I'm in the process of finishing up a book by Thomas Sowell, “Conflict of Visions,” in which this conservative fella explains the difference between those with Constrained and Unconstrained visions. Sowell claims that this division is roughly the division between Right and Left, respectively.
I'll report on that more later. One comment I have now is that Sowell quotes William Godwin, John Dewey and Justice Earl Warren as speakers for the Unconstrained/Left. One of my initial thoughts was that no one I know on the left lists these folk as role models or advocates of our positions. My question to the gent
(Koby) who suggested I read it was, “Where are the folk that I would identify as speaking for the Left, philosophically?”
"Where were Thoreau, Emerson, Wendell Berry, MLK, Mark Twain?" I asked.
To which Koby asked, “Twain? Thoreau? Emerson? Speakers for the left? How so?”
And so I offer a small sampling of what they didn't teach us in school about Mark Twain. It's a great way to start the year.
Mark Twain on capitalism
Who are the oppressors? The few: the king, the capitalist and a handful of other overseers and superintendents. Who are the oppressed? The many: the nations of the earth; the valuable personages; the workers; they that make the bread that the soft-handed and idle eat.
I am not interested to know whether vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn't.... The pain which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity toward it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further.
I am said to be a revolutionist in my sympathies, by birth, by breeding and by principle. I am always on the side of the revolutionists, because there never was a revolution unless there were some oppressive and intolerable conditions against which to revolute.
When all the bricklayers, and all the machinists, and all the miners, and blacksmiths, and printers, and hod-carriers, and stevedores, and house-painters, and brakemen, and engineers, and conductors, and factory hands, and horse-car drivers, and all the shop-girls, and all the sewing-women, and all the telegraph operators; in a word all the myriads of toilers in whom is slumbering the reality of that thing which you call Power ... when these rise, call the vast spectacle by any deluding name that will please your ear, but the fact remains a Nation has risen.
...on the US
But it was impossible to save the Great Republic. She was rotten to the heart. Lust of conquest had long ago done its work; trampling upon the helpless abroad had taught her, by a natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home; multitudes who had applauded the crushing of other people's liberties, lived to suffer for their mistake in their own persons. The government was irrevocably in the hands of the prodigiously rich and their hangers-on; the suffrage was become a mere machine, which they used as they chose. There was no principle but commercialism, no patriotism but of the pocket.
I could go on and on. Twain is one of our great writers, which everyone knows. But he was also one of our great philosophers, seems to me. A fact that I think has gotten lost (or hidden?).