November 23

Ep. 0042: Thanksgiving Special: Merrymount (A Pilgrim Story They Didn’t Tell You)

Thought the Pilgrims came to Plymouth because they valued freedom?  Think again.  The only freedom they valued was the freedom to conform to their rules and beliefs.

Prof CJ tells the story of the Merrymount colony, a happy-go-lucky settlement of pagan party animals forcibly ended by Plymouth Pilgrims.

“Jollity and gloom were contending for an empire,” as Nathaniel Hawthorne put it.

Here’s a (sort of) Thanksgiving special; even though the story doesn’t relate directly to Thanksgiving, I thought it was appropriate timing since it does involve our good friends, those buckle-hat-wearing uptight people known as Pilgrims.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • A brief discussion of the Pilgrims and Puritans (and the meanings of those terms) who founded the better-known colonies in the Massachusetts Bay area in the seventeenth century)
  • The Merrymount colony founded by Thomas Morton just up the road from Plymouth, and how this non-Puritan colony embraced High Church Anglicanism and even paganism
  • The destruction of Merrymount
  • The legacy of Puritanism in the American mindset, and the tensions between those who, like the Puritans, wish to impose their “morality” on others and those who, like the Merrymounters, wish to live free and pleasurably
  • Prof CJ’s reading of “The Maypole of Merrymount” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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November 20


From 1954 to 1971, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI ran a “Counterintelligence Program” (“Cointelpro”) that targeted such diverse people as communists, civil rights activists, antiwar groups, black power leaders, and the Ku Klux Klan for illegal and unconstitutional surveillance, harassment, defamation, and even physical attack.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • The origins of Cointelpro
  • The nature of the operation
  • How the FBI applied Cointelpro under at least 4 presidents to all sorts of “extremists” and “subversives” (no matter how peaceful their methods), including efforts to defame Martin Luther King to the point of suicide
  • The exposure of Cointelpro to the public in 1971 and its (supposed) cessation that year
  • The investigation of the operation by the Church Committee in the US Senate
  • How the FBI frequently shared info with other government agencies, including the CIA and NSA
  • How reforms aimed to curb this sort of thing were short-lived at best
  • How things in some ways are worse today

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November 15

Ep. 0040: Alexis de Tocqueville & Prof CJ on Democratic Despotism

No, this isn’t an interview — but it’s not that far off, either.

Prof CJ reads excerpts one of his favorite sections of Tocqueville’s famous Democracy in America, and also gives some of his own take on Tocqueville’s description of democratic despotism.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • A little bit about who Alexis de Tocqueville was and how Democracy in America came about
  • Tocqueville’s take on how despotism might come about and operate in a democracy
  • Prof CJ’s take on the relationship (or non-relationship) between democracy and freedom

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November 4

Ep. 0039: Intro to Revisionism

Here’s a guerrilla episode done from my rolling mobile studio (ie, car) on my way to go spend a day corrupting young minds at the institution where I work.  As a result, this is a bit more stream-of-consciousness than my more planned-out historical narrative episodes, but I hope you’ll find this thought-provoking.

I make no claim as this being the definitive word on this oft-misunderstood subject, but rather an introductory sketch with some thoughts and observations.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • What ‘revisionism’ actually means in the field of history
  • The truth that not all revisionist history is valid, but that the existence of bad revisionist history is a small price to pay for the vital role played by good revisionist history
  • Why war is the most important place for revisionist history, due to the degree of propaganda pumped out during wartime, and the common tendency for the first generation or two of historians writing about a particular war to base a lot of their historical narrative on the propaganda narrative
  • How the US political and academic establishment did not attempt to squelch revisionism following World War I, but learned their lesson from the degree to which revisionism flourished in the ‘20s and ‘30s, and were much more vigilant for the first few decades after WWII
  • Some of the ways the Establishment resists revisionism, which are generally subtle, but effective

(image ‘Stand Out From the Crowd’ courtesy Renjith Krishnan at

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