed by Congress March 23, 1971. Ratified July 1, 1971.

Note: Amendment 14, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 1 of the 26th amendment.

Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

Section 2.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Originally proposed Sept. 25, 1789. Ratified May 7, 1992.

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.

Social Contract

Reweaving the Fabric of our Societyby Joan Blades, Living Room Conversations, posted on, 05/22/2012 …Most of us agree that D.C. dynamics have got to change for the U.S. to solve the real challenges we confront and to retain our leadership role in the world. Political leaders and the media are failing us on so many levels…all Americans have a great deal in common. But our understanding of politics, economics, science and even basic facts is increasingly disparate. We cannot afford to continue on this path. A healthy democracy requires an educated electorate that shares basic truths and values — or at least is willing to sit down and listen to one another with an open mind, with mutual respect and civility…While the traditional media loves fights, the new and emerging social media loves connections. We can leverage the wisdom and creativity of crowds to find win-win solutions to our common problems. We can scale our efforts to tens of thousands of conversations, giving individuals the power to begin to reweave the social fabric of our communities…

The Social Contract by Paul Krugman, New York Times, September 22, 2011 …people…who want to exempt the very rich from bearing any of the burden of making our finances sustainable, are waging class war.  As background, it helps to know what has been happening to incomes over the past three decades…between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted income of families in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent…the income of the very rich, the top 100th of 1 percent of the income distribution, rose by 480 percent…policy has consistently tilted to the advantage of the wealthy as opposed to the middle class… Some of the most important aspects of that tilt involved such things as the sustained attack on organized labor and financial deregulation, which created huge fortunes even as it paved the way for economic disaster. For today, however, let’s focus just on taxes. The budget office’s numbers show that the federal tax burden has fallen for all income classes, which itself runs counter to the rhetoric you hear from the usual suspects. But that burden has fallen much more, as a percentage of income, for the wealthy. Partly this reflects big cuts in top income tax rates, but, beyond that, there has been a major shift of taxation away from wealth and toward work: tax rates on corporate profits, capital gains and dividends have all fallen, while the payroll tax — the main tax paid by most workers — has gone up…According to new estimates by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, one-fourth of those with incomes of more than $1 million a year pay income and payroll tax of 12.6 percent of their income or less, putting their tax burden below that of many in the middle class…Elizabeth Warren, the financial reformer who is now running for the United States Senate in Massachusetts…“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody,” she declared, pointing out that the rich can only get rich thanks to the “social contract” that provides a decent, functioning society in which they can prosper. Which brings us back to those cries of “class warfare.” Republicans…are insisting that the wealthy — who presumably have as much of a stake as everyone else in the nation’s future — should not be called upon to play any role in warding off that existential threat. Well, that amounts to a demand that a small number of very lucky people be exempted from the social contract that applies to everyone else. And that, in case you’re wondering, is what real class warfare looks like.

Dark Ages Redux: American Politics and the End of the Enlightenment by John Atcheson, Com­mon Dreams, June 18, 2012 — We are wit­ness­ing an epochal shift in our socio-political world.  We are de-evolving, hurtling head­long into a past that was defined by serfs and lords; by necro­mancy and super­sti­tion; by poli­cies based on fiat, not facts.Much of what has made the mod­ern world in gen­eral, and the United States in par­tic­u­lar, a free and pros­per­ous soci­ety comes directly from insights that arose dur­ing the Enlightenment. Too bad we’re chuck­ing it all out and return­ing to the Dark Ages. …Now, we seek to oper­ate by revealed truths, not real­ity.  Decrees from on high – often issued by an unholy alliance of reli­gious fun­da­men­tal­ists, self-interested cor­po­ra­tions, and greedy fat cats – are offered up as real­ity by rightwing politicians…Sec­ond, the Enlight­en­ment laid the ground­work for our form of gov­ern­ment. The Social Con­tract is the intel­lec­tual basis of all mod­ern demo­c­ra­tic republics, includ­ing ours.  John Locke and oth­ers argued that gov­ern­ments derived their author­ity from the gov­erned, not from divine right.  Gov­ern­ments could be legit­i­mate, then, only with the con­sent of the governed. Jef­fer­son acknowl­edged Locke’s influ­ence on the Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence and his ideas are evi­dent in the Constitution. Here again, our founders used rea­son, empiri­cism and aca­d­e­mic schol­ar­ship to cob­ble together one of the most endur­ing and influ­en­tial doc­u­ments in human his­tory.  For all its flaws, it has steered us steadily toward a more per­fect union. Until recently…We are, indeed, at an epochal thresh­old.  We can con­tinue to dis­card the Enlight­en­ment val­ues which enabled both an untold increase in mate­r­ial wealth and a sys­tem of gov­ern­ment which turned serfs into cit­i­zens.  A sys­tem which – for all its flaws – often man­aged to pro­tect the rights of the many, against the preda­tory power of the few. Or we can con­tinue our abject sur­ren­der to myths, mag­i­cal think­ing, and self-delusion and the Medieval nation-state those forces are resurrecting. Repub­li­cans and Tea Partiers may be lead­ing this retreat from rea­son, but they are unop­posed by Democ­rats or the Press. And in the end, there is a spe­cial place in Hell for those who allow evil to pros­per by doing nothing.

Democracy in America Is a Series of Narrow Escapes, and We May Be Running Out of Luck by Bill Moyers, May 17, 2008 , CommonDreams.orgThe reigning presumption about the American experience…is grounded in the idea of progress, the conviction that the present is “better” than the past and the future will bring even more improvement. For all of its shortcomings, we keep telling ourselves, “The system works.” Now all bets are off. We have fallen under the spell of money, faction, and fear, and the great American experience in creating a different future together has been subjugated to individual cunning in the pursuit of wealth and power –and to the claims of empire, with its ravenous demands and stuporous distractions. …there is a class war and ordinary people are losing it…The conclusion that we are in trouble is unavoidable…statistics that show real wages lagging behind prices, the compensation of corporate barons soaring to heights unequaled anywhere among industrialized democracies...extremes of wealth and poverty cannot be reconciled with a genuinely democratic politics. When the state becomes the guardian of power and privilege to the neglect of justice for the people as a whole, it mocks the very concept of government as proclaimed in the preamble to our Constitution…Our democracy has prospered most when it was firmly anchored in the idea that “We the People” — not just a favored few — would identify and remedy common distempers and dilemmas and win the gamble our forebears undertook when they espoused the radical idea that people could govern themselves wisely.

Restore the Basic Bargain By Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog, November 29, 2011