PASSPORT TO UTOPIA by Arthur & Lila--Eds. Weinberg


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Given the perspective of history--that is, the perspective of human experience-any problem, and any proposed solution to a problem of the past, and especially a solution that did not work, tends to look slightly ridiculous at best and wholly idealistic at worst. That tendency is the basic approach on which this book capitalizes, as witness the subtitle: ""Great Panaceas in American History."" The editors have collected the ""position papers"" put forward in the past (1825-1935) by Americans who visualized solutions--panaceas, according to the editors--to the social and economic problems of the country during that period. There is Frances Wright on the gradual abolition of slavery, Henry Clay on the Negro colonization of Africa, Henry George on the single tax, Carrie Nation on prohibition, Billy Sunday on repentance, Huey Long on the distribution of wealth, Father Divine on human brotherhood, and so forth, on through a score of pronouncements, some of which have found application in the twentieth century and some of which have been submerged in richly deserved oblivion. As a collection the book is representative enough, though one might wonder what happened to Wilson on the League of Nations, or Roosevelt on the New Deal--or even Johnson on the Great Society. The principal fault, however, is the editors' failure to establish for their readers that historical perspective on which the book itself depends for coherence and meaning. Without it, history reduces to an assemblage of intellectual curiosa.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1968
Publisher: Quadrangle