Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Herbert Croly was raised on Comtean beliefs

In "Memories of Jane Croly", Herbert relates a story: (Page 61)
I should like to relate one incident in the history of my father's relations with myself--an incident which was eminently characteristic of certain aspects of his nature.

From my earliest years it was his endeavor to teach me to understand and believe in the religion of Auguste Comte. One of my first recollections is that of an excursion to Central Park on one bright Sunday afternoon in the spring; there, sitting under the trees, he talked to me on the theme which lay always nearest his heart--that of the solidarity of mankind.

And the story goes on. It culminates this way:

While I was at college I was surrounded by other influences, and while retaining everything that was positive and constructive in his teaching, I dropped the negative cloth in which it was shrouded.

This is significant, in that he is saying that he is a "Salad Bar Comtist", picking and choosing those parts he wants to follow, and others he does not. But what fascinates me isn't so much that he kept some of his Comtean beliefs, so much as the fact that those beliefs did not conflict with the new progressive beliefs that he was importing from his professors. It is my understanding that Auguste Comte held totalitarian views.

Herbert Croly co-founded The New Republic, a progressive publication which still publishes to this day. There has been a question that existed even during his day as to if "New Nationalism" was taken directly from Croly's writings, even having his writings recommended by a U.S. President. His 'star' is one that was, and perhaps still is bright in the movement of progressivism.

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