Saturday, March 15, 2014

Unsanctioned Voice; Saturday Evening Post; George Lorimer; French occupation of Ruhr; Calvin Coolidge; Herbert Hoover; agriculture; H.A. Nestos

Click these links for discussions of the Writer's Note , Chapters 1 and 2, Chapter 3, Chapters 4-6, Chapters 7-10 , Chapters 11 and 12 , Chapter 13 and Chapter 14 of Bruce Ramsey's Unsanctioned Voice.

Chapter 15 deals with the beginning of Garrett's career with the Saturday Evening Post and Garrett's writings on the war debt.

Garrett's writings for the Post included a fictional piece in 1917 about a "clerk in a bond house who figures out during the gold run of 1895 that the government is bankrupt." (p. 97). I am sure that this work (like almost all of Garrett's Post writings) is available on microfilm in larger libraries.

Ramsey describes the Post articles as "long articles, written for a world before television, when Americans had the patience to read." (p. 97).

Ramsey quotes and cites (pp. 98-99) two Garrett Post articles about France's attempts to collect reparations from Germany by occupying the Ruhr in 1923. Garrett described his visit to the Ruhr during the occupation and German resistance to that occupation. The story of the French occupation is fascinating and virtually unknown in mainstream history discussion.

The articles cited regarding the war debt cover much of the same material that later appeared in A Bubble That Broke The World. Bubble was a reorganized compilation of writing that appeared in the Post in 1931 and 1932. Two of the (many) articles cited in end note #2 (p. 104) have similar titles to two chapters of Bubble. The chapters are undated in Bubble. Ramsey's research thus has helped provide more background for Bubble.

Ramsey's discussion of Garrett's writings on the war debt included Garrett's conversations and meetings with the famous and powerful. "From World War I through the 1930's Garrett had the closest contacts he ever would with high politicians." (p. 101). Chapter 15 would include references to Garrett's contacts and relationships with Bernard Baruch, Secretary of State Elihu Root, Post publisher George Lorimer, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, and Presidents Coolidge and Hoover. (pp. 99-101). Hoover and Garrett remained life-long friends. (p. 102).

Chapter 15 also includes Garrett's views on immigration (p. 102) and how a culture and nation can be changed irreversibly by unfettered immigration.

The chapter also sets forth Garrett's views on the Phillipines in the 1920's (pp. 102-103) and quotes liberally from The American Story (1955) on several subjects. Ramsey also refreshingly uses the word "nationalism" to identify concepts that modern orthodoxy attempts to denigrate with the misleading label "isolationism."

Chapter 16 deals with agriculture. Here, Ramsey confusingly uses "nationalism" to mean the opposite of "individualism" (p. 105) even though a government policy promoting and allowing individualism tends to make the entire nation strong. Nationalism and individualism go hand-in-hand.

Reading this and the immediately prior chapters gives one an appreciation of the size of the task confronting Ramsey. Most of the knowledge available about Garrett comes from his many articles, essays and columns. Ramsey had to find these items (presumably) on old library microfilm, print them from the old machines (an arduous task itself) and organize them by subject so that a larger picture of Garrett's (sometimes changing) views could be developed. End note #1 (p. 112) from Chapter 16 alone cites more than two dozen lengthy magazine articles written by Garrett. These and other articles and writings are then compressed and summarized in an 8 page chapter and integrated into the broader picture of Garrett's life in the 1920's.

Garrett wrote about agriculture's role in the bubble that burst in the early 1920's. He resisted attempts to create more federal involvement in farming and sparred with North Dakota governor H.A. Nestos over these and other issues. (pp. 105-109). Garrett owned his own farm in New Jersey. (pp. 109-110).

Garrett compared farming with railroads and lamented that federal controls had tamed the railroads. (pp. 110-111). Chapter 16 provides a preview of the federal controls that would come to farming with the New Deal in the 1930's. (p. 109).

Update - click here for discussion of Chapters 17 through 19.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Unsanctioned Voice; Blue Wound; National Self-Containment

Click these links for discussions of the Writer's Note , Chapters 1 and 2, Chapter 3, Chapters 4-6, Chapters 7-10 , Chapters 11 and 12 and Chapter 13 of Bruce Ramsey's Unsanctioned Voice.

Chapter 14 contains Ramsey's discussion of Blue Wound. (My review of Blue Wound from 2007 begins here.)

Blue Wound is a 1921 novel that followed in the immediate aftermath of World War I. Garrett presented panoramic views of the distant past and lost civilizations while projecting then-current trends into the distant future. The reader, in 1921, was presented with descriptions of World War II (including conflicts with Germany and Japan) and technological advancement that would not actually exist until our own time. The reader would also confront America's later dependence on foreign countries for vital materials (a problem that did not exist in 1921). Garrett used these visions to demonstrate that the United States should remain self-sufficient so that it would not need to fight foreign wars and would be immune to foreign countries' attempts to dominate the United States through dominance of vital materials.

Ramsey focuses on Garrett's advocacy of self-sufficiency, but misses many of the best aspects of the novel. Many of Garrett's predictions - the history lessons, the ancient Rome analogy, the story of Japan's rise, the imagery of the rise and fall of cities - are missing from Ramsey's description.

Ramsey points out (p. 92) similar and overlapping concepts in Blue Wound, Ouroboros and A Time Was Born, including the idea of "national self-containment."

Ramsey finds "national self-containment" the "least attractive of his (Garrett's) ideas." Ramsey quotes (pp. 93-94) a 1940 Garrett column in which Garrett argues that Germany had ample opportunity for foreign trade and economic growth without going to war. Economics was thus not a justification for aggression. Nations could live in peace without fighting over resources. Ramsey found this argument (p. 94) inconsistent with Garrett's arguments for self-containment found in Blue Wound and elsewhere.

But Ramsey's argument (p. 94) misses a very important point. Nations might be aggressive even if it is not in their own economic best interest. We cannot expect foreign nations to act as would a corporation that answers to shareholders. Nations make war for religious or ideological reasons while sacrificing their own prosperity. (A similar concept is the U.S.' adoption and enforcement of Obamacare.) Can we ascribe economic motives to the constant war wrought by Islamic nations/movements or the totalitarian empires of the 20th century?

That nations need not make war for economic reasons does not mean that nations will not make war. That nations will make war means that other nations must protect themselves. Garrett's argument for self-containment is one such way that nations protect themselves. The United States might protect itself by becoming self-reliant, regardless of whether foreign aggressors come to believe in peace and economic freedom. Garrett was being descriptive in his discussions of the options that aggressor nations enjoy and the justifications (or lack thereof) for war. But Garrett was advocating specific policies for the U.S. The policies that Garrett recommended recognized the aggressive tendencies of enemy countries. It is not inconsistent to (1) recommend that the United States follow a self-reliant policy while (2) acknowledging that aggressor nations need not make that policy necessary.

update - click here for a discussion of Chapters 15 and 16 of Unsanctioned Voice.

Labels: , ,

Locations of visitors to this page