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“A New Birth of Freedom”: Reading Lincoln Through Jaspers by Jacob Sloan

In The Life of the Mind, Hannah Arendt writes, “The sad truth of the matter is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be or do either evil or good” (180). Herein, Arendt attempts to illumine the fact that, by failing to question, examine, and critique social and cultural practices before lending them physical and moral support, and by failing to reform culture for the better thereby, humanity has decided to follow evil blindly, to acquiesce to oppression from mere thoughtlessness. To truly combat a violent culture, men and women must not only question the system in which they live, but, after having done so, they must also reform their own selves; and, by attempting to share this newly attained wisdom with the world at large, such men and women must allow all human beings the ability to stage their own peaceful, individual revolutions against tyranny and savagery.

Arendt’s mentor, Karl Jaspers, expounds further upon the subject of self-revolution in his historical treatise The Origin and Goal of History. In particular, Jaspers outlines a time, occurring roughly between 800 B.C. and 200 B.C., which he refers to as the “Axial age of history,” in which human beings became “conscious of Being as a whole.” These men and women “ask[ed] radical questions. Face to face with the void [they strove] for liberation and redemption” (2).

During this Axial Age, human beings began to pose to the world, to the societal order, radical questions concerning oppression, equality, human life, and philosophy. “[H]itherto unconsciously accepted ideas, customs and conditions,” explains Jaspers, “were subjected to examination, questioned, and liquidated” (2). Through the thinkers poised upon the brink of this questing, the human race was introduced not only to the concept of interrogating the status quo, but also to innumerable solutions to dealing with a declining and vile culture. Thus, the Axial Age, as described by Jaspers, introduced humanity to its ability to embrace and utilize wisdom in order to critique and, most importantly, to rethink and restructure social, political, and material life itself.

Through the myriad intellectual advancements of its various thinkers, the Axial Age allowed for “a pause for liberty, a deep breath bringing the most lucid consciousness” (Jaspers 50). Thus, the first Axial Age, as defined by Jaspers, acted, to quote Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” as “a new birth of freedom” (qtd. in Kushner 6). For through the wisdom of the Axial Age, men and women were allowed the freedom, if only they would take it upon themselves, to resist the surrounding culture, and to embrace not analytical systems, not brutal capitalism and slavery, but one another; they were awarded the intellectual liberty to believe in and pursue less oppressive social relations, and to share these new manners of thinking and living with other restless and directionless individuals.

It is this constant questioning and this promotion of self-reformation which categorizes Tony Kushner’s portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in his subtle yet profound screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. Kushner, the acclaimed playwright and political activist, portrays Lincoln as being not only a man of quiet and gentle strength, but as operating in the manner of a sincere Axial leader; Kushner’s Lincoln is an embodiment, an allegorical representation of a true Axial being. Moreover, Kushner illustrates a rebirth of the revolutionary cognition of the Axial Period; he outlines a time of transformation in which men were, by their leader, by Lincoln himself, instructed in wisdom, and, subsequently, allowed the liberty to critique and to reject the domineering and unjust constructs enveloping them. Thus, in reading Kushner’s screenplay as a textual and artistic embodiment of Jaspers’ Axial philosophy, his piece becomes a powerful allegory concerning modern politics and ethics; it becomes a representation of how human beings may contest and transgress dominant ideologies of oppression and dehumanization. Kushner’s piece, when read through Jaspers’ Axial philosophy, offers, for the modern individual, a powerful and humanistic paradigm for political and social resistance.

In his screenplay, Tony Kushner presents not only an intimate portrait of a being in the practice of these Axial principles, through Lincoln, but also, through the metamorphoses of both Thaddeus Stevens and George Yeaman, the revolutionary power of Axial transformation in the wake of a brutal and savage society: a sweeping transformation of which the modern world is desperately in need.

“History,” contends Karl Jaspers, “is a continual thrusting forward on the part of single individuals . . . Whoever hears and understands them joins them in the forward movement” (47). Thus, according to Jaspers, the course of human history depends not upon collective movement in general, but upon the single, personalized rebirths of individual beings. According to Kushner, Abraham Lincoln stands as one of these beings, constantly thrusting forward toward a “new birth of freedom.”

Kushner presents a Lincoln dedicated to knowledge and wisdom, not only for their pragmatic necessity, but for their transformative essence. Kushner’s Lincoln—a man attempting desperately to destroy the practice of slavery and to reform the way in which such a practice is nationally cognized—is a man who owns a desk “heaped with files, books, newspapers” (10). Such are the indelible hallmarks of a true education; for on Lincoln’s desk are situated not only books of true transformative inspiration, but also current newspapers. From his reading habits at least, Lincoln, a self-educated lawyer, represents a being concerned not only with the venerable wisdom of yesteryear, through his books, but with this wisdom’s application to the modern era, to the brutal and unjust existence of the modern man, represented, in this case, by his newspapers.

In fact, the majority of Lincoln’s ideals, as Kushner portrays him, stem directly or indirectly from some sort of prior wisdom. For instance, at one point in the screenplay, while conversing with a telegraph operator, Lincoln harkens back to the teachings of Euclid. “I never had much of schooling,” begins Lincoln, speaking about his informal yet transformative education, “but I read Euclid, in an old book I borrowed. Little enough ever found its way in . . . but once learnt it stayed learnt. Euclid’s first common notion is this: ‘Things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other.’” Lincoln further explains that he, in fact, since discovering the wisdom of Euclid, has been able to apply Euclid’s axiom to the pressing concepts of human freedom and democracy. Thus, concludes Lincoln, reshaping and reapplying Euclid’s axiom for the far more prudent purpose of defeating the oppressive practice of slavery, “[w]e begin with equality . . . That balance, that’s fairness, that’s justice” (76).

Kushner’s Lincoln, therefore, stands before his people as a true Axial being: a man that, having gleaned wisdom for himself, is attempting to offer that same wisdom, reapplied and reformed, to all of his lost, blindly self-destructive countrymen. He represents one of those rare beings “of rich content . . . who grew from the roots of their own people as figures of absolute humanity and are therefore able to speak to mankind through their existence and their words” (Jaspers 72).

Kushner’s Lincoln, though, does not simply represent an Axial being because of his commitment to conscious reflection, his commitment to wisdom and its modern application; he also represents the fact that Axial leaders, leaders like himself across generations, religions, and philosophies, have been men capable of seeing all human beings as individuals of worth, as creatures deserving of equal political, social, and material liberty. For a true Axial being, Jaspers expounds, waxing Kantian, “ceases to see his fellow-men [and women] as merely nature, merely a means” (43). Such a philosophy, that all men and women ought to be inherently free—that the human race ought to function not as an authoritarian, conformist movement, but as a movement constructed from the actions of free individuals—is that which informs Lincoln’s decision to pursue the cessation of slavery.

At one point in Kushner’s script, for example, Lincoln describes a dream he has had: a dream, as interpreted by his wife, concerning the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. “Though it’s imperceptible in the darkness,” explains Lincoln, discussing the fact that he is, in his dream, hurtling rapidly forward while perched upon a vessel of some sort, “I have an intuition that we’re headed towards a shore. No one else seems to be on the vessel. I am alone” (7). According to Lincoln’s wife Mary, the ship upon which Lincoln stands in his reverie is “the amendment to abolish slavery” (8). For Lincoln sees himself as “headed toward a shore,” toward a new and almost imperceptible shore of liberty for all, toward the “new birth of freedom” which he espouses in his Gettysburg address. It is the physical and psychological self-determination of all men and women toward which Lincoln is dashing; human independence is his “barely discernible horizon, indicated by a weird, flickering, leaden glow” (6).

Despite Lincoln’s commitment to freedom, to justice, and to fairness, the men and women surrounding him, even his own wife, constantly advise him not to “tarnish [his] invaluable luster with a battle” (13). “[Y]ou might do anything now,” opines Mary Lincoln, “[D]on’t waste that power on an amendment bill that’s sure of defeat” (9). This soothsaying, though, means little to Lincoln. For he realizes that he “can’t accomplish a . . . thing of any human meaning or worth until [humanity] cure[s] [itself] of slavery and end[s] this pestilential war” (98).

Kushner’s Lincoln, being the embodiment of the Axial being, is able to realize that true democracy will not exist in his country without the abolishment of slavery; all men and women, according to Lincoln, deserve personal freedom. Without extricating all men and women, both those enslaved and those ostensibly free, from the system of slavery, all will be lost. Thus, before any measure of freedom can take root, all men and women must be considered personal beings: not others meant to labor for the satisfaction of the few, but selves deserving of freedom. For without releasing all races from a corrupt system of human oppression which he has learned to question constantly and to reject, Lincoln realizes that all men will remain faceless, soulless, and devoid of the inquisitive ammunition with which to combat an oppressive culture. Thus, Lincoln is not only pursuing a cessation of slavery, but “an act of daring in which human potentialities [will be] set free” (Jaspers 70).

Despite his interest in the abolishment of slavery, Lincoln does not wish to attempt to take any sort of unnatural authority over free men and women. While conversing with his wife’s dressmaker, Elizabeth Keckley, an African-American woman, Lincoln states, “You have a right to expect what I expect, and likely our expectations are not incomprehensible to each other . . . [but] what’ll become of you once slavery’s day is done, I don’t know” (88). The president clearly supports the fact that the men and women of Keckley’s race have a right to expect what all beings have a right to expect: personal liberty of the mind, and a voice in the people’s government. However, Lincoln lays bare the fact that it will not be his responsibility to decide what any American citizen will become; the destinies of men and women once they are awarded the equal opportunity to pursue them, according to Kushner’s Lincoln, will be left in their own hands. “I have never heard any [of my people] ask what freedom will bring,” Keckley retorts, agreeing with the president that “[f]reedom’s first” (88). Kushner’s Lincoln wishes to produce, through theoretically granting the freedom to become educated, to gain wisdom and understanding to all, a collective of great and developed individuals; a great world, he believes, shall certainly follow from the democratic actions of such a collective.

Furthermore, the president, as Kushner presents him, attempts to extend this sense of unabashed liberty to all of the citizens of his country. Though many of his detractors liken him to a tyrant, Kushner’s Lincoln stands as a beacon of true democracy. “[D]emocracy,” Lincoln expounds, “isn’t chaos, there is a great invisible strength in a people’s union” (118). Despite the fact that Lincoln is pursuing a measure that will free all men and women in bondage, he does not do so at the expense of the freedoms of the American people. When asked by an advisor what reins him in from becoming a dictator, from becoming impervious to law, Lincoln retorts, “Well, the people do that, I suppose” (28). Thus, Lincoln does not see himself as functioning beyond the law, for he has given the people ample opportunity to ruminate upon their decisions and to remove him from office, and yet they have allowed him to remain. It is the people that have kept Lincoln in office; it is the people of the United States that have allowed him to pursue his amendment against slavery. Had they no desire, conscious or unconscious, to be led from slavery, the citizens of the United States could have kept him from office with little difficulty.

Though Lincoln does not attempt to veil the fact that he is pursuing an amendment that will award liberty to all men and women, regardless of race, he leaves this independence, this democracy, to be upheld by the people. “The part assigned to me,” explains Lincoln, speaking at an assembly, “is to raise the flag, which, if there be no fault in the machinery, I will do, and when up, it will be for the people to keep it up” (12). Kushner’s Lincoln does not attempt to disguise the fact that he will raise the flag of humanism and of equality. However, he makes it quite clear that he will leave these ideals, as he has left his presidential future, to be pondered, reinforced, and sustained by the people. For though Lincoln will award the people the wisdom with which they may combat the violent and oppressive socioeconomic structures about them, he will not force all of them to embrace such wisdom. For the people, not tyrannical dictators, “must shape [their] world” (Jaspers 63).

Obviously, Lincoln desires not an empire, but a collective of individuals possessing the ability to empathize, to see one another as human beings. For though many leaders have quested for empires, such tyrannical arrangements produce not a culture of great persons, but a citizenry of violent automatons. Despite the fact that empires are “able . . . to conquer, to govern, to organize, to acquire and preserve the forms of civilization . . ., [they never serve] to carry forward or deepen experience” (Jaspers 53). According to Kushner’s Lincoln, a proponent of humanistic egalitarianism and Axial transformation, there is true strength and wisdom not in the power of a tyrant, but in a “government of the people, by the people, [and] for the people” (6).

According to Jaspers, the human race, through the intellectual advancements illumined during the Axial Age, was introduced, if only for a moment, to true liberty and to the revolutionary power of contemplative wisdom. Tony Kushner’s portrayal of Lincoln—whether historically sound or not—represents the president not only as a purveyor of transformative wisdom, but as a man of liberty, attempting to remove the chains of oppressive societal establishments from men and women of all races.

Though Tony Kushner represents Lincoln as a highly evolved Axial being, the playwright also utilizes his screenplay to suggest that personal transformation based upon thought, such as that advocated by Arendt and Jaspers is, in fact, a possibility. For through the liberations and metamorphoses of Stevens and Yeaman, Kushner introduces to the reader the fact that, through philosophical examination and the attainment of wisdom, through proper guidance, personal enrichment is able to be realized.

Stevens, for example, the leader of the radical Republican faction in the House of Representatives, is first described by Kushner as possessing “a gaunt, powerful face resembling Lincoln’s, though beardless and bitter” (30). Originally, it seems as though Stevens, a revolutionary opponent of slavery and racial inequality, has been in politics for too long a time; he is bitter and jaded, disgusted with the very citizens he has been elected to protect. Unlike Kushner’s Lincoln, Stevens, when looking toward the citizens of the United States, sees not lost men and women in need of the profundity of wisdom, but a race in which “the inner compass that should direct the soul toward justice has ossified . . . unto utter uselessness through tolerating the evil of slavery” (Kushner 59). For Stevens, the human race remains lost in the nearly inescapable darkness of hatred: without a future and devoid of hope.

During a clandestine conference between Lincoln and Stevens, the president advises the abolitionist that he ought not to be exercising the same tyrannical control, by ignoring American citizens, which he is attempting to dismantle. “When the people disagree,” Lincoln advises Stevens, “bringing them together requires going slow till they’re ready to make up” (58). Stevens, though, distrusts the ability of the people to embrace self-reformation. “[S]hit on the people and what they want and what they’re ready for” Stevens retorts severely. “This is the face,” Stevens continues, indicating his own hostile and timeworn visage, “of someone who has fought long and hard for the good of the people without caring much for any of ’em” (59).

Stevens, thus, remains a man committed to the ideal of racial equality; however, he lacks the ability, the patience perhaps, to allow men and women, enmeshed as they are in a system of socioeconomic inequality and oppression, to embrace an ideal with which they are unfamiliar. In his own opinion, Stevens is a man who crusades for the benefit of the people. Unfortunately, though, Stevens, in his understandable abhorrence and misanthropy, never allows the men and the women whom he represents governmentally to locate and experience the benefit of the ideal which he proffers. Despite his commitment to racial equity, Stevens is little more than the emperor whom Jaspers describes: a man “able . . . to conquer, to govern, to organize . . . but not to carry forward or deepen experience” (Jaspers 53).

Throughout Kushner’s script, though, Stevens, abandoning his initial cynicism, undergoes a subtle yet profound transformation; he is reborn not as a weary and pessimistic politician, walking in constant human darkness, but as a man with faith in the citizenry. Eventually, Stevens realizes that to truly enact the obliteration of slavery, he must not come to men and women as an aggressive and brutal emperor, ready to conquer any of those standing in his path, but as a patient and devoted leader, willing to allow his people the ability to come to the acceptance of moral truth for themselves. These men and women, though they function beneath a system of oppressive cruelty, though they invest themselves within the damaging and foolish myth of racial superiority, have been themselves slaves to such a societal framework for such an extended period of time that it will require not brutality to remove them, but a cleansing, intellectual baptism. Such a baptism, however, is not possible without the emancipation of all men and women, without the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment.

While Stevens undergoes a transformation through which he rediscovers the hope that lurks—often incredibly clandestinely—within the human race, George Yeaman, one of Stevens’ colleagues, metamorphoses from a man cowering under Confederate influence into an Axial being: a being, he or she for whom Arendt yearns so desperately, of consciousness and morality. Through his self-reformation, George Yeaman, a man initially opposed to total emancipation, is able to extricate himself from a corrupt and oppressive societal system and, subsequently, to become the bearer of his own morality.

When Kushner, for example, first introduces him, Yeaman is among those congressmen with whom he apparently concurs. However, while the members of his faction roar in support of tyranny and persecution, Yeaman stands silent, “dismal and disgruntled” (36). It is clear that Yeaman, though he claims to sympathize with Confederate thought, remains dissatisfied. He does not shout with his supposed brethren; he does not lend his support vocally to slavery. In fact, Yeaman states that he is “disgusted by slavery” (65).

Alas, despite his abhorrence of slavery, Yeaman remains bound for some time to the powers and societal institutions about him, maintaining that he is, in fact, “opposed to the amendment.” Yeaman remains, though he detests the practice of slavery itself, unsure of “what will become of colored folk if four million are in one instant set free” (Kushner 65). Yeaman cleaves to the powers supporting slavery not because he considers the practice acceptable, but because the idea of freedom, the concept of true democracy, frightens him. Thus, Yeaman, as Kushner presents him, though perhaps misguided, does express some concern over what freedom, total self-determination, will bring if awarded to all men, especially to those now enslaved. In an anguished speech before his governmental colleagues, Yeaman further explains his initial position upon emancipation. If such liberality, he contends, would in fact come to fruition in the United States, the country would be “forced to enfranchise the men and women of the colored race . . . it would be inhuman not to” (Kushner 67).

From this speech, Kushner makes it quite clear that Yeaman, though he is perhaps unwilling to fully commit himself publically to the concept, does support the enfranchisement of enslaved men and women; he explains, in fact, that to avoid doing so would be “inhuman.” Yeaman, however, views men and women writ large as being completely unprepared for complete democracy. He worries not only for the country to which he is loyal, but he also concerns himself with the wellbeing, though he is completely misguided, of former slaves. In practice, slavery disgusts Yeaman, but, in the interest of safety—for democracy is an indubitably dangerous path—he remains supportive of slave powers. Through such support, Yeaman also enslaves himself; he buries those ideals in which he truly has faith, humanity and compassion, beneath the ruling ideology.

In order to influence the pursuit of informed reflection, and the attainment of wisdom, Lincoln, as he does with Stevens, invites Yeaman to a personal consultation of sorts. “I hate it, too, sir, slavery,” Yeaman confides in the president, “. . . but we’re entirely unready for emancipation. There’s too many questions” (95). Universal liberty, to Yeaman, represents little more than uncertainty, for in a humanistic democracy there exists an inexorable possibility for complete and utter failure. It is clear, however, that Yeaman, though he is completely startled by liberality, does not belong with the members of the Confederate faction; for unlike those men, slavery disgusts Yeaman. Despite his disagreement with them, though, Yeaman originally remains bound to the slave powers, a slave himself to a corrupt and destructive philosophy.

Lincoln, an Axial being in favor of conscious contemplation, sagaciously reminds Yeaman that though the United States is unprepared for emancipation, the country is also unready for peace, something which Yeaman wholeheartedly supports. For both emancipation and peace will, Lincoln explains, “present [the country] with conundrums and dangers greater than any . . . faced during the war” (Kushner 96). The attainment of liberty, of course, will bring questions and hazards, Lincoln advises Yeaman. But, to paraphrase Elizabeth Keckley, freedom must come first, before all; it is only after cognitive liberty, the freedom of all men and women to question constantly the powers about them, is attained that questions may be answered and such pitfalls may be guarded against.

However, the president has no desire to force Yeaman into the acceptance of a concept with which the congressman does not hold. “I’m asking only,” Lincoln says to a forlorn Yeaman, “that you disenthrall yourself from the slave powers” (96). Lincoln, though, does not wish Yeaman to follow any party or political faction, whether supportive of or resistant to the practice of slavery. Instead, the president desires that the congressman acknowledge, through the attainment of wisdom, what he truly believes to be the correct way in which to live. Thus, when Lincoln advises Yeaman to abandon his connection with “the slave powers,” he is not speaking only of those powers which do not support the Thirteenth Amendment, but also of those powers which force Yeaman to accept any ideology with which he does not agree.

Yeaman, because he remains lost, because he desires humanity but cowers from true freedom, has associated himself with the destructive and dominant ideology of slavery, a system in which he does not truly believe. Lincoln’s wish for Yeaman is that he breaks forth from his blindness into consciousness. Therefore, the president does not attempt to coerce Yeaman into supporting any sort of political ideology; rather, he introduces Yeaman to his own self, to his inherent humanism, and, as Kushner describes in his screen directions, he then “leaves [the man], considering” (96).

Through his time with Lincoln and with his own self, Yeaman casts from himself his initial sightlessness and thereby metamorphoses into his own man: a man with his own set of morals and ideals. Though originally terrified by freedom, by revolution, Yeaman learns to interrogate and reject the powers attempting to physically, mentally, and materially enslave an innumerable amount of disenfranchised men and women. Too, he learns to free himself, a white man in possession of governmental power, from the mental fetters of slavery, from the dominant episteme. When his vote on the amendment is ultimately requested, after a moment of hesitation, Yeaman—finally feeling himself separated from the cruel and belligerent powers and societal constructs whirling about him—comes to himself and shouts, “AYE” (109).

Through their interactions with Lincoln, Stevens and Yeaman, each originally bound by exhaustion and indirection, are able to acquire wisdom and to see all men and women, even if misguided, as being valuable in and of themselves; they are enabled, thusly, to rise above the repressive culture surrounding them.

Kushner’s masterful retelling of the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment—his call for conscious rebirth based upon wisdom—illustrates, through his representation of Lincoln, a realized Axial being and the possibility, through his presentation of Yeaman and Stevens, of Axial rebirth. Kushner’s Lincoln also acts as a call for such transformation in the wake of a sadistic and tyrannical culture: a culture within which the contemporary United States finds itself embroiled.

Kushner’s narrative, for instance, begins at a time of both literal and figurative darkness, a time of combat and carnage in which “[h]eavy gray skies hang over a flooded field.” A nearby battle is little more than “mayhem and each side intensely hates the other. Both have resolved to take no prisoners” (1).

“The misery caused by wars and revolutions,” proffers Karl Jaspers, “accompanied by . . . [the] questioning of previously existing conditions . . . are preconditions of which the creative result is not a necessary sequel” (18). Lincoln, thus, comes to the forefront of the United States at a time of darkness and oppression, a time of savagery and slaughter. The nation once known for democracy and prosperity is tumbling steadily into oblivion when Lincoln is re-elected; its citizens, once proud and thriving, are starving and perishing in a bloody and ostensibly ceaseless civil war. Such conditions, mirroring almost perfectly those set down by Jaspers, are not those which necessarily warrant a reproduction.

The modern United States is enmeshed within the same conflicts facing Kushner’s Lincoln. Its citizens are constantly being pressed upon by the heavy and grey skies of economic and racial oppression and sexual, cognitive, and political repression. The United States has embroiled itself within an oppressive and totalitarian form of capitalism: an organizational structure which, not unlike the societal system of slavery, makes faceless and voiceless prisoners of men and women, stripping from them their own selves. Under this system, the interests of the individual are crushed beneath the increasing political and economic power of corporations; the desires of the human being are made subservient to those of the free market. Men and women are forced, in the interest of material survival, to accept and perform jobs which, in the very character of their being undesired, stand dehumanizing and alienating. Just as well, the conundrums caused by constant war and brutality—by the attempted colonization of places such as Afghanistan and Iraq—are currently inundating the country supposedly created by, of, and for the people.

Thus, as Kushner subtly illustrates within his allegorical yet realistic screenplay, the citizens of the modern United States are desperately in need of revolution. Men and women, by constantly questioning the constructs about them, must begin to resist the violent culture surrounding them. Modern American citizens, flowing blindly toward the abyss, must consciously decide, through inexhaustible inquiry and constant self-reformation, whether or not to pursue virtue or malevolence, whether or not to embrace equality and pacifism or socioeconomic oppression and brutality. Once again, men and women are “stepped out upon the world’s stage . . . with the fate of human dignity in [their] hands” (Kushner 98). They must make their own decisions—ignoring what are considered the dominant forms of thought and living—based upon wisdom and reflection, concerning human equality and liberty.

Through Kushner’s Lincoln, the playwright introduces not only the manner in which Axial beings ought to conduct themselves, through a constant questing for wisdom, but how they ought to bring a zeal for conscious reflection to the lost. In addition, Kushner, by illustrating the transformations undergone by Stevens and Yeaman, represents the fact that Axial resistance, based upon profound reflection and constant evolution, is not only an historical possibility, but a hope for both the present and the future.

Works Cited

Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind. New York: Harcourt, 1978. Print.

Jaspers, Karl. The Origin and Goal of History. New Haven: Yale UP, 1953. Print.

Kushner, Tony, screenwriter. Lincoln: The Screenplay. DreamWorks Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Reliance Entertainment: 2012. PDF file.

Jacob Sloan wrote this piece, which is a marked departure from his usual work, for a freshman English course. Currently, he is a sophomore at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he is pursuing a degree in English literature. Jacob’s research interests include Marxism, specifically the theoretical works of the Frankfurt School, and the novels of Joyce, Beckett, Faulkner, and Kafka. His current work concerns the synthesis of postcolonialism, Marxism, Foucauldian theory, and 19th and 20th Century modernist literature.

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