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"Tradition?? The only good traditions are food traditions. The rest are repressive."

"There are two ways to think. The first is to trust to your ancestors, your religious leaders, or your charismatic professors. The second is to question, to challenge, to explore history for meanings, and to analyze issues. This latter is called Critical Thinking, and it is this that is the mission of my web site. "

Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman  

October 2020

Perspective on History of Slavery


Much current discussion of the history of slavery ignores the larger picture. Slavery was universal, still exists in parts of the world, and was only finally abolished in the 19th century by England (1833), Russia (emancipating serfs in 1861), and by the United States in 1864. These emancipations were unique to the West, not the rest of the world, which still practices domestic slavery (women as property) and in some places in the Islamic world, sexual, agricultural, and mining slavery. more...

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August 2020

The Glass Half Full


We have had an ugly year, one in which we suffered a dreadful pandemic, a wobbling economy, and the daily offence of watching our president, a man we should be able to trust, do nothing but lie, falsify history, and pander to our worst behaviors.

If we do not put all of these spectacles in historic perspective, we could well be depressed. But history in perspective can save us from despair. Just consider the two-part final exam question I once asked my college students: a more...

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Global status of Women


I generally do an annual "status of women around the world" column, and this year is an important year to see some progress. Historically, in every civilization from the first ones in Sumeria, women have been oppressed, deprived of any autonomy, and doomed to lives of drudgery if poor or being ornamental playthings, if rich.

Despite this, some bold and lucky women throughout the centuries have had power---either as rulers or with husbands whom they could manipulate. One e more...

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All Countries Have Underbellies

For the past 10,000 years, since our ancestors gathered into settled communities based on farming and trade, the pecking order of power was: rulers (or one ruler) on top, priests dealing with the gods, soldiers defending the community under the leadership of the ruler, merchants and traders bringing in the money, and laborers doing the heavy work of farming and digging irrigation systems or roads. Below that last group were women and slaves (mostly the same thing). India?s ancient caste system i more...

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