Renewing American Civilization
Class One -- American Civilization January 7, 1995 Adjunct Professor Newt Gingrich Reinhardt College
The following is a special program produced by RCTV, Reinhardt College television, in Waleska, Georgia. From Reinhardt College in Waleska, Georgia, this is "Renewing American Civilization." In this, the first of 10 class presentations, Congressman Newt Gingrich, an adjunct professor at Reinhardt College, will begin his course, which presents the foundational principles necessary to the renewal of American Civilization. This week's lesson gives an introduction and overview of the course and lays the building blocks for a solid understanding of how to rejuvenate and strengthen the fabric of America.
Good morning. Let me welcome you to Reinhardt College for the very first session of "Renewing American Civilization." Let me start by introducing two people who are absolutely invaluable and without whom this course simply wouldn't exist. First of all, a man of great courage who stepped in and who gave us the opportunity to teach and to continue developing ideas, President Floyd Falany of Reinhardt College. And, Floyd, I just want to say thank you for allowing us to be here. And then my co-teacher here on campus, a fellow historian, Dr. Kathleen Minnix. And, Kathleen, again, she'll be teaching -- for those who watch this later on videotape or those who might be seeing it through Mind Extension University, Dr. Minnix actually teaches the second half of this course in terms of the Reinhardt College students and experience here. I also do want to take a moment to welcome the students of mind extension university, which is a satellite system that's available on many campuses across the country, and which is now offering "Renewing American Civilization."
But what we're doing here today where we are both live on videotape, on audio tape, connected by computer, by fax, and by e-mail, as well as by U.S.. mail and the telephone, gives you some sense of the sophisticated world of the 21st century that we're just beginning to invent. Now, today we're going to talk about American Civilization, and we're going to lay out the premise of this entire course. And what I want to talk about, I have to give credit, frankly, to Dr. Everett Carl Ladd at the University of Connecticut, who's one of the leading students of what he calls "American Exceptionalism." And he uses the term "American Exceptionalism." I think it's a very helpful term, because it gives you a sense of where we're going.
And so we're going to today spend our time on the introduction, the overview, and the outline of the entire course. So I'm going to introduce the course, give you an overview of what we're going to try to do in the course, and then give you an outline of what will actually happen in the course. And what I want to suggest as a starting point is that the concept of American Exceptionalism which Dr. Ladd developed, in essence, that there is a unique American Civilization. Now, on a lot of college campuses, we could have some terrific debates -- and I'd be willing to debate this topic -- a lot of people will say to you: first of all, are we really a civilization? Well, there's a wonderful book by Max Lerner called "America as a Civilization." Lerner was an anti-communist liberal writing in the 1950s, and it's his arguments. It's a massive book. I'm sure you could go look at it. It's about 1500 pages. But his whole argument is that there's a way of being that is called "American." That you learn to be an American.
Now, the key to this is to understand -- and I think this is the distinction. This is what confuses those of our friends who are into multi-culturalism. American Civilization is multi-ethnic, but it is one civilization. Now, this is the central assertion of the course and something you'll have to think about. In other words, you may be Korean-American. I serve with a Congressman Jay Kim from Southern California who's a first-generation Korean-American, born in Korea and now lives here. You may be European-American. I obviously am. You may be African-American. I serve with J.C.. watts of Oklahoma. You may, in fact, be blended from a lot of different racial stocks. You may be Hispanic. I serve with henry Bonilla from San Antonio, Texas. And yet each of them would describe themselves as an American. They know what they are descended from, they know their background. And of course, if their children met at a congressional social event and married, then you'd start having to say, "well, I'm a European-Korean-American African-American-Hispanic." It's easier to just say, "I'm an American."
It's a very core question, because what I'm suggesting to you is: we are multi- ethnic. We are the first world civilization in that sense. Because everybody on the planet can show up here, and did Tuesday. I mean, go to Disney world and stand for a half hour. Or go to any -- frankly, north Atlanta. Go to any one of our major malls and just stand for an hour. This would be -- I'm not recommending it for this course, but if somebody's trying to teach the course and drive this home or if this was being taught at a high school level, just send students out to stand somewhere at a busy mall and write down the number of nationalities that walk by in a half hour.
And it's astonishing. Or walk -- go to the Atlanta airport and watch who goes through the airport. So we -- now, we have to focus on: why is it worth studying American Civilization, other than the fact that we're Americans who want to know about our past? I have an argument, and the argument is that American Civilization, when you compare it to other civilizations, it has certain very positive characteristics. It has empowered more people from more backgrounds to pursue happiness. In the process, our people created greater opportunities to pursue happiness. If I were to summarize it into one phrase, it would be that America is a great country with good people. And I would argue that American history has more people getting more rights and more opportunities. We started out with only wealthy white males who could pay a poll tax being allowed to participate, and we've added layer by layer until we now reach out to virtually every person with a disability, every person of every ethnic background, every person of every racial background, every person, you know, males and females.
You think about the degree to which we now reach out to try to be an inclusive system. That that has been a hallmark of 300 years of American government. In addition, American history has led to more prosperity and property for more and more people. Now, what I want to do, let me just take a minute, because I really think it's important to drive this home, because it's one of the basic building blocks of why I'm teaching the course and where I think you've got to decide for yourself whether you intellectually agree. Part of the argument here is that for most of American history, from the -- and I am -- when I talk about American, I'm not talking about the north American continent, because you could argue that the history of the north American continent begins when Asians crossed the Bering strait about 11 to 15,000 years ago, and you could -- there's some wonderful books. Peter Farb's "man's rise to civilization as shown by the Indians of north America" is a good example, because he tries to go into that very long history of the geographic site.
When I talk about American Civilization, it essentially begins with the arrival of the English-speaking peoples in Virginia in 1607 and in Massachusetts around 1620, and then spreads across the continent. Now, it's a very important distinction. We can talk about it later. But I'm not arguing about a geographic term. I'm arguing about the rise of a civilizational pattern of behavior which became multiethnic over time. What I'm suggesting to you is you can go back and you can take from 1607 till 1965 and you have certain long sweeps that are more and more positive. We go from slavery to segregation to integration. We go from empowering wealthy white males to giving women the vote to eliminating the poll tax and then giving women the vote, then making sure everybody can vote. We go from the -- right from almost the very beginning to acquire property. Free blacks as early as the 1740s and 50s could acquire property not only in the north, but in new Orleans. And you actually had an entire class of people in new Orleans who were of African-American descent but who were free and owned property and businesses and could buy and sell and were part of the commercial environment.
Racism is not only anti- black. You not only have anti-catholic racism and anti-Mediterranean. That is, people who were Italian or Spanish or Greek had more hostility than people who might be catholic but were German or Irish. You then had very bitter anti-Asian hostility, particularly in California, but in many ways across the country. If you go to Augusta, Georgia, today you see a Chinese community that is now, I think, seven generations old that originally came to build railroads in the Augusta, Georgia, area. That is, their great, great, great, great, great grandparents did. And yet what happens over time is -- and this is a very important question. It was part of, I think, a big debate in this country in the last 25 years. Dr. Ladd would argue, and I think that people who believe in American Exceptionalism would argue, that America essentially -- and I used the phrase a while ago -- is essentially a great country with good people. That on any given day, most Americans are decent. Most Americans care. Most Americans want to raise their children. Most Americans would like to be good neighbors. It's part of how you can have this very free society with all the different things that go on where you get to go out and choose what you want, how you want to live your life, what kind of clothing you want to wear, what you want to learn, how you want to earn a living, how you want to spend your money. That there's an enormous level of trust in each other and that what's been happening, we would argue, is that from 1965 to 1994, that America went off on the wrong track.
Now, that's a very important distinction. There's a large block of intellectual thought that would argue America was really a sexist, racist, repressive, vicious society, and we need government to correct the bad habits of the American people. Those people basically took power around 1965 and increasingly tried to redesign America. And my argument in this course is going to be that after 1965, the government and elite culture adopted ideas that are dramatically different from the traditions and principles of American Civilization. That if you look at the first 300 years of American history, we're going in one direction, and then all of a sudden around 1965, with the rise of the great society, the counterculture, et cetera, you suddenly have a tremendous burst in a direction which is different from every other period of American history, and that there's one core critique, and this is a very -- you're going to see me come back to this concept a number of times in the course, because this is at the heart of being American. The critique is not ideological. It's not, "I'm a conservative, they're a liberal." The critique is: these ideas don't work. That it's pragmatic.
Do you think the inner city's better than it was? Do you think American Indian reservations are better than they were? Do you think being poor in west Virginia works more? Do you think our schools produce more people who know calculus and can speak Latin? Or do you think, as measured in the real world, things don't work? Now, it's a very important question, because intellectually, you can get into terrific course about: what does the word "work" mean and why is Gingrich being judgmental? And I want you to understand up front in this course that I am arguing that there are obvious objective judgments. If you turn on a water spigot and no water comes out, it doesn't work. If you turn on a water spigot and the water comes out, you can't drink it, it doesn't work. If you have a school and the people who leave it can't read, it doesn't work. If you have a public project, housing project, and the people in there are likely to be killed, it doesn't work.
Now, you have -- this is a very important test question in your own head; not in the course, in your own head. Can you objectively measure something very simple in result but very sophisticated in measurement? Is it working or not? Of course, this means judgments, rights and wrongs, yeses and nos. It's not situation ethics. I mean, who are we to say that if you never studied in your whole life and you haven't learned a single thing and you're totally illiterate, that you're somehow less than those of us who read and studied and learned? That's judgmental, to which my answer is yes, and you can't have a civilization without judgment. You're just talking about chaos. To have a civilization is to judge. You can't avoid judgment. Because that's how civilization tells you what you should do. I would argue, and Dr. Minnix will later on cheerfully argue, knowing history is better than not knowing history. Now, that's a really -- that's a very core question. Knowing math is better than not knowing math. If you don't know math, you are at the prey of every person you buy something from the rest of your life, because you can't check whether or not they cheated you. So let's just start at the basics.
That's what should be said to every first grader: if you don't learn math, you will be cheated the rest of your life. If you refuse to learn math and you're cheated, it's your fault. You are not a victim. Zebras that run up to lions and beg to be eaten are not victims. They're dumb. Okay? So that's a very important concept. Now, why do I say the elite ideas have failed? Well, let's go through it. The elite ideas of the last generation have failed, and in failing, have left America with more poverty, more violence, more red tape, more bureaucrats, more litigation, more power in Washington. And ironically, after all those mores, with less ability to actually get problems solved and less ability to get opportunities developed.
Now, those are all measurable. Are there more lawsuits or less? Is there more violence or less? I mean, these are not random observations by somebody who has an ax to grind. Go out and measure them and you tell me. Are more families broken down? Are more one-year-olds likely to suffer child abuse? These are measurable, documentable facts. And yet I think the system has had a hard time dealing with it. And one of the reasons I really wanted to teach this as a course is that moving from the wrong track to the right track is largely a cultural and an intellectual problem. I want to take a minute and explain what I mean. The problem in America today is not money. We have plenty of money. The problem in America today isn't even courage. People will say, "oh, politicians are gutless." That's nonsense. You've just had the courage to run for office and take the beating you take from the press corps. The person I disagree most in public life, who I will not name, but would say something to the congress I would disagree with, I respect the fact that they have the courage to run for public office. It's not absence of courage. It's absence of sound ideas. We don't know what to spend the money on. We don't know how to structure the spending. We don't know what rules to set up. And I spent years trying to sort this out. Why are we having such a hard time helping people get off poverty? Why are we having such a hard time establishing safety? Why is it so difficult to get schools where kids are learning? And we came up with for what was for me one of the great breakthroughs.
I was spending part of an afternoon actually at a hotel near the Atlanta airport with Dr. Jeff Eisenach of the progress and freedom foundation and Dr. Steve Hanser, who's a historian and good friend of mine. Eisenach is an economist, but we still talk to him even though he's not a historian. And we were trying to wrestle with why is it -- and this was back during the bush administration. We were trying to figure out: why is it that American governmental bureaucracy doesn't work? I mean, you can make a good argument that outside of elite groups like the FBI and the national park service, and outside of the military, where failure means you die, so you have a very high incentive to change, that if you take those away, that American bureaucracy has an astonishing pattern of decay that is almost universal. You build a big bureaucracy of Americans and it fails. And this is what we came up. I'm going to walk you through a challenge you can take back home and check with people. In fact, if you would this week, this will just be a fun thing for you to do just to see what happens when you tell your friends.
We're going to talk for a minute about the cultural challenge of speed limits and Americans. This is the heart of the course in terms of the core ideas. Have any of you ever been to Germany? You have, you have, you have. About a third of you. In Germany, there is no speed limit on the autobahn outside of congested areas, right? You get on the autobahn, you rent a car, you're doing 100 miles an hour, you think you're really something, and a Mercedes goes by at 160. You want to pull over and cry. You know you don't have the guts to do 160 miles an hour, so you just think, you know, "I'm just ruined here." But you know that tomorrow, if the Bundestag adopted 100 kilometers, or 62 miles an hour, as the speed limit, that virtually every German would obey it until the next election. They would then massacre the current generation of politicians and they would adopt -- elect the "no speed limit" party. Now, I want you to walk through this with me for a second, because it's going to sound silly, but it's very, very profound. I want to suggest to you that the American challenge to the cultural concept of speed limits is remarkably different from the German response.
For most Americans, a speed limit is a benchmark of opportunity. Let me just give you the test here for a second. Remember, we're not going to learn anything if you lie, okay? So you've got to be honest here for a second. How many of you will routinely look at the speed limit sign so you can add either 5 or 10? Come on, raise your hands now. Be honest. Okay? Two-thirds of the course, three-fourths of the course? Now, what does this tell you? By the way, I have done this everywhere. After we came up with this idea I began testing it, and what I'm teaching you today and what I'm sharing with you in this 10 weeks are ideas that have evolved over a long period of time, in some cases 36 years, where we've actually gone out and talked to them and I talk to enough different groups, I've really tested this. I once asked this question, and this is -- enough of you live on campus, this would not have been as effective, but I'll try it out. How many of you might have gone over the posted number to get to this class this morning? Okay.
You now know who drives to campus. I did that one time in South Carolina with Carroll Campbell, the governor, sitting at the head table. He raised his hand. The governor had broken the speed limit to get to the meeting. He said well, he was on the golf course, it ran long. The place went nuts. Now, why? Because America is not -- and this is at the absolute core of the critique of where we are today -- America is not as a civilization rule dominated. America is incentive dominated. If you want Americans to change, change the incentives. If we said: we'll pay $1,000 to every first grader who can read the day they walk into school, you would be at 95 or 98% literacy within two years like that. Instead, because we have this European, bureaucratic, top-down government mentality in charge, we'll spend $50,000 on the child trying to get an adult in a bureaucracy to coerce them through regulation to do something they're not going to do because there's no incentive for them. They're going: hey, I don't want in. Glad you got paid. I didn't get paid. And people -- I've had teachers say to me, "this is horrible." Now, in the middle of a baseball strike. These are little kids, right? They watch television. They say to themselves: why is there no baseball? Because guys who are getting $7 million a year are out on strike. Okay, I shouldn't get paid anything as a little kid because that would be bad.
I'm not arguing for the payment here. I'm arguing for the concept. I'm not saying -- I'm not here today as speaker of the house saying we ought to have this proposal. I'm trying to get you to think -- this is -- because I want you to think about this conceptually. You give Americans -- think about your own life and think about middle-class families. "you get straight A's, we'll go to Disney world." "you do really well, we'll get a bicycle." I mean, how many of you had at some point in your career when you were growing up your parents give you an incentive to do something? Okay. Three-quarters of the class? Punishment is an incentive, but if you're a very poor child in a neighborhood where nobody cares about learning, getting an "f" is not a punishment. It's an irrelevancy. Being spanked as has an impact, although today you'd better do it carefully or you'll be taken into court.
But I'm just trying to suggest to you here: very core distinction, which doesn't start with government. It starts with civilization. If you're a civilization where rules matter and people obey the rules, having a government designed around rules works. If you're a civilization of freedom where incentives work, you better have a system designed around incentives. And so we have a totally misdesigned European-style effort to impose into America a government designed to change people and designed antithetically to the American Civilization. To design the system for Americans, you have to study American Civilization. Now, my point here would be that American Civilization is a historically based fact, not intellectual theory. And let me explain, and I'll come back to this later. I'm a historian in part because I believe history teaches you things you don't learn in the abstract.
That is, if you really want to understand America, read about American history. Don't read a contemporary theoretician's 10-page outline. How do Americans behave? How has America functioned? "Renewing American Civilization" in that sense is a course designed to explore what works in America and why it works. And at the heart of that, I want to suggest to you, is the very core American concept which you'll see us come back to, and that is that pragmatism is the American philosophy. Remember, pragmatism goes back to that question I asked earlier: does it work? If you read William James -- and I will be quite honest, I've read 20 pages of William James in my life, because it's fairly hard to read -- but if you read William James' original work on pragmatism, his whole argument is that Americans have a unique philosophical test in the real world: does it work? Not: is it theoretically right? Not: has some great person said it? Not: is it established wisdom? But: does it work? I'm also going to suggest to you that being American is a learned set of principles. It's a very important concept. It's not like being French. And it's part of what confuses many of our intellectual friends, because a lot of our intellectual friends don't quite get it.
They keep thinking: well, you were born here. Therefore you're an American. No, you're born here. Therefore, you have the legal status of being a citizen of the united states. I don't know whether you're an American or not till I find out how you function. Because, after all, Jay Kim was born in Korea. He is clearly an American. Iliana rose-Letinen was born in Cuba. She is clearly an American. Now, how did she become -- and they're both, by the way, American in a way that neither could have been Japanese or neither could have been French. The reason is found, I think, in G.K.. Chesterton. Chesterton was an Englishman who traveled the U.S.. and he said: America's the only nation in the world founded on a creed. Let me read the exact quote from Chesterton. He says, "America is founded on a creed. America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the declaration of independence."
I want you to listen carefully to this. "perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice. That government exists to give them that justice, and that their authority is, for that reason, just." Now, Chesterton is saying literally, if you don't -- how many of you spent serious time reading the declaration of independence in high school? Okay, about half of you. Chesterton's argument is that you start with the declaration of independence and it begins to define being American, and we'll come back to it. Similarly, Margaret Thatcher said, "no other nation has been built upon an idea, the idea of liberty." And let me quote from Prime Minister Thatcher. She said, "Americans and Europeans alike sometimes forget how unique the united states of America is. No other nation has been created so swiftly and successfully. No other nation has been built upon an idea, the idea of liberty. No other nation has so successfully combined people of different races and nations within a single culture. Both the founding fathers of the united states and successive waves of immigrants to your country were determined to create a new entity. The European nations are not and can never be like this. They are the products of history and not of philosophy. You can construct a nation on an idea, but you cannot reconstruct a nation on the basis of an idea."
Her point is -- what she's saying is: why are you French? You're French because you are descended from the franks. Why are you American? You're American because you start with the declaration of independence, the constitution, you learn how to be an American. Radically different ways. Now, we're not talking here about lawyer talk. We're not talking about: do you have a certificate of citizenship in a polity? We're not talking here about geography. I object, for example, to the term "native American." We're all native Americans if you're born here. In fact, native Americans as used by the counterculture really refers to Asians, who happened to come over earlier and mostly walked rather than took boats. But we're all native Americans if you were born here.
The question is: you can be a United States citizen without knowing much about America, but to be an American, I would argue, is a way of being. It's a way of thinking. It's a way of approaching it. Now, it's a very broad, complex, and some people would say crazy way of being. I mean, it's very diverse. I'm not arguing that we all wear little uniforms and we're stamped, you know, "made in Disney world." But I am arguing that you can tell -- if you go around the planet and you watch people in the marketplace, you can pick out the Americans. It's a very different way of thinking. Now, George Santayana said it when he said, "to be an American is of itself almost a moral condition, an education, and a career." I want you to think about this, because what I'm suggesting to you here is that you as a citizen have a real obligation. I mean, think about the words Santayana used: moral condition, an education, and a career. That you live out the process of being an American.
Now, what we're going to talk about in large part in the early phase of the course is becoming "we," learning American Civilization. I found it fascinating when I first began talking about this in public audiences about three years ago, the people who responded the most were first-generation immigrants. The other day -- and this was a fascinating sign of how the world's changed. The other day I was at a speech for freshman state legislators, and an Indian-American from India, a woman, brown-skinned, about this tall, wearing a sari, who, by the way, had won a seat in Wyoming, where she was probably one of the 12 Indian- American families in her entire district, she came up to me and she said, "for 30 years I've been afraid that we were ceasing to be the reason I came here. But," she said, "I now have new courage." And her point was she didn't come to America to bring Indian civilization with her. She's proud of being Indian, she thinks it's a wonderful civilization, but she came to America because she wanted herself and her children to be Americans.
So this concept of becoming "we." And what really struck me was that each generation has two waves of immigrants: geographic, called foreigners, and temporal, called children. And that both waves of immigrants have to be taught. So "Renewing American Civilization" will be an intellectual outline for students, and a practical guide for citizens. And it's designed to say: here is how American Civilizations worked. Here are the principles of American Civilization. Here's what's worth knowing if you want to be an American. And if you want to design solutions for American problems or you want to gather up the energy for American opportunities, here is a way of doing it based on how Americans work. The course will occur in 10 sessions and is based on five books and two documents. This is the syllabus: "learning how to prepare for the future." And it includes in it the constitution and the declaration of independence, which we'll use fairly extensively at key points in the course. In addition, we have five books. I think by the way, I assigned a number of these to members of congress, and so I'm interested to see how many of them read them.
First of all, "the Federalist Papers." It comes out in many different editions. This particular edition is the penguin classics, but there are a lot of different edition. This is actually political pamphlets. Remember, "Federalist Papers" were written by John Jay and Alexander Hamilton and James Madison as political pamphlets to explain why you should vote "yes" on the constitution. Now, for those of you who think of the age of 30-second TV ads and nine-second sound bites, educated people all over America read this. I mean, everybody can read this, by the way. This myth about how the founding fathers were all these geniuses, about 60 of them were out of three and a half million people. There were also probably at least a million people in rural America who could barely read.
And I'm not suggesting to you that the average person said, "oh, I think I'm going to go vote on the Constitution Tuesday. Can I have a copy of 'the Federalist' to read over the weekend?" But for those people who were opinion leaders, these were real publications, and they came out in serial form in newspapers, and people sat around the coffee houses and argued about them. In addition, we're going to look at the book -- the founding fathers tried to create a roman republic. They are very conscious of the roman concepts. They wanted what they called an aristocracy of virtue, and you'll hear us talk about that. But underneath this roman republic, this aristocracy of virtue, classic market-oriented democratic America emerged.
And as it began to emerge and change -- and I would suggest to you that Gordon wood has written the two best books. They're both pretty heavy reading. One is on the origins of the American revolution. The other is on the radicalism of the American revolution. We're not going to use those as reading books, but he gives you the sense that the America that Washington and Franklin and Jefferson envisioned was a republican aristocracy of virtue by 1830 that had been replaced by the America we are, which is a very wide-open, individualistic, democratic society.
And in 1831 and 1832, in order to explain the future, a French aristocrat visited America and wrote the preeminent book explaining how America works, which captured precisely American Civilization as it existed up to 1965, and it's called, "democracy in America" by Alexis de Tocqueville. There are three or four different versions. Again, it's been in print ever since. But de Tocqueville, because he was literally going around as a tourist simply recording what he was seeing, which was so different from Europe, and I quoted from de Tocqueville on Wednesday in my speech accepting the Speakership because it was so wonderful. He talked about how we were vulgar people. But remember, the word "vulgar" back then meant "not aristocratic." And, of course, he was right. Anyone in America can rise. So we want you to use "Democracy in America."
In addition, we want you to use "Creating A New Civilization: The Politics Of The Third Wave," by Alvin and Heidi Toffler. They are very, very important folks who have really thought through where they're at. In fact, they've thought about we're now at the beginning of what they call a third wave. The first wave -- we'll talk about this later. The first wave is agriculture. The second wave is industry. The third wave is information. It's a fairly short book, but it's very, very helpful. Fourth, we're going to use "the effective executive," paperback edition, by Peter Drucker. This book is the most effective book ever written on how to be effective. And an effective book on being effective is worth your reading. And I'll talk at great length about that later. Finally, a new work by Don Eberly, the editor, "building a community of citizens: civil society in the 21st century." This book goes back in a series of readings and reestablishes the connection to how America really worked in its healthiest periods and what the principles are of a successful America. Now, we're going to take those books and we're going to apply them in a series of 10 classes, and the 10 class topics start with American Civilization, which is what we're working on today, the concept of: what are we trying to deal with? What is American Civilization? Then we're going to go -- the second class will be actually pillar one. We use the term "pillar" to elicit the idea that there are five pillars of American Civilization. And pillar one is the historic lessons of American Civilization. And again, Dr. Minnix and I have a bias which we share with Dr. Hanser in designing this that to know history, to understand history, to study history, is helpful. We'll spend a lot of time next week on that concept.
Pillar number two, which will be the third course, is personal strength. And we'll argue there that you cannot have a free society without a tremendous emphasis on personal strength, because in the end, freedom comes down to the individual. And so if you don't have the personal strength to be free, you, by definition, can't remain free very long.
Pillar three is entrepreneurial free enterprise, the spirit of going out and getting it done. Now, this does not just mean marketplace. But whether it's somebody founding the red cross or it's somebody founding Wal-mart or it's somebody inventing a new breakthrough in medicine, the spirit of getting the job done, of taking on the responsibility of being creative, pillar four, which is the fifth class, is the spirit of invention and discovery. Not science, not technology. I started out that way, and Jay Keyworth, President Reagan's former science advisor, said to me, "you know, that isn't right. This is not about science and technology. This is about a way of thinking."
The sixth course is going to be pillar number five, quality as defined by Edwards Deming. Edwards Deming is the man who taught the Japanese the concept of quality. Point at this stage that I want you to just stop and think about is that you now have five pillars. When we get through those five classes -- this opening class lays out the whole course. We then spend five classes, one on each pillar, and what we're trying to understand: why does America work? What is there about America that is American? Why has it been successful? Then we're going to go to courses of application, to the lessons on application.
Number seven is going to be: looking at the third wave and American Civilization. If you're entering an information age, if this is a change as big as the shift from hunting-gathering to agriculture, or the shift from agriculture to industry, then what does that mean for American Civilization? How do we Americans do it, and what will America be like?
Class eight is: creating American jobs in the world market. If we truly have entered a revolution in economics, if we are no longer primarily a national economy, but instead, every job is related to the world market, and both in imports and exports, our life is tied to the fabric and the rhythm of the world, then as Americans, how do we make sure that we are at the top end of that world market? How do we have the best jobs? How do we have the most creativity? How do we have the best take-home pay? How do we have the greatest range of choices so we can take the best vacations? Very important questions if, in fact, we've entered a brand new era. Lesson nine is going to be on replacing the culture of violence and poverty with a culture of productivity and safety.
Now, notice here what -- how we focused that. We're talking about cultures. To live in poverty and violence is a cultural behavior. It's a set of learned habits and skills. It's a way of being. But to live in an area which is productive and safe is also a cultural behavior. It's a set of attitudes and habits. It's a way of being. And part of our argument in the course is going to be that starting in the mid '60s, we allowed a culture -- we actually paid for a culture -- I'll give you, again, an example I just happened to learn two days ago.
I testified at the ways and means committee at the opening session of this year, and I said, you know, I'd been told that under the earned income tax credit, if you earn $11,000 a year and you marry somebody who earns $11,000 a year -- this is an interesting minor test for you for a second. I want you to just think about this, okay? Two people, think of it as yourself, you're earning 11 grand. That's your total income. You run into somebody you really like earning 11 grand. You get married. Anyway, that's $22,000 a year joint income, right? They confirmed in the hearing -- this is so -- what I'm about to tell you is so dumb, I can't believe it's true, even though I've now been told in public at the ways and means committee this is true. $22,000 total income, what would you guess is the financial cost annually in the change -- the earned income tax credit says if you're below a certain income level, that we will, in effect, rebate a tax credit to you to bring your income -- your take-home pay up. You all with me so far? You all understand the concept? What would you guess the united states government charges you for the act of marriage per year at $22,000? Very close. $4,600 a year. Yes. It's real money. And then you have of course politicians who say, "gee, we have too many births out of wedlock." And your government wants to encourage you to get married by taking from you 25% of your income.
>> if you don't get married, they get you the other way with the child support guidelines. If you don't get married, they take 21% of your income. And if you do stay married and remarry somebody else, they take the 25% right off the top, then another 22%. >> are you meaning to suggest that the system is rigged so that it doesn't work? >> yes. >> are you beginning to understand the underlying concept of this course? >> yeah. >> notice what I'm saying here again. I want to go back to this concept we use. Pragmatism: does it work? Don't tell me theory. Don't tell me abstract intellectuality. Tell me history. In the real world, is it working? And you go up to a real-world person -- and you'll see us get into this in the second hour -- and you say to them, "tell me why you aren't married." And they say, "because I'm not stupid." And you say to them, "what do you mean?" And they say, "it would cost me $4,600." You know, from my perspective, my girlfriend and I, from your perspective, my boyfriend and I, but we're doing okay. We're both getting all the money. We don't mind paying $50 for a wedding license, but $4,600 every year? 10 years is $46,000. Maybe you'd like to test yourself in terms of your moral strength here. At what point is it enough? You say, "hey, what's the big deal?" My society's signal to me isn't: get married. My society's signal to me is: don't be dumb. How do you measure being dumb? In the real world.
Now, the last one we're going to do is then say: all right, if America is changing but it is still at its heart a great country with good people, if America has a tradition and a set of patterns that work, if we're entering the world market, if we're entering the third wave information age, then what should citizenship and community be like in the 21st century? And that's a very important question. Because, you see, we have gradually shrunk citizenship to mean: do you vote? And you'll discover as you read the materials in this course that that is explicitly wrong. That in a free society, citizenship is 365 days a year, except for leap year when it's 366, and it's much richer and deeper than: do you vote? And it's not just the citizen and the state. This is one of the key points I want to make that you'll see really does change things. What you've had in America has been a debate that says: here is the private sector.
And we've often talked about this as the right. I think I'm actually putting these on wrong in terms of where they are on the board. Here is government, by which we normally mean Washington. Okay? In de Tocqueville's description of America, there is this vast, rich middle section which is community. I mean, the boy scouts aren't really private sector. The boy scouts or the girl scouts or the YMCA or the salvation army or Bnai Brith or a thousand different groups are efforts -- you know, I'm a big -- I'm a nut about zoos, as you'll learn over the course of the next 10 weeks, and zoo Atlanta is a privatized community institution. It's not really a profit-making business, but it's no longer -- it's actually under lease from the city of Atlanta, but it is run by a private corporation, and as a result, is, in fact, a dramatically better zoo than if it was run by the government.
Disney world, of course, which is the largest single site of entertainment in the world, is a -- it's private sector. It's a profit-making institution. Callaway gardens is a community institution. It's a nonprofit foundation established by the Callaway family. Kennesaw mountain battlefield park is a government institution. And what we're going to argue in part in this course is that as this has grown bigger and bigger, it's crowded out more and more of what works in America and replaced it with bureaucracies that fail. And so what we're going to try to do in this course is take you back to the very beginning, walk you through the principles of American Civilization, lay out how they apply in the real world, measure them pragmatically. Does it work?
And then talk about reinventing an America, renewing an American Civilization by reestablishing the legitimate relationships, shrinking the failed bureaucracies of the systems that objectively don't work. I mean, this is not right or left. This is not ideological. This is pragmatic. You're paying "x" number of dollars. Are you getting the result you want? We found out -- last year we had hearings, and we found out that the supplemental security income program was sending checks to alcoholics to liquor stores. There was one store in Denver that had 40 alcoholics on the roll. The liquor stores would cash the checks for them. Now, I would argue that a great nation with a good people doesn't send checks to the alcoholics at liquor stores. They can drink themselves to death. We may be extraordinarily generous helping them get off their alcoholism. We may want to do many things to help them improve their lives. But giving them the monthly opportunity for a drinking binge to get killed is wrong. And so we need to think through this scale of change.
And what makes the -- what makes this course, I think, unique is not only do we assert that America is multiethnic, but one civilization. Not only do we assert that it's basically good, which in many camps is to be considered a radical and probably an idea so heretical you could have a riot. But we're asserting that it is a learned set of principles, and that the best way to learn the principles is historic, not theoretical. It's by actually going out and saying, "all right, how did they do it?" You know, when you talk about "let's invent government," if you immerse yourself in the founding fathers, you are studying people who, by the way, weren't all that brilliant automatically.
And let me give you just one last example so you can understand this pattern of thinking and learning and over time seeing how things evolve. Well, you might someday want to figure out a way, again, to privatize it in the sense of private sector, not to find a way to make it a community function rather than a government function. The question's legitimate. You do it for anything. I would argue that virtually everything should be on the table to at least think about. Thinking about something can be very bold and daring. Doing it ought to be cautious and careful. But for the purpose of a course, we ought to be allowed to think about almost anything. But remember, we tend to look backwards. 1789, they did good. They swear in Washington. Big deal. Founded a system which is the longest standing free society in the history of the world. Remember, the debate begins around 1760. The first continental congress is 1774. I'm doing all of this off my head, so, Dr. Minnix, if I get it wrong, just feel free to yell at me. Because I'm -- I've not looked at these numbers, but I think this is a helpful thing if we look at. By 1776, we've declared independence. We go through waves down here of writing state constitutions. Sometimes as many, I believe, as five or six. This will be a useful paper for somebody just to look at. But you'll find that a lot of the founding fathers had written two or three or four state constitutions. Finally -- and they write the articles of confederation, which, remember, failed. So by the time they come around to writing the constitution, which is 1787, I believe -- as I say, this was off the top of my head -- what you have by here is a group of very experienced people.
And by the way, we talk about professional politicians, these guys were all professional politicians. Washington won elections from the 1760s on. Jefferson was governor of Virginia. He was a consistent elected politician. Madison was an elected politician. Franklin had been active in Pennsylvania politics for 50 years. But they were other things. They were also businessmen. They were also farmers. They were also generals. They were also writers. They weren't narrowly professional. It wasn't the only thing they did, and they fairly often left office and came back. It was a different world. There's nothing wrong with studying the profession of how free people govern themselves. There's everything wrong with selling out your values because you want an office. But my point, to give you heart, is: we're probably around here. So there's no reason to say to ourselves, "we have to have a higher standard than they had. Let's do the constitution by 1775 or, boy, are we failures." Life occurs organically, and we'll come back to this. Over time, you can accomplish many things you can't accomplish in the matter of a day or two.
I think we have a minute or two before we have to take a quick break. Any questions or -- I've thrown a fair amount at you to start though. >> you say for the answers you go back and you look at history. But there's so many people who have different perspectives on what really happened in history. You have to read all of them. Being free -- I'm going to come back to you again and again with two concepts: life is hard. Freedom is frustrating. And if you don't start out every morning and understand that, that's part of why I'm so cheerful. The worst that -- I mean, the worst thing, I get up in the morning, I figure life's going to be hard, so when life is hard, I go, "see? Proved I was right." And I get up in the morning I say, "to be free is to be frustrated," so I go into meetings, I get frustrated. I go, "see?" I'm very serious.
I had a meeting yesterday morning with all the senior staff of the house republican party, including all of the committee staff directors, and I said to them, "the next eight months are going to be really hard. So when it's really hard, say to yourself, 'ain't it great being in the majority?' don't whine. Just relax, go home, take a break, come in the next morning and go, 'wow, this is neat. It's going to be really hard all day.'" and so -- because you're coming to the core of this, and we're about to run out of time, but this is really the core of the course. We can have a partnership in America. Partnership means we both have to do it. We can't have a system where people say, "I've got this great idea: I'll vote for you, I'll do nothing, you take care of me." It won't survive. It will die. So a free society, I really am allowed to say to you, "maybe you haven't read enough," and then you've just got to go read more. Now, you can read more in lots of ways. Or maybe you ought to go find a good historian like Dr. Minnix and say, "which two books would you read?" But I'll also tell you, just as in life, you can walk around this room a week from now and get different opinions from different people about each other, same thing's true in history, because history is just a reflection of life. Now, let me ask very quickly: how long are we taking a break for? We have a 10-minute break. This is all brand new to me. It's very exciting. And after 10 minutes, we've got to be back in here, because we're live on mind extension university, so we can't just hang out. Thank you very, very much. See you in a couple minutes.
Let me tell you again a very key principle here that makes this very different from a lot of what you're going to see. I'm going to share with you over the course of the ten weeks, very specific things that in my experience work. I'm going to talk to you later on today by what I mean by work. What I want you to think about for a second -- my credentials for being here are several. I'm a Ph.D..... in history. I've taught for years, I'm a national leader. I've been working on the question of self-government for 36 years, and I think you can make an objective argument better than we could the first time we taught the course, that there's some evidence that I actually know some things that work based on the fact that it's worked. But the principles I'm going to tell you about and share with you are designed for you, because the core of my belief here, the reason I'm teaching it as a course, is that a free society operates based on each free person. So that if we're entering an information age -- the reason I'm sharing Drucker with you which is "the Effective Executive," is Drucker's argument that in the information age, every citizen is an executive, every person -- you can literally figure this out.
Two examples: it has been estimated that as late as 17th century Britain if you lived in a small village and you were a peasant the total amount of new information you got in a lifetime was less than the Sunday "New York Times." That in your lifetime, the total amount of new ideas, new information, you know, what happened to King John -- who's King John? I mean, people had very limited oral traditions of varying local information. You're now in a totally different world, the number of situations you could make. Well, it's time once again to plow, it's time once again to harvest. I guess once we invented canning, which is actually a product of the French revolution, I guess it's time to can. Okay? Now what happens? You wake up in the morning. Which of the 60 channels would you like to watch if you want to go to your cable or your satellite receiver as opposed to putting in a VCR or listening to a CD or putting on your record -- or your radio. Or what would you rather do? None of those, because you are now going to work on your computer terminal. Or do you want to do none of that because you are going to go over to your exercise club, or you don't really do that because you golf. I mean, it's very interesting. You could easily take a day and just make a list of all of the option choices.
This is why Toffler's first great book was called "future shock," because Alvin and Heidi argued, what's going to happen to people is you are used to making five decisions a day, now you're going to make 3,000. Okay. Furthermore, the argument we're going to make is if truly we're a great country with a great people, then in order to solve problems you don't want to hire the smartest person to be President, the smartest person to be secretary of health and human services, you want to figure out what's smart and you want to communicate it to every one of you. By the way, this is why we beat nazi Germany. I mean, go back and see the movie "sergeant York" with Gary cooper. Go back and look at any world war ii movie made before 1965. What you had was, you picked up people off the streets, they were normal Americans. But of course they knew how to use a telephone, they knew how to drive a vehicle, they knew how to take orders, they knew how to give orders, they organized -- they are self-organizing systems, so guess what?
The finest tactical army in the world the Wermacht lost, lost to a bunch of people who were not professional soldiers, who it knew couldn't beat. Our theory was you just get good Americans and they go out and do good things; and they don't do it all that good the first day, but they keep learning. And after a while, no matter how smart the other team is, if we keep learning and they don't learn, we will beat them eventually. Now, so I'm going to start with -- I'm going to share with you two essential systems for leadership, remembering that when I say leadership, I mean you. Every citizen is a leader in a free society. So I'm talking about every citizen. You could call it citizenship. Since you wouldn't be near as excited if I called it citizenship, I decided to call it leadership.
Since I'm now speaker of the house you probably think I actually know something. I'm going to show you an essential system for planning an essential system for leading. There are two different behaviors: planning is in the end done inside you. Planning, in the end, is done inside you. You can have a planning committee but sooner or later it comes to let's put something on the board and that's inside. It can be inside the committee. Or it can literally be you listen to the whole committee then everybody else takes a break and you write the first draft. But leading is by definition outside you, for a very practical reason. If I lead and you don't follow, I ain't leading. So if I'm going to lead and you're going to follow -- in other words, I can plan inside me for me, but if I'm going to lead you to follow me, I've got to find some connection between us, that gives you a reason to want to come with me. You all with me so far?
So the first thing I am going to teach you is inside. The second thing is by definition outside. Now, the model for planning is four layers and it's four words: vision, strategies, projects and tactics. I absolutely unequivocally want you to learn these four words in this order. It is a hierarchy. That means the top one dominates the other three. The second one dominates the other two. Now what do I mean by that? First of all, I'll use a very simple couple of examples. What is your vision of dinner? Okay? We say, what's your vision of dinner? We are going to do dinner tonight. Dinner is a our project, we're now planning, I don't care what you make. What's your vision of dinner?
>> fried chicken and potatoes. >>
fried chicken and potatoes. There's a good southern answer. What's your vision of dinner?
>> roast and carrots and potatoes. >>
roast and carrots and potatoes. Big on potatoes this year. What's your vision of dinner?
>> pizza. >>
pizza. Okay. Now, my writing is fairly bad, but I'm a doctor after all. This is the vision level answer, all right. If we do this long enough, you'll start to get hungry. Now, what are some strategies we could use in order to achieve our vision? Ah, see, the word "strategies" stopped you. Strategies, a planned technique for achieving a result. >> shopping. >>
shopping. What do you mean by shopping?
>> pick up the ingredients. >>
now grocery shopping, grocery store, right. We're going to build a matrix here, any of these answers could go under any of these three solutions. You follow me? So put this across, we're not saying you have to go grocery shopping for fried chicken, because of course there are other techniques, right. But you could use the grocery store. What else could you do?
>> reservations. >>
he stole my answer.
>> this is a non-sexist course, I'm not automatically going to favor you just because you are a woman, it was a tie. What does reservations mean?
>> call a restaurant. >>
telling you are coming.
>> you go to the kind of restaurants that take reservations. Oh, okay. We'll put down restaurant. We'll have two alternative strategies here, fancy and normal. Am I right here? Are we -- okay. How many of you would not have said reservations? I just want to find out rapidly we can get into class warfare here. Now, what's another technique? Take out. Is this late 20th century America or what?
Notice -- by the way we're in Waleska, Georgia, at Reinhardt College in a region which was historically what? Rural, rural and --
>> farming. >>
how come they didn't go out and get their own chicken, huh?
>> notice none of you even said it? It didn't occur to you. We're in the second or third largest chicken producing area in the united states. Let's go out in the backyard, right, lots of luck. I used to teach students who thought chickens came in plastic. They had no idea there was actually a bird attached to it. Actually at West Georgia I had a professor who had a class, it was a psychology class that actually killed chickens, it was very strange. You begin to see how you begin to build a pattern here. So you now have your vision, but if we take vision number one, fried chicken, and we don't teach the vision and we simply say, let's go out, and we end up, -- who had the pizza -- we end up at Pizza Hut, we're not going to get your vision. You all with me? You see how it begins to relate? Okay.
Now, projects. And this is a key concept. This is the essence of management, which is management, by the way, is different than leadership. Management is the effective use of resources already created. Leadership is the creation of leadership and is the creation of resources and using them the right way. There is a big difference between the two, okay. So management is using something right, leadership is making sure it's being used for the right reason. Very big difference. Projects are a definable, delegatable achievement. Achievement, defining the achievement so you can delegate, not the process. So you don't say at this level, go shopping. Because after all you could go shopping and come back with a dress. You say, I would like you to go to Kentucky fried chicken and get dinner for six people. That's a definable, delegatable achievement.
Or I would like you to call Domino's and have them deliver by 6:00 this evening. You see how you define it, and you are defining the end state, what is it that has occurred if I've successfully done my job? So this is a definable, delegatable achievement. Then at the bottom you have tactics. Now, tactics are daily behavior. What do you do at the actual point of contact? For example, we're going to go to pizza hut, you put on blue jeans, you're going to Nikolai's roof in Atlanta, you probably don't put on blue jeans because they won't let you in. So you have to figure out what is tactically acceptable. You are on a very limited budget, you are closer to here. You're on an unlimited budget, we're here and we're at a big fancy gourmet restaurant.
But, I mean, think about it: you want to run McDonald's, you don't hire people to wear tuxes. You want to run Nikolai's roof so it looks like a late 19th century, early 20th century czarist restaurant. You don't hire people to dress like they do at McDonald's. So there is a very important relationship between this and this. I mean I have a permanent problem. I have a vision of myself as a thinner person. I have two tactics, I eat ice cream and I drink beer. Even at 51, I am not mature enough to reconcile these two problems. Okay? You all understand the concept now of vision, strategies, projects and tactics? This is very central as an intellectual tool for everything else we're going to do, because it allows you to figure out which of these layers are you talking about when you read a newspaper. Or you discuss an issue and when you try to solve a problem. And it gives you the ability now to do planning in a very powerful way. Now the second part of this, you've got a plan here, you think you know what you want to do.
Now I'm going to teach you the second part. Can I just get you to do this while I'm talking to save some time. The second thing I want to do is walk you through the leading part of this now. We have our plan and I want to make a real point here. People who've never led, teach leading as though it this autonomous -- I'm up here, I'm the leader, look at me. That's nonsense. That's the opposite of real leadership. What I'm going to teach you absolutely works. And again, I think I have visible proof this week that I'm talking from a background of experience. But it is the opposite of the stupid way we currently teach leadership and it is opposite of the elite culture's depiction of how you lead. Effective leadership is four words: they are a process, they are not a hierarchy, that is the first word comes first, but it's equally as important to the other three: they are listen, learn, help and lead.
Now ideally, we have them on the Chyron because it doesn't fit the TV screen right. I normally write them so they are across like this. I would normally say: listen, learn, help and lead. By the way, when I give my speeches, those of you who watch me speak, I speak from notes. The way I normally represent it, I do this to remind me it's a hierarchy, and then I'l do this. First you listen to people. Notice how I started, what do you want for dinner? When you listen to people you genuinely listen and this is, by the way, a very hard thing to learn. Lots of people listen transactionally. All of you have been to a cocktail party parties or to events where you listen transactionally, right. You're standing there, pretending to listen while thinking how do I get away from this idiot? That doesn't count. That's not listening.
I mean, you try to understand, why do they say what they're saying? What do they mean? If they said pizza then they really don't mean fettucini. You have to actually listen, which means you got to stop yourself. You got to discipline yourself to truly listen and if you don't understand them, the trick is to then say, gee, I didn't quite get that. So you have to get them, draw them out, ask them questions. As a general principle, we're a lone enough society if you want to listen to people and learn from them, they love talking to you. If you listen to them and learn from them you can almost always help them. You help them, first of all, transactionally, they listen, they must think I'm okay. You learn second because you just have a different viewpoint. You can actually share with them. Here's the feedback on what I heard. You may know something with them they don't know. Oh, you want pizza? There is a place right down the street.
Now in a rational society if people know that you're willing to listen to them, you're willing to learn from them, you actively are trying to help them, then they want you to lead. Notice how backwards that is from the way people normally think it works? Leadership is not "I have this great vision, follow me." Leadership is, "I think I've got a vision, but before I tell you mine, what's yours?" If I were trying to lead this room I'd start by spending over an hour listening to you telling me your vision and I would list all your visions up here, then I would summarize and try to bring together the best of the visions. And then I'd say, "now that we have all invested in our vision, how do you think we could implement it?" By the time that process was over you would want me to be your leader because you'd know I was willing to put in the time and energy and the patience to make sure then you were part of what you're being led to. Yes.
>> what's the -- >> depends on the circumstances.
>> you find out what direction the group is getting it from, that old joke about leadership. >>
I almost never do that. I think that's nonsense, I think that's counterfeit. It also depends on how important it is. If the group says we don't like the fact Gingrich drinks beer, we're into diet coke this week, I don't care. I mean, we'll do diet coke. But if it was, let's go into cannibalism, I mean, you got to draw lines. Again, a leader who imposes the detail is stupid. What you ought to be is generous in sharing with people as much as you can so that everybody has ownership. So if you really want to help the poor, part of it has to be listening. I'm going to get into this a lot when we get to that session. You cannot offer a solution that people can't apply in their lives. Back to pragmatism. Will it work? Well, you don't know cause it ain't you. I mean, you may have the neatest idea in the world but is it neat for the real person in the real world doing the real thing? So it really is constant, all right.
Now this next section I thought I'd toss in given all the coverage of recent weeks, I thought -- for two reasons, one is I figure this is the best way to get it all out in the open. But the second is, I think one of the things we undervalue in the modern world is just sheer experience. I was turned on to this by Gary will in his book "the declaration of independence." He describes George Washington, and he says no modern political scientist or historian can fully appreciate Washington because the most important fact of Washington doesn't count in the modern academic world. It was his character. This was the man you could build a country on. And since character doesn't exist in the modern world, you can't count it. So you can't value it. So you can't understand him. So he becomes this funny guy with wooden teeth. And it's very interesting, Flexner in the paperback edition of his one volume biography of Washington talks bitterly about how Washington has been degraded by modern cynicism. Says this was a man so noble, so incredible, so unbelievable in ways we can't measure and therefore we make fun of him which tells you about the pathologies of our society, not George Washington.
So I thought I would start with this notion -- I'm going to make a couple of assertions that are unacademic. I am the speaker of the house. I have won and lost elections for a long time. I have studied history for a long time. I actually know a fair amount. I have raised two children. And so I want to do two things here: I want to tell you my biases. Because a lot of people say how can you have somebody who's a national figure teach? After all, they have biases. I'm going to argue that not only should you know the biases of professor Gingrich, but I want to argue that all professors have biases. So it's good to share with you the biases. I also want to give you at the beginning of this course the sense that this is a unique course, that far from what the university system did when the board of regents said we should let no elected officials teach, which has got to be the dumbest single rule I've seen. We should be going in the opposite direction.
I mean, if you want to have a business program and a local millionaire who made it in one generation is willing to share with your students the fact that this is how you get to be a millionaire, maybe even if they don't have a Ph.d. It's a good course. You know, Bill Gates would like to do a course on inventing companies, it would be okay. Even though -- he is a drop out, didn't get his college degree, just made $7 billion or $30 billion, whatever the number is, okay. Now, here's some of my biases. First of all, you have to understand my biases are largely created through 51 years of living, experience and reflecting. I really value pragmatism. If you really want to understand my ideology, it is that I'm an American pragmatist. The "American" is the important modifier. I am pragmatic within the American experience. I was born in central Pennsylvania, which is a very work- oriented Amish Pennsylvania Dutch region. If you saw the movie "witness" it gave you a really good flavor. These are people who work very hard.
So I come out of a work ethic that's very intense. I worked in my childhood. We believed in work. My family believed in work. They thought it was noble. They thought any job is a good job. When you hear somebody say, well, that's a pan -- that's a hamburger flipping job. You know, that's somebody that doesn't understand American. Any job is noble in America. Any job is better than welfare. Any job is better than doing nothing, and it's better to work when you're young. A recent "wall street journal" paper that interviewed a first generation millionaires, the average, the average started work before they were ten. They ran -- delivered newspapers, they ran lemonade stands, they learned how to have a market. They learned to deal with customers. They learned to discipline themselves to show up very early.
My aunt Loma, my aunt Louise and my grandma Dougherty had a lot to do with training me. I am a product in many ways of very strong women. My grandma Dougherty had been a teacher and because of the modern certification techniques, she only had two years of college. When they said you had to have four years of teaching, she quit teaching. I showed up and I was her only class, so I got 30 students' worth of attention and she beat into me how to read by the time I was 4. My aunt Louise and uncle Bruce -- my uncle Bruce was the garage attendant for in the state of Pennsylvania. He's the guy who checked the cars out. That meant he had access to the Pennsylvania state library which was the largest library in central Pennsylvania. So at 13 years of age I had a library card and stack permit and I would spend my summers wondering through this giant library, which is a reminder, it doesn't matter who you are, it matters what you care about. It cares what you're willing to do. You could've said uncle Bruce was only a garage attendant. No, he was a very loving uncle who did what it was he could do. My uncle Cal Troutman, who was aunt Loma's husband, was a very partisan Republican and had been a precinct worker since the 1920's.
And I grew up in a Theodore Roosevelt-Gifford Pinchot Republicanism which ironically was the conservation republicans. I used to teach in a studies program. My family's -- I have a broad extended family, my families generally were without money, but they were not poor. They would never have occurred to them to think they were poor. They just didn't have money. They were middle class except there wasn't much cash at the end of the week. Very important psychological distinction. We had a very strong extended family. A lot of my education was sitting around the kitchen table listening to all my older relatives talk to each other in a very rich oral tradition. For example, I had a grandfather, great grandfather Triester -- Triester valley, which is below state college, in a poker game in 1903 when he was drunk, which led my grandmother to hate alcohol. I mean, you learn these things. You learn these stories, again in history. You learn how did we get here, who are we, what are the lessons of life. It was a very sustaining family. Now, both my fathers were basically foster children. My mother was divorced and remarried. I'm adopted. I was born a McPherson, my stepfather is Gingrich, but he was adopted. He lived as a foster child till he was 16.
When I talk about strengthening the family, it's not because I'm some upper middle class country club guy from a perfect family with a perfect background, I'm divorced and remarried. But it's because I lived through these societies. I mean, I understand we're talking about human beings, we're talking about trying to find ways to be human. I think probably the most important formative moment in my life when I was about 3 or 4 years of age, I saw my great grandfather as he was in the process of dying. I didn't see him actually die, but he was very, very sick. I watched him being cared for and for some reason it got through to me that that's the way it is. I mean, sooner or later, you end. So at a very young age I became a very sober child, and I concluded life is hard. But to quote Faulkner's Nobel prize winning speech "mankind will endure and prevail," that is, yes, it's hard, but you can make it work for you. If you're prepared to start accepting it's hard, you can do it.
Charles Krauthheimer, who is a great national correspondent -- you may have seen him on television -- one of the smartest guys around, dove the into a swimming pool at 19 and became a paraplegic, he's in a wheelchair. Yet Krauthheimer today, you'll see him on national television, you'll see him doing things. It's a reminder to me when I see Krauthheimer and how hard he has worked to have a full life and I run into somebody who is able-bodied, has no problems and cannot walk from their apartment we have given them to their public library a block away to borrow a free book, I try to figure out how do I get Krautheimer's psychological zest and commitment for life in every American, because that's what I grew up with the sense of you get knocked on your back, get up. You get knocked on your front, get up. You fall down, get up. What do you mean, you wouldn't get back up. It may go back again to this work ethic concept. That established my prejudices about work and struggle. I'm very tough-minded about what you have to do to be a free person.
I think that character matters. I think this whole debate over the bell curve is silly, it's nonsense, it's a bunch of academics. And right wing academics are as dumb as left wing academics. And the fact is what matters in life is your character not your i. Q. And group IQ's are irrelevant. I don't want to know how well whites score. I want to know how well you work. Are you willing to show up? And I don't want to know that you could in theory learn very fast except you are a drug addict and you are unwilling to do anything while the person next to you learns much slower but, by the way, they put in nine hours a day and they are totally reliable. So guess which one I want to hire?
So all this stuff about IQ is I think nonsense. Tell me about your character. Tell me whether or not you are willing to learn. Tell me whether or not you are willing to do things. In addition, I was taught very early that persistence defeats all other characteristics in politics. A wonderful newspaper man named Paul walker, who adopted me and he was my mentor when I was young, gave me one time an article about Lincoln's five defeats, and I carried it in my wallet for years, because I couldn't guarantee I was smarter. I couldn't guarantee I was prettier. I couldn't guarantee I was more articulate. I could guarantee I'd get up earlier. I'd work longer and I'd never stop. I got defeated twice. I ran for five years and there were long days when it was very lonely and I was very scared. And I'd pull out that article and I think it's okay, just keep going.
And so I have a very high value of persistence. I really do believe freedom is frustrating. I also believe it's very, very dangerous to protect a free society. My dad served in Korea and I went as an army brat, I went to see "the sands of Iwo Jima" four times in one day. If you ever see the movie, it's john Wayne as a marine drill sergeant. He is a very lonely and he's very tough because he's having to do to these young people what they have to do learn to survive on the battlefield and at the end of the movie he gets killed. And I think it absolutely imprinted on me the idea that you've got to be prepared to sacrifice everything for your country if your country's going to survive. And part of what I see public life is about is the survival of your country. We then lived in fort Riley and I didn't even think about it until I was preparing this class, but the people who taught me, I was nine or ten years of age and I was hanging around with my dad and his friends, the people who taught me about life had served in World War II in Korea, they believe there's a term hard training, easy mission; easy training hard mission. I would argue that's what's wrong with modern schools for the poor. Schools need to be tough so life gets easy, when schools are easy, life is tough.
And these guys, I didn't realize until I was thinking this through last week, these guys were all tough because they'd all been through real combat and they'd all been real problems and they knew if you didn't train right and you didn't care enough for your men to be tough on them, they were going to die. I just acquired that when I was nine or ten years of age by hanging out with them, listening to my dad talking, going out in the field with these guys occasionally and watching what they did. Then we moved to France and lived there during the Algerian civil war. There was 100% inflation. 1957 and 1958. They paid us in script. They didn't give us u. S. Dollars because it would have destroyed the French currency. So I was a young kid by this stage, I'm 13-14 years old, I'm being paid in this funny money. We're living on the French economy. I'm playing with kids who's parents who were killed in World War II. We went to school past World War II bomb damage. And then in the decisive moment probably of my live, we went to the battlefield of Verdun, which was the largest battlefield of World War I. I saw damage done in 1916 that had not been repaired. 42 years later.
And I began to think about, you see Bosnia, you see Rwanda, I began to think about my hometown. What would it be like in America? What's it worth to not have it happen? I was once asked by Edward teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb, how hard would I work for my family to survive after a nuclear war? It's a good question to ask yourself. A nuclear war occurs. How hard would you work to survive? And I said, "you do everything." He said, "fine." "doesn't it make more sense to do it now so it doesn't occur?" And for some reason it got -- it penetrated me totally because it was the only morally correct answer. In the same way we faced, I think in the spring of 1958, the concept of the death of civilization. That summer we moved from Orleans, France, to Stuttgart Germany. Literally, the day we arrived in Stuttgart, we walked in, ordered breakfast, we were changing stations, my dad picked up the morning "stars and stripes," the United States army and marines had landed in Lebanon. He said, "I'll be back when I can." And he went and reported in and came back four days later. To me this was all real and you better have people who care enough about their country that they're prepared to do this or you don't keep your country. In that context, we really worked very, very hard in trying to put all of this together.
And I can tell my staff for a second we're missing three pages of my copy of the Chyron, so you may want to figure out how I got three missing pages here. I also want to talk, though, about as that went through, I came to the conclusion after a while that I wanted to be in public life. I came to the conclusion that it was very, very important that we reach out and that you learn constantly. I mean -- just walk over here. You make mistakes, you just accept them -- actually the reason I told you that, john, it goes from page 18 to page 21. Either you and I are both missing -- it goes from Chyron 56d to Chyron 62a. You may want to have somebody walk in here for a second. The point I'm trying to make is that when I started out I found myself growing based on my understanding of my mission in life, I mean I was not a natural politician. I'm basically a book worm and my basic attitude is to run and hide. I'm looking forward this afternoon to watching the Pittsburgh game.
I'm going to take a break for two hours and go do a town hall meeting but I'll get to see the first half of the Pittsburgh game. But I had to learn the skills and the habits necessary to do the things that were required, because I really believe the country's at stake, not in a republican-democrat sense, but in an historic sense and that civilizations die and that every generation has to arouse some people who try to make sure that they understand what it takes to not die. So what I'm going to share with you in these ten sessions is literally 36 years of work at this question. Now, in that context, I think that you also should know that I have raised two children, Kathy and Jackie sue. There are a lot of lessons of life of raising children. I stayed home with my older daughter for a while and my wife worked. And then I went to night school and we had -- so I had a fair amount of intimate relationship with my oldest daughter when she was very young.
And that's -- it is an interesting experience looking back. It means we are both very bonded and males always react different than females. At one point my oldest daughter was spitting her pea back out. You put it in, she dribble it out. I got frustrated so I just put it on top of her head. She sat there and stared at me. This created a certain trauma which we still lived through. I also -- I have to say I learned a lot and I changed a lot about being female in the modern world for both my two daughters and for Marianne. And because I had grown up in an army environment that was male dominated and was very different, so that was for me very different. We also part of what I mean by life was hard. Both Marianne and I each have lost our best friend. She lost her best friend about five years ago to liver cancer and I lost my best friend two years ago, a man Jim Tilton who I'd known since high school, to pancreatic cancer. So I think we have been through part of this and we speak from some background.
Now in that context, given those biases, I want to work a lot at empowering you as an individual. I think this is a very, very important part of where we're going and what we're doing. And one of the things I want to empower you with -- okay, that's fine. -- is the notion of thinking of life over time, this is by the way, I think, the greatest problem of having a generationally driven education system. The notion of -- because the fact, is life occurs over time. If you are 12, you don't know that because you haven't lived very long. If you are 51, you know that but you don't know how to say it in a way that people who are 12 learn it. If you say to me what can I get done by tomorrow, my answer is not much. If you say to me what can I get done in a decade, my answer is a lot. If you say what can I get done in 30 years, the answer is an enormous amount, and you'll do different things at different points.
Now what happens is people all to often in the modern era say, okay, I'm good for a week. My answer is so why would I pay any attention to it? We used to have a rule in the house that if you hadn't been there at least six years, the older guys didn't even learn your name because they weren't sure you were going to stay around to be worth the effort. So it's very important to think through that what happens over time. That's why there are no hamburger flipping jobs, there are first jobs. Any first job is good because it teaches you to go to work. That only makes sense if you're thinking about it in a continuum. Makes no sense, if all of life -- it's the difference between a Polaroid and a movie. The Polaroid you're caught right here. Well, if I'm caught right here, I don't want to be there. Well, but what if it's a movie, and this is act 1 of a 20 act play? Well, then act 1 may be cool, that's all right. In addition, I want you to think of learning as a form of power. This is a very, very important core concept that I don't think we teach enough. Every time I start to do something, my first step is to learn. It's not to go do it. It's to stop and learn. Now, how do you learn?
And this, by the way, violates all of the academic disciplines, almost all of which by definition I think are inadequate. I would argue you want to follow knowledge as it is needed to solve problems. One of the great moments of my life is -- I was at Emory, I was a history major, actually I was originally a political science major and then I switched to history. I was at a liberal arts college and I knew I didn't understand computers. And a friend of mine who was a state senator said, "you ought to go over to Georgia tech and meet a guy named Pete Jensen at the rich computer center," this is 1965. And I walked in to see Jensen, and Jensen said, "don't learn how to program a computer." He said, "by the time you're going to want to use them, programming is going to be obsolete and you're hire somebody to program them.". He said, "that would be like teaching you how to drive by becoming a mechanic." He said, "learn how to think about computers." And he said, "now the first thing I want you to do I want you to go read Drucker and I want you to learn to think about what's called project evaluation and review technique or a pert chart," which is a way of thinking about doing a job I'll show you later on. And I never took a course under Jensen, I just read about 50 books and talked to him for hundreds of hours because I wanted to learn. I wanted to follow the knowledge.
Don't associate credentialing and learning. Learning occurs by learning what you need to know and going to whatever discipline you need for the next building block of learning. Credentialing occurs by sitting long enough somebody stamps you with approval. They are not related. Similarly, I think there is a cycle that's involved which I have literally lived through. You study, you apply, you get immersed and then you reflect. So first of all, you study, you think through, what are the principles, then you apply it to your planning. Then you are immersed in doing, then you reflect on doing. For example, on Wednesday when I got sworn in, I was purely in the immersion phase. I didn't have any time on Wednesday to do either studying or reflecting. We began reflecting late Wednesday night.
But if you think of this cycle, you want to do something, first you study it then you apply what you've studied to your particular project, then you immerse yourself in trying to get it done, nd then you reflect on what knew you learned based on the cycle. Then you go back and start over again by deciding what you want to do next in studying again. I also believe passionately in apprenticeship, friendships and the importance of permanent learning and permanent growth. I believe that you need to reach out. You will hear it again and again during the course. Find people who have already done what you want to do and learn from them. People love to teach. You go to somebody, say teach me what you know. And the trick is simple, what do you want to do, who's done it, go find them. I believe in real professionalism, which is the application of systems that work rather than either bureaucratism or disciplinism. The bureaucratism is purely the idea that the bureaucracy says do x even if it's stupid, so you got your hole punched, at least you did what they told you to even if it was dumb. Credentialism is, you may not be able to speak German but you have a credit that says you can speak German so you can teach German even though you can't speak it. You may be able to speak German but don't have the credentials, so you can't teach it even though you can speak it.
So we're now going to put the kids in a German class with a non- German speaker with the right credentials. We do that every day in this country today and it's stupid. We should abolish it tomorrow morning. And I want you to understand the difference between the two models. I also understand that this is the moral purpose of this course. This course is essentially a moral course. It is essentially arguing there is an America, America is good, that that's it's worth doing but there's citizenship and citizenship is your responsibility. That it's a partnership, which means you have to meet your half of the partnership. In that sense this is, well, that's a history course, Dr. Minnix has a history degree and I have a history degree and I think we can reasonably match our standards in the amount we've read with most historians and we can match the course preparation. The truth is this is in the best sense of the old-fashioned word a liberal arts course. This is a course of trying to think through life and trying to think through society and trying to think through culture and whichever discipline we need to borrow from for the purpose of the course, we'll just borrow it. They can sue us later.
The essence is -- the essence of the course is applying American Civilization's principles to problem solving. So first you got to figure out what are the principles of American Civilization and now how do we apply them to solve problems? Example: list five rules, I want you to try to do this for a second. List five rules you would tell an immigrant the first day they arrived in America. How would you teach them the children? Just think about it. Somebody walks up to you says, "hi, I landed today, I got off the airplane in Atlanta." "I came from country x." "I want to be an American." Give me an example. What's one example you can give me?
>> learn the language. >>
learning. See, you are already in -- you already made a very key point. Should they really learn English? Isn't that sort of discriminating against their own language?
>> yeah, they should. >>
yeah, they should. There's a very practical reason they should. There is a very pragmatic reason they should. If you are going to be in this commercial economy, you better speak the language of the people who have the money.
>> learn the social customs. >>
learn the social customs. Give me an example of the social customs.
>> well, modes of dress, things that we eat, times that we eat. >>
okay. Of course when you say things that we eat, this is the most diverse world civilization on the planet about things we eat, but there are limits. We don't, for example, practice cannibalism. So if you were from new guinea or from the Brazilian rain forest, that might be an important point. I mean, you may laugh about it. As late as the 1840's, the British sent an officer to the Nash country in India to convince them to stop eating people. They had a habit of getting an annual slave, they fattened the slave, and then killed the slave and someone ate them. And this young British officer was sent there. This is referenced in Drucker's book, "the Effective Executive." Young officer sent there 24 years old, sits down with the tribal chief, the tribal chieftain says, this is very important about what I mean by civilization, the tribal chieftain says, "of course you respect our customs." He said, "of course, I do." He said, "our custom is to eat people." "I respect that." He said, "of course you old chief will respect our customs." And he said, "but of course I do." "our custom is to shoot people who eat people." They had a big tribal meeting. Gave it up. They didn't -- do you see how it weaves together?
So what I want you to do, what I want you to be thinking about and practicing is list the five values, or habits or principles of American Civilization that you think might really happen. Once I would like to do next week, and I hope Dr. Minnix will help me remember because, again I'm pretty busy in between classes -- is I would like to very early next week come back to you and say, okay, let's spend ten minutes, as we get into American history, what's your list? Just come in with five. Any five. I don't care what they are. Five principles or habits you would tell an immigrant on their first day are useful. And then as we go through American history, let's see if we can find examples of your habits. I will give you one, by the way, that's truly radically American, that if all of you are going to be honest, you'll admit to, shopping. To be American is to learn to shop. It's literally true. This is the most mall-oriented, not necessarily to buy, but just to shop. More Americans spend more hours wandering around stores going, "wow, I'd like that." Goes back to incentive. Why are Americans so driven? Because they're pursuing happiness. What's one of their versions of happiness? A big mall. Yeah.
Now, we're going to take key problems. One of the ones we're going to really focus on is solving poverty and violence. This cannot be a healthy country until we have found a core cultural solution to the challenge of poverty and violence. The way we're going to do this is we're going to apply vision, strategies, projects and tactics. And then we're going to apply listen, learn, help and lead, so that people can truly learn. And then what we're going to do with every challenge, challenge of the world market, the challenge of the information age, third wave society, the challenge of citizenship, the challenge of the culture poverty and violence, for every challenge, we're going to use the five pillars. So we're going to go down through and say, all right, what can we learn from American history? What can we learn from personal strength? What can we learn from entrepreneurial free enterprise? What can we learn from the spirit of invention and discovery? And what can we learn from quality as defined by Deming. And then we'll apply those pillars to the problem. So as you look at the last four sessions of the course, as you're thinking through where we're going, you look at the last four sessions of the course you can say to yourself, okay, when I get to the information age, third wave society, and American Civilization, I'm going to want to go back and think through my vision of it, my strategies for getting there, my projects to implement my strategies, my tactics, and then I'm going to want to turn to other people say, "what do you think."
And I'm going to go through listen, learn, help and lead. And as I'm thinking through the implementation for that third wave information age, I'm going to be saying, well, what did we learn in American history? When we went from an agricultural to an industrial society, what was the transition like? What are the lessons out of that period? How does personal strength relate to being able to use a computer? I mean, we know personal strength meant in the, you carried a big club and you had a rock. What does personal strength mean in the age of the laptop? Which, by the way, is a major reason for the rise of power for women. If upper body strength matters, men win. They are both biologically stronger and they don't get pregnant. Pregnancy is a period of male domination in traditional society. On the other hand, if what matters is the speed with which you can move the laptop, women are at least as fast, and in some ways better. So you have a radical revolution based on technological change and you've got to think that through. If you talk about being in combat.
What does combat mean? If combat means living in a ditch, females have biological problems staying in a ditch for 30 days because they get infections, and they don't have upper body strength. I mean, some do, but they're relatively rare. On the other hand, men are basically little piglets, you drop them in the ditch, they roll around in it, doesn't matter, you know. These things are very real. On the other hand, if combat means being on an aegis class cruiser managing the computer controls for 12 ships and their rockets, a female may be again dramatically better than a male who gets very, very frustrated sitting in a chair all the time because males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes. So you got to look at these kind of background, what do these transitions mean, how do they apply, what does it mean for personal strength.
Entrepreneurial free enterprise, isn't it interesting that at the end of the industrial era when large systems dominated that the explosive growth of the last 20 years is, guess what, tiny companies, start-ups in garages, people in back rooms. That's people who drop out of college and go create Microsoft or go create apple computing. It's Spielberg's invention of "Jurassic park." But it's people just do their thing. It very entrepreneurial. Talk about the whole concept of the spirit of invention and discovery. Well, obviously if you're entering the information age, inventing and discovery, but it may not be inventing and discovering the way that's obvious. We did -- one time we had post-its, those little yellow things you stick on things. That's an invention. Somebody got fairly rich off that. Invention doesn't have to mean you are a Ph.d.., you advance math and you are sitting in a lab some day.
Invention can just be an egg McMuffin which was invented by a particular franchise operator who wanted to find a way to use McDonald's in the morning. So he literally invented egg McMuffin, which is a social invention. And then finally, we look at the whole co ncept of quality and how do things pull together, how do we make it -- what did Deming teach the Japanese, and how do we work as a team to learn every day to improve our productivity. So I think these things are very, very important and you'll see us go through in the next nine weeks that kind of systematic effort to understand America, understand ourselves, apply our vision of the future, and see if we can come up with solutions when we get to the last four.
But to get to the last four we've got to spend the next five weeks really reimmersing ourselves in America. And the reason is, for the last quarter century we haven't talked much about America. We have all these modern counterculture myths about America. We have politically correct interpretations of America. That's not the way America works. I mean, just -- one of the things you can do as a test of this. Is look at the work ethic which I would argue is at the very center of being American, and then read your newspapers for the next week and see how often you find things referred to as work as good rather than as bad. I'll give you one example, because one of the last stands -- I'm going to be male for a second because I'm going to talk about sports which is much more a male kind of thing -- but think about football, the end of the football season, which coaches do we study on the sports page? The winners, right? Who would we study on the front page about politics? The losers.
You have an interview with the most losing coach in America, the psychological trauma I felt as my team lost its 70th consecutive game. I mean, why should Joe Paterno or Tom Osborne be allowed to win all the time? Shouldn't we have some kind of fairness here? You only get to win six out of ten. It wouldn't be nice if you won ten out of ten or 12 out of 12. Think about it. On the business page you still have a bias toward the winners but it's not total because we're gradually having the social creeping over of the biases of the editorial page. But historically, the business page is about who is breaking through. The greatest breakthroughs of modern times: computers, biotechnology, molecular medicine, it's very hard to get them covered, why, because they're just dull. They're about success.
So it's much harder to get those on page one in a way that's readable and understandable, but those are going to break through your life. O.J. Simpson is now involved in a trial which is interesting enough and violent enough and sexy enough and has a big enough celebrity. You take the total number of inches printed about O.J. last year in any major newspaper then take the total number of inches about molecular medicine, that's a pathological society that runs around chasing bad news. You don't find that on the sports page. And it's very important because in classic America it was Lindbergh's getting to Paris that worked. It wasn't the guy who didn't make it. Now next week, we're going to start with pillar one, the lessons of American history and the use of history for analysis and problem solving. We'll again try to give you tools and give you ways of thinking. The next week's reading assignment is the declaration of independence, the constitution of the united states, the federalist papers nos. 10 and 51, building a community of citizens, from that book we're going to use chapter 6. Tocqueville's democratic prescription self-interest, rightly understood.
So I would like -- the volume on community of citizens chapter 6, Tocqueville's democratic prescription self-interest. We're going to take those papers, which I would really like you to read. I would operate as though you have read them. That's what you ought to do, okay. Because in the long run this course is for you, it's not for me. Thank you. And I look forward very much to being with you next week.
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Renewing American Civilization Table of Contents