Narrative Policy Analysis 2.0

  • Narrative policy analysis, then and now
  • When dominant policy narratives fail, look to the space opening up for more complex metanarratives
  • The global counternarrative of human agency
  • Narrative, counternarrative, metanarrative: our next Constitutional Convention by way of example

Narrative policy analysis, then and now


Why would anyone ever think a book on policy written nearly three decades ago remains relevant? In answer, though narrative analyses of policy issues have evolved over the three decades since Narrative Policy Analysis was published, two foci of the original approach remain salient. First its terminology and second, its drive to identify narratives that underwrite policymaking, given current intractability.


Start with the terminology. It’s next to impossible to avoid terms like policy narratives. They are those stories with beginnings, middles and ends, or if cast as arguments with premises and conclusions that policy types and managers tell themselves and others in order to take decisions and justify them.

The narrative analytical approach continues to ask you to begin by identifying the different types of narratives in the issue of concern—some of which are very visible—the dominant policy narratives—others of which have to be found or identified, including marginalized counternarratives.

Assume you—the policy analyst, manager, researcher or decisionmaker—find a policy narrative to be too simplistic for the complexities at hand. You can rejigger that narrative in three ways: Denarrativize it; provide a counternarrative or counternarratives; and/or offer a metanarrative (or metanarratives) accommodating a range of story-lines (arguments), not least of which are versions of the simplistic narrative and preferred counternarrative(s).

  • First, denarrativize! To denarrativize is to critique the dominant policy narrative, point by key point. The best way to do that is to bring counter evidence to each point the offending narrative holds. To denarrativize is to take the story out of the story, i.e., to disassemble it by contravening its parts. Abundant case evidence exists to call into question the Tragedy of the Commons, for example.
  • First, counternarrativize! The chief limitation of denarrativization is the inability of critique on its own to generate an alternative narrative to replace the discreditable one. In contrast, a counter-story challenges the original by virtue of being a candidate to replace it. Common property resource management is said today to be the counternarrative to that older Tragedy of the Commons narrative.
  • First, metanarrativize! A metanarrative is that policy narrative—there is no guarantee there is one, or if so, only one—which the narrator holds in order to understand how multiple and opposing policy narratives are not only possible but consistent with each other. Claims to resource stewardship is a metanarrative shared by policies based in the Tragedy of the Commons as well as in other explanations, including but not limited to common property resource management. In this metanarrative, a group—the techno-managerial elite, “the community,” the Other—asserts stewardship over resources they do not own, because they alone, so the metanarrative goes, are capable of determining and adjudicating where and in what form better management holds.


The second advantage of the original approach continues to be its recognition and acceptance that decisions have to be made. Yes, of course, taking time to deliberate, being reflective and having second thoughts remain important, but even acting these ways end up being a decision of real import.

So, at some point you face a choice over which is the better policy narrative. For narrative policy analysis, a better policy narrative meets three criteria:

  • The narrative—its story with beginning, middle and end, or argument with premises and conclusions—is one that takes seriously that the policy or management issue is complex, uncertain, and/or interrupted by unfinished business, even if aspects are also polarized.
  • The narrative is one that also moves beyond critique of limitations and defects of the dominant policy narrative (criticisms on their own increase uncertainties when they offer no better storyline to follow).
  • The narrative gives an account that, while not dismissing or denying the issue’s difficulty, is more amenable or tractable to analysis, policymaking and/or management. Indeed, the issue’s very complexity—its numerous components, each varying in terms of its functions and connections—offers up opportunities to recast a problem differently and with it, potential options. Problems are wicked to the degree they have yet to be recast more tractably.

This means that the preferred policy narrative can be in the form of a counternarrative; or it can be in the form of metanarrative; but it won’t be in the form of a critique or other non-narratives like circular arguments or tautologies.

Nor should you think that in a planet of now 8+ billion people you have to invent a preferred policy narrative from scratch: Preferred policy narratives—note the plural—should be assumed from the get-go to exist and are being modified.

When dominant policy narratives fail, look to the space opening up for more complex metanarratives


Policy narratives fail to stabilize the assumptions for decisionmaking for a variety of reasons. Some narratives are internally self-refuting. If all policies need to be evaluated to determine whether or not to continue them as originally stated, does that mean we might one day conclude no further need for any such assumption? Or: “Climate change is a problem of unimaginable scope and magnitude.” Well, not thoroughly unimaginable, it seems.

Far more policy narratives are externally refuted. It’s a truism that gaps arise because the beginnings, middles and ends of policy statements do not congrue with the very messy, in medias res of actual policymaking. More, all policy narratives entail their semiotic opposites, as in “A thing is defined by what it is not.” If you assume in your policy or management strategy that “a” leads to “b” and “b” to “c,” it is inevitable someone will seek to find refuting cases where, e.g., not-a leads to not-b but both lead to c nevertheless (or at least don’t stop “c” from being realized by other means). And again that world of 8+ billion people is complex enough to delay you in assuming otherwise.


This means that stabilizing the assumptions for policymaking requires active efforts to handle refutations. Those efforts often seek to foreclose their occurrence; other professionals recognize such control is not possible and seek instead to better manage occurrences.

Two ways to foreclose refutation are obvious, though one more familiar than the other. The less familiar is to identify new or more urgent crises to grab our attention, even if only for a time until–surprise!–the next news-grabbing crisis comes along. For example, if the drain on productivity because of hay fever, headaches and heartburn in the workplace was about the $150 billion drain two decades ago, just think of what the costs must be in 2022! Now that’s a crisis in health care and we’re doing really nothing about it as a nation!!

The more familiar way to foreclose the chances of refuting a policy narrative is for policymakers to dismiss or lie about the difficulties; another is for them to exaggerate by convincing themselves and others that stopping short of the full complexities is ok–“keep it simple” for the time being, until when we can scale later, and anyway nothing we do now can’t be corrected later on. This strategy–if you can call “full control over time” a strategy–is especially tempting when the policy is passed off as a promise to reduce the originating complexity and uncertainty.

Another way, and the one I prefer, is to recast the complex issue so as to render the original and its continued lying and exaggeration moot. Whether the reframing manages to reduce the need for dissembling is a case-by-case question, and there are certainly no guarantees the reframed problem is more tractably manageable even though just as complex. That said, I do not see how we can conclude recasting isn’t worth the management effort because lying and exaggeration come anyway with control wizardry.


So what’s new?

If policy narratives fail to stabilize the assumptions for decisonmaking because their refutations aren’t managed via recasting the issues more tractably, then narrative and its failure are better thought of as conditions for change and not just the results of having not changed. Or to rephrase it more positively: What are the conditions under which you–we–want the prevailing policy narrative to fail?

For example, as any public health official will remind you, it’s not vaccines that work, but vaccinations. (It’s not airplanes that fly but airline companies, as Bruno Latour put it.) In this view, the development of a vaccine (or better plane) is only the first or one step in managing the spread of disease. The conditions under which we actually want the prevailing policy narrative to fail is when we take a necessary change in focus to be from, say, developing the COVID-19 vaccines to an even wider and deeper panoply of vaccination processes.


This in turn begs the question about the metanarratives for these shift-points or changes in the dominant narratives. What broader narratives, if any, exist for how shifts and changes are triggered from one policy narrative to another?

One such metanarrative is that for sustainability, where techno-managerial elites guide and decide what is necessary by way of achieving and ensuring global sustainability. Since any narrative entails its opposite and since there is no one set of techno-managerial elites, the other equally clear entailed metanarrative is far less palatable:

If only the elites could get their shit together, if only they would truly decide to act in the public interest, if only our political dysfunctions could be suspended in the name of a common cause, if only we could elect smart officials with the right ideas, a new era of prosperity and power awaits the United States. But the political dysfunction is only a symptom of the underlying economic disease. So there will be no policy solution to the problems America—and the world— faces, because no such solution, at least on the national level, exists. But of course, that’s what war is for.


In other words, a complex world where metanarratives are posed just as starkly and clear–save the world or die by war –must be a world that demands an even greater appreciation of how things are far more complex than that. To put the point another way, what looks to be an easy choice–anyone in their right mind would choose sustainability over war!–isn’t even a choice. Why? How can you, for example, avoid that other binary, What is neither sustainability nor war?

Answers to the latter question raise to view a different metanarrative about complex-all-the-way-down. In this metanarrative, there are many elements to living, each having multiple functions, and with many interconnections among the components and functions, wherever one looks. In this metanarrative, war and sustainability are notable engines of their own contingencies, surprises and unpredictabilities. In this metanarrative, war or sustainability promise a control neither can’t deliver, which in turn unleashes all manner of unintended consequences. In this metanarrative, choice can’t avoid taking into account those unintended consequences and comparing them against the others associated with far different and more nuanced counternarratives than war or sustainability only.

The global counternarrative of human agency


Since the issue here is complex, let me state my conclusion at the start: In the policy and management world with which I am familiar and from which I am generalizing, human agency is the only global counternarrative I have been able to find. Because human agency is constrained differently at different times in different places and by different factors, it cannot and should not be seen as own dominant or hegemonic narrative. It has a much more important function, as we shall see.

These differences in context and function are manifestly obvious the second anyone defines human agency. Here is my definition (not an uncommon one): “an individual’s capacity to determine and make meaning from their environment through purposive consciousness and reflective and creative action“. Mine accents the reflexivity, but your preferred definition may instead highlight self-determination, imposition of the one’s will on the environment, or some sort. I suspect similar or parallel differences, to which we now turn, would be observed in applications of your definitions as well.


To be brief and by way of differences, there are to those who think the realization and/or control of human agency are among core principles around which to design large-scale systems involving humans, individually or collectively. Certainly over-arching notions of “the individual” and “the collective” are contested at the macro-design node. Others might immediately focus on the individual or micro-level, where here the agent acts in real time, reactively or proactively or otherwise. Here too contestation abounds over terms, if only because of different optics from psychology, phenomenology, law, microeconomics, and more.

Then there are two other levels and units of analysis, which are the ones I want to focus on with my definition .

First, there is human agency as empirically expressed and observed across a run of different cases of “individuals,” “capacities,” “meaning-making,” “task environments,” “purposes” and “reflexivities” for starters. (Think of the analogy of searching out family resemblances, if any.) Are there patterns to be recognized over a run of different cases of human agency, and do these patterns constitute empirically contingent generalizations, even as they fall far short of anything like macro-design principles?

And speaking of macro-design principles, are there cases where one or more of the contested principles have been modified to reflect local conditions and circumstances? For example, is a country’s driving code enforced and implemented differently in its mountainous regions than on its wide-open plains? More formally, have macro-design principles been customized to reflect local contingency scenarios?


So that we are on the same page, here are two examples of human agency used from the pattern recognition and localized scenario nodes, one from a case study of migration and the other from case studies of child labor:

Specifically, the current mainstream narrative is one that looks at these people as passive components of large-scale flows, driven by conflicts, migration policies and human smuggling. Even when the personal dimension is brought to the fore, it tends to be in order to depict migrants as victims at the receiving end of external forces. Whilst there is no denying that most of those crossing the Mediterranean experience violence, exploitation and are often deprived of their freedom for considerable periods of time (Albahari, 2015; D’Angelo, 2018a), it is also important to recognize and analyse their agency as individuals, as well as the complex sets of local and transnational networks that they own, develop and use before, during and after travelling to Europe.

Schapendonk, J. (2021). “Counter moves. Destabilizing the grand narrative of onward migration and secondary movements in Europe.” International Migration: 1 – 14  DOI:10.1111/imig.12923

First, as the data [from three countries] have demonstrated, labor, and the need for children to work, is the predominant lens through which young people and the adults that surround them conceptualize children’s engagement with gangs and organized crime. This was in contrast to the other standpoints that permeate discourse. Labeling the children as gang members is a poor reflection of their drivers of involvement in crime and is likely to stigmatize children engaged in a plight to ensure their own survival. Alternatively, the young people were not child soldiers nor were they victims or perpetrators of trafficking or slavery. A victim lens is also problematic in this context. The relationship between young people and organized crime is complex and multifaceted. Young people are victims of acute marginalization, poverty and violence but they do have some agency over their decision making. The data from all studies illustrated how gangs offer young people ways to earn an income but they also provide social mobility, ‘social protection’ (Atkinson- Sheppard, 2017) and ‘street capital.’ In some instances, criminal groups offer young people ways to earn ‘quick and easy money.’ Thus, the young people are not devoid of agency, but their decision making should be considered within the context of restricted and bounded lives.

Atkinson-Sheppard, S. (2022). “A ‘Lens of Labor’: Re‐Conceptualizing young people’s involvement in organized crime.” Critical Criminology


So what?

From my experience and reading, human agency (as defined and illustrated above) looks very different from the positions of pattern recognition and localized contingency scenarios than it does from the much more familiar macro and micro positions in policy and management.

Far less mentioned are really-existing better practices for realizing human agency that have evolved over widely different cases or for modifying principles over widely different contingency scenarios locally. More often, I have come across case studies and literature reviews that assert “best practices” in the form of macro-principles (“this is what it means to act democratically”) or where the “best practice” has been automatically scaled up from one particular site or a handful of such sites only. This is certainly true not just in the migration and child labor literatures with which I am familiar.


Again, so what?

One could, of course, counter there are no “better practices” anyway in the absence of best-macro ideals involving democracy and justice. I however believe the premature invocation of macro-principles accounts for why the really-existing better–please, not “best”!–practices are rarely discussed. The notable exceptions–e.g., participatory research and action generalized across a wide variety of cases and modified in light of a wider variety of equity principles–can be counted on two hands.

This is why I also believe human agency is best understood as a more or less insistent counternarrative for moving away from dominant and domineering micro and macro-level narratives of human action. In this view, overarching claims that human agency, in theory or by right, govern more or less all cases is a non-starter for actually-existing policy and management.

One thinks of rush to judgment in macro-labeling election results and protest numbers as “populist,” as long as the behavior is differentiated into alt-right, left, authoritarian, or nationalist populism (etcetera). Again there are exceptions, but it is a rush to judgment when the criteria for this first-cut differentiation pre-exist the analysis being offered and where these criteria in no way emerge contingently from the political complexities of elections, protests and agency driving the cases at hand.

Narrative, counternarrative, metanarrative: our next Constitutional Convention by way of example

My entry point centers on an exchange of letters between critic, Edmund Wilson, and novelist, John Dos Passos, during the first half of the 1930s. Their interchange focused on the need for radical structural change in the US government and Constitution.

One of Edmund Wilson’s biographers calls the Wilson/Dos Passos correspondence “in its scope and dramatic interest second in American letters only to that of Jefferson and John Adams”. The picture I seek to recast with this interchange from the Republic of Letters is the entrenched institution of this US republic and its fifty states.

Their narrative

The correspondence was provoked by Edmund Wilson’s 1931 Appeal to Progressives in the New Republic [NR], parts of which read:

Not only are the people in a capitalist society very often completely ignorant as to what their incomes come from; it is actually sometimes impossible or very difficult for them to find this out. And as long as a fair proportion of the bankers, the manufacturers, the middle men, the merchants and the workers whom their capital and machines keep busy are able to make a little more money than before, no matter how unscrupulously or short-sightedly, we are able, as a nation, to maintain our belief in our prosperity and even in our happiness….

Our society has finally produced in its specialized professional politicians one of the most useless and obnoxious groups which has perhaps ever disgraced human history—a group that seems unique among governing classes in having managed to be corrupt, uncultivated and incompetent all at once….

1931 and outdated? Hardly, when the bankers have metastasized into global finance, when our public utilities have been sold off to corporate risk-takers, and when the best news we have is that the rich like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, wearying of empire, try to make good in the happy-talk of philanthropy what we once demanded and expected of government.

“Just read your battlecry,” Dos Passos writes a few weeks after Wilson’s 1931 piece appears,

Of course all the [New Republic] can do is stir things up and try to smoke out a few honest men who do know something about industrial life as she is lived…If you can keep up a series like this you really will have started something—though I’m beginning to think that every publication ought to be required by law to print at the bottom of each page:


. . . .[T]he trouble with all our political economic writing and the reason maybe why it doesnt interest the ordinary guy who hasn’t joined the fraternity of word-addicts is that it is made up right in the office and springs from neither experience nor observation…

True enough, and Wilson eventually circulates a more urgent manifesto. “The present crisis of the world—and specifically the United States—is something more than a mere crisis of politics or economics; and it will not pass with the depression. It is crisis of human culture. What faces us today is the imperative need for new social forms, new values, a new human order.”

What is needed, Wilson feels, has moved beyond experiment to revolution. “Sure I’ll subscribe to it,” Dos Passos writes Wilson in reply to the new battle cry,

—but I don’t think it’ll cause any bankers to jump out of fiftieth story windows—what are you going to do with it?—post it up on billboards? it might go well on toilet paper like [a laxative] advertizing—or is it going to be laid on [President] Hoover’s breakfast table?….Where is it going to be used—?

Wilson ends up forwarding material to Dos Passos from another periodical, New Masses, and Dos Passos writes back in March 1934,

I think it’s very important not to add to this mass of inept rubbish on this subject—what is happening is that the whole Marxian radical movement is in a moment of intense disintegration—all people like us, who have no taste for political leadership or chewing the rag, can do, is to sit on the sidelines and try to put a word in now and then for the underdog or for the cooperative commonwealth or whatever….

The only alternative is passionate unmarxian revival of AngloSaxon democracy or an industrial crisis helped by a collapse in the director’s offices—That would be different from nazi socialism only in this way: that it would be a reaction towards old time Fourth of July democracy….How you can coordinate Fourth of July democracy with the present industrial-financial setup I dont see.

Late 1934, Dos Passos writes to Wilson about recent events in the Soviet Union, including the murder of Stalin’s intelligence chief,

This business about Kirov looks very very bad to me. In fact it has completely destroyed my benefit-of-the-doubt attitude towards the Stalinists—It seems to be another convolution of the self-destructive tendency that began with the Trotski-Stalin row. From now on events in Russian have no more interest—except as a terrible example—for world socialism—if you take socialism to mean the educative or constructive tendency rather than politics. The thing has gone into its Napoleonic stage and the progressive tendencies in the Soviet Government have definitely gone under before the self-protective tendencies….Meanwhile I think we should be very careful not to damage any latent spores of democracy that there still may be in the local American soil.

These remarks provoke Wilson to respond in early January 1935:

…I don’t think you ought to say, as you do, that a country which is still trying to put socialism into practice has ceased to be politically interesting…One doesn’t want to give aid and comfort to people who have hopped on the shootings in Russia as a means of discrediting socialism. Aside from this, you are right, of course, in saying that Americans who are in favor of socialism oughtn’t to try to import the methods of the Russians….

Dos Passos fires back,

[N]o government is in good shape that has to keep on massacring its people. Suppose, when that curious little [Italian] Zangara took a potshot a Franklin D. [Roosevelt], the U.S. Secret Service had massacred a hundred miscellaneous people, some because they were [Italians], others because they were anarchists and others because they had stomach trouble, what would all us reds be saying…What’s the use of losing your “chains” if you get a firing squad instead…Some entirely new attack on the problem of human freedom under monopolized industry has to be worked out—if the coming period of wars and dictatorships give anybody a chance to work anything out….

About Russia I should have said not politically useful rather than politically interesting….By Anglo Saxon Institutions I mean the almost obliterated traditions of trial by jury common law etc—they don’t count for much all the time but they do constitute a habit more or less implanted in Western Europeans outside of Russians….

Intellectual theories and hypotheses dont have to be a success, but political parties do—and I cant see any reason for giving the impression of trying to induce others to engage in forlorn hopes one wouldn’t go in for oneself.

“Don’t agitate me, comrade, I’m with you,” Wilson countered at the end of that January,

Surely it’s entirely unnecessary to worry about the possibility of a Stalin regime in America. I can’t imagine an American Stalin. You talk as if there were a real choice between Henry Ford on the one hand and [American Communists] on the other; but who outside the Communists themselves has ever seriously entertained the idea that these individuals would every lead a national movement?

“But” responds Dos Passos soon in February 1935,

it’s not the possibility of Stalinism in the U.S. that’s worrying me, it’s the fact that the Stalinist [Communist Party] seems doomed to fail and to bring down with it all the humanitarian tendencies I personally believe in—all the while acting as a mould on which its obverse the fascist mentality is made—and this recent massacre is certainly a sign of Stalinism’s weakness and not of its strength. None of that has anything to do with Marx’s work—but it certainly does influence one’s attitude towards a given political party. I’ve felt all along that the Communists were valuable as agitators as the abolitionist were before the Civil War—but now I ‘m not so happy about it.

Dos Passos then shifts his letter to a point Wilson had made to the effect that Marx belonged to a group of romantics that “came out of a world (before 1848) that was less sick, had much more spirit.” “By the way,” Dos Passos continues,

I don’t agree with you that a hundred years ago was a better time than now—they had a great advantage that everything was technically less cluttered and simpler—but dont you think perhaps in every time the landscape seems somewhat obstructed by human lice for those who view it? We have more information to go on, more technical ability to carry ideas out and ought to produce a whale of a lot of stuff—if I was a European I wouldn’t think so, but here we still have a margin to operate on—

Later that same February Wilson writes Dos Passos another letter, the parting shot of which is its own “By the way,”

it is being rumored that you are “rubbing your belly” and saying that “the good old Republican party is good enough for you.” Maybe you ought to make a statement of your present position.

. . .which Dos Passos does. The month after, he writes Wilson,

I finally consented, against my better judgement, to put my name down on the [leftist] Writers Congress roster. I’m going to try to write them a little preachment about liberty of conscience or freedom of inwit or something of the sort that I hope will queer me with the world savers so thoroughly that they’ll leave me alone for a while. I frankly cant see anything in this middleclass communism of the literati but a racket….People haven’t any right to make a living out of politics—It’s selling stock in a corpse-factory.

“It’s selling stock in a corpse-factory.” “Some entirely new attack on the problem of human freedom under monopolized industry has to be worked out.” “Intellectual theories and hypotheses dont have to be a success, but political parties do.” “How you can coordinate Fourth of July democracy with the present industrial-financial setup I dont see.” That said, at least here in the US, according to Dos Passos, “we still have margin to operate on”.

What margin do we have today?

My narrative

Start with the margin that the framers of the US Constitution saw fit to endorse in Article 5—a new constitutional convention. Oh no, no that won’t work, you say. How would most of our state legislatures or Congressmembers ever agree to hold a Constitutional Convention?

Answer: We hold it for them. We don’t wait. We counter with our own constitutional convention.

My counternarrative is this: We have 465 congressional districts, and 465 delegates to a Peoples’ Constitutional Convention sounds about right. Anyone on the voter rolls or adult able to show district residency would be eligible to vote and any voter from the district could run as a convention delegate. Party affiliation or endorsement would, of course, not be required. The candidate with the greatest vote plurality would be the district’s delegate. The cost of this nationwide election and delegate process would be, say, US$1-2 per person, or some $600 million, with another $50 million to hold the actual convention.

The US government won’t finance this, and corporate funding would for obvious reasons be ruled out. One can imagine a consortium of individuals, foundations and overseas governments willing to defray what we can’t pay ourselves. (To put these numbers in some kind of perspective, Forbes estimated in 2017 that the net worth of author and large charity giver, J.K. Rowling, was roughly $650 million.)

The charge of the Peoples’ Constitutional Convention: To redraft the US Constitution, e.g., through a series of amendments. Think: the US Constitution as our metanarrative, the one now to be recast.

What a waste of time and money, you interject, since the real government—the states and feds—would just ignore the work of any Peoples’ Constitutional Convention.

Let them. Let them say the peoples’ mandate is illegitimate. Let them ignore a convention that represents no government, no court, no army, and none of the techno-managerial elites, just those elected to come together to hold our government, our courts, our military, and our techno-managerial elites to account. Let them ignore the Peoples’ Constitutional Convention and if they do, we’ll hold a different-premised one, and if that also does not work, we’ll go global and elect a World Parliament and then let them ignore that too.

Oh no, no, no, you can’t think that way. Pandora’s box would be opened! Constitution-making in the Confederacy witnessed not just further entrenchment of unconscionable chattel slavery, but also the first Department of Justice, a national citizenship requirement for voting, no functioning supreme court, a six-year term limit for president, civil service reform, strictures against protective tariffs, a district court structure, disavowal of the Monroe Doctrine, and provisions for a presidential item veto, executive budget, and no recess appointments.

Am I recommending all that? No. Am I saying all that was implemented? No way. What I am doing is asking this question: How else are we to get a parallel version of this range of substantive change without breaking up the country? What about the unintended consequences of not doing so or otherwise?

But of course. How silly of me. There are all those other metanarratives about how things can’t continue this way and must change for the better.

Principal sources

The letters are in: Edmund Wilson (1977), Letters on Literature and Politics, 1912-1972, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, NY and John Dos Passos (1973) The Fourteenth Chronicle: Letters and Diaries of John Dos Passos, Gambit, Inc., Boston, MA. I’ve followed their spelling and grammar throughout, while editing in one case still-offensive ethnic expletives.

Other key sources are: (1) L. Dabney (2005), Edmund Wilson: A Life in Literature, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, NY; and (2) G. Monbiot (2003), The Age of Consent, Flamingo, London: Chapter 4. (As some readers may have twigged, I am adapting and paraphrasing George Monbiot’s proposal in The Age of Consent.)

My Confederacy material draws from: (1) W.B. Yearns (1960), The Confederate Congress, University of Georgia Press: Athens, GA; R. Bensel (1990), Yankee Leviathan: The Origins of Central State Authority in America, 1859-1877. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK: Chapter 3; P. Van Riper and H. Scheiber (1959), “The Confederate Civil Service,” The Journal of Southern History, 25(4): 448-470; C.R. Lee (1963), The Confederate Constitutions, Greenwood Press Publishers: Westport, CN; and E. Thomas (1979), The Confederate Nation: 1861-1865, Harper & Row: New York, NY.

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