Atlantis Alumni

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Previously Unknown Lasting Impact Of The U.S. Civil War

Is it time to give Mr. Bush credit for his effort in Annapolis to forge a Middle East peace? Maureen Dowd doesn't think so:

After subverting diplomacy in his first term, now W. does drive-by diplomacy, taking a playboy approach to peace. He wants to look like he’s taking
the problem of an Israeli-Palestinian treaty seriously when his true motivation is more cynical: pacifying the Arab coalition and holding it together so that he
can blunt Iran’s sway.

So that's what Bush is up to! Silly me, I thought for a minute that had Dubbya had actually changed and has finally realized that U.S. presidents are supposed to use their power to help make peace in the world, and not start new wars.

Now, I've always wondered why socialist ideas have never had much of a chance here in America, in spite of all the inequality that has existed in various eras. I think that the band aid approaches that have been applied at various times in our history, e.g., during the Progressive era and the New Deal, have managed to keep any possibility of socialist reforms at bay. However, here's a new theory that is certainly novel:

I believe that the American Civil War, with its huge number of casualties, left
a collective cultural sense that tended to place beyond the pale views that
departed much from the middle. For example, although no doubt there were many
reasons why socialist ideas never made much headway in this country, I’m
inclined to think that an important obstacle was that a great many Americans saw
them as “extremist,” or even “un-American,” a view that in time played into the
hands of demagogues like Joseph McCarthy.

This is from noted political scientist Robert Dahl, writing in a book review in today's New York Times. Humm, the Civil War is responsible for cementing the American anti-progressive mindset, and even for the rise of demagogues like McCarthy...and, by extension, what we have as president today, a fellow who thinks he's on god's mission to save America and the world. Sheesh!

PHOTO: The Philadelphia Zoo's observation balloon aloft.


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