Archive for the ‘American history’ Category

Summary of The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Part 5)

June 28th, 2010 Comments off


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These elements of lawmaking in addition to others previously mentioned provide evidence that although the procedure implemented in the passage of H. R. 1 was that of a modern Congress, it did not fit much of the specific criteria outlined by Barbara Sinclair for her new legislative process.

Works Cited

Austin, Jan, ed. Congressional Quarterly Almanac Plus. Vol. LVII 2001. Washington, D. C. Congressional Quarterly,

Inc. 2002

Boehner, John “Is School Choice the Best Solution to Our K-12 Education Problems? We Must Close Achievement

Gap. ” Roll Call. 26 Feb. 2001. Academic Universe. Lexis-Nexis. University of North Carolina Lib. Chapel Hill. 20

Nov. 2004 <http://www. lexis-nexis. com>

Broder, David S. “Long Road to Reform; Negotiators Forge Education Legislation. ” The Washington Post 17 Dec. 2001,

(Washington, D. C. A-1. Academic Universe. Lexis-Nexis. University of North Carolina Lib. Chapel Hill. 20 Nov.

2004 <http://www. lexis-nexis. com>

Feehery, John and Pete Jeffries, “House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) Endorses President’s Education Proposal. ”

Speaker’s Press Office. 2001. 22 Nov. 2004 <http://edworkforce. house. gov/press/press107/first032201. htm>

“House-Senate Education Conference Approves President’s Reading Initiatives, Other Aggreements. ” News from the

Committee on Education and the Workforce. 2001. 22 Nov. 2004

<http://edworkforce. house. gov/press/press107th/hr1agreements92501. htm>

“H. R. 1, No Child Left Behind: Questions and Answers. ” House Education and the Workforce Committee. 22 Nov. 2004.

<http://edworkforce. house. gov>

“Issue Summary: H. R. 1 Enhances Accountability. ” House Education and the Workforce Committee. 22 Nov. 2004.

<http://edworkforce. house. gov>

“Issue Summary: H. R. 1 Helps Close the Achievement Gap. ” House Education and the Workforce Committee. 22 Nov.

2004. <http://edworkforce. house. gov>

Lara, Dan and Dave Schnittger. “Boehner Praises Education Reforms in H. R. 1 as Education Debate Begins on House

Floor. ” News from the Committee on Education and the Workforce. 2001. 22 Nov. 2004

<edworkforce. house. gov/press/press107/hr1boehnerfloor51701. htm>

Schnittger, Dave and Heather Valentine. “House Approves Landmark Education Reforms: No Child Left Behind

Measure ready for Senate Passage, Then President’s Signature. ” News from the Committee on Education and the

Workforce. 2001. 22 Nov. 2004 <http://edworkforce. house. gov/press/press107/confrepthousepass121301. htm>

Schnittger, Dave and Heather Valentine. “President Bush Signs Landmark Education Reforms into Law. ” News from the

Committee on Education and the Workforce. 2002. 22 Nov. 2004

<http://edworkforce. house. gov/press/press107/hr1signing10802. htm>

Sinclair, Barbara. Unorthodox Lawmaking: New Legislative Process in the U. S. Congress. Washington, D. C. CQ Press.

“Transforming Federal Role in Education for the 21st Century: Hearing on H. R. 1, H. R. 340, and H. R. 345. ” News from

the Committee on Education and the Workforce. 2001. 22 Nov. 2004

<http://edworkforce. house. gov/hearings/107th/fc/hr132901/w132901. htm>

United States. Cong. House of Representatives. House Rpt. 107-069: Providing for the Consideration of H. R. 1 The No

Child Left Behind Act of 2001. 16 May 2001. 107th Cong. House Bill 1. 26 Nov. 2004 <http://thomas. loc. gov/cgi-

bin/cpquery/? &db_id=cp107&r_n=hr069. 107&sel=TOC_0&>

United States. Cong. House of Representatives. To Close the Achievement Gap with Accountability, Flexibility, and

Choice, So That No Child is Left Behind. 2002. 107th Cong. House Bill 1. 22 Nov. 2004 <http://thomas. loc. gov/cgi-

bin/cpquery/? &db_id=cp107&r_n=hr069. 107&sel=TOC_0&>

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The U.S. Intervention in Grenada: Apologism City

July 4th, 2008 Comments off


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The following is intended merely for a demonstration about ignorance, not as a reflection of my current point of view.

I wrote this paper in my first year of college, while still desperately holding on to the idea of America as a good military power. But even I, as a vigorous apologist, simply had to cede the many, many facts that made the idea of noble American intervention absurd. I find this to be particularly instructive; not of the historical facts of the Grenada intervention, but of how easily one can talk about politics in floating abstractions with no foundation for good/bad. Far-fetched chance of Soviet intervention: bad! Invasion, coercion, and death: now justifiable! If you can spot all of the nationalistic and other mythological delusions in this paper and email them to me, I’ll paypal you $2. –more–>The U. S. Intervention in Grenada: Why?

When discussing the 1979-1983 U. S. actions in Grenada, one must ask the first and most important question: what interest could the world’s capitalist superpower possibly have in a tiny island less populous than a South American football stadium? The miniscule nation’s economy, lacking any significant natural resource or consumer markets (for example), naturally precluded almost any possibility of American business interest in Grenada that could capably provide a specific political-economic impetus for invasion. It likely follows, then, that the intervention was part of an arrangement of Cold War policy disassociated from narrow, influential business interests, and one more involved with broader ideological and strategic (Realist) theories. The new socialist government of 1979 had already not been in good standing with the Carter administration; the coming of Reagan in 1981 only deepened U. S. negativity toward Maurice Bishop and the New Jewel Movement (NJM), which had aligned with Cuba and the Soviet Union. Washington could, in turn, publicly allege that Grenada was a significant security threat if it were used militarily by the Cubans as a base for regional subversion, notably in Central America, or by the Soviets for projection of power, whether conventional or nuclear. In line with the U. S. ’s hard-line economic stance on Cuban communism, policymakers also sought to isolate (and destroy) any non-capitalist system to prevent the creation of any precedent toward the success of such systems anywhere else in the region. Finally, as probably the most central motivation for the invasion of Grenada, Reagan, battling a proxy war in Nicaragua against the leftist Sandinistas, wanted to send a clear message to all countries in the region that the United States still had the power to intervene-with its own forces- anywhere it deemed necessary during the post-Vietnam era, and did not need to rely on proxy armies like the Contras. The causes for intervention, separate from the Reagan Administration’s stated rationale, can be principally divided into three parts: the long-term military security of the nation, in addition to rolling back the influence of the Soviet Union; the discouragement and destruction of any installation of a “socialist experiment” in such proximity to the United States; and the symbolic display of military power to intimidate regional opponents while restoring prestige to the nation’s armed forces.

Background and Outset of the Conflict (Some Lies, too! )

Grenada, a small island nation one hundred miles north of the coast of South America, is a heavily agriculture and tourism-dependent state with a population of under 100,000. Formerly a British colony, it gained its independence from Britain in 1974 under the leadership of Prime Minister Sir Eric Gairy, one of the key players in fomenting change through trade union organizations in the previous decades. Though his popularity after independence successfully won his reelection to the premiership three times, he soon proved to be eccentric- obsessed with UFOs, extraterrestrial contact, and occult practice- and despotic, maintaining his rule through a secret police known as the “Mongoose Squad. ”[1] Gairy’s opponents, the largest being the New JEWEL (Joint Endeavour for Welfare, Education and Liberation) Movement, a Marx-inspired socialist group led by attorney Maurice Bishop, began to take action. In a coup with little bloodshed, Bishop and the NJM seized the government while Gairy was in New York discussing UFOs in the United Nations. Following the NJM victory, the new government began to pursue aggressive and ambitious socialist programs that arguably turned the country toward progress, reducing unemployment from 49 to 14% and pulling up impressive growth rates in the midst of a world recession. The World Bank praised the new government in 1980, declaring, “government objectives are centered on the critical development issues and touch on the country’s most promising development areas. ” The U. S. stance toward Bishop rapidly turned adversarial, however, and the Administration under Carter (and then Reagan) began taking measures to undermine Bishop’s government, particularly through subversion of the Grenadian economy. Travel-scare rumors were spread to American travel agencies while the White House painted the island as a communist enemy in order to discourage economically important tourism, and several international lending institutions were aggressively lobbied to halt loans to Grenada (to not much avail).

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The U.S. Intervention in Grenada: Apologism City   [ Part 2]

July 4th, 2008 Comments off


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Plans were also drafted by the CIA to “cause economic difficulties for Grenada in hopes of undermining the political control of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop,” but never came into fruition due to opposition from the Senate Intelligence Committee. [2] In the months leading up to the invasion, the Reagan Administration made a series of allegations against the Bishop government, centered about an image of a proximate hostile military threat that leveled accusations of military transfers to the island, such as a the construction of a Soviet submarine base and a shipment of a vast armada of aircraft. The most media attention was given to the construction of a new airfield under construction with the assistance of Cuba and Cuban workers, which was suspect to use for military purposes. [3] In March 1983, President Reagan announced on television:

Grenada doesn’t even have an air force. Who is it intended for? … the rapid build-up of Grenada’s military potential is unrelated to any conceivable threat… the Soviet-Cuban militarization of Grenada … can only be seen as a power projection into the region. [4]

All of these claims were at least in most part proven false. A Washington Post reporter visited the purported submarine construction site, finding nothing except the sea being too shallow for a sub-base; the massive Soviet arsenal of MIG fighters and attack helicopters was never found; and the clear economic motivations for the airfield were supplemented by a report by the British multinational corporation, Plessey, that enumerated a number of necessary military specifications not applied to the airfield’s construction. [5] With the specious groundwork of such claims, opportunity then struck for an invasion: on October 19, 1983, hard-liners in the NJM (later forming the Military Revolutionary Council) led a military coup and imprisoned Bishop and his ranking supporters. Capitalizing on the presence of 800 American medical students, Reagan began attempting to emphasize their imminent danger from the chaos and unrest of the coup as a pretext for an invasion, despite assurances from Cuban officials, the Grenadian military government, and the students themselves that no such threat existed. Though there were valid grounds to be skeptical of promises made by enemy powers, widespread refusal by medical school officials and students to acknowledge any significant danger trumped any realistic need for action for the sake of American safety. Why Washington would hold such an antagonistic and disruptive position would lie beyond the televised broadcasts.

Security Concerns (warning: apologist bullshit)

Lies, falsehoods, and fabrications to drum up public approval notwithstanding, there were indeed several potential security concerns for the U. S. and the Western Hemisphere involving Grenada. After coming to power, Bishop, shunned by the U. S. and blocked from most Western aid, had no choice but to support his bankrupted treasury by appealing to the Soviet Union and Cuba for assistance. Unfortunate as these circumstances were for Grenada (either attracting more American enmity or letting the country’s economy suffer), associating with the Communist alliance would only invite influence and leverage from it. That the Reagan Administration concocted myths of vast Cuban and Soviet military aid to the island obviously did not change that such aid was possible and even desirable to the communists as a future opportunity. With strategic access to the Caribbean and Latin America, Grenada could serve as another Soviet power projection in the hemisphere and be used as a base of operations for South America. It had the potential to receive heavy aid and grow into a state similar to Cuba, it possibly becoming another flash-point for a confrontation similar to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1961. Shortly after Bishop’s 1979 coup, the U. S. Ambassador delivered a note to address fears of a mercenary army (led by the exiled Gairy) counter-coup: “… it would not be in Grenada’s best interests to seek assistance from a country such as Cuba to forestall such an attack. We would view with displeasure any tendency on the part of Grenada to develop closer ties with Cuba. ”[6] At the First International Conference in Solidarity with Grenada in November 1981, Bishop’s government outlined its plan for building a socialist Grenada while protecting it from “imperialism” abroad to delegates from “around the world”; that is, as they wanted it to seem. Though present were representatives from U. S. British, and other national political interest groups (communist parties, Grenada Friendship Societies, etc. the majority of delegates sent by actual governments themselves were from such nations as Nicaragua, Libya, Vietnam, North Korea, and the USSR. [7] Over the course of the conference, the Grenadian ministers continuously expressed support for a vast list of distinct U. S. enemies, while emphasizing its positive relations with “the socialist community and other democratic and peace-loving states,” including those under the control of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe. [8] Meanwhile, they lambasted American policy with harsh rhetoric, at one point labeling the Reagan Administration a “fascist clique.

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The U.S. Intervention in Grenada: Apologism City   [ Part 3]

July 4th, 2008 Comments off


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[9] Considering these outward gestures, Bishop’s government appeared to be following a route of foreign policy similar to Cuba’s, attempting to ensure its survival by aligning with the “anti-U. S. ” Soviet and miscellaneous powers. A viable purpose of the conference, then, was to visibly demonstrate to these powers that Grenada was ready for a serious commitment in return for economic and military assistance. Whether this predicament was caused unfairly or not, Bishop’s strategy would become grounds for U. S. concern. The 1983 MRC coup, however, drastically altered Grenada’s strength. After imprisoning and executing Bishop and his cabinet, General Hudson Austin, the military architect of the coup, realized that his new government had overstepped and become isolated, condemned by Cuba, sanctioned by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, and only supported with words from Moscow. In the language of British correspondent Hugh O’Shaughnessy,

There is every reason to think that in the case of Grenada the MRC would have collapsed under the great weight of the opprobrium it was suffering within the island, combined if there had been a need with the outside pressures exerted on it by its neighbors… had [Austin] and Coard not given up their narrowly dictatorial aspirations it is difficult to see what force they could have relied on to maintain them against the popular anger at the massacre they were responsible for. [10]

Indeed, though Austin desperately sought to negotiate his government out of its helpless position and the previously mentioned security concerns were all but dissipated for the time being, the U. S. immediately seized the opportunity to invade and claim a victory in the name of liberation.

Ideological Security

In another political dimension, Grenada presented an ideological challenge to the United States and its economic system. Keenly aware of this, the Bishop government used it to explain the hostility of the “big-powers”:

From the outset, the anti-imperialist nature of Grenada’s solution and the “danger” of a new, successful, non-capitalist model in the bosom of the English-speaking Caribbean was more than the Washington/London axis was willing to tolerate. The hostility of imperialism and the threat of instant confrontational politics were on the horizon the very week following March 13, 1979. [11]

Initially influenced by Black Power ideology, a typical vessel for dissent in the Caribbean, Bishop gravitated toward the formation of the JEWEL, a rural-oriented faction aimed at undermining Prime Minister Gairy’s support among the “agro-proletariat. ” Eventually, the New JEWEL Movement was created by merging similar socialist political factions. It is important to note that long before any U. S. involvement, the NJM was already Marxist-Leninist oriented (in direct refutation of the belief that like Castro in Cuba, Grenada’s leadership was “forced” into leftist ideology to find allies against a hostile United States). In the Party Manifesto of 1973, it was made clear that atop the goal of redistribution of economic and political opportunity was the absolute transformation into a socialist economy with a full welfare system. [12] Early reforms were met with big success in the diversification of agriculture, strong growth rates, increases in literacy, and a slew of ambitious programs to boost development of important economic sectors. Bishop also capitalized on racial and ethnic appeal and took it to the United States, where he garnered the support of Black-American unions and Communist/Socialist groups who attended the 1981 Grenada conference, such as the Black Workers Organization and the U. S. Communist Party. [13] In the period of “Reaganomics” and dissatisfied minorities, a socialist “Black Power” movement could prove to be, however small in breadth, a considerable domestic political threat. Over an extended period of time, Bishop’s government would have likely been the target of a major U. S. -sponsored destabilization attempt had it continued its course of domestic and foreign policy. However, the MRC coup, executed by hard-line Leninists within the government, proved to be an effective substitute to remove the arguably successful “socialist experiment. ”

Military Pride

The actual invasion of Grenada in 1983, Operation “Urgent Fury,” is best explained by the urgency and fury with which Reagan needed a successful military campaign. A show of significant force would make governments in Latin America and the Caribbean think twice about stirring the political cauldron without permission from the United States. Already in the pessimistic shroud of the post-Vietnam era, the U. S. was dealing with the after-effects of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis and the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 servicemen a mere 2 days before the invasion. The MRC had largely disarmed and dismantled a majority of the militias for being “pro-Bishop,” leaving the bulk of what would be costly resistance to the American Marines out of the picture. As a quick and generally low-cost intervention (18 American dead, 116 wounded), the attack paid off. 7,000 servicemen were awarded medals for participating in the operation.

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The U.S. Intervention in Grenada: Apologism City   [ Part 4]

July 4th, 2008 Comments off


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Back home, the public responded with a surge in Presidential approval ratings and bipartisan support in Congress, even by Reagan’s future democratic challenger, Walter Mondale. The rapid deployment and achievement of military superiority demonstrated the still-living power of American hegemony. As William Blum smugly describes, “America had regained its manhood, by stepping on a flea. ”[14]


Too frequently, writings on the US intervention in Grenada address the topic solely as what happened in the October of 1983- and what the Reagan Administration made up to get there- but they treat with surprising brevity and simplification the years prior. If public recognition of falsehoods related to the intervention is limited, then recognition of studies done on the relationships between Grenada and the rest of the world beforehand is even sparser in visibility. As in the in current Gulf War, surrounding the 1983 intervention was a slew of misinformation from the government, but accompanying it in its aftermath were criticisms that treated the conflict in an overly one-dimensional manner. The one qualification that can be made about both wars- ethical justifications and moral qualms aside- is that the U. S. acted on them with a specific national-strategic purpose. Between Syria, Iran, and Iraq, Iraq was chosen; between Cuba, Nicaragua, and Grenada, Grenada was “the place to invade. ”

[1] American Academic Encyclopedia, “Grenada: History and Government. ”

[2] Zunes, http://www. globalpolicy. org/empire/history/2003/10grenada. htm

[3] Blum, p. 273-274

[4] New York Times, 28 March 1983.

[5] Lormand, Grenada: How We Continue to Believe the Hoaxes of Our Military Establishment.

[6] Blum, p. 274

[7] Appendix (II), Grenada is not Alone, p. 144-146

[8] Cde. Unison Whiteman, Grenada is not Alone, p. 114

[9] Cde. Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop, Grenada is not Alone, p. 22

[10] O’Shaughnessy, p. 220

[11] Cde. Unison Whiteman, Grenada is not Alone, p. 119

[12] Dujmovic, p. 11

[13] Appendix (II), Grenada is not Alone, p. 144-146

[14] Blum, p. 277

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Anti-laissez-faire Ideas since the Founding: 1870-1918 (Part 3)

June 28th, 2008 Comments off


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As German sociologist Max Weber explained, “The rise of modern freedom presupposed unique constellations which will never repeat themselves. ” These “unique constellations” likely refer to the vast expanses of land and resources in North America, among other contingent facts, which gave rise to the harmony provided by decentralization. Otherwise, freedom must be centrally planned to be had beyond its occurrence through plain luck. Bellamy comments that Americans in the nineteenth century possessed a “galling personal dependence upon others as to the very means of life. ”[11] The founder of the American Economic Association, leader of an organization created to battle laissez-faire economics, wrote “we regard the state as an educational and ethical agency whose positive assistance is one of the indispensable conditions of human progress. ”[12]

Woodrow Wilson, in fulfillment of many of Herbert Croly’s ideas, advocated a “New Freedom. ” In The Meaning of Democracy (1912), he claims that while laissez-faire Jeffersonian ideals furnished “a government of free citizens and of equal opportunity,” the contemporary physical characteristics of the nation were suited to it; families each lived in separate households, employers were closer to their employees, and so forth (arguments very much similar to Weber’s “unique constellations”). Using Glasgow as an example, Wilson draws a metaphorical parallel between the Scottish city’s common hallways in residential buildings being defined as public streets and the “corridors” of large corporations being regulated as part of the public domain. In this, he claims he is fighting against “monopolistic control,” and in turn “fighting for the liberty of every man in America, and fighting for the liberty of American industry. ” [13] Not coincidentally, the Wilson administration heralded the introduction of the discretionary federal income tax through the Sixteenth Amendment in 1913.

Clearly, attitudes toward laissez-faire capitalism have turned significantly against it since the Founding. This is not to suggest that there was unanimity over the issue during America’s formative years, but major policy battles accompanied by successful movements have led to aggregate changes in economic viewpoints. The prominent influences of the postbellum period, such as the Progressives, have nearly eradicated belief in the functionality and even morality of absolute laissez-faire­ governance. Likewise, the public institutions established in the wake of those movements have furthermore ingrained the permanent, expanded role of government in the national consciousness (euphemistically speaking). Even “right-wing” politicians who profess the values of capitalism take their cues from business interests in exchange for financial and political support. Few candidates can plausibly survive electorally on a genuine non-interventionist policy platform. For America, the unabridged free market is dead.

[1] To clarify, any mention of “capitalism” alone still is referring to unlimited, absolute laissez-faire capitalism with the proper host of necessary political rights. Likewise, “liberal” refers to the host of values associated with it.

[2] This is, obviously, supposing that these trade unions are behaving by legitimate and economic means. In the “Forgotten Man,” Sumner attacks unions which restrict the free flow of labor, by limiting the pool of tradesmen in order to artificially raise wages.

[3] Some thinkers were nationalistic, like Bellamy; others were religious, like Ryan; and so forth.

[4] For space considerations, this analysis will not go past the Wilson administration.

[5] Edward Bellamy. “Looking Backwards. ” In American Political Thought, ed. Kenneth Dolbeare and Michael S. Cummings, 293 (Washington, D. C. CQ Press, 2004).

[6] Eric Foner, The Story of American Freedom, 144 (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2004. )

[7] Henry Demarest Lloyd. “Revolution: The Evolution of Socialism. ” In APT, 304-305.

[8] Foner, 144.

[9] Debs, “Revolutionary Unionism. ” In APT, 359.

[10] Eugene V. Debs, “Revolutionary Unionism. ” In APT, 355.

[11] Foner, 129.

[12] Foner, 130.

[13] Wilson, Woodrow. “The Meaning of Democracy. ” In APT, 393-395.

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Anti-laissez-faire Ideas since the Founding: 1870-1918 (Part 2)

June 28th, 2008 Comments off


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“The reward of any service depended not upon its difficulty, danger or hardship, for throughout the world it seems that the most perilous, severe, and repulsive labor was done by the worst paid classes…,” states Dr. Leete, a knowledgeable member of the society. [5] Indeed, this was not the case in 1887; the natural system of economic rewards resulting from liberal rights is, first and foremost, based on the mutual exchange of desired values, i. e. supply and demand. “Wage slavery” became a popular phrase to describe status of the common laborer. In The Living Wage (1906), John A. Ryan argues that the “American standard of living” is a “natural and absolute right” of citizenship. Though he argued it as a dictum of Christian values, many other leftists embraced a similar belief, and an ends-oriented theory of economic freedom gained popularity. No longer would individual autonomy provided by rights determine one’s economic freedom, but the level of wages would. [6]

Collectivism vs. Individualism

Logically entailed by the change in moral principles was an insistence that the good of the collective trumps the good of the individual. Since the notion of the fairness of market-defined wages was fully rejected, the market was replaced by newly-found social and moral considerations. Henry Demarest Lloyd, one of the foremost antagonists of Social Darwinism, placed great emphasis on collective governance and production. “Our liberties and our wealth are from the people and by the people,” he contends, “and both must be for the people. ” His use of “the people” is not merely political euphemism, but imperative: “wealth, like government, is the product of the co-operation of all, and, like government, must be the property of all its creators. ”[7]

Historically, a principal element of collectivization derived from stressing the importance of labor, in contrast to the capital-focused Industrial Revolutions of the 1800s. In 1914, Congress announced via the Clayton Act, “The labor of a human being is not a commodity. ”[8] There is no better example of American labor-class activism than the writings of Socialist Party figurehead Eugene V. Debs. In Revolutionary Unionism (1905), Debs argues for the unity of the working class and, in Marxist form, condemns the purported separation of the worker from the rightful fruits of his labor. He repudiates the validity and effectiveness of craft unions- usually selective organizations of skilled workers- underscoring that “infinitely greater than [their] loyalty to their craft is their loyalty to the working class as a whole. ”[9] He fiercely criticizes the structure that denies the struggling laborer his desires, but fervently protects “the product of [the worker’s] labor, the property of the capitalist. ” Then, when the dissatisfied become agitated and unrest begins, the government arrives to silence the menace: “If you… have made more steel than your master can sell, and you are locked out and get hungry, and the soldiers are called out, it is to protect the steel and shoot you who made the steel. ”[10] Debs’ arguments reflected common sentiments of outrage toward a society in which a vast majority of people, though they were a necessary part of production, toiled heavily and possessed little while a tiny group reaped gigantic rewards.

A different form of collectivism, nationalism in the spirit of the times also was a popular source of ideological opposition to the free market. Similar opinions had already a large presence during the Founding in the form of the Federalist Party and Alexander Hamilton, who argued for state intervention as a means of furthering the nation’s economic goals. Bellamy’s Looking Backward, which cued a short-lived but large nationalist movement, extolled the replacement of self-interest with a higher cause: “Now that industry of whatever sort is no longer self service, but service of the nation, patriotism, passion for humanity, impel the worker as in your day they did the soldier,” says Dr. Leete. Another thinker, Herbert Croly, believed nationalism belonged hand-in-hand with democracy, stating “the first duty of a good democrat would be that of rendering to his country loyal patriotic service. ”

The Role of the State

Government would be the primary tool in executing these policies, with force as the only way to guarantee Americans their social and economic rights.

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Anti-laissez-faire Ideas since the Founding: 1870-1918

June 28th, 2008 Comments off


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Most libertarians would say that capitalism is dead in America. Many on the left would say that it is still raging. It’s ultimately a matter of what you define as “capitalism” (voluntary exchange vs. large corporation mercantilism), but we can be sure that the voluntary exchange aspect is killed day by day, and has been attacked and defeated repeatedly in the past, particularly in the 20th century. But big pro-state changes like that don’t happen overnight. They’re usually preceded by years of philosophy (usually very bad) and state-caused problems, much civil unrest, and are followed by gigantic losses of liberty and increases in dependency on the state. –more–>

Let’s take a look at some of the philosophy of anti-laissez-faire, particularly in its heyday: just before the first World War. There is little doubt the explosive growth of America’s economy was the result of the great human effort, the application of knowledge to production to create technology and capital, and the vast land and natural resources at its disposal. The framework of classical liberal (in full form, laissez-faire) economics pioneered by Great Britain gave great incentive for this process. A century of liberalism arose from thousands of years before of dysfunctional human civilization, growing the population and standard of living of human beings far larger than ever before in any century.

However, following the Civil War and the Second Industrial Revolution, class divisions had grown and fresh voices bemoaned the supposedly unjust distribution of wealth in society, calling into question the validity of the free market. Though lacking true ideological conformity, changes in attitude toward laissez-faire capitalism[1] since the Founding have been generally defined by any or all of three major shifts: most importantly, the replacement of liberal political rights with economic entitlements; closely connected, a new emphasis on collective instead of individual good; and in effect, the belief in the use of government as a valuable tool for bettering those collectives.

Of course, some important qualifications must be made. Firstly, not all objections made to the state of the nation under capitalism in the late 19th– and early 20th– centuries were necessarily at odds with traditional liberal principles. Truly consistent advocates of laissez-faire capitalism such as William Graham Sumner believed that government obstruction of trade unions and other forms of collective bargaining[2], for example, interfered with the individual’s right to freedom of association and self-determination. Broadly speaking, the political environment that permitted wealth to buy power in government was an essential threat to traditional liberty. Furthermore, it would be disingenuous to attempt to collectivize the entire spectrum of objections to liberal society, as they can be vastly different in their moral values, justifications for their principles, and the nature and practical execution of their policies. [3] Overall, the following breakdown is only a brief approximation of the characteristics of those opposed to laissez-faire economics, with a select few of several possible examples.

The Rise of “Economic Freedom” As a Standard of Living

The issues of most profound significance to any attitude toward economic and legal systems are the moral concepts that underlie them. Almost universally, opponents of capitalism believed that wrong-doing necessarily occurred from its implementation, whether in its means or in its ends. Previously, most of an individual’s rights in America were defined by a Lockean theory of natural law. Freedom of contract (and a right to a fulfillment of those contracts) permitted one the ability to freely associate with others economically. However, great disparities in wealth concentration led critics of capitalism to denounce the status quo, which was allegedly caused by the consistent legal enactment of these principles. Factions such as the Populist movement, the Progressive movement, and the Socialist Party of America formed in the antebellum period as a response. [4] The introduction of a new kind of right pervaded these new alternatives to laissez-faire capitalism: the economic freedom.

Karl Marx’s famous maxim, “from each according to his ability, and to each according to his need,” was one widely accepted economic substitute for property rights. Looking Backward (1888), a novel by Edward Bellamy, details a futuristic society that has supplanted competition with economic rights and duties in line with Marx’s axiom.

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