Thursday, April 19, 2012

Conservative Readers! Join me in a special effort...

Conservative Readers! Join me in a special effort at team-building and hope-growing. Just read the following paragraph:

"I should like to ask conservative readers to join me in a special effort not to blur two significantly different ideas. For a good many years, and never more so than at the present, common practice in some conservative circles has made liberalism synonymous or almost synonymous with socialism. In the history of post-Civil War America, reformers have often co-operated with socialists and sometimes with Communists; modern American reform has been plainly influenced by socialism; at times many reformers have advocated certain specific measures, like the municipal ownership of power or TVA* developments, which are unmistakably socialist; it may even be, as many conservatives insist, that Rooseveltism ultimately leads to socialism. Yet at least up to the present the ultimate objectives of most American reformers and of socialists have been distinct."

"The socialist, however much he backed specific reform measures, has sought a society in which the principal means of production  would be owned and operated by the state. The typical reformer, whether or not he approved of particular socialist moves, has sought a society in which the principal means of production  would be left in private hands. Indeed, after the rise of fascism and Communism in the world, the "liberal," far from wanting  to get rid of capitalism, increasingly thought of reform as the way to prevent capitalism from collapsing into totalitarianism. (Franklin Roosevelt was expressing a widely held reform attitude when he said: "I am that kind of a liberal because I am that kind of a conservative.") To slur over the distinction between reform and socialist objectives is to miss a key fact about the whole history of modern American dissidence." (Goldman, 1952)

Sixty years later we have the same discussion. All this summer, we will have the opportunity to participate in a great national debate to see whether the Reformers (Occupy) or the Conservatives (Republicans) will choose our next leader. I am going to start by chasing down the references in the above excerpt and taking a bite out of the rest of the book.

How do you feel about it? Are you represented in the fight? By which side? Or is it all bullshit thrown at us by powers unimaginable and un-accessible to us?

By the way, this guy, and this book, was commonly used in High Schools in the sixties and seventies. Think it would go through now? Why or why not?


Eric F. Goldman, in the prelude to "Rendezvous with Destiny: A History of Modern American Reform. Alfred Knopf / Vintage Books: NY, 1952."

*TVA - Tennessee Valley Authority, a giant public works program of New Deal Depression America.