Talk:History of the United States (1980–1991)/Archive 2

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Stan: In case you want to skip over some sections, the indented paragraphs are the asides.

What is wrong with the material on the domestic situation in the Soviet Union? Any account of the end of the Cold War will require some backgrounding in this area. You're overlooking the obvious: the USSR's internal situation was certainly more pertinent to the United States than that of Gambia. To keep the backgrounding short and on topic, I admit that I was seeking parsimony and clarity. Did I do so at the expense of not incorporating enough factors or "POV?" If so, explain. It's not that I'm uninterested in your insights; I just fail to understand your reasoning.

I agree with you that the note on Nancy Reagan and astrology is an insignificant anecdote. But the sentence was just that: an anecdote. Political and diplomatic historians make much to do about the personal and institutional idiosyncrasies in administrations that influence policy-making and crisis management, especially given that the Cold War and instantaneous communications have been reinforcing trends strengthening reach of the presidency. Honestly, I wanted go through this as quickly as possible with a couple of anecdotes that would also provide a context for Democratic attacks at the time. I was hoping that this would be less objectionable than a sentence or two "characterizing" the administration. Perhaps this was a gutless attempt to fly through the subject and quickly move on.

In effect, there is hardly anything more difficult to write than an extremely short, general overview of a subject as controversial and politicized as recent US history for Wiki. A chronological, random grab bag of dates and facts is an easy way of avoiding NPOV disputes, but this won't do since Wiki is not an almanac. Sketching a broader overview of general trends is what we need to accomplish. But in the context of such extreme space constraints, this poses the risk of over-simplification. I'd welcome if you have better ideas on coverage of Reagan's foreign policy tactics and accounts stressing policy contradictions.

Rather than memorable revelations from admin insiders like Regan, what are your thoughts on other examples? When charging that his administration was no tightly run ship, examples frequently cited are Reagan going through five NSC advisers between 1981-87, Haig's troubled tenure as Secretary of State between 1981-1982, and the lack of oversight on defense expenditures. Over a trillion dollars of military spending, for example, bought surprisingly little in his first term as nearly 50 large defense contractors came under investigation for overcharges and other malfeasance as Reagan kept demanding spending hikes of up to 10 percent a year in the defense budget.
On a related note, this provides a good transition to coverage on the 1990s economy, considering what such a level of government borrowing (resulting in an overvalued dollar at the time) did to the US balance of payments and industrial sector. BTW, 2002 was the first year in the postwar era in which the US paid foreigners more investment income from their domestic holdings here than it received from its own investments abroad. Anyway, we're going to have to deal with this in more detail when we start working on the Clinton years.
But, for my own strategic reasons, I'll expound on problems in other Democratic administrations (perhaps LBJ in the previous article in the series) first, just so that you people stop accusing me of singling out the Gipper and advancing an agenda.

I wholeheartedly agree with you on "triumphalism." That must must've slipped by me. In its place, I'll say that in the wake of Vietnam, Americans were increasingly skeptical of baring the economic and financial cost of large troop commitments. I'll briefly say that the administration sought to overcome this by backing the relatively cheap strategy of specially trained counterinsurgencies or "low-intensity conflicts" rather than large-scale ground wars like Vietnam and Korea. I'll also remove the term "adventures." You exaggerate the inconsistency in the coverage of the Soviet intervention of Afghanistan and Reagan's LICs. The Soviets were propping up a tottering client regime (somewhat analogous to our role in South Vietnam, especially when we knocked off Diem), not overthrowing a hostile pro-Western government.

Although Lebanon, I believe, was mentioned in the context of occurring two days before the bombing of the Beirut barracks, not in the context of calling it an attempt to overthrow a socialist government, your comments alerted me to the lack of clarity. I'll clarify that in the wake of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres, US forces moved into Beirut to encourage Israeli withdrawal. But this isn't entirely unrelated to the Cold War. Although Israel invaded Lebanon to destroy the PLO, the administration stood by Israel's invasion of Lebanon in mid-1982 to maintain the support of Israel on one hand, but also to quell the influence of Israel's pro-Soviet enemy Syria in Lebanon. I'll quickly move through this, summing up that the US withdrew the remaining 1600 soldiers after the 10/23/83 barracks bombing that killed 239 troops.

Moving on to the 10/25 invasion of Granada, I will skirt the controversy over whether or not the pretext of protecting those 500 med students was bogus (perhaps I have a Reaganite POV agenda?!), and not even cite Larry Speakes revelations, by just stating that the invasion ousted a pro-Cuban government and got media coverage off the barracks bombing.

I enjoyed reading your last posting and found the comments mostly helpful, but the closing comments on the origins of the Cold War threw me off.

I bet you went off on how the US wasn't entirely "to blame" for the Cold War assuming that I'm a throwback espousing the unmitigated revisionism of William Appleman Williams' 1959 landmark. If you want my opinion (POV), I don't blame the United States for the Cold War. I'm going to come straight out with it. So, you don't need to tell me about "POV hoo boy" or "massive verbiage." Everything in this aside will be POV! In my opinion the Cold War was inevitable. I think that speaking of "blame" is silly. I'm drawing a blank when trying to recall anytime throughout history when there were two great powers with two starkly different economic systems reinforcing starkly different sets of principles that were able to stay clear of recurring conflicts in conditions analogous to those of the postwar world. By these conditions, I mean contiguous spheres of influence with unrest in these spheres, weak mutual economic interdependence, and no threatening common enemies. With this in mind, we can then look at to what extent each power had expansionary impulses between 1945-47? This question is not black and white. Although I'm grossly over-simplifying everything, the Soviets were interested in asset stripping to aid their postwar reconstruction and consolidating control over their sphere. But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the Soviets had no expansionary aims. Regardless, I'm guessing that it would have been more destabilizing for the US not to confront Russia - even if this meant a cold war. This comes down to my bias that the Marshall Plan prevented a second worldwide depression and political instability in Western Europe, which would haved shifted the international balance of power dramatically in favor of Moscow. Given Truman's domestic political constraints, public and Congressional support for the administrations foreign policies after Mr. X and the Long Telegram was contingent on real fear of the Soviets' role in the world. (I know that his fears were genuine and not a facade for domestic support; I'm just describing it as such for the sake of argument.) Anyway, to make a counter-factual guess, I doubt that an unpopular postwar Democratic President with as little room to maneuver as Truman would have been able to get a cost-cutting GOP Congress to go along with the Marshall Plan without the context of tensions with the Soviets.
BTW, this is the post-revisionist school of thought, which holds that US policy was a realistic reaction for the Truman administration to cope with postwar instability and rebuild the Western economic and political system. OK, there it is. When you accuse me of "POV" everywhere, now you can get it right! But on Wiki, I get accused of wanting to write the Great Soviet Encyclopedia. For the most part, the substance of what I write on Wiki is rarely the issue. But since it is not tinged with the patriotic jingoism of users like VV who think that "free world" is a neutral term, and since I avoid overlooking the Third World, I provoke so many visceral reactions.
I'm also well aware of the point you're making concerning the Soviet military. I even cite the influence of the military and the heavy industrial sector on politics as a factor in stalled efforts for reform between Khrushchev's ouster and the rise of Gorbachev. After thinking about it, you seem to be suggesting that the arrow of causality goes both ways or that their was a domestic Soviet impetus reinforcing Cold War tensions. Although I favor the rival institutional pluralist approach to Soviet politics, Odom in Collapse of the Soviet Military presents this fairly well.

Sorry again for the "massive verbiage." Since you are you, I expect more grumbling, but hope that your next posting is just as helpful. 172 13:12, 9 Feb 2004 (UTC)

OK OK, you're suckin' me in. :-) (I do find the subject interesting, if not enjoyable...) For things like Soviet domestics, it's better just to link to another article for details - it's already described elsewhere, and repeating it here gives it undue emphasis and means more maintenance work due to the duplication. Anecdotes are good, but nobody is fooled if they're all negative; although I hated Reagan, it was easy to see that he was a masterful politician; his 11th commandment ("never speak ill of a fellow Republican") was an important step in developing party discipline that is still paying off for them. A more representative anecdote would be one of his folksy sayings; right now the article takes a tone of surprised aggrievement that anybody would like him. The specifics you mention about Reagan admin activities I would put in a dedicated article; just to "personalize" a moment, that Reagan buildup got me a job when I might have been unemployed instead, and I have an (unpublished) theory about an interesting connection between the buildup and free software, so there's lot to say about how defense spending intersected with domestic issues for instance, but the top-level article really only has space to give context to the link. Another way to look at it is that you only get X words of reader attention, and simply can't go into every detail. Just estimate how much space will be needed for social and technology and Bush and Clinton! Certainly US-SU relations were a factor in Lebanon, but it was really more driven by Mideast logic than Cold War logic, ditto for Libya, but again that's what links are for.
Re Cold War causes, Gaddis made an interesting point that it didn't necessarily have to happen - the US and Soviets generally got along in the 30s, and in 1945 the American public thought of Russia as an ally. Another interesting observation was about the partition of Germany - a strange action motivated by mutual fear of a strong Germany, sort of a Morgenthau plan from bizarro-world. The Marshall Plan might well have been unnecessary - I was in Germany last summer (both western and eastern parts), and geez those folks work hard. Anyway, the point about 1980s Cold War is that it wasn't just Reaganite saber-rattling; the morons running the Soviet Union were working to convince me personally that that they were a serious threat to my way of life. This was a stupid thing to do because it caused me (and a lot of other people of course) to apply our brainpower to thinking of ever-more-clever ways to defeat them, which the US could afford to do because of its spare wealth. In retrospect, it would have been better for the Soviets to admit that they were behind economically and ask for help - a Soviet leader of Clinton-level skill in 1980 could have talked the American people into voting to reconstruct the Soviet economy instead of building more missiles. Stan 14:44, 9 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I can hardly wait to respond, but I'm running late now and have to go. These comments are once again very helpful. You're right about the article running over. It used to be 1964-present, and then I split it. I suppose we can eventually create two articles. Perhaps 1980-1989 and 1989-present. If you have a better idea for a dividing line, please feel free to slit it while I'm gone. 172 17:39, 9 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I'm back, but I still don't have time to adequately respond to Stan's comments. In the mean time, the first two edits by Hcheney were largely fine. Actually, I don't see much of a difference.

However, there was one error. The term "neoconservative" refers to a small clique of policy intellectuals, columnists, think-tank fellows, and journalists associated with specific institutions, not a movement. Unlike plain "conservative," it's used in an extremely restrictive context. You use the term in reference to Irving Kristol, for example, not mass blocs of the voting public. 172 19:56, 9 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Mostly good edits from you both. However, there were some mistakes. I'll start with the more alarming ones.

Alluding to the "socialist characteristics" of the Great Society is sheer rubbish. I can't even begin to explain where this is way off: "commitment to socialist characteristics of the 1960s and the Great Society."

I am also reverting "stemming the rise of governments that could threaten the United States" once again. "Threaten" in this context arouses great emotions, but is rather ambiguous in this context.

Now, for the innocuous ones. I am reinserting the terms "triumphalism" and "end of history." After the publication of Francis Fukuyama's End of History, the discussion of concepts was common in the news media and policy circles. Perhaps a note on Fukuyama might be helpful to explain the context of this sentence. I'd like to hear ideas.

"Fall of Communism" had to go. It belongs in quotation marks (just like "end of history") if it's going to be referenced. This is slogan, not a matter of fact statement in a neutral article. In quotation marks, it indicates that Americans spoke of such a phenomenon at the time. However, you can refer to the fall of the Soviet Union without quotes and as a matter of fact, given that actual political entity had been dissolved.

We also don't need to qualify the statement that "Reagan's program wasn't entirely to blame" in that context. We don't need to deal with "supporters say" and "opponents say" politics when discussing economic trends. 172 23:14, 9 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I kindly ask you to put your pro-Communist bloc POV aside for reasons of civility.
I am also reverting "stemming the rise of governments that could threaten the United States" once again. "Threaten" in this context arouses great emotions, but is rather ambiguous in this context.
I changed this to an even more NPOV wording - "...supported unilateral American intervention in the Third World to stem the rise of communist governments as per the Truman Doctrine." I would appreciate a serious, non-biased reason should you find it important to revise this sentence again. I will be going over the remainder of the changes tomorrow. --Hcheney 03:20, 10 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  • 23:40, 9 Feb 2004 "defict-spending" becomes "defect-spending"
  • 23:40, 9 Feb 2004: Reaganites no longer relish the fall of communism.
  • 23:40, 9 Feb 2004: American intervenes in the Third World. The reason to prevent communism is removed.


Grow up. This was a typo and you very well know that I was going for "deficit-spending." I already explained earlier why "fall of communism" belong in quotation marks or doesn't belong in the article at all. You can mention the fall of the Soviet Union, which is not a slogan, but a reference to the dissolution of a legal political entity.

Once again, I'm removing "stem the rise of communist governments as per the Truman Doctrine."

Historians and specialists in international relations endlessly debate to what certain administration tactics and policies were major departures from the Truman Doctrine or whether they were logical outgrowths of Truman's containment. What about talk of "rollback" and "liberation?" Some skirt these debates by stressing NSC-68 more. Your use of the term "communist" also renders the sentence meaningless. What does this mean? Be concrete and specific. 172 18:03, 10 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I think it would be best for everyone if you managed to refrain from comments like "grow up" and "ethnocentric." If you feel it is necessary for a term to be put in quotation marks, please put the term in quotation marks instead of removing it from the article. I hope we can work together to make this into a NPOV article without having to involve others.
What would be an acceptable explanation of why the United States intervened in the "Third World"? I don't recall the United States ever trying to overthrow a right-wing government, or an elected government (with the possible exception of Chile). Certainly, the reader would like an explanation of why the United States intervened in the "Third World." If you cannot provide a neutral explanation, I would like to revert to a previous edition of another person's or my explanation.
Furthermore, I object to the use of the term "social justice" on the same grounds you object to the term "free world." The word social justice implies that a libertarian or minimalistic government is injust. I would be more than happy to correct the use of this loaded term for you, but I wanted to get your thoughts first. --Hcheney 19:57, 10 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I removed "Ed Koch, a conservative Democrat who was openly disinterested in the plight of minorities and the poor, subordinating those concerns to fiscal stability and the interests of the white middle class."
If this is true, and provable, it should be cited, and also added to the Ed Koch article. Otherwise it is flat out defamation and should not be included. --Hcheney 20:57, 10 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Good job, for the most part, Hcheney. I made a few changes so that the article doesn't read like the Hannity/Colmes Fox News History of the United States. We need to keep the "liberals say/conservatives say" in the context of electoral politics in specific contexts. The article is not supposed to report general trends in these terms, which was what I was trying to explain in my long first posting. I'm also reinserting the Ed Koch paragraph. Look it up: you'd find that his relations with the city's minority communities were quite tense, almost as tense as Giuliani's. I'm also removing "American liberal democracy" since this is an ideal taking many forms (and is it necessarily American?), and not a matter-of-fact statement of the "international system" of which I.R. specialists speak. Like "fall of Communism" it belongs in quotes. I removed it not because I don't think that it can be reinserted in quote marks per se, but since it's my preference to avoid using it in that context given the possible confusions. (That is, it would give the impression to some that the article is stating that "the world order is based on American-style liberal democracy!" as a matter of fact.) 172 22:48, 10 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Please provide some sort of citation or quote for the Koch comment. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to look up where you obtained this information from. I am very curious as how a politician that needs votes for election and re-election can be "openly disinterested" towards a section of the electorate. Fiscal conservatism and opposition to government funded social welfare is not by itself being "openly disinterested" towards disadvantaged people: fiscal conservatives would argue that supply-side economics and the "tickle-down" effect is more effective than government programs. However, the line merits being kept if Koch's official campaign song was "Kill the Poor" by the Dead Kennedys. --Hcheney 23:28, 10 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Yeah, I've heard that line from Jack Kemp. Anyhow, this is just stating that Koch's tenure radically reconstituted pervious notions of the electoral base of an NYC Democrat. I'm also reinserting the term "marginalized," which is a standard term (keep in mind that "class" is not just a function of wealth, but also of power and status, although they build on each other) in reference to groups suffering from static or falling social mobility. I'm also reinserting "minorities," but changed "welfare state" to "federal programs," given the attacks on affirmative action. BTW, Jack Kemp's an exception. He's an ardent "supply sider" and a vocal defender of some affirmative action programs. 172 00:33, 11 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Alright, I don't have a problem with the inclusion of minorities under the "federal programs" heading. Class, in the contemporary American sense, in almost purely economic, since no group is either priviledged with noble titles or disadvantaged by a lack of socio-economic mobility. However, I seriously object to the continued use of the defamatory Koch line. Maybe it would be better to objectively cite specific policies or actions that made Koch appear disinterested. Until more objective, specific or citable material can be obtained and added, I am removing the "openly disinterested" line. --Hcheney 00:50, 11 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Since you insist, I'll reword the Koch sentence just so that no one misinterprets it and gets as overwrought as you are about it. BTW, of course a group's relationship to the society's labor system is by far the strongest factor determining its position in its society's system of social stratification when you have capitalist social-relations. But if you say power, prestige, and access don't matter, you're more of an economic determinist than the orthodox Marxists. It's also naïve. I'm sure Stan can tell you even better than I could that "who you know" is pretty important. 172 02:59, 11 Feb 2004 (UTC)
I am not overwrought over the Koch issue so much as I am about your adamant insistence on maintaining your own POV. This article should be neutral, but it is going to be quite a task unless you are more willing to put politics aside. I don't need Stan to tell me that "who you know" is key to success or failure in American society - life has already taught me that lesson. And once again, you have called my opinions and thoughts yet another name: "naïve." Maybe you forget to see something called optimism, I admit, my chief bias is optimism. And hard work and tenacity are surefire ways to get favor with the right people, and through them power, prestige, and access. But my opinion is irrelevant - what is important is making this article neutral and acceptable for all parties. --Hcheney 04:11, 11 Feb 2004 (UTC)


Don't turn this article into Hannity and Colmes. Please refer to textbooks and encyclopedia entries on recent U.S. history to see what I mean. Moreover, your competing "Keynesians versus supply-siders" histories are unnecessary. If you'd look at any introductory macroeconomics text, you'd find that there are absolutely no doubts that an expansionary fiscal policy contributes grows the economy in the short-run. I also explained that "marginalized" is a standard term to Hcheney, if you didn't see that. 172 06:34, 11 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Ya know, the remarks about Hannity and Colmes aren't very helpful, nor even particularly meaningful to those of us who've never seen the program (I assume it's a TV program). Stan 07:08, 11 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Sorry for not having responded to your last set of comments. I still intend to do so. And sorry about the allusions to that Fox News program. It's a debate program. Anyway, I was trying to refer to the need to keep political spin (the "liberals say" vs. what the "conservatives say" narrative) out of here, unless we're citing themes in electoral politics, which is something that we need to address, not something on which an encyclopedic entry can be based. 172 07:38, 11 Feb 2004 (UTC)


Please see my last two comments above. There is no debate on what an expansionary fiscal policy does. You're confused if you think that the content in question is in any way contested in macroeconomics. 172 07:47, 11 Feb 2004 (UTC)

VV and Hcheney:

I'm going to bust out with some irony. If this article is biased in any way, most U.S. social historians would agree that it's biased to the right.

Most significantly, the article deals with GDP, but hardly mentions distribution. Without a doubt, the worse trends are better indicated by the latter. Given that, if social historians with expertise in recent US history saw this article, they'd assume that the main author was a "Washington Consensus" free marketer and an orthodox cold warrior.

I avoided certain topics, especially the "new social history" and Central America, knowing that this article would have to be framed by a traditionalist, elite perspective centered on presidential administrations to avoid being hounded by every ardent Reaganite who has logged on to Wiki, demanding that anything ostensibly challenging his core ideological assumptions be removed.

Let me just mention some trends related to income distribution alone that this article could discuss. I won't even get into international affairs.

  • Falling real earnings of labor (the norm rising real earnings from the forties to the seventies)
  • Shirking percentage of middle income families
  • The growing concentration of wealth in the upper one percent of the population
  • "Job degradation" (When new jobs are found, more often than not, they come bearing a shadow of their former pay and benefit levels.)
  • Trends in the Gini coefficient
  • "Replacement jobs" in the growing number of lower paying, non-unionized service industries
  • Real losses in the bottom half of income levels
  • The rise of the non-unionized secondary labor market (e.g. casual work, part-time work for low wages)
  • The burgeoning prison population
  • The criminal justice system and worsening racial trends
  • Deregulation and corporate takeovers to gain monopoly advantage
  • The rise of the "takeover target" (laying off workers to reduce expenses, causing profits to go up immediately along with the stock price so as to make the company less expensive for takeover

I could go on and on with a list that could run longer than the article if I were to start listing trends in other eras. But I'm not. Nor will I write much more on the Reagan years. Around here, you can't be attuned to the reality of trade offs without contending with dogmatic ideologies that provide utopian visions of the future, identify clear enemies, and seek to mobilize opinion. Rather than going for the broadest view of winners and losers in this era, I had to leave out all topics with which "Reaganites" aren't concerned (e.g., the topics listed above). Given the kinds of reaction that even a conservative article like this can provoke (since it's not overtly conservative to an untrained reader), I'm going to stick with what historians would call an elite perspective, as nothing else would work out on Wiki. This doesn't mean that it's "slanted." This is not just a matter of interpretation, but determining what is being focused on. This article is focusing on the America seen by elites in the U.S., not the lower classes or those abroad. 172 09:36, 11 Feb 2004 (UTC)

If most US social historians would think this article is biased to the right, that tells us more about the historians than about the article! But I never fail to be shocked by the naked political advocacy that seems routine for so many "professional" historians. An unfortunate consequence of the present-day academic system I believe; academic CS has similarly distasteful problems. Stan 14:46, 11 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Hum, perhaps I was speaking too broadly. I should have referred to some specialized in certain areas that this article is guilty of overlooking. All in all, the topics presented are more important than my occasional slipup (e.g., "triumphalism", "adventurism", and "intellectually lazy" - at least stayed clear of "chauvinism" and "Bonapartism," and "hegemony!"). Once again, this article hardly deals with distributional trends. But if you disregard the mostly stylistic objections that I've been getting, this is a fairly conservative article, given the kinds of issues it overlooks. Nor does it note that anti-inflationary tight money policies benefit the rich (creditors) more often than the poor (debtors).

BTW, here's an article on a related topic. It's a rant by Ronald Radosh from The National Review on Eric Foner's Who Owns History? and the new social history. 172 15:19, 11 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Yup, totally shabby on both sides. When I read a work that purports to be nonfiction, I don't want to know the politics of the writer, and I don't want to find out later that the writer has let his/her personal beliefs infect what was supposed to be factual material. Sure it's impossible to be perfect in that respect, but I think a lot of historians nowadays don't even try anymore; there are so many rewards, either from corporations and governments looking for a paid mouthpiece, or in academic status from peers who just want to have people around who think the same way. Nobody wants an independent thinker, too much risk that the independent won't support one's own POV. Stan 18:03, 11 Feb 2004 (UTC)


Leave that paragraph alone. Look it up in a basic principles of macroeconomics text and survey of recent US histroy. It almost seems as if you're reading something into this paragraph that isn't there. 172 07:31, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)


You were reading too much into the reference to "racial equality" that you removed. Reagan's election was labeled a "watershed" - that is a sign of trends that were already in the making. The civil rights revolution had been losing steam since the elections of 1968, especially its radical currents. (Although you do see a conservative white backlash against affirmative action.) This does not mean the rollback of '60s era court rulings and legislation, but the slow pace in new efforts to close the gap between African Americans and whites. 172 17:15, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Most people define "racial equality" as Equal opportunity on a racial basis. The American Civil Rights Movement, at least the mainstream Civil Rights Movement, sought equal opportunity and a race-blind government and society. To say the election of Reagan was a negative turning point for the mainstream Civil Rights Movement is ludicrous, there has been no serious political attempt since 1980 to reverse either the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Reagan even signed into law legislation creating Martin Luther King Day.
There was a "conservative white backlash against affirmative action," quite possibly led by Walter Williams, Clarence Thomas, and Roy Innis. Affirmative action has been under assault since about 1980 by the right for two different reasons: some were genuinely racist Dixiecrats (the current school board in Jacksonville, Florida, that despite protests, still maintains a high school named for Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan B. Forrest) and the others were opposed to anything but a race-blind government (the neo-cons and Reagan). If anything, the true opponents of "racial equality" were emasculated by Reagan's lack of focus on state's rights, and appointment of federal judges that continued to uphold and enforce civil right legislation.
You said the civil rights movement has been losing steam since 1968. This is probably due to the fact that most of the movement's goals have been achieved. I am not trying to downplay what still needs to be done in so far as correcting past wrongs, but the 1980 election was not an ". . ushering out the commitment to . . . [the] racial equality characteristic of the Civil rights movement . ." Sure the commitment to affirmative action was out the window, but affirmative action was really more a part of the Great Society than the civil rights movement. --Hcheney 21:03, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)


I've heard these arguments. But these questions that you raise are questions of values. Whether or not the goals of the civil rights movements have been achieved depends on your definition of those goals. We don't need to get into these debates in the article.

We can steer clear of normative judgments, and report on how the political equation in society changed in a major electoral realignment. Consider the data the access of certain constituencies, social movements, institutions, civil rights organizations, and interest groups, and their influence over policy-making. There's no need to mystify all this. The article speaks of the "civil rights movement" in the same sense that it speaks of e.g. organized labor. When discussing the decline of unions, you examine this trend in the context of technological change, the rise of overseas competition, demographic change, the relative decline of the industrial sector in comparison to the service sector, and electoral realignments that affect labor's access to the policy-making process, etc.. 172 23:11, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Your response did not bring me any closer to understanding the meaning of "racial equality" in the context of ". . ushering out the commitment to . . . [the] racial equality characteristic of the Civil rights movement . ." Considering issues surrounding racism generate great controversy, we should be very clear and defined on this issue. I strongly object to the accuracy and neutrality of the above text as it stands. Please enlighten me who was not committed to "racial equality" and what your definition of "racial equality" is in that context. --Hcheney 23:49, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)
The gaps in socio-economic standing and access access to power, of course. We're dealing with power relations in society as a whole, not individuals getting up one morning and deciding to be less committed to racial equality. It's as clear cut as noting that the waning power of organized labor since the early seventies. The NAACP, e.g., still exist; it was just far more influential in the political environment of the '60s. 172 00:28, 13 Feb 2004 (UTC)
With the exception of Huxley's Brave New World, I doubt there will ever be complete equality. American society is very committed to "racial equality" - if it was not, Trent Lott would have remaining as Senate Majority Leader. However, the American middle class does not necessairly support, for example, the NAACP in it's contemporary form, because they see the NAACP as a "civil rights rackett" that is bent on collecting from the Fortune 500. --Hcheney 01:10, 13 Feb 2004 (UTC)
I've heard that view expressed before. However, scholars generally focus on attitudes, values, and behaviors at a micro level with a far more narrow time horizon. Since this article is an extremely broad overview, we're really only able to note the social carriers of ideas and their interests and relations - in other words the structures that create and support these attitudes. The academic literature on the decline of the civil rights organization uses this kind of approach to discuss organized labor as well. 172 01:49, 13 Feb 2004 (UTC)


In one of your edit summaries you write, "show me a peasant who isn't impoverished." Your ignorance of the complexity of peasant societies is mind-blowing. Now, before I get attacked for "condescension" once again, we are all profoundly ignorant in countless subjects. For example, I'll never be able to make content changes in an article on biology. I even stay away from military history. You should stay away from peasant societies. 172 17:24, 13 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I should not have to be an expert on peasant societies to have the priviledge of editing an article regarding U.S. History from 1980 onwards. However, in your Pravda version of U.S. History, peasant societies appear to be the primary focus. --Hcheney 01:38, 14 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Pravda version of U.S. History!??? Damn you're a throwback to the '50s days of loyalty oaths! You're probably one of those people who thinks that academia is controlled by Communists, aren't you?
Check out this site: You'd love it. 172 03:02, 14 Feb 2004 (UTC)
My political beliefs, as are yours, are irrelevant in so far as the wikipedia project is concerned. Furthermore, I find it extremely offensive that you would allude I am a McCarthyist and insenstive to the civil rights of people whom I happen to disagree with.
However, the continued insertion of your own POV into this article is not a positive influence. --Hcheney 21:50, 14 Feb 2004 (UTC)

VV and Hcheney:

I keep reverting your changes since you're both far too careless with the use of the descriptors "Soviet influenced" and "communist."

No serious Latin American specialist believes that Allende, the Sandinistas, the New Jewel Movement in Granada, Castro, and Goulart in Brazil, etc. were the work of some Communist monolith based in the Kremlin pulling the strings of what was going on in every corner of the globe. The roots of these movements are completely indigenous. You're dealing with struggles that go back long before Marxism-Leninism had any influence in Latin America. See my comments at Talk:Fidel Castro criticizing other users for making the same mistakes.

However, don't assume that I'm trying to suggest that the Cold War was merely an ideological cover for US imperialism in Latin America. Yes, this was a salient concern for cold warriors. Policy-makers in the US understood that in a bipolar world, the USSR was an alternative for regimes looking to ease their way out of the US orbit. The USSR also had to deal with prospects of turncoats in the Communist world. Consider, e.g., China and Yugoslavia, which turned to the US after a period of deteriorating relations with Moscow, just as the Nicaraguan regime after '79 would seek Soviet support after a period of worsening relations with Washington.

Now, if you referred to regimes that sought Soviet support to withstand US pressure, and deteriorating trade and diplomatic relations with the US, I would not revert your edits. But right now they'd turn Wiki into laughingstock if anyone with a slight grasp of Latin American history saw these changes added to this article. 172 20:12, 13 Feb 2004 (UTC)

To only refer to Allende as a "leftist" is absolutely wrong. Who was next on their hit list? François Mitterrand? Walter Mondale? Allende was not a mere leftist - he was a Marxist, and that's he was targeted. You may try to whitewash Stalin's genocide, but this distortion is almost equally absurd. It should also be noted that Allende was somewhat democratically elected (just as George W. Bush was somewhat democratically elected, neither received a true majority of the popular vote).
I find amusing your claim that the Soviet Union was not exporting communism, if not influence. Both sides were actively vying for the support of every democracy, reigme and dictator in the world. The guerillas and "social revolutionaries" may have had roots that go back to Simon Bolivar, but the fighting didn't start in a real sense until they had Kalashnikovs. And don't tell me it started raining Kalashnikovs in Latin America after World War II. These revolutionaries merely modified their platforms and rhetoric slightly so they would be eligible for Soviet grants. --Hcheney 01:38, 14 Feb 2004 (UTC)