“The End of American History As We Have Known It” (Thomas Bender)


La vie des idees interview with Thomas Bender (audio and text) is here.

One of the most illuminating examples of your approach seems to be the chapter on the Civil War. How does this apparently internal war between Northern and Southern States connect to global history?

Tom Bender: It is indeed such a very central American event, it seems implausible that it is part of something larger. But it actually is part of what we’ve just been talking about: it is a part of the construction of modern nation-state. And this is what the Republican Party understood: they were seeking a stronger, more centralized state than the Jacksonian period had had. And so we see, roughly around this time, that there are a number of these kinds of consolidations, they take different forms: there’s Germany, Italy, Japan, those are the most classic ones but there are other that are less obvious. Argentina is centralizing at the same time, and the world is starting to get divided up between those in nation-states and those in something else.