An interesting document has recently crossed my desk at work: a booklet titled The New Social Order in America. Here is a selection of statements from the front cover:
“IN THE PRESENT SOCIAL CRISIS
“When old social and economic institutions are being abandoned;
“When government control of industry has been carried to an unprecedented degree;
“When legal regulation of wages and prices is being swiftly extended;
“When taxation of incomes, profits, inheritances, and luxuries is being immensely increased
“When organized labor has acquired unprecedented influence;
“When capitalists of the Charles M. Schwab type predict the approaching domination of America by the manual workers;
“In such a crisis, every thinking person wants to know the rudiments of the great issues up for decision, to think these issues through for himself, and to encourage others to face the social reconstruction with equal frankness….”
It sounds as though They (whoever They are) are threatening America’s liberties and its very survival. Patriots need to be informed of Their agenda to prevent Them from succeeding in Their nefarious schemes. And I think we all know who They are—government types, some of them elected, but many of them appointed and not accountable to the People; agitators, threatening violence in their efforts to reshape our society according to their own mistaken values; liberals, who do not trust liberty and capitalism, but who instead want to play Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to give to the poor. They trust big government to have the answer to all society’s problems. They discourage productivity and thrift, rewarding bad decisions with largesse taken out of the hands of those who have earned what they hold.
But before we get too excited at this document, guaranteed to help us beat back the New Social Order, I want to fill in the gaps that I left in the above quote.
First gap: “When millions of men are being summoned to service by the government;”
Second gap: “…by war necessity;
“When equal suffrage seems imminent;
“When prohibition of the liquor traffic is impending;”
Third gap: “When extreme radicals are the controlling native force in Russia;
“When the British Labor Party is uniting hand and brain workers on a program of fundamental economic reconstruction….”
Have you put those pieces together? A nation at war, sending millions of men into the conflict; equal suffrage imminent; probation impending; radicals in Russia—the date of this document is October, 1918.
And yet, the more things change, the more they remain the same. The radicals taking over Russia in 1918 were finally kicked out of the government in 1991, but Vladimir Putin was trained by the last generation of those radicals. Hardly anyone in the United States is opposed to women being allowed to vote, or in favor of the prohibition of alcohol, but questions of equal access to the ballot box and discussion of the use or prohibition of other substances are still burning issues. We have volunteers serving in our armed forces, and we are not sending millions of men to the conflicts in western Asia, but the reality of war and the cost of that war still concern us today.
Yes, the more things change, the more they remain the same. We have a social crisis today in which taxation, regulation, and abandonment of traditional institutions remain symptomatic of our problems. I haven’t had time to read the rest of the booklet, but the cover intrigues me. Here are the concluding words on the cover:
“As an aid to these ends, this study syllabus has been prepared as the cooperative product of a number of liberal thinkers.
“Copies may be secured at 15 cents each, eight for one dollar, or $12 per hundred, from Hornell Hart, 807 Neave Bldg., Cincinnati.”
If you should try to contact Mr. Hart, please let me know if you receive a reply. J.