The Radical Will: Selected Writings 1911-1918



The Radical Will: Selected Writings 1911-1918Randolph Bourne Was Only Thirty Two When He Died In , But He Left A Legacy Of Astonishingly Mature And Incisive Writings On Politics, Literature, And Culture, Which Were Of Enormous Influence In Shaping The American Intellectual Climate Of The S And S This Definitive Collection, Back In Print At Last, Includes Such Noted Essays As The War And The Intellectuals, The Fragment Of The State, The Development Of Public Opinion, And John Dewey S Philosophy Bourne S Critique Of Militarism And Advocacy Of Cultural Pluralism Are Enduring Contributions To Social And Political Thought, Sure To Have An Equally Strong Impact In Our Own Time In Their Introduction And Preface, Olaf Hansen And Christopher Lasch Provide Biographical And Historical Context For Bourne S Work

Randolph Silliman Bourne was a progressive writer and leftist intellectual , and a graduate of Columbia University Bourne is best known for his essays, especially his unfinished work The State, discovered after his death https en.wikipedia.org wiki Randolp

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  • Paperback
  • 548 pages
  • The Radical Will: Selected Writings 1911-1918
  • Randolph Bourne
  • English
  • 07 January 2019
  • 0520077156

10 thoughts on “The Radical Will: Selected Writings 1911-1918

  1. LDM says:

    Incredibly astute concerning all things artistic, cultural, and political, Bourne is easily an most underestimated tour de force for early 20th Century criticism His biting critiques of both entrenched powers governmental and corporate and social coercion are forceful, articulate, and insightful While his economics and his love for the global Socialist movement are less than commendable, Bourne nevertheless succeeds in pointing out the obvious that no one seems to want to talk about the hor Incredibly astute concerning all things artistic, cultural, and political, Bourne is easily an most underestimated tour de force for early 20th Century criticism His biting critiques of both entrenched powers governmental and corporate and social coercion are forceful, articulate, and insightful While his economics and his love for the global Socialist movement are less than commendable, Bourne nevertheless succeeds in pointing out the obvious that no one seems to want to talk about the horrors and degradations of war both psychologically and socially, the corrupting influence of societal norms, the wasted dream that was America, etc etc Great read, highly recommended Adults are littlethan grown up children This is what makes their arrogance so insulting the assumption that they have acquired any impartiality or objectivity of outlook, and have any better standards for judging life Their ideas are wrong, and grow progressivelywrong as they grow older Youth, therefore, has no right to be humble The ideals it forms will be the highest it will ever have, the insight the clearest, the ideas the most stimulating The best that it can hope to do is to conserve those resources and keep its flame of imagination and daring bright Youth 98 The youth is urged to imitate men who are themselves victims of the very influences that he should doge, and doctrine and habits are pressed upon him which he should ceaselessly question and never once make his own unless he is sure that they fit him He will have need to be ever alert to the dangers, and, in early youth at least, would better thinkof dodging them than of attaining the goal to which his elders tempt him Their best service to him would be to warn him against themselves and their influence, rather than to encourage him to become like them The Dodging of Pressures 116 The conventional person is, therefore, not the most natural but the most unnatural of persons His harmlessness is a proof of his tremendous eccentricity He has been rubbed down smooth on all sides like a rock until he has dropped noiselessly into his place in society The Dodging of Pressures 118 On the children in the family what a petty tyranny of ideas and manners is imposed Under the guise of being brought up, how many habits of doubtful value we learned, how many moral opinions of doubtful significance we absorbed, how many strange biases that harass and perplex us in our later life we have fastened upon our minds, how many natural and beautiful tendencies we were forced to suppress The tyranny of manners, of conventional politeness, of puritanical taboos, of superstitious religion, were all imposed upon us for no reason that our elders could devise, but simply that they in turn had had them imposed upon them Much of our early education was as automatic and unconscious as the handing down of the immemorial traditions in a primitive savage tribe The Dodging of Pressures 118 19 Most men would rather be slaves than butts they would rather be corralled with the herd than endure its taunts at their independence The Dodging of Pressures 121 The family is a little microcosm, a sheltered group where youth feels all those currents of influence that sway men in their social life Some of them are exaggerated, some perverted, but they are most of them there in that little world It is no new discovery that in family life one can find heaven or one can find hell The Dodging of Pressures 124 To have judged one s self by the inner standards of truth to one s own personality, to count the consciousness of having down well, regardless of the corroboration of a public, as success, is to have avoided the most discouraging of pressures The Dodging of Pressures 127 The rational ideal is one of those great moral hypocrisies which every one preaches and no one practices, but which we all believe with superstitious reverence, and which we take care shall be proven erroneous by no stubborn facts of life The Experimental Life 150 The will cannot create talent or opportunity The wise man is he who has the clear vision to discern the one, and the calm patience to await the other The Experimental Life 153 We take ourselves too seriously, and handle our tastes and enthusiasms as gingerly as if we feared they would shrivel away at the touch We perpetually either underestimate or overestimate our powers and worth, and suffer such losses on account of the one and humiliations on account of the other, as serve to unbalance our knowledge of ourselves, and discourage attempts to find real guiding principles of our own or others actions We need this objective attitude of the scientist We must be self conscious with a detached self consciousness, treating ourselves as we treat others, experimenting to discover our possibilities and traits, testing ourselves with situations, and gradually building up a body of law and doctrine for ourselves, a real morality that will have farworth and power and virtue than all that has been tried and tested before by no matter how much of alien human experience We must start our quest with no prepossessions, with no theory of what ought to happen when we expose ourselves to certain stimuli It is our business to see what does happen, and then act accordingly The Experimental Life 155 Life is a laboratory to work out experiments in living That same freedom which we demand for ourselves, we must grant to every one Instead of falling with our spite upon those who vary from the textbook rules of life, we must look upon their acts as new and very interesting hypotheses to be duly tested and judged by the way they work when carried out into action The Experimental Life 157 There are always too many unquestioned things in the world, and for a person or class to have to scurry about to find reasons for its prejudices is about as healthy an exercise as one could wish for either of them This Older Generation 159 T hat French Revolution still remains the most amazing thing in history A great nation, trained for centuries to absolutism, did deliberately, in the face of the counter revolution of the monarch, the active hostility of all Europe, economic distress at home, defy all laws of social inertia, social conservatism, and social timidity, and alter its form of government in accord with abstract and idealistic principles In comparison, our own boasted American Revolution, by reason of our small population, the distance from the mother country, our already semi independent status, was noof a feat or a political achievement than the leaving home of a big boy who has out grown parental control The Doctrine of the Rights of Man as Formulated by Thomas Paine 237 essays 243 In a time of faith, skepticism is the most intolerable of all insults The War and the Intellectuals 309 It is a mistake to suppose that intellectuality necessarily makes for suspended judgements The intellect craves certitude It takes effort to keep it supple and pliable In a time of danger and disaster we jump desperately for some dogma to cling to The time comes, if we try to hold out, when our nerves are sick with fatigue, and we seize in a great healing wave of release some doctrine that can be immediately translated into action The Ware and the Intellectuals 315 There is work to be done to prevent World War I from passing into popular mythology as a holy crusade What shall we do with leaders who tell us that we go to war in moral spotlessness, or who make democracy synonymous with a republican form of government There is work to be done in still shouting that all the revolutionary by products will not justify the war, or make war anything else than the most noxious complex of all the evils that afflict men There must be some to find no consolation whatever, and some to sneer at those who buy the cheap emotion of sacrifice There must be some irreconcilables left who will not even accept the war with walrus tears There must be some to call unceasingly for peace The War and the Intellectuals 317 The kind of war which we are conducting is an enterprise which the American government does not have to carry on with the hearty cooperation of the American people but only with their acquiescence And that acquiescence seems sufficient to float an indefinitely protracted war for vague or even largely uncomprehended and unaccepted purposes A War Diary 319 Our war is teaching us that patriotism is really a superfluous quality in war The government of a modern organized plutocracy does not have to ask whether the people want to fight or understand what they are fighting for, but only whether they will tolerate fighting America does not cooperate with the President s designs She rather feebly acquiesces But that feeble acquiescence is the all important factor We are learning that war doesn t need enthusiasm, doesn t need conviction, doesn t need hope, to sustain it A War Diary 321 The penalty the realist pays for accepting war is to see disappear one by one the justifications for accepting it He must either become a genuine Realpolitiker and brazen it through, or else he must feel sorry for his intuition and be regretful that he will the war But so easy is forgetting and so slow the change of events that he islikely to ignore the collapse of his case If he finds that his government is relinquishing the crucial moves of that strategy for which he was willing to use the technique of war, he is likely to move easily to the ground that it will all come out in the end the same anyway He soon becomes satisfied with tacitly ratifying whatever happens, or at least straining to find the grain of unplausible hope that may be latent in the situation A War Diary 323 Willing war means willing all the evils that are organically bound up with it A good many people still seem to believe in a peculiar kind of democratic and antiseptic war A War Diary 324 The war has revealed a younger intelligentsia, trained up in the pragmatic dispensation, immensely ready for the executive ordering of events, pitifully unprepared for the intellectual interpretation or the idealistic focusing of endsThey have absorbed the secret of scientific method as applied to political administration They are liberal, enlightened, aware They are touched with creative intelligence toward the solution of political and industrial problems They are a wholly new force in American life, the product of the swing in the colleges from a training that emphasized classical studies to one that emphasized political and economic values Practically all this element, on would say, is lined up in service of the war technique There seems to have been a peculiar congeniality between the war and these men It is as if the war and they had been waiting for each other One wonders what scope they would have had for their intelligence without it Probably most of them would have gone into industry and devoted themselves to sane reorganization schemes What is significant is that it is the technical side of the war that appeals to them, not the interpretive or the political side The formulation of values and ideals, the production of articulate and suggestive thinking, had not, in their education, kept pace, to any extent whatever, with their technical aptitude Twilight of Idols 342 Government is obviously composed of common and unsanctified men, and is thus a legitimate object of criticism and even contempt The State 355 The Government, with no mandate from the people, without consultation of the people, conducts all the negotiations, the backing and filling, the menaces and explanations, which slowly bring it into collision with some other Government, and gently and irresistibly slides the country into war For the benefit of proud and haughty citizens, it is fortified with a list of the intolerable insults which have been hurled toward us by the other nations for the benefit of the liberal and beneficent, it has a convincing set of moral purposes which our going to war will achieve for the ambitious and aggressive classes, it can gently whisper of a bigger role in the destiny of the world The result is that, even in those countries where the business of declaring war is theoretically in the hands of representatives of the people, no legislature has ever been known to decline the request of an Executive, which has conducted all foreign affairs in utter privacy and irresponsibility, that it order the nation into battle The State 356 Country is a concept of peace, of tolerance, of living and letting live But State is essentially a concept of power, of competition it signifies a group in its aggressive aspects And we have the misfortune of being born not only into a country but into a State, and as we grow up we learn to mingle the two feelings into a hopeless confusion The State 358 All the activities of society are linked together as fast as possible to this central purpose of making a military offensive or a military defense, and the State becomes what in peacetimes it has vainly struggled to become the inexorable arbiter and determinant of men s business and attitudes and opinions The State 359 Minority opinion, which in times of peace, was only irritating and could not be dealt with by law unless it was conjoined with actual crime, becomes, with the outbreak of war, a case for outlawry The State 360 War is the health of the State The State 360 War cannot exist without a military establishment, and a military establishment cannot exist without a State organization War has an immemorial tradition and heredity only because the State has a long tradition and heredity But they are inseparably and functionally joined We cannot crusade against war without crusading implicitly against the State The State 370 T he State represents all the autocratic, arbitrary, coercive, belligerent forces within a social group, it is a sort of complexus of everything most distasteful to the modern free creative spirit, the feeling for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness War is the health of the State Only when the State is at war does the modern society function with that unity of sentiment, simple uncritical patriotic devotion, cooperation of services, which have always been the ideal of the State lover The State 375 Diplomacy is a disguised war, in which States eek to gain by barter and intrigue, by the cleverness of wits, the objectives which they would have to gainclumsily by means of war The State 376 The modern State is not the rational and intelligent product of modern men desiring to live harmoniously together with security of life, property, and opinion It is not an organization which has been devised as pragmatic means to a desired social end All the idealism with which we have been instructed to endow the State is the fruit of our retrospective imaginations What it does for us in the way of security and benefit of life, it does incidentally as a by product and development of its original functions, and not because at any time men or classes in the full possession of their insight and intelligence have desired that it be so It is very important that we should occasionally lift the incorrigible veil of that ex post facto idealism by which we throw a glamor of rationalization over what it is, and pretend in the ecstasies of social conceit that we have personally invented and set up for the glory of God and man the hoary institutions which we see around us Things are what they are, and come down to us with all their thick encrustations of error and malevolence Political philosophy can delight us with fantasy and convince us who need illusion to live that the actual is a fair and approximate copy full of failings, of course, but approximately sound and sincere of that ideal society which we can imagine ourselves as creating From this it is a step to the tacit assumption that we have somehow had a hand in its creation and are responsible for its maintenance and sanctity The State 380

  2. Alina Stefanescu says:

    Bourne is a great companion for those days when everyone else is watching football as their brain cells turn into tiny, morose shrimp.

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