It is currently Sun Apr 20, 2014 3:01 am

All times are UTC - 4 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 2 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Lowell On Political Independence - 5
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 10:16 am 
Offline
SuperMember!
SuperMember!

Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2005 1:48 am
Posts: 3610
<html>
<head>
<title>Lowell On Political Independence - 5</title>
</head>
<body>
<pre>
<b>
`
Monday July 16, 2007
POLITICAL ESSAYS
Lowell On Political Independence - 5
`
`
In James Russell Lowell's book "Political Essays" published
in 1888 there's an essay "The Place Of The Independent In
Politics" beginning at page 295.
`
This essay began life as "An address delivered before the
Reform Club of New York, at Steinway Hall, April 13, 1888."
`
Here's an excerpt running from page 317 to page 320 and from
the tailend of 323 to 326:
`
`
Parties being necessary things, it follows, of course, that
there must be politicians to manage and leaders to represent
and symbolize them.
`
The desire of man to see his wishes, his prejudices, his
aspirations, summed up and personified in a single represen-
tative has the permanence of an instinct.
`
Few escape it, few are conscious of its controlling influence.
`
The danger always is that loyalty to the man shall insensibly
replace loyalty to the thing he is supposed to represent,
till at last the question what he represents fades wholly out
of mind.
`
The love of victory as a good in itself is also a powerful in-
gredient in the temperament of most men.
`
Forty odd years ago it would have been hard to find a man, no
matter how wicked he may have believed the Mexican War to be,
who could suppress a feeling of elation when the news of Bue-
na Vista arrived.
`
Never mind the principle involved, it was our side that won.
`
`
If the dangers and temptations of parties be such as I have
indicated, and I do not think that I have overstated them, it
is for the interest of the best men in both parties that there
should be a neutral body,
`
not large enough to form a party by itself, nay, which would
lose its power for good if it attempted to form such a party,
`
and yet large enough to moderate between both [parties], and
to make both more cautious
`
in their choice of candidates
`
and in their connivance with evil practices.
`
If the politicians must look after the parties, there should
be somebody to look after the politicians,
`
somebody to ask disagreeable questions and to utter uncomfort-
able truths;
`
somebody to make sure, if possible, before election, not only
what, but whom the candidate, if elected, is going to repre-
sent.
`
What to me is the saddest feature of our present methods is
the pitfalls which they dig in the path of ambitious and able
men
`
who feel that they are fitted for a political career, that by
character and training they could be of service to their coun-
try,
`
yet who find every avenue closed to them unless at the sacri-
fice of the very independence which gives them a claim to what
they seek.
`
As in semi-barbarous times the sincerity of a converted Jew
was tested by forcing him to swallow pork, so these [ambitious
and able men] are required to gulp without a wry face what is
as nauseous to them.
`
I would do all in my power to render such loathsome compli-
ances unnecessary.
`
The pity of it is that with our political methods the hand is
of necessity subdued to what it works in.
`
It has been proved, I think, that the old parties are not to
be reformed from within.
`
It is from without that the attempt must be made, and it is
the Independents who must make it.
`
If the attempt should fail, the failure of the experiment of
democracy would inevitably follow.
`
But I do not believe that it will fail. The signs are all
favorable. Already there are journals in every part of the
country —-journals, too, among the first in ability, circu-
lation, and influence-— which refuse to wear the colors of
party.
`
Already the people have a chance of hearing the truth, and
I think that they always gladly hear it.
`
Our first aim should be, as it has been, the reform of our
civil service, for that is the fruitful mother of all our
ills.
`
It is the most aristocratic system in the world,
`
for it depends on personal favor and is the reward of personal
service,
`
and the power of the political boss is built up and maintained,
like that of the mediaeval robber baron, by his freehandedness
in distributing the property of other people.
`
From it is derived the notion that the public treasure is a
fund to a share of which every one is entitled who by fraud or
favor can get it,
`
and from this again the absurd doctrine of rotation in office
so that each may secure his proportion,
`
and that the business of the nation may be carried on by a
succession of apprentices who are dismissed just as they are
getting an inkling of their trade to make room for others who
are in due time to be turned loose on the world, past masters
in nothing but incompetence for any useful career.
`
From this, too, has sprung the theory of the geographical
allotment of patronage, as if ability were dependent, like
wheat, upon the soil,
`
and the more mischievous one that members of Congress must be
residents of the district that elects them, a custom which
has sometimes excluded men of proved ability, in the full
vigor of their faculties and the ripeness of their experi-
ence, from the councils of the nation.
`
`
All reforms seem slow and wearisome to their advocates, for
these are commonly of that ardent and imaginative temper
which inaccurately foreshortens the distance and overlooks
the difficulties between means and end.
`
If we have not got all that we hoped from the present ad-
ministration, we have perhaps got more than we had reason to
expect,
`
considering how widely spread are the roots of this evil,
`
and what an inconvenient habit they have of sending up suckers
in the most unexpected places.
`
To cut off these does not extirpate them.
`
It is the parent tree that must go.
`
It is much that we have compelled a discussion of the question
from one end of the country to the other, for it [this evil]
cannot bear discussion, and I for one have so much faith in
the good sense of the American people as to feel sure that
discussion means victory.
`
That the Independents are so heartily denounced by those who
support and are supported by the system that has been grad-
ually perfected during the last fifty years is an excellent
symptom.
`
We must not be impatient.
`
Some of us can remember when those who are now the canonized
saints of the party which restored the Union and abolished
slavery were a forlorn hope of Mugwumps, the scorn of all
practical politicians.
`
Sydney Smith was fond of saying that the secret of happiness
in life was to take short views, and in this he was but re-
peating the rule of the Greek and Koman poets, to live in
every hour as if we were never to have another.
`
But he who would be happy as a reformer must take long views,
and into distances sometimes that baffle the most piercing
vision.
`
...
`
It is through its politics, through its capacity for govern-
ment, the noblest of all sciences, that a nation proves its
right to a place among the other beneficent forces of nature.
`
For politics permeate more widely than any other force, and
reach every one of us, soon or late, to teach or to debauch.
`
We are confronted with new problems and new conditions.
`
We and the population which is to solve them are very unlike
that of fifty years ago.
`
As I was walking not long ago in the Boston Public Garden, I
saw two Irishmen looking at Ball's equestrian statue of Wash-
ington, and wondering who was the personage thus commemorated.
`
I had been brought up among the still living traditions of
Lexington, Concord, Bunker's Hill, and the siege of Boston.
`
To these men Ireland was still their country, and America a
place to get their daily bread.
`
This put me upon thinking. What, then, is patriotism, and
what its true value to a man ?
`
Was it merely an unreasoning and almost cat-like attachment
to certain square miles of the earth's surface, made up in
almost equal parts of lifelong association, hereditary tra-
dition, and parochial prejudice?
`
This is the narrowest and most provincial form, as it is also,
perhaps, the strongest, of that passion or virtue, whichever
we choose to call it.`
`
But did it not fulfil the essential condition of giving men
an ideal outside themselves,
`
which would awaken in them capacities for devotion and heroism
that are deaf even to the penetrating cry of self?
`
All the moral good of which patriotism is the fruitful mother,
my two Irishmen had in abundant measure, and it had wrought in
them marvels of fidelity and self-sacrifice which made me blush
for the easier terms on which my own duties of the like kind
were habitually fulfilled.
`
Were they not daily pinching themselves that they might pay
their tribute [remittances] to the old hearthstone [family] or
the old cause [of freedom] three thousand miles away?
`
If tears tingle our eyes when we read of the like loyalty in
the clansmen of the attainted and exiled Lochici [Donald Came-
ron], shall this leave us unmoved?
`
I laid the lesson to heart. I would, in my own way, be as
faithful as they to what I believed to be the best interests
of my country.
`
Our politicians are so busy studying the local eddies of
prejudice or interest that they allow the main channel of our
national energies to be obstructed by dams for the grinding
of private grist.
`
Our leaders no longer lead, but are as skilful as Indians in
following the faintest trail of public opinion.
`
I find it generally admitted that our moral standard in
politics has been lowered, and is every day going lower.
...
`
What we want is an active class who will insist in season
and out of season that we shall have a country whose great-
ness is measured,
`
not only by its square miles, its number of yards woven, of
hogs packed, of bushels of wheat raised,
`
not only by its skill to feed and clothe the body,
`
but also by its power to feed and clothe the soul;
`
a country which shall be as great morally as it is material-
ly;
`
a country whose very name shall not only, as now it does,
stir us as with the sound of a trumpet,
`
but shall call out all that is best within us
`
by offering us the radiant image of something better and
nobler and more enduring than we,
`
of something that shall fulfil our own thwarted aspiration,
when we are but a handful of forgotten dust
`
in the soil trodden by a race whom we shall have helped to
make more worthy of their inheritance
`
than we ourselves had the power, I might almost say the means,
to be.
`
`
`
</b>
`
A
`
Lowell's book is online at:
`
http://books.google.com/books?id=nbCKGM ... x4uqUG7MhU
`
To get to desired page AND to be able to highlight text--
`
At homepage, click "View plain text" in righthand frame.
`
When plain-text webpage comes up: in lefthand frame, scroll
down to page desired.
`
The page you're at is indicated in page box at top of scroll-
bar.
`
Be patient: loading pages takes a moment or so.
`
B
`
Page 317 is correctly numbered; page 318 is unmarked; pages
319 and 320 are correctly numbered..
`
Page 323 is correctly numbered; page 324 is unmarked; pages
325 and 326 are correctly numbered.
`
C
`
In 1888 Lowell called for America to be a country that shall
call out all that is best within us. But 57 years later, on
August 6, 1945, America died while giving birth to
`
THE SUPERPOWER and its Declaration of World $lavery.
`
</pre>
</body>
</html>


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 1:41 pm 
Offline
SuperMember!
SuperMember!
User avatar

Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2005 12:50 am
Posts: 1456
Location: Ct.
Excellent!!!

_________________
CrimsonEagle
The war to end all wars can only be fought on the front-lines of the mind.

The greatest deception they have perpetrated is that we need them. Our greatest mistake is that we believe them.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 2 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 4 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Blue Moon by Trent © 2007
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group