Case Study: Revolution and Civil War

“Language is radically powerless to defend itself against the forces which from one moment to the next are shifting the relationship between the signified and the signifier. This is one of the consequences of the arbitrary nature of the sign.

Unlike language, other human institutions—customs, laws, etc.—are all based in varying degrees on the natural relations of things; all have of necessity adapted the means employed to the ends pursued.” Saussure (1966, 75)


So here we have it. You’ve learned your theory. You’ve practiced your methods. You have honed your skills. Mic check. It’s time for action.

We’re going to read the Declaration of Independence—so that you understand that our country was founded on the idea of the people’s action. We’re going to read the Constitution of the United States of America—so that when one of your fellow countrymen quotes it, you’ll know if they got it right. We’re going to read the Emancipation Proclamation—so that you know what slavery looked like less than 150 years ago; and we’re going to track what it continues to look like in today’s America and why. Finally, with the help of comrade Marx, we’re going to take a good look at how corporations have profited, from anti-slavery laws to Occupy Wall Street.



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