“The decade 1887-97 was one of the most extraordinary periods in all the history of America’s fantastic civilization; even the period 1929-39 can do but little more than match its bizarre eccentricities. . . . Free silver, the initiative, referendum and recall; farmer-labourism, votes-for-women, popular election of senators, the Wisconsin Idea, populism, prohibition, the Square Deal, direct primaries, Coxey and his army, Carry Nation and her hatchet, Coin Harvey and his primer–the list is without end.” Nock, Henry George.
Nock, of course, was writing before the 1960s, so such retrospective hyperbole can be forgiven, but I still find it fascinating. Nobody talks about the 1890s, like he might talk about 1965-1974. I don’t know if that’s because our culture is historically ignorant (it is) or because the 1960s simply dwarfed the 1890s.
I also find it interesting that this period of such intense ideological progressive fervor was followed, eventually, by very real, far-reaching reforms (although of the regressive sort): The years from 1912 through 1920 brought us Prohibition, the Federal Reserve, the federal income tax, and the League of Nations. All stupid, three of the four still with us (the League, of course, in the figure of the UN). Ideas, Richard Weaver observed, have consequences. He was right.Bookmark it: del.icio.us | Reddit | Slashdot | Digg | Facebook | Technorati | Google | StumbleUpon | Window Live | Tailrank | Furl | Netscape | Yahoo | BlinkList