Skip to main content

tv   Book Discussion on The Revolt Against the Masses  CSPAN  January 26, 2014 7:48pm-8:49pm EST

7:48 pm
it looks like a good compromise settlement at the time. later, germany conquered much of western europe. and the passengers on the continent had to scramble. we know as a result of the research of the painstaking research of sarah over lee and scott miller of this museum that approximately two-thirds of the passengers survived. contrary to the version in voyage of the, whether you've read the book or saw the movie, i have had people tell me that's not right. will we are here in the holocaust museum so i will did her to a study that came out of this museum and traced the
7:49 pm
individuals one by one, approximately two-thirds survived and approximately half of them ultimately emigrated to the united states. >> ladies and gentlemen we have reached our time. [applause] [applause] i would like to thank all of you for being here this evening. we thank professor breitman and you can see how much work there is being done and can't be done on that odd sounding period un-american the holocaust. i hope you'll continue to come to our programs. good evening. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
7:50 pm
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
7:51 pm
[applause] >> thank you. if you don't mind i'm going to sit rather than go to the podium. i have had a few help problems
7:52 pm
and i would just as soon not test myself. i thank you for coming tonight. in thinking about the problem of liberalism, i have to start off with a simple problem. most people including most people who think they have studied the subject, have a very weak idea of the history of liberalism whether it be on the left or the right. there is an idea that you started with progressivism, you moved on to -- [inaudible] no, i'm teasing. he started with progressivism. he proceeded to the new deal and then he went on to the great society and it was a continuous flow. the trouble is it's simply not true. most progressives did not become new dealers. very few republican progressives progressives -- you have your
7:53 pm
member progressivism was a bipartisan movement that recurred in the democratic and republican party. very few became new dealers and not surprisingly enough among the democratic progressives, the group most likely to become new dealers were social workers, people who were early social workers and they saw what they wanted and what they hoped for in the new deal. part of the reason for this is there is a tiexiera around world war i it has to do with the personality, the personality of woodrow wilson. a great deal and has been written about the personality of woodrow wilson but in my opinion not enough. he had an extraordinary defense. before i get back to woodrow wilson just let me lay out the broad argument and then i will come back to wilson in this tiexiera. when we think of liberalism today the top and bottom coalition we associate with barack obama this began not with
7:54 pm
regresses with the new deal but rather in the wake of the post-world war i disillusionment with american society. most americans were happy to get back to the harding years the subject of a new book but that was not true of intellectuals. and it was not true of writers of fiction. those people, let me tell you the people i'm referring to. you will know these names well. hg wells, h. l. mencken, as saying claire lewis and randolph bourne. my suspicion is most of the people number and don't know who randolph bourne is and i hope after reading the book you will because he has an enormous impact on the 1960s. many of the ideas in the 1960s are bourne's ideas. hg wells as you all know, you
7:55 pm
think of him as the writer of great science fiction. wells was an enormous political influence on both sides of the atlantic. he met with teddy roosevelt. they talked about his fictions. he met with president taft. he met with fdr repeatedly. he was a force to be reckoned with. sinclair lewis, if you are over 50 you know who he is from the novels main street and it can't happen here. which are still part of the political landscape of america. and mencken. all of you know who mencken is but you probably don't know that mencken was the most influential
7:56 pm
liberal of the 1920s. you don't know this because in the 30s he was enormously hostile to fdr and he was cast into perfidy. in the 1920s no one and i say no one was more influential among liberal thinkers and young advanced thinkers on the campus, today's equivalent of the creative class, god help us. no one was more influential than mencken. like communism, fascism, modern liberalism was it vanguard movement born of a new class of politically self-conscious and like shills. let me repeat that because it may sound odd. like communism fabianism and modern liberalism was a vanguard movement born of a new class of lee self conscious intellectuals.
7:57 pm
i'm not suggesting that liberals are fascists. communists are fabians. none of the above. it i'm saying there are great similarities and they are created by the vanguard of intellectuals. critical of mass democracy liberals despise the individual business men's pursuit of profit as well as conventional individual self-interest to pursue success. both of which thrived in the 19th century. snobbery is not new to liberalism but the actual history of liberalism will be new to most readers. liberalism like its rivals including communism and fascism and fabianism emerged as part of the 20th century response to the newly emerging worlds of mass production mass politics and mass production. like fascism and communism, and i should add here fabianism
7:58 pm
liberalism was strongly influenced by the rightist of nietzsche. the first book in america written by nietzsche was written by h.l. mencken. the first book on george bernard shaw and america was written by the same man, mencken. mencken made shah famous in england before he was famous in england. i won't go into shock today but suffice it to say that he plays an important role in the book. what people found appealing to nietzsche was the sense of his call for new aristocracy. old era stock rate -- aristocraaristocra cy has crumbled under the impact of modernization. he wanted a new aristocracy and hg wells is writing and if you remember as a kid whose memory is calling for the new samurai.
7:59 pm
it's calling for this new elite to run the world. he never really stops and when you are reading al gore, and i hesitate to mention his name here, when you read al gore, on climate change you are reading hg wells. core solutions to climate change creating a global governing body. the set of liberal and emotional attachmenattachmen ts in the political libido and let me emphasize that phrase. ..
8:00 pm
it begins to appeal the prohibition which briefly sets roosevelt off on the right foot. [laughter] he was a great man drinker of german beer.
8:01 pm
a short summary of what liberalism is came from the white literary story. does anyone know who he is? very few. he was a very widely known figure. anyone who is not a researcher you cannot escape that. they said the following in the late 20's and. the dictatorship used that term. they are a thing to be
8:02 pm
respected. the alienation from american life, the sense that america was the worst of all places was essential to liberalism and its inception. the 1950's when they reconciled the literary [crying] critic known as for the first time in modern history america isn't to be conceived of as a priority, the stupidest nation in the world and, this novelty soon passed. just a brief word to break up into the narrative, he was the founder of the republican and sometimes you have heard this phrase in college for made professor he wanted to achieve
8:03 pm
the ends, jeffersonian and hamilton means. he was a francophile. his parents were part of the religion of the french thinker. whatever that was hit isn't entirely clear. he was an early feminist in this on have been marriage and and was a futurist. he admitted he was basically a francophile depending on what's going on.
8:04 pm
does anyone know who van lewicke brooks was? we have to get this person out of here. [laughter] the road about the idea of highbrow and lowbrow he wrote the first biography of america and here's what he wrote about. this was 1917. he offered the air we breathe and made a conscious fact that reside with a certain kind of living and resides with others
8:05 pm
who. wells located in the rockefeller institute the stage foundations and the endowed universities and research, the future of church he hoped for that would govern all of america and other words what she was hoping for was the vote for clerisy, the secular but religious group whose underlying values and i'm not going to get into it today but if you think about the members. this is a famous moment when john gardner supposedly jokingly began to say welcome, faculty because that is what it was
8:06 pm
literally, not just metaphorically the booklet me try this. they were destined to becoming. is anyone familiar with the book this was a fascinating book. the book was to undermine and destroy monogamy, faith in god and respectability under the speculation of electrical heating. for many young intellectuals they were out.
8:07 pm
they were all these people wanted was a secular. secular priesthood were set aside. they were german and world war war i. he writes a series of articles from the alana tech calling for a german victory and was never published on the everlasting which calls for the german conquest. it existed in that connection but when you go to talk to the library and they will not bring it forward to you know.
8:08 pm
i will come back to this an eminent. let me turn to the here the profession has been imposed and there is a good deal of repression. world war i is. in 1917 on entering the war in the american left including people like max or part of the pacifist groups that visited washington were enamored and you will see this and we will get to that. they see what role wilson as one of them and it sounds like one of them. he is opposed to many of the same grounds. the imperialism, triumphed, he studied socialism and he's not a
8:09 pm
socialist but he studied socialism and he sees an american progress of islam. those years him between 1920 were traumatic. in 1916 many of them embraced willson as a former leader of the province. by 1919, he was seen who's in frederick was the spy. wilson's 14 points to the republic of the labor unions and his warning to the allies that treatment in russia would be the test of their good well, intelligence and unselfish sympathy and were immensely impressive to us. speaking for many of the leftist progressives, this was the extraordinary moment when
8:10 pm
russia's leon trotsky referring to the famous concept of the fellow traveler. it's wilson who is the model for fellow traveler. as we used the term leader isn't true, but for a time, this appears to be the case. the metaphor was based on the believes the president's should have a critique of the imperialism and hope for reform in the capitalist u.s.. this could sound like the 1980's who fought that russia was going to catch up and we were going to converge but there was no reason to go all over at. liberals were those progressives
8:11 pm
who remained, who renamed themselves, let me repeat that. liberals were those progressives who would rename themselves so as to repudiate. they wrote in 1919 he was interested in the jargon of american politics by the group that was progressive and 1912 and will send democrats from 1916. the liberalism was a cultural break with wilson and progressivism while the progressives who inspired by faith and space reforms was for the wounds of the industrial civilization and power politics, the self defined liberals saw the space ethos as a danger to freedom at home and abroad. sound familiar? the revolution that carried was middle class society at large
8:12 pm
and not just the bible belt with restriction to blame but their subjugation. the american writers prosper as never before. not here in washington but if you come a few miles north in the dinner party i guarantee you will bump into such people. the state remains in the culture as the herd or the peasants. they solve the industrialism standards of living as a pernicious degradation posed by the country organized by the needs of the middle class. this terrie who sense of the
8:13 pm
prosperity would be picked up after world war ii and become enormously influential with writers like richard hofstadter and i'm pleased to say they had a good sense to repudiate this. here is brooks talking about coney island. the popular broadway shows were all makeshifts of despair. proof that america was a joyous land. this takes a leap to think that cony island and baseball represents. maybe he spent time with alex rodriquez them but that would be a long time in the future. they compared the united states to a primaeval monster that was concentrating the appetite at the moment that knew nothing of
8:14 pm
its own encrusted with parasites and half in distinguishable of the slime with which it moves. this is not a very positive picture of them. [laughter] of these writers wrote the chronicle of the generation united in one crusade army by the revolt of the american tradition. and in the exciting years of 1919 to 1920, and they seize the power in the literary world almost like the bolsheviks in russia. that is exactly right. let's go back if we can to what your wilson and the power. wilson seems to understand that the attempt to impose uniformity
8:15 pm
and mess of the war, the antigerman hostility and bannings our carol, you know all the specifics of this, but this could be avoided but then he empowers people to impose just that, a frightening uniformity on the country. and if there is anything good about liberalism and i think there is but i don't want to push too hard, concern with uniformity although they're the most come from people imaginable they would have their good moments even if most of them were bad, and the civil rights. what we need on the repression is something that frightens.
8:16 pm
they see the attempt to create the uniform america and they are not imagining camps. many of wilson's supporters including people protectively are cracking down on the german institutions and all sorts of dissent so african-americans criticizing when chin -- lynching supervisors much as bolshevik supervisors 25 years later. his love affair. he was not a nice man.
8:17 pm
it was a meeting and the other was a vegetarian. but the work on one side and they hated the anglo-american culture and for making this led to words stalin. he was talking about the aftermath of the war. like the leaders of germany i had a great doubt about democracy and is suddenly dawned on me somewhat to my surprise and who said i have any spiritual home at all that must be the land of ancestors when world war i started i began to look for the kinds and kept that
8:18 pm
up so long with any free speech left. now unfortunately, he did suffer, some of the colonies were and he could present himself. most of what is written about today ignores all of this. what me jump ahead. does anybody want to talk and so i will talk about it later. i will pick up the scope now. most of what you've read isn't true. wasn't written out of town or persecuted. they put him up to the case and it seemed like a good idea. this was classic promotional
8:19 pm
some. william jennings bryan moodie -- and debated the museum and he actually read darwin. he had a sale and he was leading where he wasn't particularly. when henry ford would come out with anti-semitism, he repudiated. he was generally an open and a decent man and he was antiwar and anti-war. when he wrote about him he created a cartoon which lasted until the present. let me jump right ahead now. is there any story that you know of that you would think as the
8:20 pm
second menkin? think of the kennedy assassination for a minute. richard hofstadter was the second menkin. remember the supporters, we had no evidence at all. the supporters, we had no support for this at all. using a that you are reading him all over again. let me start their.
8:21 pm
they looked at another piece of work and he was a fellow german-american and there can never be any compromise in the future between the mnf german blood and the common right thinking americans. we must stand against them forever and do what damage we can to them. if you come across this in your writings, your ratings on menkin, let me know because i really find it. the leading communist cultural figure, the famous fellow for jews without money declared him the greatest political influence he faded in the thirties with the attack fdr had and that wasn't going to fly.
8:22 pm
his acolytes thief still hated the bruzual sea but many had become communists again the triet. they would hardly every with a better assault on everything the was typically bruzual said it was a continuity and the communism in the 30's and he was responsible for all of the society is failing me.
8:23 pm
shaped by the literary club nec who was a mentor to arthur schlesinger her, he was the writing turned into novels and the midwest said arthur schlesinger her was stalked with symbols of business domination and the fixed them at not just for the intellectuals of his own generation but for the world in the last half century that is exactly right. the first american to receive the pulitzer prize although i suggest if you read today you will find the right and not all that appealing. he's not a good writer and he knew it and it drove him crazy he got the pulitzer prize. main street caught the world of
8:24 pm
the post war literary disillusionment with america. it is about the young woman who's married to a faithful husband and how she suffers because her fellow citizens to whom all beyond words. did they do not read the best writings. the richest provincials and she is tortured by this. the book is an enormous success. he was one of louis biographers.
8:25 pm
i think that he was his best biographer. he has an even in history, and he's right. it marks -- it was eight demarcation point in american culture. 12 years he would go on and right about who was oppressed. the talk after his wife dorothy thompson had been in europe looking at the rise of fascism, menkin -- sorry. i'm confusing. lewis writes a novel about the rise of fascism and america. it can't happen here. i'm sure that most of you read
8:26 pm
it. it's worth reading. it's written well, it's not, just because it is so interesting. so many of the themes are still alive today. and it can't happen here -- is marvelous because it turns out that of the equivalent of the black shirts and the brown shirts are the of rotary club meetings. sound ludicrous it is the conformity. all of the corners of the institution that were making for the democracy that in the present day we warned all of that was for the base. he couldn't think politically.
8:27 pm
but he was good at capturing the political mood. he was repulsed by the intolerance of world war i and he paid little attention. max wasn't a liberal but was a leftist paid no attention whatsoever. it wasn't their concerns. when he came along into the military as an and resentment about the german racial purity and eugenics that were popular among the liberals, lewis stepped in but suggesting that they were man straight being recapitulated in europe. it can't happen he was greeted by extraordinary praise triet the new yorker described as one
8:28 pm
of the most important books ever produced in america. published at a time when the population was but 127 million they sold 127,000 copies. opening just prior to the presidential elections, the play ran with nearly 400,000 viewers in just four months. it was a sensation issued periodically it can't happen and became a part of yesterday young intellectuals reading. i read it when i was about 14. it became a part of every young intellectual reading it that persisted to the present. other readers of the 2004 model applied against america written in the bush years would recognize the plot of it can't happen here. i love reading this. but it was one of his worst models. it just doesn't work. in this case, they take the
8:29 pm
country over. during the second term of george w. bush, they brought out a new printing that it can't happen here and the newspaper columnists such as paul krugman natural on their authority with what they saw as the current bush administration slow takeover of the united states. they saw yet another down, that they never specified as the first. ..
8:30 pm
not so different from the news mri and i don't know how they selected these good people that are selected but it's an oligarch of good people. how this has been done he doesn't have much to say. when you read or listen to people around the obama administration it's very similar to their view of the world. very similar to their view of the world with one important difference which i won't go into now. i will pick it up and question and the answers. let me stop at that. i have probably gone on too long. what time is it quite oh good.
8:31 pm
i have gone on too long. sorry. thank you. [applause] >> fred has agreed to take your questions. who would like to begin quite. >> hi. >> wait for the mic. >> i am always intrigued by this antagonism of intellectuals to capitalism and it's a persistent threat. and i wonder if it's because capitalism stands for a source of power that doesn't recognize what the intellectuals are selling which is and select or how would you explain it?
8:32 pm
>> capitalism does recognize it. the writings of f. scott fitzgerald and sinclair lewis exploded in the 1920s. so they are richly rewarded by the society that they despise. i think it has to do with the following. intellectuals, however much attention they get they think they deserve more. the reason they deserve more as you get eaglet. miss him threats like acid on their skin. their vote is no more important than anyone else's vote. if you go back to john stuart mill his admiration for the french revolution of 1831 and 1848 did not stand up well however mel's call for multiple balance for people like himself that they shouldn't be compelled to vote like ordinary people.
8:33 pm
this is a long-standing and it's an insoluble problem until you flip it around talking about information. it's not a risible question. a lot of voters and i'm thinking of my hometown of new york. i hope people realize de blazio was elected by a record vote turnout. the turnout hadn't been that low since before women could vote. so it's not as if there was this great a fusion of enthusiasm. but the city now is entirely in the hands of lower generation voters. it's not that it's not a problem but that is not the problem intellectuals are talking about. just one last point on intellectuals and capitalism. it's not just capitalism. it's democracy. it's democracy so whether you the love affair of many
8:34 pm
intellectuals with the kaiser. this is certainly not a lovely fellow and i'm just curious how many people have read john rolled the british historian? he may not be well-known. he is very good on seeing how much of hitler nazis anticipated in the kaiser. but this hasn't been discussed in part of the reason hasn't been discussed is the kind of arthur schlesinger view of the world is simply triumphed. the 20s were a horrible time. society was redeemed in the 30s and we had us better understand that. >> michael. >> michael barone of aei and the "washington examiner." congratulations fred.
8:35 pm
one name you mentioned is different from all the others and i wondered whether they paid much attention to him at all or saw him as an opponent, tocqueville. you mentioned corley was a francophile and accompli in. i'm not really up to date on my comps that i have a feeling he is something like the opposite of what tocqueville with some reservation what you you saw an 1830s? >> you were exactly right. what he wanted was a kind of stance ammonium socialism imposed by a central power. he wanted extreme essentials centralization under an enlightened elite. so he had no use for tocqueville whatsoever. he was a stance ammonium.
8:36 pm
i don't recommend anyone read it today and this you are interested. it's very interesting this kind of socialism because it's socialism pre-marks and a great deal of what survives and socialism, let me just pop over for a second h. g. wells. he wouldn't be well aware of this because little has been written about this but h.g. wells was a great admirer of american utopian socialist experiments. new harmony for instance was something he studied closely. and wells is socialism from american utopian socialism, he became an american. his father never really made of real living and the family thought about moving and a fairly did so.
8:37 pm
but tocqueville was unknown to these people. had he been read he would have would have been seen as hopelessly petit bourgeois. there is a great short essay by d. h. lawrence how beastly the bourgeois. is anyone familiar with this? if you get a chance it's all about how the news was cr so -- not metaphorically. it's this attitude that gets picked up and sometimes in the case of mencken literally. >> hi read my name is tom curry. i had trouble fitting what i thought was my understanding of
8:38 pm
regressiveism in with what some of what you said. at one point you used the phrase that some have the sense that america was the worst of all places or something like that. if you think about what happened a few years before woodrow wilson signed into law a law against child labor and it was struck down and later in the new deal child labor was banned. it's not that liberals and progressives thought american side was contemptible they thought it was capable of being improved. your view it seems ,-com,-com ma think back to hubert humphrey for example. he would have never said american society was utterly contemptible. he wanted to improve it. >> first of all hubert hummer hubert humphrey was against it.
8:39 pm
let me go back to my point. you miss one of the central point of my argument that there's a break to liberalism. i think progressives do agree that america can be will redeemed. liberals break with that over woodrow wilson. they seen wilson embodiment of progressivism and they don't want to break with him. they want nothing whatsoever to do with it and nothing whatsoever to do with the tacit american society. they are not progressives. that's all i can say. i hope you'll read the book. who are they? they are just the people who i described. they want new aristocracy and government land. >> hi. david with the heritage foundation. thank you very much for the presentation and i look forward to reading the book. is obama a liberal or progressive? at times he seems not to reveal his contempt for the will when
8:40 pm
he says they cling to their guns and religion but at times it's all about forward and improvement and lob blah blah. >> the term progressive came back into use because the term liberal become such a pejorative. because the hubert humphrey's of the world died off and were replaced by george mcgovern's and much worse. i would describe the president as a liberal and when he belongs to reverend wright church one of the things he preaches against his middle-class. he preaches against middle classes. you have to avoid those middle-class versions. exact we hardly get to be middle class without middle-clmiddle-cl virtues? somebody has to explain this to me. contemporary liberalism, the
8:41 pm
closing chapters of the book anticipate the election in new york city. i'm not going to promote the book that way because no one will then read it. but the election in new york city has put its power on every major office. people are very close to the international union seiu and united health care workers. they are combined. de blazio the new mayor alyssa mark vigorito the speaker of the council votes worked for seiu. you can go on down the list. one of the ways liberalism changed is that when it lost the american majority and i talk about this in the section i called those philosophical crisis of american liberalism it
8:42 pm
was in the wilderness and discovered a new middle class. public sector unions. public or unionist likes liberals because like the pros they wanted to extract from the state. private-sector unionist, this is i don't know how many people follow governor christie and i have no interest in defending governor christie. they wake governor christie has succeeded to the degree he has is by working with the president and the senate steven swanson the head of the ironworkers union. as a private-sector unionist he wants to file economy and new jersey's economy is pretty much dead in the water. he oppose private-sector unions but what private-sector unions want his extraction and that is what governor walker was dealing with in wisconsin. there's no interest in growing the economy at large great if you can show me where obama's policies have been designed to
8:43 pm
grow the economy at large i want to know about them. so, liberalism becomes deeply connected with public-sector unionism and re-creates itself in a pejorative area and sends by bringing the union is and acorn is very closely connected to seiu and acorn has supposedly dissolved. it has just changed his name but it still operates just the way -- i should say it's not doing voter registration anymore but it's still a very effective voter turnout operation for liberal thumb wraps. >> a question back here. >> what are the end goals of liberalism this new aristocracy? is a socialism without any voting where they are in control of all the resources sort of a
8:44 pm
communism without any party? i'm not sure because they don't like any threats it seems like. capitalism is bad and democracy is bad and religion is bad. i guess local warming is good because they think they control it. i'm not sure where they want to get? >> a couple of years ago joe nye wrote a piece for the legal standard talking about obama's authoritarian tendencies, this tendency to try to rule through executive order. i think we will see a lot more that especially if he uses it -- loses his upcoming election. we will see some very nasty complex because he is kind to try to govern without a conference. my wife who i can now criticize who is sitting in the front row is from chicago and people from chicago have a lot to answer for. [laughter] they knew obama was a fraud way back when. when jan would bring my
8:45 pm
sister-in-law, my sister-in-law but she's just like my sister. all these people knew obama as a former tax attorney and knew him rather well. i asked them what are his accomplishments? they said he has absolutely no qualification. i said why are you supporting him? they said because it's very good for chicago. the money will be coming in here. why should i oppose this? that is the chicago way of thinking for which i criticize my wife. what he has done is bring chicago style politics to america, america writ large. what is good for the machine and what is good for people left hate the machine off so he is not opposed to all capital. it's just capitalism has not paid off. here i'm not speaking as a --
8:46 pm
just speaking as a guy flapping his lips. i wouldn't call it inksterism. that's not very appealing either. >> you made woodrow wilson a figure but i didn't hear you recount the exact positions or acts of his that liberals found enough,. >> prohibition was one. another was the bam on the use of german language, the sale of german foods and wilson's tolerance of his attorney general a mitchell palmer repressed german americans and it's not well-known that there were fights in the streets of american cities milwaukee chicago between german americans and the polish americans.
8:47 pm
and nongerman americans. it got ugly. so what they disliked about wilson was this repression. not necessarily directly from executive office but countenanced by the executive office. >> would you like to take more questions? >> sure, as many as you want. >> my name is pete chase. referring to one of the answers you gave earlier tonight, you said what liberals despise is egalitarianism and in particular democracy i guess because it empowers the average guy in a way that they find deplorable. i'm having trouble squaring that with calls on the left. it's always for more democracy.
8:48 pm
the 17th amendment calls for the abolition of the electoral college. it seems like on the left they are always calling for more direct democracy and i'm having trouble squaring with that. >> it thing that were direct is crucial. they want more direct democracy to create it directly -- society so when you control the center you control the entire society. what they are opposed to his republicanism small r. self-government on the local level. responsibresponsib ility on the state and local level. and a lively fertile congress which is certainly something we don't have. so when you say they are in favor of direct democracy yes, they are opposed to the electoral college but only in the years when they lose. other years they're quite happy and i wouldn't take this too seriously. this is something that is tactical just the

60 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on