Ivan W. Parkins
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About Ivan W. Parkins:
Dr. Parkins is a retired professor of Political Science from Central Michigan University. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago and is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. Dr. Parkins served as a naval officer during WWII aboard the battleship Alabama. He is a recent widower with three daughters, 3 grand children and 2 great grand children. Dr. Parkins has written extensively, having authored 3 books and a newspaper opinion column for many years.
Inside This Issue
Disassemble the House
The Political Long View
War and Their Costs
Dividing America, Part two
Disinformation, Liberal Ideology
The Supreme Court and Judiciary
The Presidency, Part One
The Presidency, Part Two
The attached letter to the editor was written 37 years ago in response
to an article regarding prospects for revolution.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR,
University of Chicago Magazine, Nov/Dec 1971:
To The Editor: Has the rebellion of youth really been revolutionary in nature? My question is not meant to discredit Ralph W. Conant, whose article [“The Prospects for Revolution,” May/June ‘71] appears to be a competent and rational summary of events from the prevailing academic viewpoint. I aim to challenge the rationale, which my colleagues have made conventional. Their interpretation of youth’s rebellion is, I contend, narrow, self-serving, and inadequate. Among other things, calling the rebellion revolutionary suggests that it moves with the current of history. Does it? May it not be counterrevolutionary?
The counter posing of youthful protesters and the greater part of America’s institutional leadership need not imply that youth is free of parochial attitudes. When Conant refers to what “youth saw” he seems to imply that the vision of youth was especially clear, but the youths in question were much too old to be untouched by social affectations. Thus it may have been the specific nature of their biases, which distinguished them. Since rebellion has been centered in our most prestigious institutions and departments of higher learning, it is convenient for academics to believe that the rebels have been especially perceptive. A contrary view would almost certainly raise questions about the quality of higher education.
Are protesting students speaking with incisive candor, or do they mouth the cant of a divergent subculture? Do they speak primarily for a movement of their own, or as “nouveaux savants” anxious to proclaim their membership in a privileged class whose mature members are more discrete? Are they actually opposing conspicuous consumption, or is their education itself a socially accepted waste? Is the depth of their concern for the rights of disadvantaged minorities to be measured by their own testimony, or by their inclination to mix defense of those rights with such trivia as long hair and pot? Does the appeal of the McCarthy and Lindsay type of leader rest upon records of service, or upon reasonable anticipation of performance, or is it chiefly a matter of style?
Questions about student life styles and curriculum requirements, as well as those about Communists on campus, strike me as being peripheral in significance. The key questions have to do with the nature and role of liberal education in a society where leisure and information are abundant. Should we anticipate that thinking of the most creative and humane sort will “trickle down” only from a few cultivated minds, or have the numerous and varied people who occupy the remainder of society major contributions to make?
Generation gaps and alienation are commonly used to describe the division between youths, especially those educated in the liberal arts departments of our leading colleges and universities, and the political leaders and private citizens who are sometimes identified as the silent majority. It is a crucial part of my case that, while the latter group have made numerous concessions to reconcile protesting youth, the protesters have utilized everything from outlandish dress and obnoxious language to planned insults and acts of destruction to assure that the gap remained, a gap they view as the result of an intellectual and moral lag in the rest of society. To compromise would therefore be degrading.
In March of 1968, Senator Fulbright interrupted Secretary of State Rusk with the admonition that the senators needed no lectures on patriotism but that they were concerned about the “pigheadedness” which seemed to guide American policy. Usually, men of Fulbright’s standing manage, as befits their advanced achievements in intellectual style, to be more circumspect. The Senator’s outburst was significant. From the protest viewpoint, the division in America has been between the pig heads who react to conventional symbols of patriotism and piety and those discerning individuals who perceive and pursue humane values. That estimate of America’s social division is now dramatized in the CBS program “All in the Family.”
Television deserves far more attention in explanations of the youth rebellion than Conant gave to it in his article. How else could a burgeoning youth movement have learned so quickly to identify its leaders, its issues, and its most effective tactics? Where else have persons of liberal learning expressed themselves so freely to such wide audiences as they have in the news and public affairs programs of television?
Freedom, especially freedom of verbal expression, has been a major issue of the rebellion. Is a laissez faire approach to verbal expression inherently more valid than a similar approach to business enterprise? May not both have acquired their aura of sanctity as political objectives of privileged groups? Does unlimited freedom for intellectuals to attack the symbols by means of which less articulate people communicate contribute to knowledge and communication, or does it amount to a unilateral privilege of aggression? I suggest that the readiness with which the more articulate professions deny that social harm and personal injuries result from unbridled use of language is as crass a bit of hypocrisy as any elite has ever advanced in rationalizing its own privileges….
CONGRESS IS THE CRISIS
By Ivan W. Parkins
The inability of Congress to resolve itself into a body that can distinguish quickly between photo ops and a crisis, and to respond to the latter appropriately, should produce a public demand for an end to Congress, as we have known it.
The world-wide reach and velocity of communications, economic transactions, and violent attacks now requires political responses that are many times faster than those of two centuries ago. Unfortunately, the authors of our Constitution, in their foresight regarding its change, seem not to have contemplated that the very structure of Congress itself might be what most required overhaul. The amending process is unduly, but not totally, dependent upon Congress.
More than half a century ago, when I first suggested to young college students a reconstruction of Congress, some of them questioned the difficulty of any such change. I replied, then, that I did not expect it to become possible soon, but thought that by the end of the twentieth century we would face a situation in which either the American people would force a reconstitution of Congress or Congress would destroy the nation as we had known it. Obviously, I was impatient, but recent events lead me to believe that I erred by only a decade.
Few things were more clear in 1787-9 than that the ‘Framers’ expected the Representatives to live in active association with their constituents. Now, Representatives live, mostly, in Washington and contact their constituents chiefly thru aides and commercial media. In that, they are much like Senators and Presidents. Furthermore, all three are chosen by similar processes of election. Regarding the original Constitution’s provisions for separation and balance, little except confusion remains. And, Presidents, being much more in the media/public eye, are arguably closer to the people than Representatives are.
What our Founding Fathers borrowed and invented has been allowed to become a musty monument to some distinguished ideas. It now serves neither the ideal of a People’s Government nor the more urgent needs of a Great Nation.
……...More on the Bailout
A Congressperson has referred to the “Bailout” as a bag of dung left on the peoples' steps. In fact, the federal government (all elective branches) has promoted sub-prime mortgages since at least 1977, often by popular means. Clearly, there have been abuses. Fed Chairman Greenspan warned of the danger publicly several years ago. Now the American and World economies are in danger. All Members of Congress are part of the crew; it does not become them to seek to be first in the life-boats.
MUST OUR POLITICAL
PROCESSES BE SO COMPLEX?
More on the Bailout
Assuming that all of the more than four hundred pages (400 pages) that Congress added to the bailout are worthwhile, was there a real need to add them to the President’s three-page (3 page) emergency request? Why not halt the meltdown quickly and get to the other items later?
I know, many Members were certain that their best opportunity for getting their favorite ideas into law was to hold the entire economy at risk. What that delay will cost us will take a long time to calculate, but it could easily outdo any benefits. It’s a little like extortion, and the technique helps to produce many of our worst laws. Furthermore, it is so confusing that it makes any accurate assessment of credits or blame almost impossible.
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Being a first-time home owner involves quite a bit of responsibility beyond the mortgage, as one of my daughters is discovering.
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Regulation and deregulation are results of laws enacted by Congress. Since FDR the Democrats have had far more and larger majorities in Congress than Republicans have had. At no time while he was Speaker did Newt Gingrich have as large a partisan majority in the House as Nancy Pelosi now has.
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It is too little noticed that, besides the many universities, hospitals, and libraries, contributed by past “plutocrats,” they have contributed heavily to the preservation of natural areas prior to their public acquisition. The Great Smokey Mountain National Park, The Pisgah National Forest (including Linville Gorge Wilderness), and Grand Teton National Park are a few that I have enjoyed.
Parallels to the Nazi Regime?
Germany in the early 1930s was in deep economic trouble and political turmoil. Hitler, by his own account, had learned from the failed coup of 1923 that only by a slower and (almost) legal approach was he likely to gain control. Increasing following by extensive youth programs and by appeals to a variety of the disaffected became the Nazi approach. Professor Herman Finer wrote that “The Middle class,” including “alienated intellectuals- teachers, journalists, artists” were the backbone of Hitler’s following.
The large Nazi vote (There was no majority.) prompted President Hindenberg to invite Hitler into the cabinet. Hitler refused anything except the Chancellorship. He got that in1933. Most, and the worst, of his crimes came later.
-I.W. Parkins 1008
WHAT IS HAPPENING TO AMERICA?
By Ivan W. Parkins
America is facing a revolution, by mostly legal and peaceful means. By revolution I mean a replacement of the old elite by a new one. To accomplish that, the old elite must be discredited and driven from power.
Actually, America’s old industrial/financial elite, powerful in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, has been yielding ground for a century. The New Deal weakened it substantially at first, but WWII and the successes of our huge armament production won it a reprieve. That was followed by the rebuilding of most of our former allies and enemies. Several decades of success in competition with the Soviet Union, plus our own growing prosperity, further inoculated the old elite against change.
Meanwhile however, an old element of American society was benefiting from huge investments of both public and private money. Communication, once a hireling and servant of larger social organs, was gaining vast influence in its own right. Tens of thousands of prosperous writers, broadcasters, professors, and actors, plus even greater numbers of college students and new grads were increasingly able to communicate with one another. Added to unionized public school teachers and government bureaucrats, they were becoming a political phalanx to which industry and finance related more as client or tenant than as master.
Only the American Presidency retained enough of its traditional popular following and vigor to defy the new elite, an elite with more legal immunities than the old one ever had. And, the Presidents who have recently won by the largest popular margins have had to face particularly bitter and damaging mass media assaults upon their persons and their powers.
If the intellectual elite can now capture this nation’s chief executive office with a candidate little encumbered by past public commitments, America’s future may indeed take a new turn—to what?
THE REPUBLIC IN DANGER
Can the “information Elite” succeed in it’s disinformation plan to gain power?