Book of the Month

A Libertarian House on the Prairie

By Judith Thurman, The New Yorker, August 17, 2012

[....] [Laura Ingalls] Wilder’s books were written in collaboration with her only child, Rose Wilder Lane, a best-selling author in her own right. The extent of that collaboration is disputed—some critics have called Rose Laura’s “ghostwriter.” The evidence suggests that, at the least, Lane edited and shaped the manuscripts considerably, and thought of her mother as an amateur [....]

Lane was a compelling, and in many senses, a tragic figure. She was a woman of tremendous enterprise and passion who suffered from suicidal depressions that she diagnosed as a “mental illness.” Born on the frontier, in 1886, and raised in dire poverty, she rode a mule to the village school, where she was mocked for her rags. After high school [....]

After her divorce, Lane made a career in journalism and as a popular biographer [....]

In the late nineteen-twenties, however, crippled by depression, Lane returned to her parents’ farm in Missouri. She was tortured by bad teeth—the product of childhood malnutrition; she lost her savings in the Depression; the state of the world increasingly embittered her. And the left-wing idealism of her youth took a hard turn to the right. When Roosevelt was elected, she noted in her diary, “America has a dictator.” She prayed for his assassination, and considered doing the job herself [....]

Yikes.  Thanks for sharing this article.  Interesting stuff.

I knew most of this already about Rose Wilder but not the bit about praying for FDR's assassination.  Sad but not really surprising in historical context.  Dictators were popping up all over the world at the time so FDR's initial landslide, coattails and ambitious first 100 days may have appeared very similar to what happened in Russia, Italy and Germany.  

I may be projecting but I know how the crowds that showed up to worship Obama in 2008 frightened me.  I did not blame Obama for them even when he callously used them but many did and still do.  It is easy to imagine Rose Wilder feeling the same about FDR.  

Her evolution into a 'mother' of libertarianism indicates to me that she realized where the blame for the rise of dictators really belongs even if she continued to hate FDR.

I really would love to read the correspondence between Wilder-Lane and Rand at the end of the article.

Lane and Rand exchanged collegial letters for a while in the late nineteen-forties and early nineteen-fifties. But when Lane invoked the Biblical imperative to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” and protested that “without some form of mutual coöperation, it is literally impossible for one person on this planet to survive,” Rand “tore apart [her] logic” and denounced it as collectivist heresy. That sort of impulse, she concluded (to help your neighbor save his burning house, for example) led inexorably “to the New Deal.”
 

 

I don't think the crowds showed up to "worship Obama" as much as to hail the end of the most dictatorial, corrupt era since the McCarthy years or, before that, the Tea Pot Dome days. 

You really had nothing to fear; the worst of it was over.  As for Obama "callously using them", I don't understand.  How did he use the crowds again?  Weren't we all--including him--simply celebrating the victory of the man we voted for?

Crowds are mobs and mobs are dangerous.  No matter who, anyone who attempts to use and control them is treating people callously.  Anyone not frightened by a political crowd/mob should take some time out to think about that.

The crowds I am talking about weren't celebrating victory.  (How many votes did he get in Berlin anyway?  For some reason, I cannot recall.)  Then there was the spectacle formerly known as the Democratic National Convention.

I really am not going to get into one your Obamabot/not back and forths.  You see what you see; I see what I see.  Leave it at that.

 

So I take it you won't be watching the Republican convention then?  There will be crowds, there will be adoration, there will be a few callous souls ready to take advantage.  And there will be Republicans.

I don't watch conventions.  No point.

I only asked because you said:  Then there was the spectacle formerly known as the Democratic National Convention.

Reruns are always available if something new and exciting happens.  

I do not watch much live action anything.  I used to so I could participate in water cooler talk at work but that was back when politics and sports were more fun.  Now they are so hyperpartisan it is really not possible to have amicable differences.   Say one thing someone does not like and you are immediately branded as the other side, the enemy.  Like now.

 

Sorry, Emma.  I just thought the juxto from FDR's possible assassination to Obama's "callous" exploitation of his crowds needed some clarification.  Didn't mean to upset you.

Sorry, Ramona, but if that was what you wanted clarified, you should have said as much but you did not until now. 

The point was that the adulation of a politician by crowds aka mobs is more disturbing and even frightening to some people than others. 

As for FDR, he survived an assassination attempt that killed the mayor* of Chicago sitting beside him in 1932.  There is testimony in the Congressional Record of a plot in 1936.  That a disturbed individual prayed for it is not surprising.

FWIW, I think neither FDR nor Obama sought that kind of adulation but both did capitalize on it.  Somewhat disappointing but not surprising.  What disturbs is the crowd itself.  People losing themselves in a mass event or movement.  

I may be projecting but I know how the crowds that showed up to worship Obama in 2008 frightened me.  I did not blame Obama for them even when he callously used them but many did and still do.  It is easy to imagine Rose Wilder feeling the same about FDR. 

Ditto;100%, ditto!

I didn't get an inkling, not a bit, that you felt this way about the Obamamania while we were participating at TPMCafe, though.

I was a coward on that front, and it did really bother me, I tried not to voice my apprehension directly, don't know how well I did hiding it, though. (Giving myself a break, I don't think it's very smart to be brave in order to get involved in useless internet arguments and making people angry and ending up playing the role of troll to the fans-like David Seaton did--the honorable choice would have been to leave and go where there were neither Obama nor Clinton afficiandos to say what one thought otutright. But then I'm not into "blogging!" Still, I do feel regrets for not voicing those concerns more strongly.) Where I drew the line was early on in the administration when all the still happy fans started accepting pitchforks on their avatars, especially when Mike the professor said it bothered him too. I don't know to explain it, it was like a caricature too far of what my apprehensions had been.

And I fully agree that it must have been very frightening for those who were not in love with FDR's campaign rhetoric to see everyone else fall in hope and love with him in a landslide, including a much more uneducated electorate than we have today, as well as a much more desperate one. The times were so very dire and frightening to begin with, and with virtually nothing to compare in history, I could easily see if I was someone who felt FDR did not have had right answers, I might be very afraid of the country going non-democratic mob rule.

...I might be very afraid of the country going non-democratic mob rule.

I realize this may be out of context - but this phrase really 'hit' me because I'm not sure we're not already there to some extent.  Push and pull is accelerating, thus it's only a matter of time until 'we all fall down'.  It's no longer a question of if, but how soon. 

I was distracted totally enthralled by what was going on in the financial markets during the 2008 campaign.   It was the least attention I ever gave a Presidential election.   Also, TPMCafe underwent a major transition then, too.  Josh deliberately courted the pro- and anti- mobs that showed up for daily food fights.  Not really my cup of coffee. ;-D

In the same vein, in your meanderings around the internets, have you noticed any bloggers/writers voicing concerns about civil war.  I have seen two in the past week or so.  Arnold Kling at EconLog (1, 2) and David Brin (3), who called it the third phase of the American Civil War?  Both caught me by surprise because I do not get the sense that it is that bad.  Am I just lost in the calm before the storm?

Re: have I noticed any "to arms, third phase of American civil war"

Not really. And a quick perusal of your links and your question made think about how overall, I haven't noticed anything that I would judge as anywhere near as bad as Clinton's second term yet.  Despite Pew just coming out and saying they see an acceleration of polarization since the turn of the century.

After all, the Clinton haters actually went all the way through to actual impeachment, not just idle threats about civil war, and had the whole country hanging on the edge of its seat during that. There was no sure bet on how that was going to turn out.

Even the most racist tea partiers seem to couch their dislike/hatred in terms of Obama not being American, introducing non-American ways, which doesn't seem to approach the absolute blistering hatred of "Slick Willie," and the sense at the time that they simply couldn't tolerate living under him as president, they couldn't stand a minute longer. I used to listen to the C-Span morning program where they balanced calls left vs. right, and some of those right wing calls were just amazing, they were apoplectic....having a stroke, at a fever pitch, couldn't even get the words out....the country was down the tubes, ruined....that man, that man, pure evil, etc. Actually, I've noticed some lefties on sites like FDL are more likely to have that level of virulent hatred of Obama (like right wing had for Clinton) than right wingers. I don't see a lot of "we need to secede" anger like there was then, no sense that Obama is a criminal and liar and defiler of the Office and the country, just that he's trying to craftily introduce "socialism."

That is a a relief.  Thanks.

8 %+ , unemployment for years  means that there is a pool of desperate people who under other conditions might be uninterested in the coming election. Then combine that with the degree of racism that is still present in the South -in the 2008 primaries  I recall Obama polling 17% among white democrats in some southern state, perhaps Alabama.  

AOBTW the disaffection of the "single payer"left since the Health Care fight-which we read here- adds an additional helping of near hatred to the atmosphere.

Given that I'm surprised that Obama is still in contention but ,sadly, I think he won't be able to survive the swift boating etc. which will be fueled by Romney's greater resources.

I think we may be trembling on the edge of a strong swing to the Right.

In 1980 I had a conversation with a long time democrat- a college president- who had voted for Reagan. He described  his life long democratic activism- he had been driving Hubert Humphrey around Minnesota when HH decided to renounce the Vietnam war.Then said that after he pulled the lever for Reagan he had "such a sense of relief". I think we may  be approaching an election in which a lot of usually democratic voters are going to experience that same "sense of relief ".

I dread election night.

 

 

Flav,

Just my own intuitions, but I am not so sure all of the unemployed are focusing anger and hatred and blame on the Obama adminsitration, maybe more like "are all our leaders impotent? is there nobody that can do anything?" You saw this in the beginning of Occupy Wall Street, when there was a flood of "nod, nod" type of support from average people with financial trouble. They didn't see any answers/help coming from either party.  It's like they blame both Bush and Obama, and that doesn't necessarily mean Romney is the answer. I tend to suspect that what both candidates say on this, how the debate plays out, in the few months before the election, will affect how the unemployed and financially troubled vote.

Also I am still not convinced that "Citizens United" money will always work to benefit candidates, it is more like a wild card.. The candidate hasn't the control over the message like direct contributions, and some of these rich funders are just plain nuts and egocentric.

Without control of message, the candidates can be drawn into debating topics that they didn't want to address. Thought it didn't happen from "Citizens United" money, look at right now, the presidential campaigns are focused on rape and abortion, you can't tell me that Romney wanted that to happen. What I am saying is: Sheldon Adelson could make the last month of the campaign all about Israel if he decided that's what he wanted to do. Right now it seems to me that the some GOP donors and Romney wanted the discussion right now to be about welfare (dumb, mho, in a time when most Independents probably know someone who gets Food Stamps and aren't angry about it.,) but instead they are talking about rape.

Seems to me that if anything, revolution talk would make more sense than civil war talk, but my bet goes strongly with to "neither."

The presidential race is a wild card because of the new kinda money, not favoring either side. You may be right about Congress, though, there it could very much be "thrown the incumbent bums out.."

Hope you're right. But it's a crap shoot. Still we just got lucky with the Akin affair. Who knows God may not be on the side of the big battalions. This time.

Sense of relief...how so?

Emma, CNN has a story on the Civil War meme, looks like it may mostly coming from a nutty judge in Texas:

Texas Democrats: Judge who said Obama could trigger civil war should resign
By Josh Levs, CNN, updated 3:35 PM EDT, Thu August 23, 2012

(CNN) -- Texas Democrats are calling for the resignation of a Republican elected county judge who warned this week that the nation could descend into civil war if President Barack Obama is re-elected.

"It's really up to Judge (Tom) Head to do the right thing and resign and stop embarrassing Lubbock County," said Kenny Ketner, who became the county Democratic Party's chief Monday.

"I wish we were getting worldwide attention for something better than a crazy county judge," Ketner told CNN. "But what are you going to do?"

There is no recall process for Head's office in Texas, Ketner said.

The county's Republican Party chief, Carl Tepper, accused the Democrats of "opportunism" and said he called Head and left him a message offering "moral support."

"I don't agree with him, but everyone has their opinion. I can respectfully disagree with him and he can still be an elected official," Tepper said [....]

So instead of ignoring a piss-ant crank judge's ravings, Texas Democrats fanned the flames to get 'worldwide attention'.  Great, just great.

Maybe Kling and Brin were not previously aware that Obama Derangement Syndrome had reached or exceeded that of Bush.  Or maybe they recently discovered FDL. :-)

Seriously though, I have noticed an increase in local violent crimes since my original question - a couple of armed home invasions, one confirmed and one suspected murder-suicide, one really sad rage assault ending with a jail suicide.  Crimes of despair and desperation.  Very atypical so close to home and very unsettling.  

Found this on Pinterest.  It made me laugh even though it is not really funny when you think about it.  Then I remembered our conversation here.  

 

 

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