Part of both my undergrad and graduate work as a future historian and history teacher included conversations about the laws of history. The basic discovery? Many have tried to write them and most have failed. How do you create a list of truisms that covers everything over time and place?

Of course, being disrespectful grad students, we found and edited our own list. During a recent spring cleaning period, I ran across the list. And so with tongue at least partially in cheek, I present my own Laws of History:

  1. Peasants always get screwed
  2. What makes you strong usually kills you in the end
  3. Superior firepower is key
  4. People are consistently stupid
  5. To understand someone, look in their checkbook
  6. People are sheep
  7. Organized religion is the root of all evil
  8. Geography matters
  9. American democracy is an aberration
  10. Progress isn’t always what it is cracked up to be
  11. Patriarchy sucks
  12. 1950 law: Never get involved in a land war in Asia
    2008 corollary: Never get involved in a land war in Iraq
  13. Everybody wants to be part of a tribe
  14. Socialism is a disaster
  15. Capitalism is getting close
  16. You won’t get rich being a historian
  17. You won’t get rich being a history teacher
  18. Knowing just a little history is a dangerous thing
  19. Custer probably deserved it
  20. The Germans are always wrong
  21. The Republicans are always wrong
  22. The Democrats are always wrong
  23. It’s always easiest to kick a man when he’s down
  24. There’s no such thing as a peaceful revolution
  25. See number four

Changes? Additions?