Sunday, September 25, 2011

Progressives: Thomas Jefferson was not a great American

"A Calendar of Great Americans", by Woodrow Wilson, writes the following in his "Mere literature: and other essays". Starting on page 197:

Jefferson was not a thorough American because of the strain of French philosophy that permeated and weakened all his thought. Benton was altogether American so far as the natural strain of his blood was concerned, but he had encumbered his natural parts and inclinations with a mass of undigested and shapeless learning. Bred in the West, where everything was new, he had filled his head with the thought of books (evidently very poor books) which exhibited the ideals of communities in which everything was old. He thought of the Roman Senate when he sat in the Senate of the United States. He paraded classical figures whenever he spoke, upon a stage where both their costume and their action seemed grotesque. A pedantic frontiersman, he was a living and a pompous antinomy. Meant by nature to be an American, he spoiled the plan by applying a most unsuitable gloss of shallow and irrelevant learning. Jefferson was of course an almost immeasurably greater man than Benton, but he was un-American in somewhat the same way. He brought a foreign product of thought to a market where no natural or wholesome demand for it could exist. There were not two incompatible parts in him, as in Benton's case: he was a philosophical radical by nature as well as by acquirement; his reading and his temperament went suitably together. The man is homogeneous throughout. The American shows in him very plainly, too, notwithstanding the strong and inherent dash of what was foreign in his make-up. He was a natural leader and manager of men, not because he was imperative or masterful, but because of a native shrewdness, tact, and sagacity, an inborn art and aptness for combination, such as no Frenchman ever displayed in the management of common men. Jefferson had just a touch of rusticity about him, besides; and it was not pretense on his part or merely a love of power that made him democratic. His indiscriminate hospitality, his almost passionate love for the simple equality of country life, his steady devotion to what he deemed to be the cause of the people, all mark him a genuine democrat, a nature native to America. It is his speculative philosophy that is exotic, and that runs like a false and artificial note through all his thought. It was un-American in being abstract, sentimental, rationalistic, rather than practical. That he held it sincerely need not be doubted; but the more sincerely he accepted it so much the more thoroughly was he un-American. His writings lack hard and practical sense. Liberty, among us, is not a sentiment, but a product of experience; its derivation is not rationalistic, but practical. It is a hard-headed spirit of independence, not the conclusion of a syllogism. The very aerated quality of Jefferson's principles gives them an air of insincerity, which attaches to them rather because they do not suit the climate of the country and the practical aspect of affairs than because they do not suit the character of Jefferson's mind and the atmosphere of abstract philosophy. It is because both they and the philosophical system of which they form a part do seem suitable to his mind and character, that we must pronounce him, though a great man, not a great American.

This is all so venomous that it actually makes me laugh. And Wilson was not alone. Theodore Roosevelt also disliked Jefferson, thought he was an underhanded demagogue:(Beveridge's Life of Marshall)

Politically Marshall followed Washington, and steadily and earnestly supported and developed Washington's great policies. This inevitably threw him into sharp opposition to Jefferson, who was the underhanded but malignantly bitter leader of the anti-National forces which gradually rallied against the Washington policies. Virginia was then the leading State of the Union, and its attitude was of vital consequence. It was in a way proud of Washington, and his great character carried immense weight among Virginians as among all other Americans. There were certain Virginian leaders, among whom Marshall and "Lighthorse Harry" Lee were the most important, who were as strongly National in their beliefs and sympathies as Washington himself, and who were his consistent supporters; and there were other Virginian leaders who at one crisis or another supported Washington and the vital cause of National union—Madison at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, which Patrick Henry opposed, and Patrick Henry at the time of the nullification of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, which Madison fathered jointly with Jefferson, showing sheep-like submission to the abler, more crafty, and more unscrupulous man. Mr. Beveridge brings out clearly the way in which, partly owing to the adroit and successful demagogy of Jefferson, Virginia finally became so estranged from Washington that when his Administration was closing the Legislature actually refused to pass a formal resolution approving the wisdom of his course as President.

Bitter? Hmm. Was Jefferson a bitter clinger? Well, I didn't see it written here where he has antipathy. But as progressives would be quick to point out, Jefferson was a slave owner. So there it is. Bitter, and with antipathy towards others not like him.

And this hasn't changed. The hatred of Jefferson by progressives continues to this day.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Progressivism and The Moral Equivalent of War

In 1906, William James wrote an essay titled "The Moral Equivalent of War". Here's an excerpt of what he has written: (Audiobook)

I spoke of the "moral equivalent" of war. So far, war has been the only force that can discipline a whole community, and until and equivalent discipline is organized, I believe that war must have its way. But I have no serious doubt that the ordinary prides and shames of social man, once developed to a certain intensity, are capable of organizing such a moral equivalent as I have sketched, or some other just as effective for preserving manliness of type. It is but a question of time, of skilful propogandism, and of opinion-making men seizing historic opportunities.

Teddy Roosevelt's moral equivalent of war - war on the trusts. Wilson's moral equivalent of war - the war on alcohol. FDR declared war on the great depression in his first inaugural. We've had the war on poverty, a war on illiteracy was declared, the war on drugs, the war on cancer, and the war on energy dependence. When Jimmy Carter declared this war, he even went so far as to use the exact name of James' essay:(Carter speech April 18th, 1977)

The most important thing about these proposals is that the alternative may be a national catastrophe. Further delay can affect our strength and our power as a nation.

Our decision about energy will test the character of the American people and the ability of the President and the Congress to govern. This difficult effort will be the "moral equivalent of war" -- except that we will be uniting our efforts to build and not destroy.

I know that some of you may doubt that we face real energy shortages. The 1973 gasoline lines are gone, and our homes are warm again. But our energy problem is worse tonight than it was in 1973 or a few weeks ago in the dead of winter. It is worse because more waste has occurred, and more time has passed by without our planning for the future. And it will get worse every day until we act.

Progressives have used for generations this 'moral equivalent' of war in order to steal our liberty away from us. The Patriot Act was written by our current vice president, then a senator. Is it any wonder that out of the war on terror we've gotten our very own American Комитет государственной безопасности​? That's Russian for The Committee for State Security. Sounds eerily like the Department for Homeland Security, doesn't it? And now they're going so far as to grope us at airports. What's that got to do with the war on terror? Well, nothing, if your goal is to keep Americans safe from terrorists. But if your goal is to take the liberty away from Americans, then groping Americans has more to do with the war on terror than any military operation we've conducted over seas. How are you looking at this? As William James originally wrote, "war has been the only force that can discipline a whole community". Have we been disciplined to accept groping at the airports? Disciplined to accept wealth redistribution under the guise of helping the poor? Disciplined to accept energy policies that result in less resources and higher prices instead of the opposite? Not all of us have, sure. But enough Americans are at a minimum just going along with it so as to keep the program going. Long term, that will condition people to get used to it.

The moral equivalent of war works after all. Just as William James knew it would. And in all cases, we see the same thing. You and I lose our liberty, government gains more control. And it's important to keep all of this in perspective. Using the moral equivalent of war as a ploy works so well because these are all such noble causes. Nobody wants their families destroyed by the scourge of drugs. Nobody wants more planes flown into buildings, or to see school busses and shopping malls targeted by suicide bombers. Cancer is no good, neither is illiteracy. But the last couple of decades have shown without a doubt that more government intervention makes things worse, not better. The more the planning fails, the more the planners plan. These are issues that we the people need to solve.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Theodore Roosevelt and a Kernel of Radicalism

On Uprising Radio, April 2008, Van Jones had this to say:

VAN JONES: One of the things that has happened too often to progressives is that we don’t understand the relationship between minimum goals and maximum goals.

Right after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, if the civil rights leaders had jumped out and said, ‘OK, now we want reparations for slavery; we want redistribution of all wealth; and we want to legalize mixed marriages,’ if that had been their…, if they’d have come out with a maximum program the very next day, they’d have been laughed at.

Instead, they came out with a very minimum program. You know, ‘we just want to integrate these buses.’ The students [inaudible] came out with a very minimum program. ‘We just want to sit at the lunch counter.’ But inside that minimum demand was a very radical kernel that eventually meant that from 1954 to 1968, complete revolution was on the table for this country.

Does radical communist Van Jones consider himself also to be a progressive? It would seem that way. He said "we", not "they". While progressivism itself was the original kernel of radicalism a century ago, you have specific programs within it that can go different directions. Direct quote: Progressivism "isn't socialism, it's regulation". And this is a book that Roosevelt was very familiar with, having recommended it along with a few others.(end of paragraph 9) This is how you separate a free society from it's private property. You let them keep the illusion of private property by not taking their names off of the deeds of their property and instituting direct governmental control. Instead you develop a program of social regulation that goes well beyond general regulation. Reagan himself used this direct phrasing in one of his most well known speeches.

What does it mean whether you hold the deed to the -- or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property?

Reagan didn't ever use the term 'progressive' to my knowledge, yet that's exactly what he's talking about. Thus you have a question that Roosevelt himself asked: Business - Shall we strangle or control it? He tends to lean toward governmental control, but that's less important as is learning the mindset of progressives, as well as the words they use. He uses the phrase "reactionary", which is common amongst central planners. And he also uses the phrase "equitable division of prosperity". Think that's the old way of saying the redistribution of wealth?

Also note how controlling business falls under the banner of conservation. Sadly, the progressives were successful at mainstreaming progressivism itself, so then we have to look for the radical kernel within Roosevelt's program. Which is federal control over business, under the guise of conservation. Eugenics was also a radical kernel of conservation, but that would make this post too long. I'll get to that on the blog some point down the road.

The Conservation of Business - Shall We Strangle or Control It? By Theodore Roosevelt

(Link to the original article from the Outlook. Volume 100, March 16th 1912) Page 574

IN my speech at Columbus I tried to develop two main lines of thought: first, that the people must govern themselves, that they have a right to rule, and that we must obtain social and industrial justice through genuine popular government; and, second, that our aim must be to control business, not to strangle it. In other words, just as we aim at the conservation of our physical resources, and at the conservation of the manhood, womanhood, and childhood of the people, so we must aim at the conservation, that is, at the wise control and development, of the business upon the existence of which the prosperity of the whole people so largely depends. In business we must conserve ideas, conserve efficiency, conserve "up-to-date" methods just as we conserve our forests, our streams, our natural resources.

The three great classes of the American community are the farmers,the wage-workers, and the business men, big and little. It is essential that all three shall prosper. It is essential that there shall be a more equitable division of prosperity than has been the case in the past. But there can be no division of prosperity unless the prosperity is there to divide; and therefore it is to our interest to shape conditions so that business shall prosper. Of course, it cannot permanently prosper save on a basis of justice; justice to the business man from the people, and justice by the business man to the people—that is, to his competitors, his customers, and the persons who work for him for wages.

It is the extremes in life, wherever we find them, that cause mischief, and this is as true in business as anywhere else. Our people will no longer tolerate the unbridled, unregulated potential power that enables a group of men who find themselves in a strong position to put up prices and squeeze the consumer for their own pecuniary advantage. This is one extreme. Another and almost equally mischievous extreme is when a similar group of men, who find themselves in a position of great potential power, get to fighting among themselves and wreak their vengeance on each other, for personal prestige or gain, by so cutting and slashing prices as to bring failure in their wake, or else a serious reduction in wages—and either one brings misery and want to the toiler. The business question is strictly a moral question, and the complying in a technical manner with a technical point in a law so obscure that scarcely any two men agree as to exactly what it means, will never permanently satisfy the people, for it corrects none of the immoral practices of which the people complain.

We are giving about seventy-five per cent of our time to fighting among ourselves about ourselves, and only about twenty-five per cent in promoting our foreign commerce and trade, while such a formidable competitor as Germany is doing exactly the reverse. No man can travel through Europe and see the enormous strides that countries like Germany are making without realizing that our commercial supremacy is being challenged. Yet it is also true that no one can travel through Europe and through this country, and meet and talk with the business men everywhere, and not be deeply impressed with the superiority in energy, intelligence, resourcefulness, and general all-around executive ability of the men of oar country as compared with those of any other country. I believe this to be especially true of the oncoming generation of business men—those who are just about to take the helm and guide the commercial destiny of this country in the immediate future. It is my belief from close observation that they have no equals anywhere; but they must be told in plain English what they can and what they cannot do. Once given an accurate chart, and they will speedily conquer the commerce of the world. But at present Germany has this accurate chart and we have not; and it is hard to overstate what this fact means in the way of handicap to us and of advantage to Germany.

My chief concern is with the welfare of the little man; but of course we must do justice to all. Otherwise we cannot get prosperity for any one. We must endeavor to encourage legitimate and honest business at the same time that we war against business crookedness and business injustice. The great mass of business is, of course, done by men whose business is either small or of moderate size, and these men are an element of incalculable strength to the Nation. The average American business man is honest, and is just as desirous of obeying the law as is any one of his fellow-citizens. Yet many of the middle-sized business men nowadays, when they come to make necessary trade agreements, are puzzled lest they may find that they have unwittingly transgressed the law; and they are unable to find out in 'advance what the law is. This is all wrong. There should be absolute clearness of the law, and there should be a competent administrative body to do for the world of industrial production what the Inter-State Commerce Commission has done for the world of industrial transportation. It should be the policy of the Government clearly to define and punish wrong-doing, to give in advance full information to every man just what he can and just what he cannot legally do.

The small business man and the middle sized business man must conduct their business under the law and must act justly. This is also true of the big business man. But in his case there is an added duty on the part of the Nation and the several States. There must be over big business a control and supervision by the Nation (or, if necessary, by the State) which are unnecessary as regards small business. The people of this country are not afraid of the mere size of a business enterprise provided it is honestly organized and honestly managed; but they are afraid of, and will no longer tolerate, exploiting the public for the promoters' benefit. Our laws to-day do not prevent over-capitalization or the flagrant abuse of power in exploiting the business of the people for the personal gain of a few; and yet they threaten vague disaster not merely to dishonest, but to honest, business men. There is urgent need that they should be made both more definite and more efficient. I do not believe in making mere size of and by itself criminal, but size does unquestionably carry the potentiality of so much grave wrong-doing that there should, by law, be provision made for the strict supervision and regulation of those great concerns that do an inter-State business.

It is idle to trust such regulation merely to the effort to prohibit all combinations, and thereby to restore the conditions of sixty years ago. Nothing can be accomplished in this manner. Nor is it wise to trust only to a succession of lawsuits for removing the evils of monopoly and the like. In theory the ultra opponents of corporations have embarked on a process of strangling business. This would of itself be bad enough. But it is rendered still worse by the fact that such a policy is necessarily ineffective. The effort to strangle big business has been successful chiefly to the extent of alarming all business, and has not been successful as regards thoroughly and adequately controlling the very kinds of big business which it is most urgently necessary thus to control.

The unwisdom of endeavoring to strangle business instead of controlling it ought to be evident, in the first place to those who consider the business situation as it affects the small business man whose welfare we must always have close at heart; and in the next place when we consider the curious but perfectly evident fact that the worst big business concerns, and especially those which we usually associate in our minds with Wall Street, have now evidently come to the conclusion that they object to a policy of just and efficient control much more than they do to one of pretended (and impotent) strangulation.

When, four months ago, I wrote in The Outlook an article on "The Trusts, the People, and the Square Deal," Wall Street was inclined to favor the proposition of control, being at that time alarmed as to the workings of the Anti-Trust Act, in view of the recent Standard Oil and Tobacco Trust decisions. Obviously, however, Wall Street has changed its mind. It was prepared to support the policy of honesty and efficient control which I advocated rather than to see the ruin of both bad and good business. But the representatives of the worst kinds of big business have now concluded that the Standard Oil and Tobacco Trusts were not really hurt by the decisions—indeed, that they were benefited. These men care nothing for honest business or for the welfare of the general business community if it conflicts with the policy under which they hope to thrive better than under a policy of real control. Those New York dailies which are owned in or directly or indirectly controlled by Wall Street have shown by their recent utterances that they have made up their minds to fight the effort at just control of big business. Evidently they prefer a policy of pretense of destruction which they know to be chiefly sham rather than a policy of real control which would correct evils and yet promote prosperity. Of course there are exceptions. There are certain big business concerns so far-sighted as to see that in the long run it pays to be honest and that it will pay to trust to a policy of real control instead of to a policy of make-believe strangle. It is curious to see the worst of the big business interests, and the least wise extremist agitators, playing into one another's hands, and trying to preserve the present system of chaos in business law as preferable to a system of ordered supervision and control under which we would secure definiteness of legal policy for all business, and would guarantee to big business proper treatment as an incident to exacting proper behavior from it. The policy I advocate would tell for the permanent prosperity of the entire honest business world; and it is opposed by the great New York dailies which speak for Wall Street, because they are concerned with general prosperity only secondarily, their prime interest being to prevent the efficient control of the big trusts that do wrong; and they would rather run the risk of sacrificing the general prosperity than see a thorough and real control of big business.

What has just happened in connection with the Sugar Trust is most instructive. During my Administration suits against the Oil and Tobacco Trusts were begun, under the Anti-Trust Act. At the time, in repeated messages to Congress and in speeches, I explained that the Anti-Trust Law was not sufficient ; that only a little could be accomplished under it; that what was needed was effective supervision and control, by some competent administrative governmental agency, over these great corporations.

The Republican party, in its platform of four years ago, in speaking of the Sherman Law, declared as follows:

Experience has shown that its effectiveness can be strengthened and its real objects better attained by such amendments as will give to the Federal Government greater supervision and control over and secure greater publicity in the management of that class of corporations engaged in inter-State commerce having power and opportunity to effect monopolies.

However, no law was passed in accordance with this declaration. The suits against the Standard Oil Trust and the Tobacco Trust were nominally successful. For a moment Wall Street was much alarmed, and turned to my proposal. Then it plucked up heart, and inspired and entered upon a campaign of violent denunciation of me. The reason for the change is revealed with unconscious clearness by one of the chief newspaper supporters of the Wall Street policies, the New York "Times," in its issue of March 6, as follows:





Stockholders in the former subsidiaries of the Standard Oil Company were bubbling with indignation yesterday over what they regard as a fresh outrage. The withholding of information, which has been the invariable policy of the thirty two subsidiaries controlled by /he old Standard Oil party, has provided many opportunities to insiders in possession of the facts to make money a/ the expense of the stockholders at large. It will be recalled that while the Colonial Oil officials were refusing information in the early days of the dissolution to stockholders who bought fractional lots of that stock at around 500 to bring their own allotments up to full shares, developments inside the company made a vast difference in its current value, and the stock rapidly sold down to par or below. So complete was the case of those who had bought at the high price that in at least one instance an insider who had sold at the high quotations was compelled to cancel his contract when the buyer became insistent. Another case, in "which the uninformed outside stockholders suffered, was that of the Standard Oil Company of Indiana, which, early in the stages of the Trust's dissolution, sold at $1,400 a share and rapidly advanced until it sold at $1,100. The outsiders didn't know that a big melon was to be cut, as it was only a few weeks ago, in the shape of a $29,000,000 slock dividend.

The latest complaint is that of the Prairie Oil and Gas Company stockholders, who did not know until March 2, if they were New Yorkers, that the Directors had put the stock on a 28 per cent annual dividend basis by the declaration, on February 26, of a dividend for the quarter of $7 per share. Notices of the dividend received in New York on March 2 were postmarked " Independence, Kansas," the headquarters of the company, at 3 P.m. February 28. The books closed for the registry of stock entitled to the dividend on February 29, two days before most of the stockholders knew of the declaration of a dividend of $4 a share higher than that paid in 1911. Meanwhile the shares, which sold last week at $235, rose to $2-15 on Monday, and yesterday advanced to $309. The increased dividend was only partly responsible for the rise, yesterday's advance and active trading being largely due to rumors that the company would give stockholders a right to subscribe to new shares, possibly in connection with the retirement of its outstanding bonds. Of these there were $18,000,000 in December, of which it is reported #1,000,000 or $2,000,000 have been since retired out of earnings.

There are no accurate records obtainable of the daily sales of the shares of the former subsidiaries of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, and to what extent those informed about the affairs of the Prairie Oil and Gas Company may have profited at the expense of the confiding outside stockholders by reason of their foreknowledge of impending events cannot be learned, but shareholders who parted with their stock at the low prices were loud yesterday in their denunciation of the methods of the management. Of all the former subsidiaries of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey that replied to requests from stockholders for information either as to earning power or assets after the dissolution, the only one which gave a frank statement of conditions was the Waters-Pierce Oil Company, which is managed by interests that have since proven inimical to the control of the old Standard Oil Company. This control has been handed down through the dissolution by means of the pro rata distribution of the stocks of the subsidiaries held by the New Jersey company, which naturally brought to the dominant interests in the" old trust a like share in the distributed stocks. The Pierce interests in the Waters-Pierce Company sought to restrain the voting of Rockefeller and other shares in their company at the annual election last month on the ground that it would continue through a group of individuals the control which the United States Supreme Court had found criminal as exercised by these individuals through the device of a holding company, the Standard Oil Company of New jersey.

The Prairie Oil and Gas Company now has a stock capital of $20,000,000. It was only $10,000,000 when the Government investigation was made in 1906. It operates oil wells, but does no refining business. The price of crude oil has advanced materially since the separation of the thirty-three co-defendant subsidiaries from the old Standard Oil Company of New Jersey.

[The italics are mine.](in the original article)

When such a state of affairs results from a successful suit under the Anti-Trust Act, it is small wonder that Wall Street regards the act with derision, and turns its batteries on me, for my proposals would result in a rigid control which would absolutely put a stop to these antics. There are two incidental facts in connection with the transaction which it is well to keep in mind. The first is that the Standard Oil Trust was (nominally) abolished by the Supreme Court, not because of its size, but because of its bad conduct; and apparently the "punishment" has fallen only on the consumers of the oil and the uninformed small outside stockholders, while the trust magnates have greatly profited. The second is that the company which has (as the "Times" says, for the benefit of favored insiders) just declared a dividend of twenty-nine millions is the company on which Judge Landis inflicted a fine of substantially the same amount. What an outcry that fine excited among the professional friends of privilege! What joy there was among them when a Court of Appeals overruled Judge Landis! This particular company was capitalized for one million dollars; the fine was set aside on the ground that it was excessive; and now a dividend almost precisely as great as the fine is declared. Seemingly the court was all-powerful to save the Trust from any punishment at all being inflicted on it, the Trust, for wrong-doing, but powerless to inflict any real punishment when it, the court, itself became convinced that the Trust really had been guilty of grave misconduct. Yet there are worthy people who become panic-struck when these results of unaided judicial action are instanced in order to show the need of more direct control by the people of the things which are of vital concern to the people.

What our people want is that the evils of big business be eradicated and the advantages, the benefits, preserved. I believe that our country is ripe to-day for a straightforward, unflinching, common-sense treatment of the trust question. Of course it's a big question. But this country does not mind tackling big questions. We did not hesitate to take the Panama Canal Zone because up to that time no other people had been able to control yellow fever down there. We took the Zone fully realizing the awful menace of yellow fever, but believing that with our intelligence and energy we could stamp it out; and we did. We did not hesitate to take Cuba because of the unsanitary condition of Havana. We had the courage and the faith to believe that we could correct it; and we did. In just the same way our people realize that the trust problem is a big problem, but that they, the people, have the hard common sense necessary to solve it. It will not solve itself. The people must solve it. And they must solve it by insisting on a just and wise but thoroughgoing and efficient control. Let our opponents of reactionary habit make no mistake. The people are demanding more voice in affairs industrial no less than in affairs political. Our opponents believe that the people cannot be trusted. We believe that they can be. Why? Because they have been educated, and because they are of the stuff that gives good results under education. We believe in real democracy for America because we have a profound faith in the moral, mental, and physical fiber of the average American man and the average American woman; and we believe that they have been educated, in the true sense of the word, as the men and women of no other nation have been educated.

We must achieve a permanent prosperity based on justice—a prosperity which must come by the wise and resolute effort to control business by law, and especially by administrative work under the law. We must not pin our faith only to a succession of lawsuits, which, under pretense of strangling big business, punish real offenders inadequately, or positively benefit them, as in the case of the Standard Oil Trust and the Tobacco Trust, and at the same time are a source of constant uneasiness and alarm to honest and upright business men, whose anxiety is to find out the law and then to live up to it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Henry George and the birth of Fabian Socialism

In "The history of the Fabian Society", by Edward Pease, this is written:

Emile de Lavelaye was quite correct in attributing significance to the publication of "Progress and Poverty," though the seed sown by Henry George took root, not in the slums and alleys of our cities—no intellectual seed of any sort can germinate in the sickly, sunless atmosphere of slums—but in the minds of people who had sufficient leisure and education to think of other things than breadwinning. Henry George proposed to abolish poverty by political action: that was the new gospel which came from San Francisco in the early eighties. "Progress and Poverty" was published in America in 1879, and its author visited England at the end of 1881. Socialism hardly existed at that time in English-speaking countries, but the early advocates of land taxation were not then, as they usually are now, uncompromising individualists.

Edward Pease was a founding member of the Fabian society. Henry George was also influential with another future Fabian socialist. in 1911, Archibald Henderson wrote a biography of George Bernard Shaw:(page 96)

At that time, Bernard Shaw eagerly haunted public meetings of all kinds. By a strange chance, he wandered that night into the Memorial Hall in Farringdon Street. The speaker of the evening was Henry George: his speech wrought a miracle in Shaw's whole life. It "kindled the fire" in his soul. "It flashed on me then for the first time," Shaw once wrote, that " the conflict between Religion and Science" ... the over throw of the Bible, the higher education of women, Mill on Liberty, and all the rest of the storm that raged round Darwin, Tyndall, Huxley, Spencer, and the rest, on which I had brought myself up intellectually, was a mere middle-class business. Suppose it could have produced a nation of Matthew Arnolds and George Eliots! — you may well shudder. The importance of the economic basis dawned on me." Shaw now read Progress and Poverty; and many of the observations which the fifteen-year-old Shaw had unconsciously made now took on a significance little suspected in the early Dublin days of his indifference to land agency .

Shaw was so profoundly impressed by the logic of Henry George's conclusions and suggested remedial measures that, shortly after reading Progress and Poverty he went to a meeting of the Social Democratic Federation, and there arose to protest against their drawing a red herring across the track opened by George. The only satisfaction he had was to be told that he was a novice: "Read Marx's Capital, young man" was the condescending retort of the Social Democrats.

Progress and Poverty, by Henry George

Many of the early 20th century progressives were themselves Fabians. So understanding the Fabian society has relevance to understanding progressivism.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Woodrow Wilson's propaganda efforts were a great success - Walter Lippmann

In his book "Public Opinion" Walter Lippmann has written this:(page 47)

A rough estimate of the effort it takes to reach "everybody" can be had by considering the Government's propaganda during the war. Remembering that the war had run over two years and a half before America entered it, that millions upon millions of printed pages had been circulated and untold speeches had been delivered, let us turn to Mr. Creel's account of his fight "for the minds of men, for the conquest of their convictions" in order that "the gospel of Americanism might be carried to every corner of the globe." [Footnote: George Creel, How We Advertised America.]

Mr. Creel had to assemble machinery which included a Division of News that issued, he tells us, more than six thousand releases, had to enlist seventy-five thousand Four Minute Men who delivered at least seven hundred and fifty-five thousand, one hundred and ninety speeches to an aggregate of over three hundred million people. Boy scouts delivered annotated copies of President Wilson's addresses to the householders of America. Fortnightly periodicals were sent to six hundred thousand teachers. Two hundred thousand lantern slides were furnished for illustrated lectures. Fourteen hundred and thirty-eight different designs were turned out for posters, window cards, newspaper advertisements, cartoons, seals and buttons. The chambers of commerce, the churches, fraternal societies, schools, were used as channels of distribution. Yet Mr. Creel's effort, to which I have not begun to do justice, did not include Mr. McAdoo's stupendous organization for the Liberty Loans, nor Mr. Hoover's far reaching propaganda about food, nor the campaigns of the Red Cross, the Y. M. C. A., Salvation Army, Knights of Columbus, Jewish Welfare Board, not to mention the independent work of patriotic societies, like the League to Enforce Peace, the League of Free Nations Association, the National Security League, nor the activity of the publicity bureaus of the Allies and of the submerged nationalities.

Probably this is the largest and the most intensive effort to carry quickly a fairly uniform set of ideas to all the people of a nation. The older proselyting worked more slowly, perhaps more surely, but never so inclusively. Now if it required such extreme measures to reach everybody in time of crisis, how open are the more normal channels to men's minds? The Administration was trying, and while the war continued it very largely succeeded, I believe, in creating something that might almost be called one public opinion all over America. But think of the dogged work, the complicated ingenuity, the money and the personnel that were required. Nothing like that exists in time of peace, and as a corollary there are whole sections, there are vast groups, ghettoes, enclaves and classes that hear only vaguely about much that is going on.

If it very largely succeeded, then it's a great success. What's interesting to note is how many journalists were a member of the CPI. Most of whom, names you'd never know. L. Ames Brown(Philadelphia Record), J W McConaughy(NY Evening Mail), Leigh Reilly(Chicago Herald),and Edward S Rochester(Washington Post). But the newspapers was the first place Creel went about scouting for talent. As a journalist himself, that's the natural first place to turn.(see "Encyclopedia of American journalism" By Stephen L. Vaughn, Page 113)

Most notably, Edward Bernays, the father of spin was a part of CPI. So too was Walter Lippmann himself, though perhaps to a bit of his credit he quickly turned against Creel and his CPI. But as Lippmann would go on to write in Public Opinion(1920):

The mass of absolutely illiterate, of feeble-minded, grossly neurotic, undernourished and frustrated individuals, is very considerable, much more considerable there is reason to think than we generally suppose. Thus a wide popular appeal is circulated among persons who are mentally children or barbarians, people whose lives are a morass of entanglements, people whose vitality is exhausted, shut-in people, and people whose experience has comprehended no factor in the problem under discussion.

He was no fan of individual rights or "the masses" in general. Here's another example of what he writes:(Phantom Public page 145)

The public must be put in its place, so that it may exercise its own powers, but no less and perhaps even more, so that each of us may live free of the trampling and the roar of a bewildered herd.

This quote is widely available online, though most don't cite the book from where it originates. But it's just a quote. There are all kinds of things in these books which will give you insight into progressivism. It isn't pretty. But there are things we need to know if we are to defend ourselves.