May 10, 2010

"The story is a sad but also a chastening one for those who, more than half a century after socialism’s decline, still wish to change America."

Wrote Elena Kagan in here college thesis "To the Final Conflict: Socialism in New York City, 1900-1933." In it, she thanked her brother whose "involvement in radical causes... led me to explore the history of American radicalism in the hope of clarifying my own political ideas."
In 153 pages, the paper examines why, despite the rise of the labor movement, the Socialist Party lost political traction in the United States — a loss that she attributed to fissures and feuding within the movement. “,” she wrote.

If that sounds like a defense of socialism, [Prof. Sean Wilentz, her senior thesis adviser] insists that is not the case.

“She was interested in it,” he said. “To study something is not to endorse it.”
Kagan and Obama have a real affinity...
One thing was unusual about Ms. Kagan: she smoked cigarettes. One old friend, Margaret Raymond, said Ms. Kagan was the only girl she knew who smoked in high school....
No wonder Obama feels comfortable with her.

46 comments:

Hoosier Daddy said...

Does she know how to use an Ipod?

mesquito said...

Sean Wilentz thinks we're stupid.

garage mahal said...

Socialism is bad. There, it took me 5 seconds and 14 words to write that thesis.

Time to filibuster.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

It can't be just me who is struck by the fact that the link is broken.

I think that just about sums up her pining for the death of her precious Socialism.

Both the link, and America, are broken.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

Kagan will not be filibustered.

She is merely one retard replacing another retard.

We won't waste our ammo on something so pointless.

You guys can have her. She will do more to help us by actually getting confirmed.

Ann Althouse said...

Link fixed. Sorry.

ricpic said...

Could anything be greater proof that human beings MUST have enemies than the revenge fantasies of those two coddled creatures, soon to be Supremo Kagan, or her boss Hussein? And could anything be a greater nightmare than living under the rule of such fantasists?

AJ Lynch said...

Do any of these socialists refuse to take the perks of their positions? Like govt cars, Ipad, blackberry? Do any demand their salary be reduced so it is no more than their assistant's or secretary's salary? Am I asking dumb questions?

jwvansteenwyk said...

I smell dirty red diapers.

sonicfrog said...

All I know is, Chip, here is a great chance to do an animated GIF of Obama and Kagen having a smoke break together.

Balfegor said...

She was the opera-loving, poker-playing, glass-ceiling-shattering first woman to be dean of Harvard Law School,

Ah -- Scalia and Ginsburg are both opera fans too, aren't they? Maybe the Justices should get a reserved box at the Kennedy Center. Or do they have one already?

Scott said...

"The story is a sad but also a chastening one for those who, more than half a century after socialism’s decline, still wish to change America."

At the confirmation hearings:

"Miss Kagan, do you still wish to change America; and if so, how?"

rcocean said...

If Kagan is confirmed the Court will look like this:

Harvard Law Grad - 5
Yale Law Grad -3
Columbia Law Grad -1 (and she attended Harvard Law)

So the entire SCOTUS will be attendees of Harvard/Yale law school. Some diversity.

John Stodder said...

I asked before and ask again: How does the president of the United States "mess up" in his efforts to quit smoking? It's not like he can impulsively buy a pack while getting a Slurpee at 7-11, or hang out at a bar that sells loosies. No, he has to order someone to go buy them for him. That requires planning, which suggests he isn't really trying to quit at all.

Zach said...

From the context, it sounds like she was flirting with socialism. But then again, the failure of the US to develop a strong socialist party despite having a strong labor movement is one of the great unsolved questions in American political history. A young student taking a crack at it is a good sign of ambition.

One theory I ran into a couple of months ago is in John Keegan's The American Civil War. He claims that America never developed a militant labor movement because unlike Europe, it had very recent experience with revolutionary struggle and had lost the taste for it.

sonicfrog said...

Question: she wrote a thesis in the 1980's about the reasons why Socialism never caught on in the US.

If that makes her a closet (or not-so-closet) Socialist, then why is it not valid that people who didn't have a problem with recognizing Confederate history Month, or who support the Arizona immigration law, or even are members of the Tea Party are racists.

It's the same stupid logic on both sides of that rhetorical fence.

dbp said...

Hey, who doesn't love a smokin' lesbian?

Kirby Olson said...

It's good that she smokes. First, she was probably smoking buddies with the Big O, which got her an in, and secondly, she might get cancer and die.

former law student said...

No, he has to order someone to go buy them for him. That requires planning

"hey, could I bum a cigarette?"
-- "Yes, sir, Mr. President!"

it only relies planning on some flunky's part. If I were Rahm, I'd buy a carton a week to keep in my desk.

dbp wins the thread.

former law student said...

I meant to add: In the Seventies, girls who smoked cigarettes did so to explain why they had lighters in their purse, and to mask their breath after they smoked pot.

So I'm going to wildly speculate that Kagan was a pothead.

Kirby Olson said...

When was it that people started to smoke crack? Is that still something that people do? I saw a film called New Jack City, in which there was a Crack Factory. But I don't know anything about the reality of that. It was an interesting film frmo the entreprenurial viewpoint I guess.

Did the Crack industry fail?

AJ Lynch said...

FLS you are delusional regarding the 70's and girls who smoked.

Stephen said...

Unlike most commentators, Professor Althouse is actually in a position to evaluate the quality of Kagan's scholarship, since the First Amendment is shared territory. It would be interesting to have her read on it.

rick said...

The irony is delicious......The Bamster selects the youngest of the group, assuredly so she/he can be on the court for 30 plus years....but she is one lung tumor away from pushing up daisies.

Will she/he have go out back of the Supreme court building to catch a drag?

Will she/he recuse herself/himself from tobacco lawsuits?

sunsong said...

Why bother with the Constitution?

Kirby Olson said...

She's fat, too. Which means she has two life-shortening possibilities at least. Maybe she was also promiscuous, and left her car on when she was in the garage with the garage door shut.

All kinds of neat possibilities here to get another Protestant on the court before too long.

Palladian said...

Scalia smokes too.

Adam said...

She doesn't eat right, clearly. She smokes, reportedly. Does she waste time on unempowering stuff like using an iPod or reading misleading blogs?

She sounds like a stalking horse for Cass Sunstein, frankly.

A.G. said...

In the Seventies, girls who smoked cigarettes did so ... to mask their breath after they smoked pot. So I'm going to wildly speculate that Kagan was a pothead.

"Hi, I'm Dean Elena Kagan... But you can call me... Captain Toke."

c3 said...

Note the persistent shots at Kagan from the left (FLS) and the right (many others on this and other posts).

Strange bedfellows and all....just sayin'

Mimi Black said...

Ah gossip is fun, isn't it? Takes a lot of useless time up AND serves the purpose of finding something else to pay attention to instead of reality! Woohoo sometimes the dirtiest habits are the best :)

edutcher said...

Zach said...

From the context, it sounds like she was flirting with socialism.

If she ended up at Haavahd Law, it sounds like the flirtation ended in marriage.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Blogger Palladian said...

Scalia smokes too.

Hey, who doesn't love a smokin' homophobe?

Seven Machos said...

Socialism never caught on in the United States because we don't have class distinctions here. Europe is a very class-ridden society and it's still hard to break free of lower ones there. Thus, the ridiculous assertion that all of history is a series of class struggles seems somewhat reasonable there.

Kagan can't be worse than Stevens in virtually any area of law. So, I look at this as a win.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Knowing more than the rabbi about what a bat mitzvah should be like is a pretty good start to a career in knowing more than the generals about what the Army should be like.

Steven said...

Now I know she's an idiot.

American socialism was not defeated by infighting. Every political movement in history had fissures and feuding. Political movements with real popular resonance are not defeated by that, any more than seaworthy boats are sunk by the cycle of the tides.

PatCA said...

Socialists just can't see the forest for the trees. It's not the party infighting that has always doomed them, it's the disdain of the very people they are trying to socialize.

We're just not that into you, wise socialista!

HDHouse said...

Perhaps PatCa and Steven (in comments above) need a little brush up on the 20s and 30s....

just some reading, any reading, a tad of reflection, perhaps a pinch of perspective...and by the way, would you just put your thesis up in a pdf online somewhere so we can read about how your mind grappled with the issue. huh? can ya'?

A good going forward rule may be that if you don't know a rock from a horse dropping it is better to keep you hands in your pockets and keep walking.

Steven said...

No, HDHouse, I don't need a brush-up. There was nothing special about fissures and feuding in the socialist movement in the 1920s and 1930s that made it any different than the fissures and feuding in all successful political movements in the United States and of all successful socialist movements in the rest of the world.

So, we must reach the conclusion that either Kagan tried to opine on why socialism failed in the United States without ever looking at a successful movement for purposes of comparison, or that she did such a comparison but didn't notice that the other movements were fissured and feuding. Either way, she made a very basic, very fundamental mistake in her analysis.

Now, as to a counter-thesis, I don't have one. Or, rather, I don't have one that isn't inherently highly speculative. Since the failure of socialism in the US is without any parallel in the developed world, we can be fairly certain that its failure was due to a factor unique to the United States. The trouble is, the United States has a number of unique characteristics. Without a second case to compare the United States to, we cannot narrow down which unique characteristic is related to the failure. All we can safely conclude is that one of those unique characteristics is the cause, not a characteristic which American socialism had in common with every other political movement in the United States and with every other socialist movement in the industrialized world.

PatCA said...

HD, the Dems and GOP have infighting all the time, yet they remain viable parties for decades.

Charles said...

I would not call the Socialist Party a failure. The Democratic Party adopted several planks of the Socialist Party's platform, they achieved what they set out to do.

Fen said...

Socialism never caught on in the United States because we don't have class distinctions here.

I also think Labor Unions cut the legs out of the socialist movement. Redirection and dilution of the marxist impulse.

Of course, they weren't the monsters they've become today.

former law student said...

Knowing more than the rabbi about what a bat mitzvah should be like

The Bat Mitzvah was only a half-century old when Kagan made hers. It had been ginned up out of nothing -- who was one rabbi to say it was fixed in form? What made him the expert?

Moreover, it was Kagan's call to the covenant, not the rabbi's.


Re Socialism: Socialism was a European import; it came with the Germans in the second half of the nineteenth century. Thus it took hold in Wisconsin, notably Milwaukee, as well as influencing workers in German-dominated industries, like the Brewery Workmen's union of lager beer brewers. Aside from a few people like Debs, socialism never took root among born Americans.

But Socialism was divided into factions in the first half of the Twentieth Century: both ethnic and ideological. Immigrants preferred to argue with those who spoke the same language. Socialists, already in the political fringe, saw no reason not to seek a party that mirrored their own ideals. Then the success of the Bolsheviks in Russia siphoned off huge chunks of socialists to communism.

The eventual unification of the American Communist Party is a story in itself. But not even the pain of the Great Depression, or the US-Soviet alliance against Hitler, or the novel idea of the equality of blacks and whites, could make the American Communist Party more than the fringiest of fringe parties.

sonicfrog said...

Wait, how can you judge what she wrote, without reading it? That's a bit presumptuous and arrogant, don't you think? And the Socialist / Communist wasn't so fringe that we couldn't get hyper-sensitive about it a-la Joseph McCarthy and the blacklists.

10ksnooker said...

t much doubt about why she thinks the First and Second Amendment needs restricting.

robert said...

Is this the new dean, Margaret Raymond?