All Commentary
Monday, March 1, 1965

The Flight From Reality: 6. An American Dream


Dr. Carson is Professor of American History at Grove City College, Pennsylvania. Among his earlier writings in THE FREEMAN were his series on The Fateful Turn and The American Tradition, both of which are now available as books.

The attraction of ameliorative reform is the promise of a better world in which to live. There may be some exceptions to this rule, notably for those who find in re­formist activity the means of ex­ercising power over people. But for the generality of people improve­ment, not power, has been the lure. They have been drawn into the labyrinth of reform programs by visions of what the world would be like when the reformers had insti­tuted their reforms. Utopian vi­sions have been the magnets pull­ing peoples into the orbits of reformers.

Yet, so far as we know, most people have rejected and do reject the possibility of utopia. “Uto­pian” is a term of derision for describing impractical dreamers. The more practical minded per­ceive the fallacies in the utopian blueprint. Those with keener imaginations foresee the empti­ness of utopia, even if it were possible. Man was meant to strive, some will say; contentment is for cows. Even so, it may be that the argument against utopia that has the broadest appeal is the mani­fest impossibility of achieving it. In short, man and the universe are not so constructed as to make utopia possible.

But the reformist bent has triumphed in America, and in many other places, in our day. And ameliorative reform has as its implicit goal the achievement of utopia. How can this state of affairs have come about? How can men have rejected utopia and em­braced reforms which have as their end the achievement of uto­pia?

From Reality to Utopia

Two developments made such a contradiction appear not to be one. First, there was the cutting loose and flight from reality. This did not make utopia appear possible to most sane people, but it did help to render programs and plans drawn from utopian visions ap­parently feasible. Second, a par­ticularization of utopia took place, and social reformers advanced what appeared to be limited pro­grams which they hoped would move them to their ultimate goal. At the same time, though, that the means were particularized in spe­cific programs, the goal was gen­eralized into such hazy rhetorical phrases as peace, prosperity, and progress. Thus, a reversal of the utopian mode occurred as the at­tempts were made to actualize utopia. In utopian literature, the goal—the good society—is often pictured in luxuriant detail; while the means to the arrival at this goal are not usually specified. Note that the utopian could thus avoid the odium that would be associ­ated with the coercion and revolu­tion by which his goal has to be pursued, and the reformer could avoid the disrepute attached to utopianism.

It is hazardous, however, to fol­low a general analysis of these developments any further. These generalizations do not do full jus­tice to the complexity of the phe­nomena. Moreover, the above for­mulations may be interpreted as implying that utopians and re­formers have intentionally played down or remained silent about certain facets of their programs. This may not have been the case. On the contrary, utopians did not envision the force and violence which would accompany efforts to arrive at their goals. By a similar myopia, reformers need not know that they are utopians. It must be kept clear that intellectuals have not only drawn others into an il­lusory mental realm; they are quite often victims of the same delusions. This was made possible by the flight from reality. But the point at hand is that the impetus to the flight from reality which has eventuated in the triumph of melioristic reform was provided by utopian visions, though these have long since receded beyond the horizon from whence today they emit the colors that are identified by believers as peace, prosperity, and progress.

The American “Lag”

Those advancing the flight from reality had great difficulty in launching America. The fact has not been sufficiently appreciated. When writers note that Americans did not rush to adopt ameliorative reforms as avidly as Europeans, the matter is often treated as the “social lag” of Americans. Ameri­cans “lagged” more than fifty years behind Germans in provid­ing certain kinds of “insurance” programs for workers. Americans “lagged” many years behind Eng­land in providing old-age pensions, and some several years in empow­ering labor unions. Contrariwise, France is far ahead of the United States in rent controls (and in housing shortages), and England is much further along the road to completely socialized medicine.

The matter can and should be described in quite different terms. Americans held out against the lure of utopia, the promises of re­formers, the blandishments of rev­olutionaries much longer than many Europeans. Reform, when it came to America, was more mod­erate and mild than in most Euro­pean countries, and did not so drastically alter the existing situa­tion. Still, it has come, and the gradualness of the movement has obscured for many Americans the import of it.

There were tremendous obsta­cles to the triumph of reformism in America. The institutions, tra­ditions, habits, and beliefs of Americans ran counter to the out­look and practices associated with ameliorative reform. But, the cas­ual observer might object, on these grounds reformism should have come much more readily to Ameri­ca than to Europe. No country was more deeply locked in age-old ways than Russia. The British tradition was hoary with age before Amer­ica was an adolescent. Surely, America was more flexible than bureaucrat-ridden France, the American more amenable to re­form than the Slavic peasant. Be­sides, the governments in America were generally more responsive to the populace than in Europe.

The greatest weakness in these objections is a misunderstanding of how reformism has been ad­vanced, and by whom. If the “peo­ple” had originated and advanced ameliorative reform, it should have come very early to America. Traditions and customs in Amer­ica were not so firmly fixed as in many countries. On the other hand, popular government was much better provided for in Amer­ica than in most countries. To blame governmental intervention and security programs upon de­mocracy, however, is to confuse effect with cause. Undoubtedly, there are now many people who have vested interests in certain governmental programs, and there are many others who have accepted the notion that their prosperity is due to the efforts of politicians. But these are effects, not causes, though they do contribute to the continued feasibility of politicians advancing ameliorative reform. Reforms were and are advanced by intellectuals (and their satraps among the bureaucracy). In any country where there was a moderately enlightened electorate, it has taken many years of vigorous activity to get a majority for re­forms of any great dimensions. The experience of reformers in England and America should give ample evidence for this statement.²

Drastic social reforms were in­troduced most readily in Russia, Germany, and Italy. It was the work of intellectuals, or pseudo-intellectuals. These were countries without a lengthy experience in popular governments, but coun­tries within which tradition was strong. But the intellectuals were—as they have tended to be in­creasingly everywhere—disaffect‑ed from the tradition. Not only was tradition without effective spokesmen quite often, but also the populace was inexperienced in defending it.

Stabilizing Influences

In America, things were quite different. The United States Con­stitution had been formed by the leading thinkers in America. Much of the political tradition had taken shape in the historical memory of much of the populace. The tradi­tions had been freely formed, for the most part, and had the sup­port of intellectuals for most of the nineteenth century. Americans revered their institutions, took pride in them, were accustomed to thinking of them as the best in the world.

Equally important as an obsta­cle to reform was the character of American institutions. The United States Constitution—and proba­bly most state constitutions—is a conservative document. That is, the government which it provides for makes change difficult to ac­complish. For a bill to become law it must be passed by a majority of the House of Representatives, a majority of the Senate, and signed by the President. Even then, it may be nullified by the courts as being unconstitutional. The Con­stitution can, of course, be amended, but amendments must be approved by conventions or legislatures in three-fourths of the states to become a part of the Constitution. Yet there can be no legitimate occasion for violent rev­olution on majoritarian grounds, for the Constitution can and has been amended, and laws can be and have been passed. (It should be noted here that reformers have managed to advance their uncon­stitutional programs in the twen­tieth century without getting the Constitution amended. How they have done this will be taken up later.)

The Constitution was the bed­rock of political reality to Ameri­cans for most of their history, too. There was good reason for this be­lief. It was written and approved by men deeply immersed in his­torical experience and accustomed to attending to the enduring na­ture of things. It is often alleged that the endurance of the Consti­tution can be ascribed to its elas­ticity. The fact that it has lasted so long might better be attributed to its foundation in enduring reali­ties, in realities about the nature and purpose of government, about the nature of man, about the dan­gers of concentrated power, and about the importance of limited action. The principles derived from these realities were the bases of the checks and balances insti­tuted. These latter were mighty buttresses to liberty just as they were formidable obstacles to re­form.

A Multiplicity of Dreams

It was with some trepidation that I decided to call this piece “An American Dream.” It is mainly about a utopian vision, and utopia was not the American dream. Indeed, there was no Amer­ican dream, and this becomes ap­parent when the situation is viewed historically. There were many American dreams. From the earliest colonial days the diversity and multiplicity of American dreams are obvious. The Puritan leaders in New England had one kind of vision, the settlers of Vir­ginia another. The society envi­sioned by Quakers in Pennsylvania was different from that of those who planted North Carolina. The dream of Roger Williams in Rhode Island differed dramatically from that of the Lords Calvert for Maryland.

Nor when a united body had been wrought out of these diverse elements did the multiplicity of dreams disappear. The American agreement, as I have pointed out elsewhere, was an agreement to disagree. American unity was not fashioned by the crushing of di­versity but by providing a frame­work in which each man could have his own vision, dream his own dream, make his own way. If a man had visions of utopia, and some did, he was free to pursue it alone or in the company of others, so long as the others joined him voluntarily and could leave when they were ready. The American way was the voluntary way. It was, in essence, individualistic.

Religious and Political Liberty

Still, there were dreams shared by a sufficient number of Ameri­cans that they could be called American dreams. One of the ear­liest and deepest of these was the desire of men to practice their re­ligious beliefs freely. For most, this was not yet a vision of reli­gious liberty when the earliest set­tlements in English America were made. The Pilgrims only wanted a place to practice their own version of Christianity; so it was, too, with that larger group of people known as Puritans. They drove out dissenters from among them, pro­claiming that those who disagreed with them were free—free to go! Even the enlarged view of reli­gious freedom in Maryland after 1649 encompassed only those who prescribed to certain tenets of re­ligious orthodoxy. Some of the Anglican colonies—notably Vir­ginia—permitted no other reli­gious practices. But by the time of the American revolt from England many Americans had come to ac­cept a new vision, a vision of a land in which each man might freely choose and practice his reli­gion without let or hindrance. Within a few decades, this had be­come the established practice throughout America.

There was another shared dream, too. It is aptly described in a phrase used by Dumas Malone and Basil Rauch as the title of a textbook for American history. Americans hoped to create an Em­pire for Liberty³The word “em­pire” had not been loaded with pejorative connotations at the time of the founding of the Republic. It was still a descriptive word. It meant the presence of diverse peo­ples—diverse in origin, in reli­gion, in language, and so on—un­der one system of government and one flag. The dream of an empire for liberty in America, then, was the dream of many peoples united by a single constitution, one which protected them in their diversity and provided for individual lib­erty. This was the American po­litical dream, and it came very close to realization in the course of the nineteenth century.

Many individuals shared a dream, too, each for himself. The essence of the vision is captured in the phrase, personal inde­pendence. Americans used more earthy phrases to describe the vi­sion: “to be one’s own man,” “to be beholden to no man,” “to be free, white, and twenty-one.” The articulation of this vision ranged from Thomas Jefferson’s prized yeoman farmer to Horatio Alger’s youth who made good in the big city. The dream was realized (and still is) by many Americans, though not all went from bobbin boy to industrial magnate as did Andrew Carnegie or from obscu­rity to great influence as did Dwight L. Moody. But affluence and influence were the further reaches of the dream, for it could be both modestly envisioned and fulfilled. For most, it involved such things as a home of one’s own, a shop or store with a dependable clientele, a farm free of debt, and so on through the variation of goals which free men may set for themselves.

These were not visions of uto­pia, nor of euphoria. They in­volved hard work, careful husban­dry, continued striving, and per­chance the faith that if one had shown himself a worthy steward of his possessions, there would await him at the end of life the inimitable praise, “Well done…,” promised in religious teachings. The utopian dream is the opposite of the American dreams. It is a vision of earthly bliss, not of struggle and accomplishment. It is a collective vision, not an individ­ualistic one. The vision is one for society, and everyone in society must be drawn into it, whether he will or no. It is monolithic; diver­sity must yield to uniformity and conformity for it to be realized (if it could be). Utopians have, of course, pictured release and “free­dom” for individuals in their uto­pias, but such evidence as we have from attempts to create utopias indicates that no importance need be attached to these claims.

“The Dream” Emerges

In the course of time, though, American dreams have begun to be subsumed into An American Dream. Even in our day, individ­uals still dream and work for the fulfillment of their dreams—with considerable success as measured by the homes, farms, vacation cot­tages, and businesses that they own. But the Dream is swallowing up the dreams, as property is cir­cumscribed by restrictions, as taxes increase at all levels, as gov­ernment guarantees of security replace individual provisions for security, as inflation destroys the utility of money as a means of saving, and as people are bom­barded on every hand by products of thought carried on at the level of social units rather than individ­uals. In short, a transformation has taken place in the type of dreams that are approved by so­ciety, and a long term effort has gone on to draw men into the men­tal context of a single dream or vision.

In political terms, the Dream has had a variety of names: the Square Deal, the New Freedom, the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier, and, most recently, the Great Society. In the latter two phrases the character of the Dream is made manifest with greater clarity: it is a collective vision to be arrived at collectively by the use of government to recon­struct men and society.

The terms may be new, but the Dream is an old one. It is a uto­pian vision for America. The struggle to implant the vision in the minds of Americans has been a long one (and will require con­siderable verbiage in the telling of it), for the vision was set forth in a manner that began to appeal to some Americans in the last years of the nineteenth century. Uto­pian novels poured forth in great number and variety from about 1885 to 1911. As one book points out, “the 1890′s in the United States [w]as the most productive single period in the history of utopian thought.”4 Some of the more important utopias, mainly by American writers, were: Ignatius Donnelly, Caesar’s Column (1890); William Morris, News from No­where (1890); Thomas Chauncey, The Crystal Button (1891); Igna­tius Donnelly, The Golden Bottle (1892); William D. Howells, A Traveler from Altruria (1894); H. G. Wells, The Time Machine (1895); and Edward Bellamy, Equality (1897).5

“Looking Backward”

One book, however, may have been more important than all the others combined in awakening the vision in America. It certainly gave great impetus to the produc­tion of utopias by its success. This was Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, published in 1888. By 1890 the book had sold 200,000 copies, and was in that year sell­ing at the rate of 10,000 every week.” It is, even today, available in an inexpensive paperback edi­tion. Within two years after the publication of the book, 162 clubs located in 27 states were holding meetings. They were called Na­tionalist clubs. Bellamy did not use the word socialist to describe his obviously socialist system, and his early followers took a more neutral word also. A magazine, called The Nationalist, was found­ed by friends of Bellamy to spread the ideas. The book had an impact upon such well-known figures as William Dean Howells, Mark Twain, and Thorstein Veblen. The Populist Party was influenced by Bellamy, for an observer at the Convention in 1892 declared that Bellamy’s readers “were the brains of the convention. They were col­lege professors, editors, artists, and authors….”7 Bellamy was friendly with all sorts of reform­ers and intimate with some of the professed socialists. Henry Dema­rest Lloyd wrote him in 1896, “The movement we are in is Interna­tional Socialism…. Why not rec­ognize it and say so!”8 Bellamy, however, made socialism palatable as a dream to many people without calling it by that name.

What was there about this book that occasioned its great impact? An examination of Looking Back­ward is in order. It is a novel, a romance, a fantasy. It is set in the city of Boston in the year 2000. It has its hero (Julian West) and its heroine (Edith Leete) who give the story its “love” interest. The very clever device for unfolding the story is that the hero was mes­merized in 1887 and slept unbe­knownst to anyone until 2000. This device allows the reader to identify with West as he encount­ers the surprising changes that have occurred during his long sleep. Boston has been trans­formed. His first view of the city convinces him of this:

At my feet lay a great city. Miles of broad streets, shaded by trees and lined with fine buildings, for the most part not in continuous blocks but set in larger or smaller in closures, stretched in every direction. Every quarter contained large open squares filled with trees, among which statues glistened and fountains flashed in the late afternoon sun. Public buildings of a colossal size and an architectural grandeur unparalleled in my day raised their stately piles on every side. Surely I had never seen this city nor one comparable to it before.9

It was Boston all right; the fa­miliar pattern of the Charles River assured him of that. But it was a New City he beheld, located on a New Earth. In short order he was to learn that not only had the change occurred in Boston but also throughout the United States. Be­yond that, Europe had been trans­formed as well, and the rest of the world was in the process of a similar change. Utopia had been achieved.

In this New Age, war has been banished from the face of the earth; universal peace reigns su­preme. There is no longer any crime to speak of, only something called atavism—vestigial remains of the criminal mind from another era—which produces occasional antisocial acts. There is no longer any corruption or demagoguery in politics—in fact, there is very lit­tle politics. There are no labor problems, nor any other class or group problems. All destructive activities have been banished, and a vast surge of constructiveness and creativeness has emerged. As Dr. Leete, the interlocutor of the story, describes the situation:

“It has been an era of unexampled intellectual splendor. Probably hu­manity never before passed through a moral and material evolution, at once so vast in its scope and brief in its time of accomplishment, as that from the old order to the new in the early part of this century. When men came to realize the greatness of the felicity which had befallen them, and that the change through which they had passed was not merely an im­provement in details of their condi­tion, but the rise of the race to a new plane of existence with an illimitable vista of progress, their minds were affected in all their faculties with a stimulus, of which the outburst of the mediaeval renaissance offers a sug­gestion but faint indeed. There en­sued an era of mechanical invention, scientific discovery, art, musical and literary productiveness to which no previous age of the world offers any­thing comparable.”10

The Planned Economy

What had wrought all these marvelous changes? It all came about very simply, or so Bellamy would have us believe. All private production of goods and provision of services was taken over by the government. The economy was ra­tionally organized—e., planned, money abolished, income equalized, production scientifically planned, competition eliminated, and men bountifully supplied with goods and services. Labor was provided by an industrial army, to which every male was subject from 21 to 45. The industrial forces were organized in great guilds, and the President of the country chosen from these. Professionals had their own organizations.

One might suppose that this drastic alteration in ways of doing things had been accomplished by revolution. Not at all; instead, it came about by peaceful evolution. Let Dr. Leete describe the process once more:

“Early in the last century the evo­lution was completed by the final con­solidation of the entire capital of the nation. The industry and commerce of the country, ceasing to be con­ducted by a set of irresponsible corpo­rations and syndicates of private per­sons at their caprice and for their profit, were intrusted to a single syn­dicate representing the people, to be conducted in the common interest for the common profit. The nation, that is to say, organized as the one great business corporation in which all other corporations were absorbed; it became the one capitalist in place of all other capitalists, the sole employ­er, the final monopoly in which all previous and lesser monopolies were swallowed up, a monopoly in the prof­its and economies of which all citizens shared. The epoch of trusts had ended in The Great Trust. In a word, the people of the United States concluded to assume the conduct of their own business, just as one hundred odd years before they had assumed the conduct of their own government, organizing now for industrial pur­poses on precisely the same grounds that they had then organized for po­litical purposes.¹¹

In the accomplishment of this, “’there was absolutely no violence. The change had been long fore­seen. Public opinion had become fully ripe for it, and the whole mass of the people was behind it.’ “¹² Neither violence, discord, nor compulsion ushered in the new age, nor characterized relation­ships within it. Instead, as Dr. Leete explains to Julian West, ” ‘If I were to give you in one sentence, a key to what may seem the mysteries of our civilization…,

I should say that it is the fact that the solidarity of the race and the brotherhood of man… areties as real and vital as phys­ical fraternity.’ “13

Julian West poses the obvious question at an earlier point in the book: “Human nature itself must have changed very much,” I said. “Not at all,” was Dr. Leete’s reply, “but the conditions of human life have changed, and with them the mo­tives of human action.”14

A minister takes up the explana­tion:

“… Soon was fully revealed, what the divines and philosophers of the old world never would have believed, that human nature in its essential qualities is good, not bad, that men by their natural intention and structure are generous, not selfish, pitiful [full of pity], not cruel, sympathetic, not arrogant, godlike in aspirations, in­stinct with divinest impulses and self-sacrifice, images of God indeed, not the travesties upon Him they had seemed. The constant pressure, through numberless generations, of conditions of life which might have perverted angels, had not been able to essentially alter the natural nobil­ity of the stock, and these conditions once removed, like a bent tree, it had sprung back to its normal upright­ness.”15

The mode of the transition from the old to the new society is vague and inexplicit. Unlike Khrushchev—and Marx before him—Bellamy believed that it was possible to make omelets without breaking eggs. But no such vagueness at­tends the descriptions of the good society which has emerged in 2000 A. D. It is described in lov­ing detail. Julian West visits the department stores from which goods are obtained, and the dis­tribution system from central warehouses is amply described. The system of state issued credit which replaces money is pictured minutely. How men are got to perform the various services for society are spelled out in intricate detail.

Blueprint for Tomorrow

It does not require a great deal of imagination, either, to see that many things which Bellamy en­visioned have begun to emerge in many tendencies of our day—if one ignores the compulsion, the thrust to power of politicians, the unpleasantness, and the dreary uniformity of state produced things, that is, if one removes the utopian elements. Bellamy made it clear, in a letter appended to Looking Backward, that he intend­ed the book as predicting things to come:

Looking Backward, although in form a fanciful romance, is intended, in all seriousness, as a forecast, in ac-cordance with the principles of evo­lution, of the next stage in the indus­trial and social development of hu­manity, especially in this country….’6

A few examples of some “fore­casts” will reveal Bellamy’s pre­science. Saving is no longer a virtue in this socialist heaven. Dr. Leete explains why this is so:

“The nation is rich, and does not wish the people to deprive themselves of any good thing. In your day, men were bound to lay up goods and money against coming failure of sup­port and for their children. This ne­cessity made parsimony a virtue. But now it would have no such laudable object, and having lost its utility, it has ceased to be regarded as a vir­tue.”¹7

The explanations that are cur­rently offered for the phenomenon differ somewhat from this, but saving is no longer generally rec­ognized as a virtue among us. Nor in the good society pictured for us is there any longer any con­nection between amount of work and rewards for it. Dr. Leete is again the narrator:

“Desert is a moral question, and the amount of the product a material quantity. It would be an extraordi­nary sort of logic which should try to determine a moral question by a ma­terial standard…. All men who do their best, do the same. A man’s endowments, however godlike, merely fix the measure of his duty.”¹8

In short, each person receives the same income, regardless of his contribution. Greater ability only denotes greater responsibility to contribute to the general well-be­ing. We have developed a variety of devices, notably the progres­sive income tax, for achieving this ideal.

Many other similar examples are given. There is no longer any­thing which could be called char­ity. Each person receives an in­come by virtue of his being a person, and this income is con­ceived of as his by right. They spend their surplus on public works, ” ‘pleasures in which all share, upon public halls and build­ings, art galleries, bridges, statu­ary, means of transit, and the conveniences of our cities, great musical and theatrical exhibi­tions, and in providing on a vast scale for the recreations of the people.’ “¹9 (It could be that John Kenneth Galbraith’s recommenda­tions for spending on the “public sector” were not as original as has been supposed.) Children are no longer dependent upon parents for their livelihood, and the only family bonds are affectional. State governments have disappeared, and such power as remains has been centralized in Washington. World peace is maintained by ” ‘a loose form of federal union of world-wide extent. An interna­tional council regulates the mu­tual intercourse and commerce of the members of the union, and their joint policy toward the more backward races, which are grad­ually being educated up to civil­ized institutions.’ “20

Of course, Bellamy was not forecasting; he was dreaming. He was dreaming a dream which evoked or reinforced a vision which had already begun to take shape in the minds of many re­formist intellectuals. He made so­cialism so vague as to how it was to be achieved and so bright as to the future it would bring that many began to lose their misgivings about it. Above all, he do­mesticated and “Americanized” socialism and contributed greatly to sowing the seeds which have produced a plant that comes nearer and nearer to being An American Dream. By 1964, Democrats in convention could evoke many of the attributes of Bellamy’s utopia as recent accomplishments or things to come in the future un­abashedly. They could do this, just as Bellamy could, without reference to the compulsion, inter­vention, loss of vitality in human relations, power in the hands of politicians, spreading deliquency, international disorder, and terror and violence let loose in the world. In short, many people have now flown far enough from reality that they no longer distinguish be­tween utopian fancies and the realities of the world in which they live.

This did not come about over­night, however. Some intellectuals, artists, politicians, and unwary readers may have taken up Bel­amy’s dream as their own in the 1890′s, but most Americans did lot. The indications are that a great preponderance of Americans who thought about it in: hose years would have agreed with Andrew Carnegie, who wrote n 1889:

…To those who propose to substi­tute Communism for… Individual­ism the answer, therefore, is: The race has tried that. All progress from that barbarous day to the present time has resulted from its displace­ment…. It necessitates the changing of human nature itself…. We might as well urge the destruction of the highest existing type of man because he failed to reach our ideal as to favor the destruction of Individualism, Pri­vate Property, the Law of Accumula­tion of Wealth, and the Law of Com­petition; for these are the highest results of human experience….²¹

At any rate, American voters turned back populism at the polls, rejected Bryan and his more mod­erate reformism, turned down the Socialist Party in election after election, and would accept only bits and pieces of reformism for many years.

Before Americans would be drawn into the orbit of the vision, their eyes had to be drawn away from viewing human nature, laws in the universe, absolutes and principles, and the record of his­tory. A new outlook had to pre­cede the general acceptance of the dream. The flight from reality had to be extended.

The next article in this series will concern “The Pragmatic Sanction of Flux.”

Foot Notes

1 Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward—2000-1887 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1888), p. 90.

2 There is, of course, a demonstrable corollary between universal suffrage and the triumph of reformism in many coun­tries. And reformers have been eager proponents of universal suffrage. The significance of this is not far to seek: the illiterate, unpropertied, and politically inexperienced succumb more readily than does a limited electorate to the promises of reformers.

3 (New York: Appleton-Century­Crofts, 1960,2 volumes).

4 Glenn Negley and J. Max Patrick, The Quest for Utopia (New York: Henry Schuman, 1952), p. 138.

5 See ibid., pp. 19-20.

6 Daniel Aaron, Men of Good Hope (New York: Oxford University Press, 1951), p. 104.

7 Quoted in ibid., p. 130.

8 Quoted in ibid., p. 132.         

9 Bellamy, op. cit., p. 38.

10 Ibid., p. 161.

11 Ibid., p. 56.

12 Ibid., p. 57

13 Ibid., p. 137

¹4 Ibid., pp. 60-61

15 Ibid., pp. 287-88.

16 Ibid., p. 334.

¹7 Ibid., pp. 89-90.

18 Ibid., p. 94.

19 Ibid., p. 243.

20 Ibid., p. 140. Bellamy provided some­thing else, too, a distorted version of his­tory in the latter part of the nineteenth century, which many a history textbook still carries. Note this description of com­petition. ” ‘The next of the great wastes was that from competition. The field of industry was a battlefield as wide as the world, in which the workers wasted, in assailing one another, energies which, if expended in concerted effort… would have enriched all. As for mercy or quar­ter in this warfare, there was absolutely no suggestion of it. To deliberately enter a field of business and destroy the enter­prises of those who had occupied it previ­ously… was an achievement which never failed to command popular admiration. Nor is there any stretch of fancy in com­paring this… with actual warfare.’” Ibid., pp. 230-31.

21 Andrew Carnegie, “Wealth,” Democ­racy and the Gospel of Wealth, Gail Ken­nedy, ed. (Boston: D. C. Heath, 1949), P. 3.


  • Clarence Carson (1926-2003) was a historian who taught at Eaton College, Grove City College, and Hillsdale College. His primary publication venue was the Foundation for Economic Education. Among his many works is the six-volume A Basic History of the United States.