The key normative paradigm of history is that of progress. The enormous welter of events that have occurred over the course of human existence could not even begin to be related, even in multiple lifetimes. What can, however, be discerned are both broad trends and key actors relative to societal and individual progress, which is to say, relative to essential social norms. Hence, the first task of historians is to first determine, and then candidly discuss what his or her criteria of progress are. The second task of the historian is to evaluate the historical development of human societies relative to these criteria.
A few of the main areas in which progress can be achieved (or devolved from) are as follows:
(Progressivism is the political doctrine that favors progress in each of these areas. Its most direct opposite is corporate neo-fascism, the doctrine currently most dominant in both the US and the world.)
Fascist influence in America has been so pervasive for so long that authentic history, written in terms of these norms, is now extraordinarily difficult to find in the US, or anywhere else. As honest and clear-headed history is a critical need, Everything Progressive will bring forward, in a series of timelines, some of the more critical events in American history. We also commend some of the more honest and better-informed historians to our readers below.
There is an easy benchmark for readers when it comes to assessing works of history. Class warfare has been the central dynamic of all societies that have hitherto existed, and remains the central dynamic today. Hence, a quick look at the index of a historical work for evidence of awareness of this dynamic is always in order. The reader will discover that the phrases "class conflict" and "class warfare" are almost never found (and hence may be regarded as largely taboo). This is, of course, ominous, as it speaks to either ignorance or else conscious intent to omit essential information. (The latter motivation is the darkest of all sins for nominal historians, and in fact is an essential hallmark of the now common Orwellian anti-historian.) It then becomes necessary to determine whether the historian is even faintly conscious or not by looking for secondary markers of awareness of class conflict.
Works of history of the 20th century, and in particular of American history of the 20th century, that don't discuss extensively the economic and political activities of key individuals, such as the members of the Rockefeller family and J. P. Morgan, can be safely ignored. The individuals writing these books simply are not historians in the most meaningful sense of that role.
Nearly all reference works, such as encyclopedias and most textbooks, are completely worthless both with respect to providing normative history of the sort described above and with respect to enlightening the reader about the dynamic of class warfare in society yesterday and today. One would, of course, expect this in a neo-fascist society.
Of course, there are many, many works of history available today. However, with respect to American history only four are really essential.
The first of these is Unruly Americans, by Woody Holton. Most Americans aren't aware that what is referred to as the constitution was actually the second, and on the whole the worse and less legal, of two. The first constitution was known as the Articles of Confederation. However, the more authoritarian elements of American society (specifically, the Federalists, who were comprised primarily of wealthy creditors) felt that the Articles were insufficiently authoritarian, and thereby made it too easy for working people to effectively express their displeasure with elitist politics and economics. Without legal authorization to do so, they met secretly to author the second, better-known constitution we are familiar with today. Some of its worst defects were corrected in the Bill of Rights and in the Progressive Era, but other defects have remained with us to this day. Unruly Americans provides the details concerning this essential chapter of US history. (We should add that, even with all of its defects, the second US constitution still represented a historical highwater mark for that era. Today, however, the US is operating under a degraded, redacted, and therefore illegal, form of the Constitution, in which freedom and speech and assembly are highly curtailed, under which corporations are somehow construed to be "people", under which due process of and timely access to law is being abandoned, and under which authority to wage war has been displaced from Congress, primarily to the President. These are all, of course, fascist derangements, and not a single one can be tolerated in a real democracy.)
By contrast, class warfare is the central motif of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. Zinn brings forward an almost entirely unfamiliar narrative of US history, one which includes the roles played by ordinary people and which features the class dynamic underlying the key events of American history.
However, while this perspective is absolutely essential, reading even Zinn alone will still leave the reader largely in the dark. The first defect of APHUS is that Zinn provides little in the way of a global perspective, a defect which arises to some extent, and to some degree of necessity, by virtue of the specifically American focus of his book. Zinn's second defect is that he has comparatively little knowlege or appreciation of economics or of the US power structure.
This brings us to the most important work of world history of the 20th century, Carroll Quigley's long and weighty Tragedy & Hope, A History of the World in Our Time. Quigley was virtually the only historian of the 20th century who was both fully conscious of what has actually taken place in the world the last 150 or so years, and able to articulate what he saw in terms of the underlying economics. For make no mistake: economics and history are utterly inseparable. On the other hand, Quigley's chief defect was his failure to fully appreciate the sort of history written by Zinn.
Thus, by reading Zinn and Quigley together (and, really, only by virtue of doing so), the reader will, for the first time ever, come to a reasonably complete and accurate understanding of the world and of modern society. However, be aware that getting through both books will take significant time and effort.
The last work which we must mention is Web of Debt, by attorney Ellen Brown. This is not entirely, or even essentially, a work of history; but we feel compelled to bring this work to our reader's attention because a knowlege of the material with which it is primarily concerned, namely, central banking by privately-owned and operated commercial banks from motives of political control, is absolutely essential to arriving at an understanding of what is really taking place in the world today, and can nowhere else be found assembled in one place.
Finally, highly honorable mention goes to the following courageous publications:
9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out, edited by David Ray Griffin and Peter Dale Scott (in two volumes)
The official narrative concerning 9/11 (namely, that it was a complete surprise to all concerned) is false; and in light of the effective redaction of the Constitution that has nominally taken place in response to those events, it is essential to get to the truth concerning this matter. This book was written primarily by individuals holding PhD degrees, and who carry far greater intellectual weight and merit than the typical superficial talking head of the corporate media. It considers the (weighty) evidence for three alternative accounts of 9/11: 1) The event was a surprise, but was subsequently used opportunistically by the Bush administration to extend American empire and to curtail domestic civil liberties; 2) the event was instead known to be imminent, but was nevertheless allowed to occur from the same motives; and 3) the event was both planned and executed by the Bush administration, again from the same motives.
There can now be little doubt that 2), minimally, was the case, though the full extent isn't altogether certain. The only real debate centers on whether or not 3) was the case, or, at least, the extent to which it was the case. In all three scenarios, the primary actors would have included members of the Project for a New American Century, in which Dick Cheney figures as a prominent alumnus. Cheney, of course, became enormously wealthy as a consequence of the war on Iraq. (The PNAC owes much to teachers at the University of Chicago, founded by a Rockefeller, which has, again and again and again, served as an academic outpost for the defense of fascism. Very tellingly, Barack Obama was very strongly affiliated with the U of C.)
Unequal Protection, by Thom Hartmann
Corporations are, of course, not people; but the US Supreme Court has held them to be such for well over a century. This is a quintessential fascist ploy, intended to assign greater power to corporations than people. The history of how this legal absurdity was engineered (and ultimately led to a disgraceful pro-fascist coup d'etat by the Supreme Court in the ruling known as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) is recounted in Hartmann's book.
Family of Secrets by Russ Baker and American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush, by Kevin Phillips
These books are mentioned together because, ideally, they should be read within memory of each. While each book is scaldingly damning separately, the evidence marshalled in both books taken together leads to a highly disturbing but inescapable conclusion: the Bush dynasty constitutes a de facto crime family. Historically, the family was engaged in business dealings with Nazis, which is bad enough by itself. However, there is compelling evidence that George Bush the elder may have been a key player in the Kennedy assassination; and the family has been inseparably enmeshed with criminal energy corporations like Enron. All of this would, of course, make far more comprehensible how the (initially appointed, and never subsequently actually elected) Bush II administration could have become involved in the extraordinary, and very likely criminal events surrounding 9/11 and its aftermath.
You can go here for a brief history of American Progressivism.
The following timelines will eventually be found at their respective links:
The Editor / Everything Progressive