Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Passing of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

My recollections of Mr. Schlesinger are few, but I have always known his heart was in the right place, even when he did some things I have no toleration of.

He gave us insight into Jackson and FDR, two Presidents who did, indeed, change the world in their outlook. He staunchly supported American Exceptionalism and the power of people to use their rights creatively. He fought to ensure that the Communist Party in America would not be seen as acceptable, and was purely partisan of his old-line fealty to the Democratic Party. He embraced the values that America had to create a new world because we could work together as a People, and he rejected multiculturalism and a host of ills that go with it. In his latter years he staunchly supported the positions he had held and those that he had admired, even when evidence of their lacks came to the forefront. He walked well and firmly as an 'old school' defender of the Nation and his Party and those beliefs.

What he forgot in his views from Jackson was that one never, ever hands permanent power to government to cure temporary ills. Nor is government a means to enforce the public good, but to ensure that the public can be good and cause no ill to the common weal. By supporting those things he helped to lay the foundation of the ever increasing government we see today, and its encroachment upon the Rights and Liberties of the Citizenry. He had sought to help those poor oppressed by circumstances, and forgot that the Republic offers a hand up to those so beleaguered, but never a hand-out to make individuals beholden to the government. In that forgetting he undid much good that he did in life and lost grasp of the world that changed around him in ways he did not like, because of that.

He was a good man, all told, even with the problems caused by his fierce partisanship to his party... even when his party stepped from the Nation as a whole. A true 'Cold Warrior' who supported his Country, even when the commonality was disappearing because of those things he advocated. And a man who held to his beliefs even when they had turned on the Nation itself so that it now finds it difficult to even defend the Republic. For all the good that he did for many, we now pay for the drawbacks of those outlooks upon us to this day.

For the simple problem that We the People are the Government.

Not the Government over We the People.

The first of the 20th century liberals who would forget that the 19th century liberals warned and hard against many things, and that government needed to be checked so that People could be Free.

I honor his life even in disagreeing with what has come of it.


Anonymous said...

I vaguely remember the man. Reading this post gave me more insight into who he was than the "He was proud to be a liberal." soundbyte heard on NPR this morning.


A Jacksonian said...

whit - He was, indeed proud, to be a liberal... when liberalism was morphing into something strange via the socialist route he wanted to try and capture the good of *that*. The handing of power to the Government to do such things, however, flies contrary to his firm belief in American exceptionalism.

It is damned hard to wean people off of the teat of government, once the milk and honey starts to flow.

I thank you for dropping by!

Plateau said...

Hi, I thought your reply on Ardeshir's blog was excellent. I've raised some thoughts and questions on my blog.

A Jacksonian said...

plateau - My thanks and thank you for visiting!

Peregrine John said...

I've been away for a few days, but return to an intriguing overview of a man whose view of Jackson's philosophy has caused no small disturbance to the public opinion of Jacksonianism. Good stuff as always, and thank you for the complete and lucid explanation!

A Jacksonian said...

John - My thanks and welcome back!

I do not doubt the sincerity of Mr. Schlesinger's wanting to have government do good for the public, I do not like the effects of having the public good decided by government. It is that shift in the mid-20th century due to the rise of the USSR and Fascist States that moved liberalism away from having government grow from society and protect it, to deciding what society is and restrict it. Those States controlled how society would act and that was seen as a *good thing* by many, as witness the ills of the Depression. Things like social security were to address the temporary need of taking older workers from the work force so as to free up jobs during the Depression. Some alleviation of the poor elderly was also seen. It was not meant to continue on forever, and the papers of FDR cited as much. Once government crossed from helping the social good to determining what was good for society, the shift from the base of the Republic was seen. And its State-based views would change the outlook of society for decades to come...

Plateau said...

Hi again - I thought you might be interested in having a look at my last two posts. Thank you.