Is Socialism Inevitable? An Explanation of the Forces of Social Progress

Socialism seems to be H-U-U-U-GE in some quarters these days.  Socialism was also huge in 1922 when August Claessens wrote this 44-page tract sub-titled “An Explanation of the Forces of Social Progress.” Published by the Socialist Party of the United States, the tract sold for 10 cents and was obviously meant to further the Socialist cause. It presents an excellent explanation of socialist beliefs and an exhortation, mostly to workers to unite.  The Tortoise found it somewhere in the bowels of an Indiana State library. It is well-worth its easy read.

It is posted here not to promote the cause of socialism, but to provide some historical background.  In 1922 the Russian Revolution was in full bloom.  World War I was over and the Great Depression was only seven years away.  A statement from Eugene V. Debs, perhaps America’s foremost Socialist, is part of the piece.  Debs the national leader of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and founder the American Railway Union, was jailed under the World War I Espionage Act(1917).  Debs also ran five times for the presidency of the United States.  His last attempt was in 1920 while he was incarcerated.  Debs was passionately dedicated to his cause.

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Dueling Metaphors: The Tortoise and the Hare

“Slow and steady wins the race”, concluded Aesop. A lesson served by dueling metaphors, and a would-be Conservative election platform, written some 2500 years ago. Perhaps this story could be aptly renamed “The Elephant and the Donkey”.  See link below.

via Dueling Metaphors: The Tortoise and the Hare.

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The Political War Against the Kansas Supreme Court – The New Yorker

“Elections often make judges indistinguishable from politicians, and judging indistinguishable from politics. As of now, when reasonable citizens disagree with rulings of the Kansas Supreme Court, they mainly trust its good intentions and the nonpartisan process that has led to appointment of capable, well-qualified, and conscientious justices for the past three generations. The saving grace for the court is that it generally functions as a court, apart from politics. Kansans should do everything they can to keep it that way.”  For more click link below.

via The Political War Against the Kansas Supreme Court – The New Yorker.

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From the American Heritage Dictionary trump and or trumpery means 1) a card from a suit which outranks all others in the deck for the duration of a hand, 2) key resource to be used at an opportune moment, 3) reliable or admirable person, 4) to devise fraudulently, concoct, or counterfeit, 5) trumpet, 6) showy but worthless finery, bric-a-brac, nonsense, rubbish, 7) deception, trickery, fraud, and 8) showy but valueless.

In the current context of electing the President of the United States and/or Leader of the Free World whose hand may  eventually hover over the big, bad button, let us hope the hand is short and the game of cards mercifully brief. While opportunism is part and parcel of politics, statesmanship and gamesmanship may God grant us a dealer who knows the difference. (Most politicians know the difference.) May key resources be applied with caution and forethought. Let us remember that a reliable and admirable leader may not be the same beast in greed as in statecraft. May God protect us from a hand full of counterfeit concoctions.

And trumpet? “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”( I Corinthians 14:8).

And as for demagoguery no person is more susceptible to being gulled than persons embittered, forsaken, angry, disillusioned, cynical, isolated, broken — and they vote. America needs an admirable and reliable person in the broadest and highest sense. Someone whose trumpet gives an authentic, genuine and unequivocal sound. David Milliken

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If You Think Like an Imposter, You’ll Be an Imposter

Most of us have a tendency to compare our talents and abilities to others, and get down on ourselves when we don’t measure up. While striving to be better is a good thing, it’s also important to be proud of our abilities and achievements, and not get discouraged by unrealistic expectations.Nicole Antoinette at A Life Less Bullshit breaks it down:

via If You Think Like an Imposter, You’ll Be an Imposter.

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Loving and Bearing until Hope Acts

“To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
Neither to change, not falter, nor repent;
This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be
Good, great and joyous,beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory”

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound

The poet’s words capture the spirit of 19th-Century Romanticism.   We live in the 21st Century where men and women still defy seeming omnipotent Power when we rebuild a defiant tower on Manhattan Island.  The tower is a beautiful thing.  We are humbled only by the proviso that the tower has been built to withstand all known catastrophes to date and then some, but we have no illusions about the unseen realities like an iceberg that sank the unsinkable ship.  We have no illusions about new catastrophes that will always defy our poor power to prevent them.  We spend trillions on our audacious hopes.  It’s what human beings admire and do. We are awestruck at our own audacity. We rebuild and go on living in Pompey. Hiroshima and Dresden. We survive the Plague and wars and world wars.

1776 feet below the new tower  New Yorkers pursue as always, their hopes and dreams.   The drive goes back hundreds of years and earlier to ancient Rome and even earlier.  Indeed, as does all mankind whether in Paris or Sandy Hook. We have always if not forgiven audacious wrongs and conquered unintended consequences, we have faced events darker than death or night.

We  mortals cannot create a utopia on earth.The the best jobs and education can only make a dent in changing miserable lives.  All we can do is provide  a bigger token’s worth of social investment.  What if it were a mere tithe on the investments we make in our audacity and hubris. Once upon a time the Twin Towers were both a hope and a wreck.  In the end and given human folly, can we give more attention to perfecting what we contemplate  and make sure that audacity pays tribute to Goodness each time we create a symbol of our unquenchable,  audacious human hunger.  David Milliken.

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Trump Supporters Would Over Look His Killing Someone

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Trump said

I am flabbergasted that any candidate for public office would say this, even at the lowest level local race. These are words of a megalomaniac reaching for the ultimate in political incorrectness.

Even if he intended his comment to be hyperbole, it was sheer tastelessness and an insult and should be to his supporters. And he said it in the wake of countless terrorism attacks in schools and churches. I believe he was speaking at a Christian college.

He’s a loose cannon. Please, Americans, stop supporting this man.

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LOVE (1)


Immortal Love, author of this great frame,
Sprung from that beauty which can never fade,
How hath man parcel’d out Thy glorious name,
And thrown it on that dust which Thou hast made,
While mortal love doth all the title gain!
Which siding with Invention, they together
Bear all the sway, possessing heart and brain,
(Thy workmanship) and give Thee share in neither.
Wit fancies beauty, beauty raiseth wit;
The world is theirs, they two play out the game,
Thou standing by: and though Thy glorious name
Wrought our deliverance from th’ infernal pit,
Who sings Thy praise? Only a scarf or glove
Doth warm our hands, and make them write of love.
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Reading: What It’s Teaching Me

When you’re in grad school, especially in English lit, you do a lot of reading.   It may sound odd to some that sitting and reading can be a passion, but for me it has been — fully as much as the passion football fans feel this time of year for the next gluttonous ingestion of yet another bowl game. (I do watch football.) Yesterday evening I passed yet another three hours reading a favorite author by the name of Louise Penny.  She’s written eleven novels, mysteries that reach literary realms.  I have two or three to go.  Last night it occurred to me that my passion is no less sedentary than the average bowl watcher.  Only the players on the field and the characters in the novel are getting any exercise. In both cases the experience is totally vicarious for the bystander.

I admit that bellying up to the telly is far more social than watching football unless you are a single viewer which I was.  I had no one to share the murder of a hermit with, nor the behavior of two gay bistro owners. And yet book and game served up relatively equal amounts of suspense and human error. An artist’s moral dilemma was deeper and more affecting than the quarterback’s.  For one thing, the artist had a moral dilemma.  In both a novel and a football game I always stay to the end.  Such staying seems to bear a lesson for life. The novel holds more complexity it seems to me.  The novel leaves more to think about than the game, but then  I may simply be favoring a personal preference.

In graduate English studies you read the best that has been thought and said over time by many voices, the voices of wisdom.  A doctoral student reads very little contemporary literature.  Immersion in good, current writing is quite refreshing after years in the museum of literature. One reads contemporary for pleasure, exposure, diversion, perhaps relevance to the times. Penny’s world of Three Pines, Quebec, cannot be found on any map.  And the level of mystery far exceeds what could be found in a real village of similar size.  And there are not in the real world many towns with a crazy poet trailed by a pet duck wearing a raincoat.  All the characters are exquisitely drawn as are their crimes, misdemeanors and foibles.  The reader loves them and feels their emotions in ways impossible of football players.

Louise Penny’s The Brutal Telling is a wilderness, real and figurative and there’s no concession stand in sight.  David Milliken

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