How did 2nd century Romans decide where to build Hadrian's wall? It is located exactly at the narrowest east-west section of the island. They had no laser theodolites, lenses, aerial observation methods, or map stores.
Amazingly enough, they built a second more northerly wall at another narrows, so coincidence has to be ruled out.
The Romans were good surveyors. Vitruvius described surveying tools and methods in a book that was still used in the Middle Ages, hundreds of years after it was written.
By laying out stakes at fixed distances and using a plumb with simple sighting rods, it is very easy to lay out squares, lines, triangles, etc., and to measure the distances between different points. The Romans divided huge tracts of land into very precise squares and in many places in Italy and France, those plots of land still exist and are used as property boundaries today.
The technology to determine the narrowest point in northern England is as nothing compared to that necessary for supplying Roman towns with running water and baths, as with the Nimes Aqueduct in Southern France, shown here at the Pont du Gard crossing of Gardon River.
The Fontaine d'Eure, at 76 m (249 ft) above sea level, is only 17 m (56 ft) higher than the repartition basin in Nîmes, but this provided a sufficient gradient to sustain a steady flow of water to the 50,000 inhabitants of the Roman city. The aqueduct's average gradient is only 1 in 3,000. It varies widely along its course, but is as little as 1 in 20,000 in some sections.
Those sections where the gradient is only 1:20,000, or 1m in 20km, are deliberate not accidental, designed to allow the Pont du Gard section to be considerably lower, and easier to build, than would have been required by an even gradient.
Further note that while the isthmus of Hadrian's Wall is only 118km long, contemporaneously Roman Engineers were undertaking the building of a 170km tunnel aqueduct, the Gadra Aqueduct, to supply the city of Gadra in Jordan with water.
In summary, the Romans were excellent engineers and knew well how to design and survey large tracts and structures. It is faulty reasoning to assume that the absence of modern technology made such feats impossible.
Note also, from this outline of ancient measuring devices:
It is evident from his description that the dioptra differs from the modern theodolite in only two important respects. It lacks the added convenience of two inventions not available to Hero - the compass and the telescope.
It's worth noting that a drop of 1:20,000 equates to only 50 cm over 10 km. In that same 10 km stretch the earth curves by about 10m, or 20 times as much.
d = (10 km / 10,000 km) * 10 km = 100 km / 10,000 = 100,000 m / 10,000 = 10 m
One can only engineer such a slight grade with a very accurate value for the Earth's radius - and they performed all those calculations in Roman numerals!
Measuring, surveying, and map making are ancient practices by the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Druids, Chinese… pretty much everyone knew how to trace and measure lines and angles over a long distance.
Surveying is based on geometry, in particular triangles, and that was all well known at the time. By the time Hadrian's Wall was begun (122 AD), Euclid's Elements and Apollonius's Conics had been around for centuries, and Ptolemy was working out how large the Earth was and the distance to the Moon.
The basic tools are things like sticks, string, chains and weights. Distances can be measured by driving a stick of known height into the ground, and then measuring its apparent height from some distance away. If you can see two known points, you can use triangulation to measure where you are. Straight lines can be achieved by making sure several sticks line up, known as "range poles". Leveling can be done with a plumb bob (a weight on a string). For longer distances where accuracy wasn't important, the Romans even had a basic odometer that could be wheeled along.
You may be interested in the book Roman Surveying by Isaac Moreno Gallo which covers the technology, instruments and techniques in detail.
Hadrian's Wall runs along the top of the Whin Sill, a geological feature that presents people approaching from the north with a sheer cliff. So the Wall's height was boosted in many places by a natural feature. The Roman's didn't just take advantage of the relative narrowness of the island there -- they used the geography to make the Wall more defensible.
The Romans knew where to build Hadrian's Wall because they knew where they needed or wanted to have a wall.
Nobody knows exactly why Hadrian's Wall was built. But the Romans ruled the lands of the Brigantes and other tribes to the south, and it is not known how much control they had over the tribes to the north of the Wall. In any case the Wall made it easy to control who traveled north and south, and for what reasons, in that area, which may or may not have been the imperial border at the time.
If you go with the most simple theory, that the Wall marked the border of direct imperial control at that time, then if the Romans wanted to build a wall at the border they either had to build the wall where the border was, or conquer land to the north, or give up control of land to the south.
So you could say that the Romans built the wall where it was because that was where they wanted to have a frontier at that time.
As for knowing where the narrow parts of the Island of Great Britain were, the Romans already had various surveys done in their province of Britain to lay out various Roman roads, and had a good idea of how wide Britain was at various latitudes within the province.
To find out how wide Britain was to the north of the Province of Britain, the Romans could maybe ASK people who came from north of the border to trade, perhaps PAYING traders from the north for information.
The Roman armies had also marched deep into Scotland, far to the north of Hadrian's Wall, or even the Antonine Wall, long before Hadrian's Wall was built, and left remains of forts far to the north of the two later walls, so the Romans had probably had done a lot of surveying of the parts of Scotland they marched through and built forts in.
After the Battle of Mons Graupius in 84 AD Governor Agricola ordered his fleet to sail around Scotland to prove that Britain was an island and to receive the submission of the Orkney Islands. No doubt the fleet would have made maps of their journey and noted the latitudes of peninsulas and bays that affected the width of Britain.
History of paper
Paper is a thin nonwoven material traditionally made from a combination of milled plant and textile fibres. It is primarily used for writing, artwork, and packaging it is commonly white. The first papermaking process was documented in China during the Eastern Han period (25–220 CE) traditionally attributed to the court official Cai Lun. During the 8th century, Chinese papermaking spread to the Islamic world, where pulp mills and paper mills were used for papermaking and money making. By the 11th century, papermaking was brought to Europe. By the 13th century, papermaking was refined with paper mills utilizing waterwheels in Spain. Later European improvements to the papermaking process came in the 19th century with the invention of wood-based papers.
Although precursors such as papyrus and amate existed in the Mediterranean world and pre-Columbian Americas, respectively, these materials are not defined as true paper.  Nor is true parchment considered paper [a] used principally for writing, parchment is heavily prepared animal skin that predates paper and possibly papyrus. In the twentieth century with the advent of plastic manufacture some plastic "paper" was introduced, as well as paper-plastic laminates, paper-metal laminates, and papers infused or coated with different products that give them special properties.
The accession of Cyrus the Great of the Achaemenid Empire in 559 BCE made the re-establishment of the city of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple possible.   Some rudimentary ritual sacrifice had continued at the site of the first temple following its destruction.  According to the closing verses of the second book of Chronicles and the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, when the Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem following a decree from Cyrus the Great (Ezra 1:1–4, 2 Chronicles 36:22-23), construction started at the original site of the altar of Solomon's Temple.  After a relatively brief halt due to opposition from peoples who had filled the vacuum during the Jewish captivity (Ezra 4), work resumed c. 521 BCE under Darius I (Ezra 5) and was completed during the sixth year of his reign (c. 516 BCE), with the temple dedication taking place the following year. [ citation needed ]
These events represent the final section in the historical narrative of the Hebrew Bible. 
The original core of the book of Nehemiah, the first-person memoir, may have been combined with the core of the Book of Ezra around 400 BCE. Further editing probably continued into the Hellenistic era. 
The book tells how Nehemiah, at the court of the king in Susa, is informed that Jerusalem is without walls and resolves to restore them. The king appoints him as governor of the province Yehud Medinata and he travels to Jerusalem. There he rebuilds the walls, despite the opposition of Israel's enemies, and reforms the community in conformity with the law of Moses. After 12 years in Jerusalem, he returns to Susa but subsequently revisits Jerusalem. He finds that the Israelites have been backsliding and taking non-Jewish wives, and he stays in Jerusalem to enforce the Law.
Based on the biblical account, after the return from Babylonian captivity, arrangements were immediately made to reorganize the desolated Yehud Province after the demise of the Kingdom of Judah seventy years earlier. The body of pilgrims, forming a band of 42,360,  having completed the long and dreary journey of some four months, from the banks of the Euphrates to Jerusalem, were animated in all their proceedings by a strong religious impulse, and therefore one of their first concerns was to restore their ancient house of worship by rebuilding their destroyed Temple  and reinstituting the sacrificial rituals known as the korbanot.
On the invitation of Zerubbabel, the governor, who showed them a remarkable example of liberality by contributing personally 1,000 golden darics, besides other gifts, the people poured their gifts into the sacred treasury with great enthusiasm.  First they erected and dedicated the altar of God on the exact spot where it had formerly stood, and they then cleared away the charred heaps of debris which occupied the site of the old temple and in the second month of the second year (535 BCE), amid great public excitement and rejoicing, the foundations of the Second Temple were laid. A wide interest was felt in this great movement, although it was regarded with mixed feelings by the spectators (Haggai 2:3, Zechariah 4:10). 
The Samaritans wanted to help with this work but Zerubbabel and the elders declined such cooperation, feeling that the Jews must build the Temple unaided. Immediately evil reports were spread regarding the Jews. According to Ezra 4:5, the Samaritans sought to "frustrate their purpose" and sent messengers to Ecbatana and Susa, with the result that the work was suspended. 
Seven years later, Cyrus the Great, who allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple, died (2 Chronicles 36:22–23) and was succeeded by his son Cambyses. On his death, the "false Smerdis", an impostor, occupied the throne for some seven or eight months, and then Darius became king (522 BCE). In the second year of his rule the work of rebuilding the temple was resumed and carried forward to its completion (Ezra 5:6–6:15), under the stimulus of the earnest counsels and admonitions of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. It was ready for consecration in the spring of 516 BCE, more than twenty years after the return from captivity. The Temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius, amid great rejoicings on the part of all the people (Ezra 6:15,16), although it was evident that the Jews were no longer an independent people, but were subject to a foreign power. The Book of Haggai includes a prediction that the glory of the Second Temple would be greater than that of the first (Haggai 2:9). 
Some of the original artifacts from the Temple of Solomon are not mentioned in the sources after its destruction in 586 BCE, and are presumed lost. The Second Temple lacked the following holy articles:
- The Ark of the Covenant containing the Tablets of Stone, before which were placed  the pot of manna and Aaron's rod
- The Urim and Thummim (divination objects contained in the Hoshen)
- The holy oil
- The sacred fire. 
In the Second Temple, the Kodesh Hakodashim (Holy of Holies) was separated by curtains rather than a wall as in the First Temple. Still, as in the Tabernacle, the Second Temple included:
According to the Mishnah,  the "Foundation Stone" stood where the Ark used to be, and the High Priest put his censer on it on Yom Kippur. 
The Second Temple also included many of the original vessels of gold that had been taken by the Babylonians but restored by Cyrus the Great.   According to the Babylonian Talmud  however, the Temple lacked the Shekhinah (the dwelling or settling divine presence of God) and the Ruach HaKodesh (holy spirit) present in the First Temple.
Traditional rabbinic literature states that the Second Temple stood for 420 years and based on the 2nd-century work Seder Olam Rabbah, placed construction in 350 BCE (3408 AM) [sic], 166 years later than secular estimates, and destruction in 70 CE (3829 AM).  
The fifth order, or division, of the Mishnah, known as Kodashim, provides detailed descriptions and discussions of the religious laws connected with Temple service including the sacrifices, the Temple and its furnishings, as well as the priests who carried out the duties and ceremonies of its service. Tractates of the order deal with the sacrifices of animals, birds, and meal offerings, the laws of bringing a sacrifice, such as the sin offering and the guilt offering, and the laws of misappropriation of sacred property. In addition, the order contains a description of the Second Temple (tractate Middot), and a description and rules about the daily sacrifice service in the Temple (tractate Tamid).   
Following the conquest of Judea by Alexander the Great, it became part of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt until 200 BCE, when the Seleucid king Antiochus III the Great of Syria defeated Pharaoh Ptolemy V Epiphanes at the Battle of Paneion.  Judea became at that moment part of the Seleucid Empire. When the Second Temple in Jerusalem was looted and its religious services stopped, Judaism was effectively outlawed.
In 167 BCE, Antiochus IV Epiphanes ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. He also, according to Josephus, "compelled Jews to dissolve the laws of the country, to keep their infants un-circumcised, and to sacrifice swine's flesh upon the altar against which they all opposed themselves, and the most approved among them were put to death."  This accords with the account in the book of 1 Maccabees.
Following the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid empire, the Second Temple was rededicated and became the religious pillar of the Jewish Hasmonean Kingdom, as well as culturally associated with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
There is some evidence from archaeology that further changes to the structure of the Temple and its surroundings were made during the Hasmonean rule. Salome Alexandra, the queen of Hasmonean Kingdom appointed her elder son Hyrcanus II as the high priest of Judaea. Her younger son Aristobulus II was determined to have the throne, and as soon as she died he seized the throne. Hyrcanus, who was in line to be the king, agreed to be contented with being the high priest. Antipater, the governor of Idumæa, encouraged Hyrcanus not to give up his throne. Eventually Hyrcanus fled to Aretas III, king of the Nabateans, and returned with an army to take back the throne. He defeated Aristobulus and besieged Jerusalem. The Roman general Pompey, who was in Syria fighting against the Armenians in the Third Mithridatic War, sent his lieutenant to investigate the conflict in Judaea. Both Hyrcanus and Aristobulus appealed to him for support. Pompey was not diligent in making a decision about this which caused Aristobulus to march off. He was pursued by Pompey and surrendered but his followers closed Jerusalem to Pompey's forces. The Romans besieged and took the city in 63 BCE. The priests continued with the religious practices inside the Temple during the siege. The temple was not looted or harmed by the Romans. Pompey himself, perhaps inadvertently, went into the Holy of Holies and the next day ordered the priests to repurify the Temple and resume the religious practices. 
When the Roman emperor Caligula planned to place his own statue inside the temple, Herod's grandson Agrippa I was able to intervene and to persuade him not to do that.
John XXIII's announcement on 25 January 1959, in the chapter hall of the Benedictine monastery attached to the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, of his intention to call a general council came as a surprise even to the cardinals present.   The Pontiff informally announced the council under a full moon to a crowd gathered in St. Peter's square. 
He had tested the idea only ten days before with one of them, his Cardinal Secretary of State Domenico Tardini, who gave enthusiastic support to the idea.  Although the pope later said the idea came to him in a flash in his conversation with Tardini, two cardinals had earlier attempted to interest him in the idea. They were two of the most conservative, Ernesto Ruffini and Alfredo Ottaviani, who had already in 1948 proposed the idea to Pius XII and who put it before John XXIII on 27 October 1958. 
Actual preparations for the council took more than two years, and included work from 10 specialised commissions, people for mass media and Christian Unity, and a Central Preparatory Commission with 120 members for overall coordination, composed mostly of members of the Roman Curia. At Vatican I, 737 attended, mostly from Europe.  Attendance at Vatican II varied in later sessions from 2,100 to over 2,300. In addition, a varying number of periti ("experts") were available for theological consultation—a group that turned out to have a major influence as the council went forward. Seventeen Orthodox Churches and Protestant denominations sent observers.  More than three dozen representatives of other Christian communities were present at the opening session, and the number grew to nearly 100 by the end of the 4th council Sessions.
John XXIII opened the council on 11 October 1962 in a public session at St. Peter's basilica in Vatican City  and read the declaration Gaudet Mater Ecclesia before the council Fathers.
What is needed at the present time is a new enthusiasm, a new joy and serenity of mind in the unreserved acceptance by all of the entire Christian faith, without forfeiting that accuracy and precision in its presentation which characterized the proceedings of the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council. What is needed, and what everyone imbued with a truly Christian, Catholic and apostolic spirit craves today, is that this doctrine shall be more widely known, more deeply understood, and more penetrating in its effects on men's moral lives. What is needed is that this certain and immutable doctrine, to which the faithful owe obedience, be studied afresh and reformulated in contemporary terms. For this deposit of faith, or truths which are contained in our time-honored teaching is one thing the manner in which these truths are set forth (with their meaning preserved intact) is something else. ( Roncalli, Angelo Giuseppe, "Opening address", Council, Rome, IT. )
The first working session of the council was on 13 October 1962. That day's agenda included the election of members of the ten conciliar commissions. Each commission would have sixteen elected and eight appointed members, and they were expected to do most of the work of the Council.  It had been expected that the members of the preparatory commissions, where the Curia was heavily represented, would be confirmed as the majorities on the conciliar commissions.   But senior French Cardinal Achille Liénart addressed the Council, saying that the bishops could not intelligently vote for strangers. He asked that the vote be postponed to give all the bishops a chance to draw up their own lists. German Cardinal Josef Frings seconded that proposal, and the vote was postponed.  The first meeting of the council adjourned after only fifteen minutes. 
The bishops met to discuss the membership of the commissions, along with other issues, both in national and regional groups, as well as in gatherings that were more informal. The original schemata (Latin for drafts) from the preparatory sessions, drawn up by Sebastiaan Tromp, the secretary of the Preparatory Theological Commission, were rejected by an alliance of liberal-leaning "Rhineland" clerics and new ones were created.  When the council met on 16 October 1962, a new slate of commission members was presented and approved by the Council.  One important change was a significant increase in membership from Central and Northern Europe, beyond countries such as Spain or Italy. More than 100 bishops from Africa, Asia, and Latin America were Dutch or Belgian and tended to associate with the bishops from those countries. These groups were led by Cardinals Bernardus Johannes Alfrink of the Netherlands and Leo Suenens of Belgium. 
Eleven commissions and three secretariats were established, with their respective presidents:     
- De doctrina fidei et morum (Commission on the Doctrine of Faith and Morals), Alfredo Ottaviani
- De episcopis et dioecesium regimine (Commission on Bishops and the Government of Dioceses), Paolo Marella
- De ecclesiis orientalibus (Commission on the Eastern Churches), Amleto Giovanni Cicognani
- De sacramentorum disciplina (Commission on the Discipline of the Sacraments), Benedetto Aloisi Masella
- De disciplina cleri et populi christiani (Commission for the Discipline of the Clergy and the Christian People), Pietro Ciriaci
- De religiosis (Commission for Religious), Ildebrando Antoniutti
- De sacra liturgia (Commission on the Sacred Liturgy), Arcadio Larraona
- De missionibus (Commission for the Missions), Gregorio Pietro XV Agagianian
- De seminariis, de studiis, et de educatione catholica (Commission on Seminaries, Studies, and Catholic Schools), Giuseppe Pizzardo
- De fidelium apostolatu and De scriptis prelo edendis et de spectaculis moderandis (Commission for the Lay Apostolate, the Press, and the Moderation of Shows), Fernando Cento
- Technical and Organizational Commission, Gustavo Testa , Augustin Bea
- Administrative Secretariat, Alberto di Jorio.
After adjournment on 8 December, work began on preparations for the sessions scheduled for 1963. These preparations, however, were halted upon the death of John XXIII on 3 June 1963, since a Catholic ecumenical council is automatically interrupted and suspended upon the death of the pope who convened it, until the next pope orders the council to be continued or dissolved.  Paul VI was elected on 21 June 1963 and immediately announced that the council would continue. 
Second period: 1963 Edit
In the months prior to the second session, Paul VI worked to correct some of the problems of organization and procedure that had been discovered during the first session. The changes included inviting additional lay Catholic and non-Catholic observers, reducing the number of proposed schemata to seventeen (which were made more general, in keeping with the pastoral nature of the Council) and later eliminating the requirement of secrecy surrounding general sessions. 
Paul's opening address on 29 September 1963 stressed the pastoral nature of the Council, and set out four purposes for it:
- to define more fully the nature of the Church and the role of the bishop
- to renew the Church
- to restore unity among all Christians, including seeking pardon for Catholic contributions to separation
- and to start a dialogue with the contemporary world.
During this second session, the bishops approved the constitution on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, and the decree on social communication, Inter mirifica. Work went forward with the schemata on the Church, bishops and dioceses, and on ecumenism.
It was in this session that a revision of the rite of the consecration of virgins that was found in the Roman Pontifical was requested the revised Rite was approved by Paul and published in 1970.  
On 8 November 1963, Josef Frings criticized the Holy Office, and drew an articulate and impassioned defense by its Secretary, Alfredo Ottaviani, in one of the most dramatic exchanges of the Council.  (Cardinal Frings' theological adviser was the young Joseph Ratzinger, who would later as a Cardinal head the same department of the Holy See, and from 2005–13 reign as Benedict XVI). The second session ended on 4 December.
Third period: 1964 Edit
In the time between the second and third sessions, the proposed schemata were further revised on the basis of comments from the council Fathers. A number of topics were reduced to statements of fundamental propositions that could gain approval during the third session, with postconciliar commissions handling implementation of these measures.
At the end of the second session, Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens of Belgium had asked the other bishops: "Why are we even discussing the reality of the church when half of the church is not even represented here?", referring to women.  In response, 15 women were appointed as auditors in September 1964.   Eventually 23 women were auditors at the Second Vatican Council, including 10 women religious.   The auditors had no official role in the deliberations, although they attended the meetings of subcommittees working on council documents, particularly texts that dealt with the laity.  They also met together on a weekly basis to read draft documents and to comment on them. 
During the third session, which began on 14 September 1964, the council fathers worked through a large volume of proposals. There "were approved and promulgated by the Pope" schemata on ecumenism (Unitatis redintegratio) the official view on Protestant and Eastern Orthodox "separated brethren" the Eastern Rite churches (Orientalium Ecclesiarum) and the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church (Lumen gentium).
Schemata on the life and ministry of priests and the missionary activity of the Church were rejected and sent back to commissions for complete rewriting. Work continued on the remaining schemata, in particular those on the Church in the modern world and on religious freedom. There was controversy over revisions of the decree on religious freedom and the failure to vote on it during the third session, but Paul promised that this schema would be the first to be reviewed in the next session.
Paul closed the third session on 21 November by announcing a change in the Eucharistic fast and formally reaffirming Mary as "Mother of the Church".  While some called for more dogmas about Mary, in a 2 February 1965 speech Paul VI referred to the "Christocentric and Church-centered direction which the council intends to give to our doctrine and devotion to our Lady".  : 12
Fourth period: 1965 Edit
Going into the fourth session, Paul VI and most of the bishops wanted it to be the final one. Cardinal Ritter observed that, "We were stalled by the delaying tactics of a very small minority" in the Curia who were more industrious in communicating with the pope than was the more progressive majority.  : 3 Eleven schemata remained unfinished at the end of the third session,  : 238–50 and commissions worked to give them their final form. Schema 13, on the Church in the modern world, was revised by a commission that worked with the assistance of laypersons.
Paul VI opened the last session of the council on 14 September 1965 and on the following day promulgated the motu proprio establishing the Synod of Bishops.  This more permanent structure was intended to preserve close cooperation of the bishops with the pope after the Council.
The first business of the fourth session was the consideration of the decree on religious freedom, Dignitatis humanae, one of the more controversial of the conciliar documents that passed on 21 September by a vote of 1,997 for to 224 against.  : 47–49 The principal work of the other part of the session was work on three documents, all of which were approved by the council Fathers. The lengthened and revised pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world, Gaudium et spes, was followed by decrees on missionary activity, Ad gentes, and on the ministry and life of priests, Presbyterorum ordinis.  : 238–50
The council also gave final approval to other documents that had been considered in earlier sessions. These included the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei verbum) and the decrees on the pastoral office of bishops (Christus Dominus), on the life of persons in religious orders (expanded and modified from earlier sessions, finally titled Perfectae caritatis), on education for the priesthood (Optatam totius), on Christian education (Gravissimum educationis), and on the role of the laity (Apostolicam actuositatem).  : 238–50
One of the more controversial documents  was Nostra aetate, which stated that the Jews of the time of Christ, taken indiscriminately, and all Jews today are no more responsible for the death of Christ than Christians.
True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God. . The Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel's spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews. 
Better Jewish-Catholic relations have been emphasized since the Council. 
A major event of the final days of the council was the act of Paul and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras of a joint expression of regret for many of the past actions that had led up to the Great Schism between the western and eastern churches.  : 236–7
"The old story of the Samaritan has been the model of the spirituality of the Council" (Paul VI., address, 7 December). On 8 December, the council was formally closed, with the bishops professing their obedience to the Council's decrees. To help carry forward the work of the Council, Paul:
- had earlier formed a Papal Commission for the Media of Social Communication to assist bishops with the pastoral use of these media
- declared a jubilee from 1 January to 26 May 1966 (later extended to 8 December 1966) to urge all Catholics to study and accept the decisions of the council and apply them in spiritual renewal
- changed in 1965 the title and procedures of the Holy Office, giving it the name of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as well as the titles and competences of other departments of the Roman curia
- made permanent the secretariates for the Promotion of Christian Unity, for Non-Christian Religions, and for Non-Believers. 
During the Second Vatican Council the bishops produced four major "constitutions" and twelve other documents.
Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Edit
The first document passed by the council was Sacrosanctum Concilium ("Most Sacred Council") on the church's liturgy. Benedict XVI explained that an essential idea of the council itself is the "Paschal Mystery (Christ's passion, death and resurrection) as the center of what it is to be Christian and therefore of the Christian life, the Christian year, the Christian seasons, expressed in Eastertide and on Sunday which is always the day of the Resurrection."  Thus, the liturgy, especially the Eucharist which makes the Paschal Mystery present, is "the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows." 
The matter that had the most immediate effect on the lives of individual Catholics was the revision of the liturgy. The central idea was that there ought to be lay participation in the liturgy which means they "take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects" (SC 11). Since the mid-1960s, permission has been granted to celebrate the Mass in vernacular languages. [c] It has been emphasized that the language used should be known to the gathered people.  The amount of Scripture read during Mass was greatly expanded,  through different annual cycles of readings. The revised version of the Latin text of the Mass remains the authoritative text on which translations are based. The invitation for more active, conscious participation of the laity through Mass in the vernacular did not stop with the decree on the liturgy. It was taken up by the later documents of the council that called for a more active participation of the laity in the life of the Church,  a turn away from clericalism toward a new age of the laity. 
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Edit
The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium ("Light of the Nations") gave direction to several of the documents that followed it, including those on Ecumenism, on Non-Christian Religions, on Religious Freedom, and on The Church in the Modern World (see below). A most contentious conclusion that seems to follow from the Bishops' teaching in the decree is that while "in some sense other Christian communities are institutionally defective," these communities can "in some cases be more effective as vehicles of grace."  Belgian Bishop Emil de Smedt, commenting on institutional defects that had crept into the Catholic church, "contrasted the hierarchical model of the church that embodied the triad of 'clericalism, legalism, and triumphalism' with one that emphasized the 'people of God', filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and radically equal in grace," that was extolled in Lumen Gentium.  According to Paul VI, "the most characteristic and ultimate purpose of the teachings of the Council" is the universal call to holiness. John Paul II calls this "an intrinsic and essential aspect of [the council Fathers'] teaching on the Church",  where "all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity" (Lumen gentium, 40). Francis, in his apostolic letter Evangelii Gaudium (17) which laid out the programmatic for his pontificate, said that "on the basis of the teaching of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium" he would discuss the entire People of God which evangelizes, missionary outreach, the inclusion of the poor in society, and peace and dialogue within society. Francis has also followed the call of the council for a more collegial style of leadership, through synods of bishops and through his personal use of a worldwide advisory council of eight cardinals.  
Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Edit
The Council's document Dei Verbum ("The Word of God") states the principle active in the other council documents that "The study of the sacred page is, as it were, the soul of sacred theology".  It is said of Dei Verbum that "arguably it is the most seminal of all the conciliar documents," with the fruits of a return to the Bible as the foundation of Christian life and teaching, evident in the other council documents.  Joseph Ratzinger, who would become Benedict XVI, said of the emphasis on the Bible in the council that prior to Vatican II the theology manuals continued to confuse "propositions about revelation with the content of revelation. It represented not abiding truths of faith, but rather the peculiar characteristics of post-Reformation polemic."  In spite of the guarded approval of biblical scholarship under Pius XII, scholars suspected of Modernism were silenced right up to Vatican II.  The council brought a definitive end to the Counter-Reformation and, in a spirit of aggiornamento, reached back "behind St. Thomas himself and the Fathers, to the biblical theology which governs the first two chapters of the Constitution on the Church."  "The documents of the Second Vatican Council are shot through with the language of the Bible. . The church's historical journey away from its earlier focus upon these sources was reversed at Vatican II." For instance, the Council's document on the liturgy called for a broader use of liturgical texts, which would now be in the vernacular, along with more enlightened preaching on the Bible explaining "the love affair between God and humankind".  The translation of liturgical texts into vernacular languages, the allowance of communion under both kinds for the laity, and the expansion of Scripture readings during the Mass was resonant with the sensibilities of other Christian denominations, thus making the Second Vatican Council "a milestone for Catholic, Protestants, [and] the Orthodox". 
Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Edit
This document, named for its first words Gaudium et Spes ("Joy and Hope"), built on Lumen Gentium's understanding of the Church as the “pilgrim people of God” and as “communion”, aware of the long history of the Church's teaching and in touch with what it calls the “signs of the times”. It reflects the understanding that Baptism confers on all the task that Jesus entrusted to the Church, to be on mission to the world in ways that the present age can understand, in cooperation with the ongoing work of the Spirit. And for those who "draw a distinction between non-negotiable teachings on human sexuality and negotiable teachings on social justice, Gaudium et Spes is an insuperable obstacle and the pontificate of Francis is making that obvious for all with eyes to see." 
Other documents of the Council Edit
Opening declaration – Gaudet Mater Ecclesia ("Mother Church Rejoices") was the opening declaration of the Second Vatican Council, delivered by John XXIII on 11 October 1962 before the bishops and representatives of 86 governments or international groups. He criticizes the "prophets of doom who are always forecasting disaster" for the church or world.  He speaks of the advantage of separation of Church and state but also the challenge to integrate faith with public life. The Church "meets today's needs by explaining the validity of her doctrine more fully rather than by condemning," by reformulating ancient doctrine for pastoral effectiveness. Also, the Church is "moved by mercy and goodness towards her separated children." John XXIII before his papacy had proven his gifts as a papal diplomat and as Apostolic Nuncio to France. 
On the Means of Social Communication – The decree Inter mirifica ("Among the wonderful", 1963) addresses issues concerning the press, cinema, television, and other media of communication.
Ecumenism – The decree Unitatis redintegratio ("Reintegration of Unity", 1964) opens with the statement: "The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council."
Of the Eastern Catholic Churches – The decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum ("Of the Eastern Churches", 1964) recognizes the right of Eastern Catholics in communion with the Holy See to keep their distinct liturgical practices and avoid Latinisation. It encourages them to "take steps to return to their ancestral traditions."
Mission Activity – The decree Ad gentes ("To the Nations", 1965) treats evangelization as the fundamental mission of the Catholic Church, "to bring good news to the poor." It includes sections on training missionaries and on forming communities.
The Apostolate of the Laity – The decree Apostolicam actuositatem ("Apostolic Activity", 1965) declares that the apostolate of the laity is "not only to bring the message and grace of Christ to men but also to penetrate and perfect the temporal order with the spirit of the Gospel", in every field of life, together or through various groups, with respectful cooperation with the Church's hierarchy.
The Pastoral Office of Bishops – The decree Christus Dominus ("Christ the Lord", 1965) places renewed emphasis on collegiality and on strong conferences of bishops, while respecting the papacy.
On Religious Freedom – The declaration Dignitatis humanae ("Of the Dignity of the Human Person", 1965) is "on the right of the person and of communities to social and civil freedom in matters religious".
Non-Christian Religions – The declaration Nostra aetate ("In our time", 1965) reflects that people are being drawn closer together in our time. The Church "regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.'' And Jews today "should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God" for what happened to Jesus.
The Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life – The decree Perfectae Caritatis ("Of perfect charity", 1965) calls for "adaptation and renewal of the religious life [that] includes both the constant return to the sources of all Christian life and to the original spirit of the institutes and their adaptation to the changed conditions of our time."
On the Ministry and Life of Priests – The decree Presbyterorum ordinis ("The order of priests", 1965) describes priests as "father and teacher" but also "brothers among brothers with all those who have been reborn at the baptismal font." Priests must "promote the dignity" of the laity, "willingly listen" to them, acknowledge and diligently foster "exalted charisms of the laity", and "entrust to the laity duties in the service of the Church, allowing them freedom and room for action." Also, the human and spiritual needs of priests are discussed in detail.
On Priestly Training – The decree Optatam totius ("Desired [renewal] of the whole", 1965).
On Christian Education – The declaration Gravissimum educationis ("Extremely important [time] of education", 1965). 
Closing Statement – On 12 January 1966, a month after the close of the Council, Paul VI wrote the letter Udienze Generale on how the council was to be interpreted. 
The questioning of the nature of and even validity of the Second Vatican Council continues to be a contending point of rejection and conflict among various religious communities, some of which are not in communion with the Catholic Church.  In particular, two schools of thought may be discerned:
- Various Traditionalist Catholics, who claim that the modernising reforms that resulted both directly or indirectly from the council consequently brought detrimental effects, heretical acts, and indifference to the customs, beliefs, and pious practices of the Church before 1962. In addition, they say there is a doctrinal contradiction between the council and earlier papal statements regarding faith, morals and doctrine declared prior to the council itself.  Furthermore, they claim that the council decentralised the previous notion of the Catholic Church's supremacy over other religions while demoralising its longstanding pious practices of religiosity. They assert that, since there were no dogmatic proclamations defined within the documents of the Council, such documents are not infallible and therefore not canonically binding for faithful Catholics, most notably when such concilliar documents give way, as they say, to the loose implementation of longstanding Catholic doctrines that were previously sanctioned and upheld by former Popes prior to 1962. In light of this, most Traditionalist Catholics will exclusively adhere to the 1917 Code of Canon Law. [d] go beyond this in asserting that, after breaking with Catholic tradition and espousing heresy, present and future popes cannot legitimately claim the papacy. Therefore it remains vacant, until another papal claimant formally abandons the Vatican II council and re-establishes former traditional norms (prior to 1962 or prior to the reign of John XXIII).
The most recent edition of the 1983 Code of Canon Law states that Catholics may not disregard the teaching of an ecumenical council even if it does not propose such as definitive. Accordingly, it also maintains the view that the present living pope alone judges the criterion of membership for being in in communio with the Church.  The present canon law further articulates:
Although not an assent of faith, a religious submission of the intellect and will must be given to a Doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff or the College of Bishops declares concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act therefore, the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid those things which do not agree with it.  
In addition to general spiritual guidance, the Second Vatican Council produced very specific recommendations, such as in the document Gaudium et Spes: "Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation."  Dignitatis humanae, authored largely by United States theologian John Courtney Murray, challenged the council fathers to find "reasons for religious freedom" in which they believed,  : 8 and drew from scripture scholar John L. McKenzie the comment: "The Church can survive the disorder of development better than she can stand the living death of organized immobility."  : 106
As a result of the reforms of Vatican II, on 15 August 1972 Paul issued the motu proprio Ministeria Quaedam  which in effect suppressed the minor orders and replaced them with two ministries, those of lector and acolyte. A major difference was: "Ministries may be assigned to lay Christians hence they are no longer to be considered as reserved to candidates for the sacrament of orders." 
By "the spirit of Vatican II" is often meant promoting teachings and intentions attributed to the Second Vatican Council in ways not limited to literal readings of its documents, spoken of as the "letter" of the Council   (cf. Saint Paul's phrase, "the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life"  ).
The spirit of Vatican II is invoked for a great variety of ideas and attitudes. Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong used it with regard merely to an openness to dialogue with others, saying: "We are guided by the spirit of Vatican II: only dialogue and negotiation can solve conflicts." 
In contrast, Michael Novak described it as a spirit that:
. sometimes soared far beyond the actual, hard-won documents and decisions of Vatican II. . It was as though the world (or at least the history of the Church) were now to be divided into only two periods, pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II. Everything "pre" was then pretty much dismissed, so far as its authority mattered. For the most extreme, to be a Catholic now meant to believe more or less anything one wished to believe, or at least in the sense in which one personally interpreted it. One could be a Catholic "in spirit". One could take Catholic to mean the 'culture' in which one was born, rather than to mean a creed making objective and rigorous demands. One could imagine Rome as a distant and irrelevant anachronism, embarrassment, even adversary. Rome as "them". 
From another perspective, Church historian John W. O'Malley writes:
For the new churches it recommended adaptation to local cultures, including philosophical and theological adaptation. It also recommended that Catholic missionaries seek ways of cooperating with missionaries of other faiths and of fostering harmonious relations with them. It asserted that art from every race and country be given scope in the liturgy of the church. More generally, it made clear that the church was sympathetic to the way of life of different peoples and races and was ready to appropriate aspects of different cultural traditions. Though obvious-sounding, these provisions were portentous. Where would they lead?
To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of Vatican II, in October 2011, Benedict XVI declared the period from October 2012 to the Solemnity of Christ the King at the end of November 2013 a "Year of Faith", as:
. a good opportunity to help people understand that the texts bequeathed by the Council Fathers, in the words of John Paul II, "have lost nothing of their value or brilliance". They need to be read correctly, to be widely known and taken to heart as important and normative texts of the Magisterium, within the Church's Tradition. . I feel more than ever in duty bound to point to the Council as the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century: there we find a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning. 
It has been suggested that the pontificate of Francis will be looked upon as the "decisive moment in the history of the church in which the full force of the Second Vatican Council's reformist vision was finally realized."  : 178 Francis returned to the Vatican II theme of ressourcement, breaking with the Catholic philosophical tradition that had originated with Thomas Aquinas seven centuries before,   and looked to original sources in the New Testament.  : 54 In contrast to John Paul II who emphasized continuity with the past in Vatican II's teachings,   Francis' words and actions were noted from the start for their discontinuities, with an emphasis on Jesus himself and on mercy: a "church that is poor and for the poor", "disposal of the baroque trappings" in liturgical celebrations, and revision of the institutional aspects of the church.  : 32–33 From his first gesture when elected Pope, calling himself simply Bishop of Rome,  Francis connected with the thrust of the council away from "legalism, triumphalism, and clericalism".  He made greater use of church synods,   and instituted a more collegial manner of governance by constituting a Council of Cardinal Advisers from throughout the world to assist him   which a church historian calls the "most important step  in the history of the church for the past 10 centuries."  His refocusing the Church on “a moral theology that rests on scripture and Jesus’ command to love” is also seen as coming from the Council,   as is his lifting up the laity for mission and calling for the presence of women in theologates.  He has softened the "forbidding" image of the Church by applying Vatican II's views on respect for conscience to issues like atheism, homosexuality, and the sacraments.   This has led to a struggle between "anti-Vatican II diehards and clerics who prefer John XXIII’s (and Francis’s) generosity of spirit."  On the issue of liturgy, he has tried to advance the renewal initiated by Vatican II that would elicit more conscious, active participation by the people.    And while his predecessors had taken a dim view of liberation theology, his more positive view is seen as flowing from a discernment of "the signs of the times" called for by Gaudium et spes.  : 357 He appointed more cardinals from the southern hemisphere and constituted an advisory counsel of eight cardinals from around the world to advise him on reform, which a church historian calls the "most important step in the history of the church for the past 10 centuries." 
Saints of Vatican II Edit
Several of the fathers and theologians-experts, as well as several Roman Popes and council observers, became canonized saints or are in the process of canonization. These include:
Brit History: Britain’s History with the Crusades
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The Crusades were a series of religious wars, sanctioned by the Catholic Church, to take control of the Holy Land of Jerusalem (modern-day Israel) from the ruling Muslim Caliphate during the Middle Ages. With the First Crusade beginning in 1095, the call went out from the Vatican for Christian nations to send soldiers to fight. Britain’s contribution to the Crusades varied over the centuries from being only incidentally involved to being a major power in Jerusalem. We will examine the involvement of British nations in the various Crusades and the effects they had on the United Kingdom.
British involvement in the First Crusade wasn’t that heavy. King William I had defeated Harold of Wessex in the Battle of Hastings less than thirty years prior and his son, King William II, only being eight years into his reign at the Crusade’s beginning. Of course, William having been Duke of Normandy on his death in 1087 meant his children still held land in Normandy and his William’s son Robert, then Duke of Normandy did participate where his English brothers did not. Robert mortgaged the duchy to William in order to raise money for his arm to fight but returned in 1100 after William II’s death to make a claim for the throne of England. Unfortunately, King Henry, I seized the crown before Robert could, which led to a series of armed conflicts between the two brothers that resulted in Robert’s eventual defeat, imprisonment, and death.
England’s first real contribution to the Crusades came during the Second Crusade from 1147 to 1150. In May 1147, King Stephen dispatched Crusaders from Dartmouth. Unfortunately, the Crusaders’ ships didn’t make it to Jerusalem and had to stop in Portugal. In the same year, Pope Eugene III had authorized a Reconquista for the Iberian Peninsula, and the English Crusaders ended up helping King Alfonso I of Portugal recapture Lisbon. Stephen’s son, King Henry II, also sent soldiers to fight in the Crusades as part of his penance for the murder of Thomas a Beckett. After Saladin retook Jerusalem, Henry took crusading vows and helped the Knights Templar collect money for the Third Crusade, a collection that was dubbed the “Saladin Tithe.” Unfortunately, Henry never got to participate directly as he died in the same year that the Third Crusade Began.
With his ascension in 1189, King Richard I was the first English king to participate directly in the Crusades. Richard had agreed to go on the Third Crusade with King Phillip II of France in 1188 and set off the next year. Richard stopped in Sicily to help free his sister, Queen Joan of Sicily, who was taken captive following the death of her husband and William’s cousin Tancred seized power. By the time Richard arrived in the Holy Land, the Saracens had recaptured most of the territory, and Richard promptly went about taking it back. Richard left less than a year later, but in the meantime, he was able to retake control of the Palestinian coast and establish a new kingdom that would last for another century. However, relations between Richard and Phillip soured.
After Richard was captured by Duke Leopold V of Austria and turned over to Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, Phillip helped John in a revolt against Richard. Ultimately unsuccessful for John, Phillip succeeded in regaining Normandy, which led to further conflicts between Richard and Phillip after the former’s return to England. Richard would ultimately die in 1199 after being hit by a crossbow and his wound turning gangrenous. Before his death, Richard appointed John as his successor, an act that ultimately changed England with the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 after John’s taxation and mistreatment of his barons (mostly done to pay off the debt incurred by Richard in the Crusades and later battles against Phillip).
England skipped the Fourth Crusade, which was called by the Holy Roman Empire and the Kingdom of France to retake Jerusalem after Phillip and Richard had stopped short in 1192. In fact, England didn’t participate in another until the Ninth Crusade in 1271. Prince Edward, the future King Edward I, followed King Louis IX of France to Tunis but was too late to assist after Louis was killed in 1270. Edward instead joined forces with Charles of Anjou to attack the Holy Land. Edward eventually left after an attack from an assassin with a poisoned dagger left him weakened, arriving in Sicily to the news that his father, King Henry III, had died. Edward’s concern then became his ascension to the throne and his time as a crusader ended.
Edward’s return to England also saw the end of Britain’s role in the Crusades. From the island’s earliest involvement until the end of the Ninth Crusade, thousands of Englishmen took part in the conflicts, whether with the support of the throne or on their own initiative. Several important legacies returned with the Crusaders, such as the art of distilling, the rose, medicine, mathematics, spices, and more. And while the Knights Templar formed in France, they left a legacy in the United Kingdom with the construction of the Inner and Middle Temples in London, as well as other churches and even Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland (constructed in their style well after the order’s dissolution). Thus, even though its involvement was relatively minor compared to other European countries, the Crusades still had a profound effect on the destiny of the United Kingdom.
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Great Awakening, religious revival in the British American colonies mainly between about 1720 and the 1740s. It was a part of the religious ferment that swept western Europe in the latter part of the 17th century and early 18th century, referred to as Pietism and Quietism in continental Europe among Protestants and Roman Catholics and as Evangelicalism in England under the leadership of John Wesley (1703–91).
A number of conditions in the colonies contributed to the revival: an arid rationalism in New England, formalism in liturgical practices, as among the Dutch Reformed in the Middle Colonies, and the neglect of pastoral supervision in the South. The revival took place primarily among the Dutch Reformed, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Baptists, and some Anglicans, almost all of whom were Calvinists. The Great Awakening has been seen, therefore, as a development toward an evangelical Calvinism.
The revival preachers emphasized the “terrors of the law” to sinners, the unmerited grace of God, and the “new birth” in Jesus Christ. One of the great figures of the movement was George Whitefield, an Anglican priest who was influenced by John Wesley but was himself a Calvinist. Visiting America in 1739–40, he preached up and down the colonies to vast crowds in open fields, because no church building would hold the throngs he attracted. Although he gained many converts, he was attacked, as were other revival clergy, for criticizing the religious experience of others, for stimulating emotional excesses and dangerous religious delusions, and for breaking into and preaching in settled parishes without proper invitation by ecclesiastical authorities.
Jonathan Edwards was the great academician and apologist of the Great Awakening. A Congregational pastor at Northampton, Massachusetts, he preached justification by faith alone with remarkable effectiveness. He also attempted to redefine the psychology of religious experience and to help those involved in the revival to discern what were true and false works of the Spirit of God. His chief opponent was Charles Chauncy, a liberal pastor of the First Church in Boston, who wrote and preached against the revival, which he considered an outbreak of extravagant emotion.
The Great Awakening stemmed the tide of Enlightenment rationalism among a great many people in the colonies. One of its results was division within denominations, for some members supported the revival and others rejected it. The revival stimulated the growth of several educational institutions, including Princeton, Brown, and RutgersRutgers universities and Dartmouth College. The increase of dissent from the established churches during this period led to a broader toleration of religious diversity, and the democratization of the religious experience fed the fervour that resulted in the American Revolution.
Edwards maintained that the Spirit of God withdrew from Northampton in the 1740s, and some supporters found that the revival came to an end in that decade. A revival known as the Second Great Awakening began in New England in the 1790s. Generally less emotional than the Great Awakening, the Second Great Awakening led to the founding of colleges and seminaries and to the organization of mission societies.
Kentucky was also influenced by a revival during this period. The custom of camp-meeting revivals developed out of the Kentucky revival and was an influence on the American frontier during the 19th century.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.
The ceremonial ball game was an important part of Maya life. Common and noble people alike played for fun and recreation, but some games had important religious and spiritual significance. Sometimes, after important battles in which important prisoners were taken (such as enemy noblemen or even their Ahau, or King) these prisoners would be forced to play a game against the victors. The game represented a re-enactment of the battle, and afterward, the losers (which were naturally the enemy nobles and soldiers) were ceremonially executed. Ball courts, which were rectangular with sloped walls on either side, were prominently placed in Maya cities. Some of the more important cities had several courts. Ball courts were sometimes used for other ceremonies and events.
Geneva and Annecy:
Geneva is much smaller than it’s reputation. Even though it’s the biggest city in Switzerland, it has less than 200 thousand people. Idriss allows me to borrow a bike and he shows me around the town. The most well known monument (which I had never heard of before) is a giant water jet in the Lake Leman (the name for lake Geneva in French. Apparently the other people in France and Switzerland who live on it don’t like it being called Lake Geneva as there are many towns on the lake, not only Geneva). Lake Leman is the biggest lake in Europe, but for me it’s fairly tiny as Lake Michigan is almost exactly 100 times bigger.
Despite it’s size, I’d say it has it’s reputation for a reason. It’s one of the most international cities I’ve ever seen. I heard all the official languages except Romanche (well, maybe I did but I don’t know what it sounds like), Spainish, English, Hindu, Greek, and many other languages along with French. When people didn’t speak the same language, they usually resorted English as a lingua franca. It was a bit odd hearing two people speaking English to each other even though neither of them had a full grasp on the language, but it was quite cool.
Idriss got a phone call, and we went to look for the other two Americans who happened to be surfing on his couch at the same time. Their names are Toby and Jason, and they’re students who live in Florence Italy. I often had to serve as a translator for them, as they didn’t speak french and Idriss doesn’t speak English as well as I speak French.
That weekend, I saw the U.N. Building (the second most important one after the one in NYC, it also served as the capital of the League of Nations when that existed in between the two world wars. Saw porcelein museum (yeah I know it sounds boring, but whatever, I was just wandering and happened upon it), didn’t pay for a book because I told the author/illustrator that I want to be a French teacher in the US and then she wouldn’t accept any payment I tried offering, and went to three nights of a music festival called Electron. Not usually my type of music (electronic and dub) but the ambience was pretty cool. The last night was the best as there were live ska and gypsypunk bands rather than just a group of DJs.
OH I almost forgot. Swiss fondue is delicious. You gotta try it. I can’t describe it but only suggest that you eat some ASAP.
SWISS LESSON NUMBER TWO: JUST BECAUSE THEY SPEAK FRENCH, DON’T SAY SWISS PEOPLE ARE FRENCH. THEY’RE SWISS. GOSH DARN IT THEY’RE SWISS. I LEARNED THIS AFTER A FEW SLIPS OF THE TOUNG THE HARD WAY.
SWISS LESSON NUMBER THREE: IN FRENCH FRENCH, THERE IS NO WORD FOR SEVENTY, EIGHTY, OR NINTEY. INSTEAD THEY SAY SIXTY TEN, FOUR TWENTY, AND FOUR TWENTY TEN. IN SWISS FRENCH, HOWEVER, THEY SAY SIXTY, EIGHTY, AND NINTEY. THE FRENCH WAY OF SAYING IT IS NOT REALLY UNDERSTOOD. IT MAKES MUCH MORE SENSE BUT IT STILL THREW ME FOR A LOOP WHEN I HEARD IT FOR THE FIRST TIME AS I’M USED TO FRENCH WAY OF SAYING THINGS.
Overall, Geneva was pretty nice. Way too expensive (I got McDonalds to save money and it was still 15 francs so around 14.50 USD) but still I’d like to go there again.
Next, I contacted my friends Johan and Maria in Annecy and asked if I could spend two nights there. There’s a bus between Geneva and Annecy for only 15 francs so I took that to simplify things. Maria is a German who speaks English with an Australian accent (as she lived there for 2 years) and Johan is a French inventer (I guess the more proper word would be engineer but it sounds much cooler to say inventer, as that is what he does. He’s currently working on a machine that will spread chocolate flakes perfectly evenly on cake.) They had school and work, respectively, so I was mostly left to explore on my own. I rode my bike around Lake Annecy (a lake in the Alps about the same size as Lake Geneva, Wisconsin) and we shared a few meals together. I also got lost in the canals in the old part of town, and realized that Annecy really deserves its nick-name: the Venice of Rhone Alpes (the region in France where Annecy is located).
I thought about traveling more after Annecy, but then decided it would be better to go back to Avignon, as I have my medical appointment very early Friday morning and it’s a 40 minute bike ride from where I live.
The photo then ended up in the vendor's family, after his grandfather, Billy Wilson's second cousin was given the precious momento.
In a letter detailing the photograph's journey into his family, vendor Tomas R. Anderson II said: 'When my grandfather and family went to pay their respects to the widow of David Anderson at his 1918 funeral, she gifted him, with among other items, a small leather family photograph album.
'She explained to my grandfather's family about the history of the photograph and how Billy had gifted the photo to her husband.'
The photo has remained in his family, but Mr Anderson from Arizona, has decided the time is right to sell it.
A letter from the vendor details the story of how the photograph got into his family's possession
It has been verified by the George Eastman Museum in Texas which is the world's oldest museum dedicated to photography and named after the founder of Kodak.
Mark Osterman, a process historian at the museum, said the image is consistent with it being a wet collodion tintype photograph that were made between 1870 and 1890.
The picture is to go under the hammer with Sofe Design Auctions of Richardson, near Dallas, Texas.
A spokesman for Sofe Design said: "This is a historically important, incredibly rare and one-of-a-kind.
"It is only the second positively documented and analysed photographic image of Billy the Kid as well as the only known group image to include him.
"It also possesses meticulous and irrefutable Anderson family provenance dating back three generations.
"It has never been seen before and nor has it been publicly offered for sale."
The picture is to go under the hammer with Sofe Design Auctions of Richardson, near Dallas, Texas. A spokesman for the auction house said the image was a rare one-of-a-kind photograph
The photograph, which will be up for auction on Friday, comes in a cream leather wallet
The photograph remains in fantastic original condition and comes in a cream leather frame.
Of his fellow card players in the picture Brewer was shot dead in the Lincoln County War while Waite and Brown were long-time cowboys.
Together, and along with a number of other outlaws, they became known as the 'Billy the Kid Gang'.
The 1988 movie Young Guns, which starred Emilio Estevez as Billy the Kid as well as Charlie Sheen and Kiefer Sutherland, told the story of the fugitive's rise in notoriety.
It's 1990 sequel, Young Guns II, featured his arrest, jail break out and death at the hands of Garrett.
The auction takes place on Friday.
This 130-year-old tintype photograph on the left was, till the emergence of the second photo (right) the only authenticated image of the notorious American outlaw Billy the Kid
The life and death of Billy the Kid
Billy the Kid was a notorious outlaw who lived in the American Wild West during the mid to late 19th century. The subject of more than 50 movies, the local legend, has achieved global notoriety as scriptwriters took the tale of the gun-toting outlaw to big screens around the world.
Bill the Kid can be seen, in a top hat (right) playing cards with his fellow gang members in a rare photo of the notorious American outlaw
So who is Billy the Kid and what led to his untimely death at the age of 21?
Did the 2nd amendment ever play a role to deter Germany and Japan's invasion plans of the U.S.A?
I once read that Germany or was it Japan was concerned of how many guns were in the States and how it would have been basically a death wish for anyone to invade. There was a gun behind every rock and hay stack ready to be fire on any invaders. Was there ever any truth to that or anything similar to it? Is there any recorded maps or strategies the axis powers had for an invasion? I would like any reading or video information about it, I love reading about ww2 all the time so any info is appreciated thanks.
I would like to put that I'm not for or against the 2nd amendment or for any political issue with guns today do I ask this question about it. I just want honest answers and opinions. So dont PM me about political issues.
This is covered in the documentry film 'red dawn'
This proposition is just silly - the primary obstacle to North America being invaded in WW2 is ɻy whom?'
Germanys invasion of USSR showed the impossibility of subduing a continental power that can simply lose hundreds of miles of territory, factories, armies etc and replace them all with further supplies far away from the front line. And that was a land invasion - it is an order of magnitude harder to do everything with an amphibious assault and several thousand miles of supply chain.
Realistically the only people who had the numbers to do so (Russia, China) were busy and/or incapable. Whether or not the Civilians were armed just isn't a primary concern.
According to what source? I don't mean to be pedantic, but if you qualified that "primary concern" claim with a source it would pretty conclusively answer OP's question. Currently it's just conjecture.
Probably unlikely. IIRC, the Japanese were only concerned about marginalizing US power in the Pacific, not an actual invasion of the US. They knew they could never beat the US once the country was mobilized. The Japanese did however invade and hold several of the Aleutian Islands until forced to retreat. Locals were recruited and formed the Alaska Territorial Guard (aka the Eskimo Scouts).
A German invasion of US was a complete pipe dream, they couldn't even make it across the English Channel, so I doubt any serious thought was given to invading the US. They did have various aircraft designs for long range bombers capable of reaching North America, but none were ever carried out.
You may not have heard about the time German troops landed just off the coast of Florida. Yep.
Largely law enforcement and a serious amount of ineptitude on the Germans' part foiled this plan, rather than the 2nd amendment though
A German invasion of US was a complete pipe dream
Not necessarily. They couldn't make it across the English Channel because England was the strongest nation in the world at the time and had the backing of the US and other allies. If Hitler ended up winning the war I have no doubt that he would have turned towards the US eventually. Just imagine how quickly he could rebuild his forces if he held Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and the USSR.
I don't think Germany ever gave consideration to that question. Even if theyɽ had won the War in Eurasia it would have needed quite some time to even build a fleet big enough to transport and guard the divisions needed to create a stronghold in North America. History is no science of "what ifs", but I think a victorious Germany in Europe and the USA would have agreed on a peace for the USA had no chance winning the war if Russia had fallen.
Also lets think about the Wehrmacht landing somewhere on the Canadian or American coast in the 50s. No army had more experience in fighting insurgents and less scruple in fighting them as harshly as possible.
I think that the obstacle wouldn't be as great as you might think considering that the US would be embroiled in the Pacific and Germany (in this hypothetical fantasy land) would have the full labor power of slavic slaves and other undesirables. Plus they had no ethical constraints on their scientists so theyɽ probably progress on that front faster too.
The saying you're looking for is from a Japanese General, I forget whom, "There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass".
It is often attributed to admiral Yamamoto but I don't think he actually said it.
That's a quote which is widely considered to be fabricated
I believe you are right! That quote is what got me hooked on ww2. I always thought about if it was ever any truth about that?
At no point during the war did any of the Axis members come even close to possessing the resources to launch an invasion of the lower 48.
In the Pacific the IJN was pushed to its limit trying to launch a raid on Hawaii. Not an invasion, where you have to be concerned with feeding troops and supplying them with ammo, just a raid. But even if they somehow manage to take Hawaii they still have to go all the way from Hawaii to the west coast - which is Japan to Hawaii all over again. In the Atlantic. well, the Germans couldn't even manage a quick jaunt across the English Channel, let alone across the rest of the Atlantic Ocean.
Consider that the Normandy Invasion is lauded, even today, as a grand feat of logistics and planning. It worked because, at the time, the Allies had everything in their favour - air superiority, surface superiority, better intelligence and better leadership. An invasion of the US in reverse (or across the Pacific) would be infinitely more difficult - so much so that no one with any authority could seriously consider an invasion of the US.
Tuesday, December 17, 2019
Conservatism and The Problem of Nationalism
Kim R. Holmes -- the Executive Vice President at The Heritage Foundation -- makes a long and impassioned argument below against nationalism among conservatives. It is of course Trump who is really in his sights.
And he has something to explain: Is "American exceptionalism" a form of nationalism? He offers a fairly good reply to that
As ever, however, the Devil is in the details. What do we mean by nationalism? Nationalism undoubtedly has a very bad track record in Europe. Holmes sets that out well. But is American nationalism different? Because of its historical associations I agree with Holmes by rarely making use of the word. But when I do, I am always mindful of Orwell's clarifying comment on the matter from the 1940s:
Whatever he calls it from time to time, I think Trump clearly speaks in favour of what Orwell called patriotism rather than nationalism. Far from wanting power outside America, Trump is a traditional American conservative who wants OUT of the rest of the world and he is doing that withdrawal as well as he can, attracting considerable criticism while doing so.
So Trump is actually validating the distinction Orwell made. His patriotism is so different from nationalism that it could almost be called anti-nationalism. So any idea that American conservatives -- who are now almost all Trump supporters - are in the grip of anything like European nationalism is precisely wrong. Holmes need not worry. Patriotic Americans are ever-ready to help people of other nations but they don't want to control them
And Orwell's comment about the individual submerging himself in nationalism should be noted. Could people as individualistic as Americans ever do that? Not many, I fancy.
There WAS an era when America WAS nationalist but that was around a century ago under the leadership of that great "Progressive", Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt did at least ride his own horse into battle against the Spanish in America's conquest of Cuba but that is about all you can say by way of praising him
At first glance, the new nationalism of conservatives will seem benign and even uncontroversial. In his book, “The Case for Nationalism,” Rich Lowry defines nationalism as flowing from a people’s "natural devotion to their home and to their country." Yoram Hazony, in his book “The Virtue of Nationalism,” also has a rather anodyne definition of nationalism. It means "that the world is governed best when nations agree to cultivate their own traditions, free from interference by other nations."
There is nothing particularly controversial at all about these statements. Defined in these terms, it sounds like little more than simply defending nationality or national sovereignty, which is why Lowry, Hazony, and others insist their definition of nationalism has nothing to do with the most virulent forms involving ethnicity, race, militarism, or fascism.
Here's the problem. I suppose any of us can take any tradition that has a definite history and simply redefine it to our liking. We could then give ourselves permission to castigate anyone who doesn't agree with us as "misunderstanding" or even libeling us.
But who actually is responsible for the misunderstanding here? The people who are trying to redefine the term, or the people who remind us of nationalism's real history and what nationalism actually has been in history? Which raises an even bigger question: Why go down this road at all?
If you have to spend half of your time explaining, "Oh, I don't mean that kind of nationalism," why would you want to associate a venerable tradition of American civic patriotism, national pride, and American exceptionalism at all with the various nationalisms that have occurred in the world? After all, American conservatives have argued that one of the great things about America was that it was different from all other countries. Different from all other nationalisms.
Here's my point. Nationalism is not the same thing as national identity. It's not the same thing as respect for national sovereignty. It's not even the same thing as national pride. It's something historically and philosophically different, and those differences are not merely semantic, technical or the preoccupations of academic historians. In fact, they go to the very essence of what it means to be an American.
I think I understand why some people will be attracted to the concept of nationalism. President Trump used the term nationalism. National conservatives think that President Trump has tapped into a new populism for conservatism, and they want to take advantage of it. They think that traditional fusionist conservatism and the American exceptionalism idea are not strong enough. These ideas are not muscular enough. They want something stronger to stand up to the universal claims of globalism and progressivism that they believe are anti-American. They also want something stronger to push back on open borders and limitless immigration.
I understand that. I understand very well the desire to have a muscular reaction to the overreach of international governance and globalism, and I have no trouble at all arguing that an international system based on nation-states and national sovereignty is vastly superior, especially for the United States, to one that is run by a global governing body that is democratically remote from the people.
So what's the problem then? Why can't we just all agree that nationalism defined in this way is what we American conservatives have been and believed all along—that it's just a new, more fashionable bottle for a very old wine? Well, because the new bottle changes the way that the wine will be viewed. Why do we need a new bottle at all? It would be like putting a perfectly good California cabernet in a bottle labeled from Germany or France or Russia or China.
The problem lies in that little suffix, “ism.” It indicates that the word nationalism means a general practice, system, philosophy or ideology that is true for all. There is a tradition of nationalism out there that we Americans are part of. All countries have “nationalisms.” All nations and all peoples are all distinguished by what makes them different. Their common heritage as nationalists is actually their difference. Their different languages, their different ethnicities, their different cultures.
At the same time, all nations supposedly share the same sovereignty and rights of the nation-state, regardless of their form of government. A sovereign democratic nation-state is, in this respect, no different than a sovereign authoritarian nation-state. Regardless of the different kinds of government, it's the commonality of the nation-state that matters. Therefore, the sovereignty of Iran or North Korea is, by this way of thinking, morally and legally no different than the sovereignty of the United States or any other democratic nation.
I firmly believe that not all nation-states are the same. There have been times in history when nations have been associated with racism, ethnic supremacy, militarism, communism, and fascism. Does that mean that all nation-states are that way? Of course not, but there is a huge difference between the historical phenomena of nationalism and respect for the sovereignty of a democratic nation-state. Nationalism celebrates cultural and even ethnic differences of a people, regardless of the form of government. The democratic nation-state, on the other hand, grounds its legitimacy and its sovereignty in democratic governance.
The biggest problem causing this misunderstanding is not recognizing the actual history of nationalism. It is, as I mentioned before, to confuse national identity, national consciousness, and national sovereignty with Nationalism with a capital N.
Nationalism as we historically know it arose not in America but in Europe. Our independence movement was a revolt of the people over the type of government that we had under the British. The founders at first thought of themselves as Englishmen, who were being denied their rights by Parliament and by the crown. Yes, Americans certainly had an identity, but it was not based on ethnicity, language, or even religion alone. It had already developed a very distinct understanding of self-government, and that was the key to the Revolution.
By this time, Americans already had a fairly strong sense of identity, but that identity was not nationalism. Why is that? Because nationalism had not been invented yet. It didn't exist at the time of the American Revolution.
Modern nationalism began in France, in the French Revolution. The revolution was a call to arms of the French people. The French nation was born in the French Revolution. The terror and Napoleonic imperialism were the highest expression of this new-born French nationalism.
Revolutionary French nationalism
Napoleon's nationalist imperialism, in turn, sparked the rise of counter-reactionary nationalism in Germany, and all over Europe. Germans, Russians, Austrians, and other nations discovered their own national consciousness and the importance of their own cultures in their hatred of the French invaders.
After that, nationalism raged across the 19th and 20th centuries as a celebration of nations based on the common national culture and a common language and a common historical experience. Nationalism was, in this sense, particularistic. It was populistic. It was exclusive. It was zero- sum. It celebrated differences, not the common humanity of Christianity as it had been known in the Holy Roman Empire or the Catholic Church or even in the Enlightenment.
The key to nationalism was the nation-state. Technically, it wasn't the people themselves who were free or sovereign as the people, but the people represented by and in the name of the nation-state. In other words, their governments. Sovereignty ultimately resided in the state, not the people. The state was above the people, not of, by, and for the people as in the American experience. To this day, this idea lives in the British monarchy, for example, where the Queen is the ultimate sovereign, not the people or the Parliament.
It is unfortunately a common historical error to equate nationalism with the historical rise of the nation-state in Europe and the international state system that arose after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The Westphalian Peace did recognize the sovereignty of princes, over and against the universal claims of the Holy Roman Empire and the Church, and it's true that the Protestant Reformation did solidify the sovereignty of the princes and the principalities as forerunners to the nation-state.
But these were princes. They were monarchies. They were dynasties. It wasn't until much later that the modern nation-state and especially the popular sentiments of nationalism arose in history. Whatever this state system was, it is not nationalism. Nationalism is an historic phenomena that did not emerge for another 150 years after 1648. Claiming otherwise is just bad history, pure and simple.
That brings me to the idea of American exceptionalism, which is, I believe, the answer to the question of America's national identity and what it should be.
It's a beautiful concept that captures both the reality and the ambiguity of the American experience. It's based on a universal creed. It is grounded in America's founding principles: natural law, liberty, limited government, individual rights, the checks and balances of government, popular sovereignty not the sovereignty of the folkish nation-state, the civilizing role of religion in civil society and not an established religion associated with one class or one creed, and the crucial role of civil society and civil institutions in grounding and mediating our democracy and our freedom..
We as Americans believe these principles are right and true for all peoples and not just for us. That was the way that Washington and Jefferson understood them, and it was certainly the way that Lincoln understood them. That's what makes them universal. In other words, the American creed grounds us in universal principles.
But what, you may ask, makes us so exceptional then? If it's universal, what makes us exceptional? It is, in fact, the creed.
We believe that Americans are different because our creed is both universal and exceptional at the same time. We are exceptional in the unique way we apply our universal principles. It doesn't necessarily mean that we are better than other peoples, though I think probably most Americans do believe that they are. It's not really about bragging rights. Rather, it's a statement of historical fact that there is something truly different and unique about the United States, which becomes lost when talking in terms of nationalism.
A nationalist cannot say this, because there is nothing universal about nationalism except that all nationalisms are, well, different and particularistic. Nationalism is devoid of a common idea or principle of government except that a people or a nation-state can be almost anything. It can be fascist, it can be authoritarian, it can be totalitarian, or it can be democratic.
Some of the new nationalists doubt explicitly the importance of the American creed. They argue that the creed is not as important as we thought it was to our national identity. Let's just think about that for a minute.
What does it mean to say that the creed really isn't all that important? If the creed doesn't matter, what is so special about America?
Is it our language? Well, no. We share that with Britain, and now much of the world.
Is it our ethnicity? Well, that doesn't work either because there's no such thing as a common American ethnicity.
Is it a specific religion? We are indeed a religious country, but no, we have freedom of religion, not one specific religion.
Is it our beautiful rivers and mountains? No. We've got some beautiful rivers and mountains, but so do other countries.
Is it our culture? Yes, I suppose so, but how do you understand American culture without the American creed and the founding principles?
Lincoln called America the world's “last best hope,” because it was a place where all people can and should be free. Before Lincoln, Jefferson called it an empire of liberty.
Immigrants came here and became true Americans by living the American creed and the American dream. You can become a French citizen, but for most Frenchmen, if you are foreign, that is not the same thing as being French. It's different here. You can be a real American by adopting our creed and our way of life.
After World War II, the American way and our devotion to democracy became a beacon of freedom for the whole world. That was the foundation of our claim to world leadership in the Cold War, and it is no different today. If we become a nation just like any other nation, then frankly I would not expect any other nation to grant us any special trust or support.
Another benefit of American exceptionalism is that it is self-correcting. When we fail to live up to our ideals as we did with slavery before the Civil War, we can appeal as Lincoln did to our “better nature” to correct our flaws. That is where the central importance of the creed comes in. Applying the principles of the Declaration of Independence correctly has allowed us to redeem ourselves and our history when we have gone astray.
There is no American identity without the American creed. However, the nationalists are correct about one thing, in suggesting that the American identity is more than just about a set of ideas. These ideas are lived in our culture—that is true. It is also true, as Lincoln said about his famous “mystic chords of memory,” that our common experience and our common history form a unique story. It is a story that embodies the very real lives and relationships of people and a shared cultural experience in a shared space and time in history that we call the United States.
The sharing of experience in space and time - in and of itself - is not unlike what any other nation experiences. At the most basic level, yes, I would say that all nations are in that respect alike. But what made it different for Lincoln was that he believed and he hoped that the “better angels of our nature,” that was grounded in the American creed, would touch the mystic chords of memory that make up that story—and it was that “touch” that set us apart from other nations.
Let me end by making two points.
One, the degree to which national conservatism sounds plausible rests on a profound historical misunderstanding. Statements in and of themselves that sound true and even attractive have to be suspended in a state of historical amnesia to make sense.
When Hazony says, "National cohesion is the secret ingredient that allows free institutions to exist," it makes an almost obvious banal point, as least for the countries that are already free. The problem begins when he associates this with the general tradition of the virtues of nationalism as a concept. Then it gets really messy.
Is national cohesion the secret ingredient to free institutions to nationalists in Russia? In China? Or in Iran? Hardly. In fact, nationalism in these countries is the bitter enemy of free institutions. If the answer is, "Well, I don't mean that kind of nationalism," then the question gets really begged: Why make broad general statements about nationalism at all if the exceptions loom so large? If in fact the exceptions end up being the rule?
My second point is this. If this were just an academic debate over the idea of nationalism, then I suppose it really wouldn't be all that important. You could let the intellectuals split their hairs and historians make their points about the history of nationalism, and you could go and see whether or not the concept of nationalism really helps us politically—whether it's true or not.
I fear the problem is bigger than that for conservatives. The conservative movement today faces huge threats to our most basic principles. From the left, we face progressives who have always said that our creed and our claims to American exceptionalism were a fraud. They have always argued that we were a nation like any other. In fact, the more radical of them argue that we are actually worse than other nations precisely because our founding principles were supposedly based on lies.
Now, we face a new challenge on the sanctity of the American creed from a different direction. This time, from the right. It comes first from blurring the distinctions between nationalism as actually practiced and the uniqueness of American exceptionalism. Then it goes on to raise the specter of the nation-state as being an idea—if not the central idea—to American conservatism. That’s no different than what a continental European conservative probably would say about their traditions.
Frankly, I don't get this at all. American conservatives are skeptical of the government. They're skeptical of the nation-state. That's what makes us conservatives. So why elevate the concept of the nation-state that is so foreign to the American conservative tradition?
I fear the answer may have to do with the deeper philosophical transformation that is going on inside some conservative political circles. It is now becoming fashionable for some conservatives to criticize capitalism and the free market. Some are even arguing that there are now no limiting principles to what the state and the government can or should do in the name of their political agenda.
This used to be called “big government” conservatism. It was seen then as a liberal proposition, and it still is, in my view. It shares a troubling principle with modern progressivism. Deep down, having the government rather than the people make important decisions about their lives is, in principle, no different than a progressive arguing for the need for government to end poverty and eliminate inequality.
Apparently the idea is that, with conservatives in charge of government, this time it will be different. This time we will make sure that the government that we control will drive investments in the right direction, and we will make the right decisions on what the trade-offs are.
Does this sound familiar? Don't defenders of big government always argue that this time it will be different?
Put aside for a moment whether we conservatives would ever control such a government to sufficiently do the things that we want it to do. Do we want to empower a government even more in industrial and other kinds of economic and social policy that will surely use that very increased power to destroy the things that we love and believe about this country?
The best way, in my opinion, to protect America's greatness, its special claims, its identity if you will, is to believe in what made us great in the first place. It wasn't our language. It wasn't our race. It wasn't our ethnicity. It wasn't our industrial policy. It wasn't the power of government to decide what the trade-offs are. It wasn't in a government that decides what kind of work is dignified or what kind of work is not. And it certainly wasn't a belief in the nation-state or the greatness of nationalism.
It was our creed and the belief system that was personified and lived in a culture, our institutions of civil societies and our democratic way of government that made America the greatest nation in the history of all nations. In a word, it was our belief in ourselves as a good and free people. That's what made American exceptional. That's what made us a free country. And it continues to do so today.
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