Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Saturday, April 24, 2010

BELATED READING RECOMMENDATION

Thirty years ago, when Cindy and I moved to Belmont, MA so that she could take up a professorship at MIT, there was a young man living across Garfield Road from us named Ben Friedman. Ben was a cheerful, energetic chap with young children, a member of the Harvard Economics Department. Thirty years later, that young man is Benjamin M. Friedman, a senior Harvard professor and frequent liberal voice on economic matters in The New York Review of Books. I have finally got round to reading Ben's review of two books on the economic crisis in the April 29th issue, and I recommend it to all of you. Those of us a good deal farther on the left than Ben will be tempted to say, "We told you so," and we would be right. But it is good to see some clear and useful words from a former neighbor, so I will content myself with a simple "well done."

4 comments:

Bryan said...

The article is here: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/apr/29/two-roads-to-our-financial-catastrophe/. Thanks for this tip! I'd had my eye on this book by Cassidy, and after reading this I went right out and picked it up.

Ann said...

See also today's New York Times book review for Uchitelle on Simon Johnson's book, Thirteen Bankers. It all starts with Thomas Jefferson and the founding of the Republlican party, after all!

Buck said...

Wait a minute about Thomas Jefferson and the founding of the Republican Party. The Republican Party of Thomas Jefferson is now called the Democratic Party. If you want to read about the early history of the Federalist Party and John Adams and how John Adams ruined the Federalist party (and it needed to go -badly needed to go in fact) then by all means get yourself a copy of "American Aurora" by Richard Rosenfeld which primarily consists of newspaper clipping from the era from the 3 major newspapers in Philadelphia which was the seat of the American Government at that time and where President Adams resided. The book is unusual in that it is a history book set in the style of a work of fiction, the "writer" of the book being one Duane, the editor and publisher of the Aurora after the original publisher, Benjamin Franklin Bache died from yellow fever. The Aurora was created by Franklin for the benefit of his grandson and the grandson was quite a skilled newspaperman. Unfortunately yellow fever killed him at an early age but the paper continued on, it being much like the AP used to be, it was used all over the colonies as a work to be copied by other newspapers. The Aurora was a Philadelphia newspaper supported by Thomas Jefferson and had a distinctly French influence and also was edited and published by Benjamin Franklin Bache, Benjamin Franklin's grandson. After Bache died of yellow fever the new editor hired by Franklin's granddaughter in law who owned the paper later married Franklin's granddaughter in law.

The book is decidely in the liberal camp and makes a strong case against the Federalists. Adams actually passed a law that prohibited the Aurora from criticizing John Adams. The Alien and Sedition Acts, recognized as unconstitutional now, were Adams greatest contribution to ensuring that Democracy prevailed as so many people were so horrified by this behavior that Jefferson soundly won the election in 1800 and the Democratic Republican party continued to rule for about 30 years thereafter, the Federalist party was never heard from again. (who wanted to be described as his Majesty and other royal titles and wanted the office of President to be for a lifetime).

Had the Philadelphia Aurora not existed it is doubtful that Democracy as we know it today would have survived. Jefferson's first act upon taking office was to set free and pardon the hundreds of people who were under indictment or were arrested or sentenced under Adams Alien and Sedition laws. (the sedition law expired upon Adams losing the election as it made it a crime to criticize John Adams, but not to critize the President. Jefferson decided he could take criticism and once he made the Louisiana purchase, the future of the Democratic Republican party was assured and the party ruled for the next 28 years. The Louisiana purchase was a favor made possible by France and perhaps an act of generosity for Jefferson's helping keep Adams from making war against the French through the Aurora's continual criticism of the policies of John Adams.

Here is a link to the book at Amazon. I would note that one of the things I noticed was that the level of political discourse was in many ways much more sophisticated than today, the television having robbed Americans of their reading and reasoning ability. But in many ways the political tone of that era was much coarser than today. The tea party types have nothing on the Federalists and their mobs who seemed to have a fascist like element to them. http://www.amazon.com/American-Aurora-Democratic-Republican-Suppressed-Beginnings/dp/0312194374

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Buck, many thanks for the fascinating post.