1. Welcome! Please take a few seconds to create your free account to post threads, make some friends, remove a few ads while surfing and much more. ClutchFans has been bringing fans together to talk Houston Sports since 1996. Join us!

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by rimrocker, Mar 1, 2007.

  1. rimrocker

    rimrocker Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 1999
    Messages:
    22,288
    Likes Received:
    8,111
    Regardless of whether you agreed with his politics, you can't dispute the fact that he contributed greatly to our history and public life...

    [​IMG]

     
  2. rimrocker

    rimrocker Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 1999
    Messages:
    22,288
    Likes Received:
    8,111
    Arthur Schlesinger Jr. has died at the age of 89.

    According to the Times obituary, he had a heart attack at a restaurant in Manhattan and died at New York Downtown Hospital.

    Because of my background I think of him primarily as an historian, though his influence is at least as much as an intellectual on the stage of politics stretching over more than half a century. My favorite of his books -- I think his first -- is The Age of Jackson. In some ways it's a very dated book, but also a timeless one. In its own broad and expansive narrative fashion it is as good a book as any you'll read about the period. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about America.

    Then there's The Vital Center, the touchstone of Cold War Liberalism and liberal anti-Communism, published only three or maybe four years Age of Jackson, though now saddled with a title that, as a catchphrase, has been cheapened out of all recognition.

    Three years ago, at an awards ceremony, I saw my chance, buckled up my courage, and introduced myself in one of those awkward 'I'm introducing myself because I want to be able to remember that I met you' moments and had the unexpected gratification of learning that he'd heard of me. Here's a post I wrote later that day recounting my not-so-successful attempt to explain to this octogenarian what a 'blog' was with very few common points of reference.

    If you're not familiar with Schlesinger or know him only as a name, take the time to read the Times obit. This is one of those passings that, in a small but deep way, marks the passing of an era.

    -- Josh Marshall
    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/
     
  3. rimrocker

    rimrocker Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 1999
    Messages:
    22,288
    Likes Received:
    8,111
    Noted historian Alonzo Hamby remembers...
     
  4. rimrocker

    rimrocker Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 1999
    Messages:
    22,288
    Likes Received:
    8,111
    A Historian Who Saw Beyond the Past

    By E. J. Dionne Jr.
    Friday, March 2, 2007; A13

    "No intellectual phenomenon has been more surprising in recent years than the revival in the United States of conservatism as a respectable social philosophy," the distinguished commentator wrote.

    "For decades, liberalism seemed to have everything its way," but "fashionable intellectual circles now dismiss liberalism as naive, ritualistic, sentimental, shallow. With a whoop and a roar, a number of conservative prophets have materialized out of the wilderness, exhuming conservatism, revisiting it, revitalizing it, preaching it. . . ."

    Thus wrote that lion of American liberalism, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., in 1955, long before the Reagan and Gingrich revolutions. Here was a historian whose understanding of the past afforded him remarkable perspective on the future.

    Schlesinger's death on Wednesday at 89 raises the question of whether the liberalism to which he was devoted -- "I remain to this day a New Dealer, unreconstructed and unrepentant," he wrote in a memoir published in 2000 -- will be buried with him.

    The short answer that arises from the body of Schlesinger's brilliant work is that reports of liberalism's death are always premature. Liberalism will rise again and again because renewing the public sphere and reviving concern for the less privileged and less powerful are inevitably what free citizens demand at the end of a conservative era. Schlesinger believed that American history runs in cycles.

    Consider these words from Schlesinger in 1960: "At periodic moments in our history, our country has paused on the threshold of a new epoch in our national life, unable for a moment to open the door, but aware that it must advance if it is to preserve its national vitality and identity. One feels that we are approaching such a moment now -- that the mood which has dominated the nation for a decade is beginning to seem thin and irrelevant; that it no longer interprets our desires and needs as a people; that new forces, new energies, new values are straining for expression and for release."

    Schlesinger's essay resonates with the spirit of this moment. He also wrote then of a "widening restlessness," the rise of both "satire and idealism" (Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert would understand this), a "mounting dissatisfaction with the official priorities" and "a deepening concern with our character and objectives as a nation."

    Like John Kenneth Galbraith, his friend and fellow worker in liberalism's vineyards, Schlesinger worried about "the classical condition of private opulence and public squalor." He said of the 1950s: "We have chosen in this decade to invest not in people but in things. We have chosen to allocate our resources to undertakings which bring short-run profits to individuals rather than to those which bring long-run profits to the nation." The new public priorities, Schlesinger said, should include schools, medical care and "energy development." Meet the old agenda; same as the new agenda.

    Schlesinger is honored by foreign policy hawks for his loathing of communism as antithetical to any form of liberalism. A few years after completing "The Age of Jackson," his magisterial work on Andrew Jackson, Schlesinger wrote a polemical volume in 1949 called "The Vital Center" that denounced the "sentimentalism" and even "private neurosis" of the pro-Soviet left. Standing up to the Soviet Union, he argued, was a liberal obligation.

    Yet, if Schlesinger understood the benefits of American power, he also knew its limits. He opposed the Iraq war and the "ghastly mess" it created.

    In a 2005 essay in the New York Times Book Review, Schlesinger cited Reinhold Niebuhr, the great theologian who was his friend, on what it took for Americans to be effective in the world. Niebuhr urged "a sense of modesty about the virtue, wisdom and power available to us" and "a sense of contrition about the common human frailties and foibles which lie at the foundation of both the enemy's demonry and our vanities." It's hard to imagine wiser advice on the proper use of power.

    Schlesinger was a practical realist who disdained utopianism but lived in hope. Indeed, his 1963 essay collection was called "The Politics of Hope," a precursor, perhaps, to Barack Obama's "The Audacity of Hope." Does it require more audacity to be hopeful in 2007 than in 1963? You have to hope not.

    At its best, Schlesinger said, democratic politics is about "the search for remedy." A belief in remedy -- in problem-solving -- is the antidote to social indifference and to despair about our capacity to act in common through government. This is the liberalism Schlesinger spent his life advancing. Thanks in significant part to his work, it will long survive him.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/01/AR2007030101325_pf.html
     
  5. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2002
    Messages:
    56,811
    Likes Received:
    39,117
    I intended to post at least something about Schlesinger. Seeing this in the Economist reminded me. Yet another famous figure from that era dies. I found it rather sad.


    Arthur Schlesinger

    Mar 8th 2007
    From The Economist print edition

    [​IMG]

    Arthur M. Schlesinger junior, historian and liberal, died on February 28th, aged 89

    Corbis


    THE true American liberal is now a vague, elusive creature. Many claim to have seen it; some even claim to have been it, in some fit of youthful idealism that they have lived to regret. In the 1980s and 1990s its American habitat became so eroded, as the behemoths of conservatism overgrazed the plains, that it was on the brink of extinction. For any politician or intellectual of ambition, the L-word was woolly-headed, dangerous and naive: an interest to be indulged only in secret, and out of the way of the police.

    Yet one liberal stayed defiantly in the public view. You could spot him on New York's East Side (a natural habitat), small and spry, bouncing along as if he couldn't wait to write down the ideas for human improvement that buzzed around in his head. Or you could track him, by the cool whiff of Martinis and the sizzle of steaks, to his table among the bookshelves at the Century Club, turning the pages of Emerson as he waited for dessert. He had no patience with camouflage. The horn-rimmed glasses, the bow tie and the expression of perpetual questioning proclaimed him as a liberal (American genus) to everyone who saw him.

    Arthur Schlesinger junior knew that he was frozen in the past. His thought had stopped, he admitted in old age, half a century before—around 1946, the year when, at 29, he had won a Pulitzer for his book on Andrew Jackson and had been made a professor of history at Harvard. He had no particular need to revise his thinking after that, because the shape of American history was now clear to him. It moved in cycles. In some ages—the 1880s, the 1920s, the 1950s, the 1980s—men's motivations were nothing but their own comfort and profit. But after sating themselves on selfishness and letting plutocrats run things for a while, Americans would recover their true virtue and passion, and work for the good of society and their country.


    The bad ages of Schlesinger-history were conservative, with Republicans in power; the good were liberal, under Democrats, reaching their apotheosis with Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal of the 1930s. His simple view of American politics was stated at the end of “The Age of Jackson”:

    In the past, when liberalism had resolved the crisis and restored tranquillity, conservatism has recovered power by the laws of political gravity; then it makes a new botch of things, and liberalism again must take over in the name of the nation.

    Mr Schlesinger was too young to remember the New Deal, just as he was too young to remember his babyhood in Columbus, Ohio, before the family moved to Cambridge and his father to Harvard. But just as he said he was always an Ohioan, swiftly gulping in the air of working-class America before he became surrounded by history books, so he was always a New Dealer, “unreconstructed and unrepentant”. He wrote three huge volumes on Roosevelt, paying homage.


    An historian in love

    Yet even better days were to come. They began with an invitation, one misty January morning in 1961, to work as a special assistant in John Kennedy's White House. Neither he nor Kennedy knew exactly what it meant; but, stars in his eyes, he was co-opted. The historian was now at the centre of power-making, able to observe, as he most desired, “the process by which thought becomes action in the political sphere”. And, as he also more secretly desired, he was in show business.

    His more important memos, such as one that advised against the Bay of Pigs expedition, were ignored. But he reported directly to Kennedy, hearing the president's gossip and fielding his frustration. To all appearances—and on the evidence of the book he wrote later, “A Thousand Days”—Mr Schlesinger was in love: with Jack, with Bobby, with Jackie, and most of all with the perfect brand of north-eastern Brahmin liberalism the Kennedys represented. Schlesinger liberalism was altruistic and perfectibilian, but it was also anti-Communist, pluralistic, pragmatic and tough. He saw all this in his boss. “He re-established the republic”, he wrote, "as the first generation of our leaders saw it—young, brave, civilised, rational, gay, tough, questing, exultant in the excitement and potentiality of history. He transformed the American spirit...[and] made people look beyond nature and race to the future of humanity.


    After this, things could only go downhill. Lyndon Johnson upset Mr Schlesinger, and Jimmy Carter struck him as conservative. The unspeakable Richard Nixon assumed a raft of new powers that Mr Schlesinger dubbed “the imperial presidency”. History's cycles turned against all that was idealistic and good. And then came the younger George Bush.

    Mr Schlesinger hated everything about him: the oil interests, the doctrine of preventive war, the notion of America as redeemer-nation (“tragically mistaken”), the anti-intellectualism. His dream was to have a “quiet” telephone conversation with him, as he might have done with Kennedy, once more at the beating heart of power. But then no liberal—glasses gleaming, bow-tie quivering—had been seen in such a place for years.

    http://www.economist.com/obituary/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8810722



    D&D. Sadly, the Past Keeps Disappearing.
     

Share This Page

  • About ClutchFans

    Since 1996, ClutchFans has been loud and proud covering the Houston Rockets, helping set an industry standard for team fan sites. The forums have been a home for Houston sports fans as well as basketball fanatics around the globe.

  • Support ClutchFans!

    If you find that ClutchFans is a valuable resource for you, please consider becoming a Supporting Member. Supporting Members can upload photos and attachments directly to their posts, customize their user title and more. Gold Supporters see zero ads!


    Upgrade Now