Monday, November 29, 2010

Progressivism, the Great Depression and the New Deal: 1901-1941

Progressivism, the Great Depression, and the New Deal
Two thumbs way down.

Brothers Christopher Collier and James Lincon Colier eliminate everything from their presentation of the Progressive Movement which would cast any bad light upon the movement. Any reference to Eugenics from Theodore Roosevelt to FDR is expunged. The mass sterilization of "unfit" Americans is left out of their record.

The Racism of the Progressive movement is not recorded in the Coliers' small volume. And, indeed, most of the descendants of Progressivism in today's Liberal movement try to hide this heritage which still forms the basis of their classist division of American politics.

Further, the Colliers fail to discuss how FDR's programs, from the CCC to the Blue Eagle in the National Recovery Act had terrorized the citizens of the United States contrary to the limits placed on the Federal Government by the Constitution.

The authors fail to discuss the fact that Progressivists were at the root of the Prohibitionist movement and the source of gangster movements during prohibition.

FDR's threat to pack the Supreme Court with pro-Statist judges is left undisclosed.

Also, the authors failed to include the fact that the Communist Party was at the root of the movement to unionize labor through the end of the 19th Century and throughout the 20th Century in the period they discuss.

This volume was designed for instructing Jr and Sr. Highschool students in the benefits of the Progressive movement of the early 20th Century. 

Repeated throughout the volume is the Marxist ideology that the source of good for the common citizen had to be Big Government and that in America the "wealth was not being fairly shared." (P. 17 and throughout)

Instead they present a negative picture of Capitalism and "laissez-faire" policy. The individual citizen, his or her own desires, personal trade and property do not matter to these authors.

What they do present is a fictional recreation of a world that did not exist, where Progressivism actually cares for the individual (despite massive data to the contrary), and where Progressivism helped the country out of the Depression (despite the economic facts of history). The authors' negligence in discussing Social Darwinism leaves this reader to conclude that they yearn for the Marxist and racist eugenic and economic policies of the early 20th Century.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Corrections

by Jonathan Franzen

Thumbs down, down, down.

This was one of those books I wish I had never read.  I made myself carry on, but several times since then, I've wished I hadn't.  I kept hoping for a meaningful resolution.  It didn't come.

On the bright side, there were entertaining moments.  The characters are very well drawn and very creative.  An example of this is one character who has the habit of scratching his scalp and smelling his fingertips.  Eeeewww!  But very vividly portrayed.

Unfortunately, Mr. Franzen takes this same talent to portray every twisted familial relationship imaginable.  The characters are all unstable in their own ways.  The family around whom the plot revolves is totally messed up.

Several of the characters enjoy a variety of deviant behaviors that are then described with this same flair for detail and memorable portrayal.  And that is my fundamental complaint with this book.  I am now stuck with these unseemly images in my head.  I feel like I accidentally viewed something extremely naughty.  I feel kind of violated.  Yuck.

OK, for anyone who still wants to know more about the book, I suppose I ought to give brief plot summary.  I think one is supposed to when one is reviewing a book.

Franzen takes readers along the lives of the Lambert family.  The book is divided into sections, each section highlighting the history and evolution (devolution) of one member of the family, while still spinning the thread of the contemporary story line.  The main story line is linear, but within each section, spun within the narrative, we hear each character's story.

Alfred, the father, is suffering from MS and early Alzheimer's.  The mom, Enid, wants one more family Christmas at home.  She really, really wants it.

The two brother and sister each have their own issues in dealing with what they see as their mother's somewhat obsessive desire for a family Christmas and with their father's impending demise.

Franzen drags his readers through the muck of each person's life and shows how they come to some sort of "correction" in their attitude.  Unfortunately, the corrections are often more of the same.  Selfishness and denial, submission within unhealthy relationships.  And yet somehow, we're supposed to think it is all better.  Or maybe we are not.  Perhaps that is the point.  Perhaps we are supposed to come to peace with the fact that everyone is screwy and as long as we feel OK with it, then it's OK.

I got the impression we are supposed to see the Lambert family as survivors, heroes.  But I saw only a train wreck.  I feel like I should add another indexed tab for this one called deviant behavior.