Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Masses, Jan 1 1914

The biggest news in this issue of The Masses is that Max Eastman and Arthur Young, two of the editors, are being sued by the Associated Press for criminal libel. Apparently AP doesn't take kindly to the accusation that ME and FD made in an earlier issue: that the media was skewing coverage of the Paterson strike in favor of the employers. They are calling on their readers to support them in their case, particularly by drumming up public opinion in their favor. I'm worried about them... we'll see how this pans out. Criminal libel for claiming that the media is biased? That law must have come off the books at some point, no?

Floyd Dell offers a review of An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States by Charles A. Beard, which he compares to Vebelen's The Theory of the Leisure Class. The thesis of Beard's book is that all the men behind the U.S. Constitution were wealthy property owners, many were speculators--and that their purpose was to enshrine private property inviolably in law. They quote (and I do too) the following damning bit from Madison: "Madison even foresaw the rise of a landless proletariat, and explained how the Constitution would 'secure private rights against the danger of such a faction and at the same time preserve the spirit and form of a popular government.'" Socialists should be skeptical of the constitution.

"Homer and the Soap-Box" is another socialist retelling of the Theristes story from the Illiad. The classics find their way into everything circa 1914.

Kshama Sawant has brought overt socialism back to Seattle after a long hiatus, but there's a brief note about my current city's somewhat disappointing socialist convention: the hard left seems to be capitulating to the more moderate unionizers. However, the article ends with this, which I shall take to heart: "There is hope, even in Seattle."

There are other pieces--but I think those are the ones that most caught my interest. Robert Carlton Brown includes a satirical Christmas story, but I liked "My Margonary" a lot more...

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