A Historian Considers American Socialism

This article was originally published on History News Network on April 17, 2016.

As the 2016 Presidential election moves along through the coming conventions to Election Day itself, interest in “Socialism” has grown in our society somewhat in proportion to the apparent successes in the primaries of Bernie Sanders of Vermont, second term U.S. senator and 16 years a Socialist claiming congressman.

Sanders is not the first Socialist to run for a major office in our country, not even the first to run for President. The name of Eugene V. Debs is well known as a Socialist who was fiery and got jailed in World War I—all long ago. His successors carry far less baggage and are more relevant for us. A serious campaign for President was mounted by Socialists and Communists alike in 1928, and Socialism was promoted through the New Deal years and beyond.

The hero of the movement, back then, was for years the educated and articulate Norman Thomas. Socialists campaigned seriously for mayoral offices in Milwaukee, Wis., Reading, Pa., and New York City—even governor of California (in 1934). The Socialist newspaper The New Leader (1924-2006) was a literate spokesman for the cause.

We want to know what being a Socialist means. Bernie Sanders seems virtually mute on Socialism these days as he asks Democrats to help him get the nation’s top office. We should know more than we do about his professed ideology.

In instinctive reaction, we won’t join those who say look to Sweden, Denmark or the British Labour Party. Analogy with us is troublesome. These countries are very unlike our giant and powerful United States with its Wall Street, its oil, that giant highway system, farms that are incorporated, and money that is the standard for the world.

We also have a giant Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Ours is, after all, a land 3,000 miles “coast to coast,” a giant place of mountains, valleys, lakes, deserts, coasts, cities, and a remarkable diversity of people. The 50 states have governments; so do those more than 3,000 counties and all those cities. Advocating real Socialism for America must be thought through carefully.

Oddly, the place to begin on what this country’s Socialists profess is with what they decided long ago to reject. They reject Lenin and Stalin and, on doctrine, Trotsky. Socialists totally reject membership in the Third International that emerged after World War I. And how did that happen?

Initially, Socialists wished the Soviet Union well, while watchfully waiting. When the Third International arrived after World War I, and it arrogantly tried to unify worldwide the wild and wooly revolutionary doctrine being spread from Moscow, American Socialists stepped back. Any leader could soon see that here was ruthless conspiracy, with a reliance on money and spies.

In August, 1920 the Second Congress of the Third International met in Moscow and drafted the uncompromisingly defiant “Twenty-one Demands”that would forever separate Socialists from Communists everywhere. (That many intellectuals seem never to have heard of the ultimatum just reflects on them. It could not be more important in the long history of planetary radicalism.)

The chief objective of the Demands (I once wrote) was “to isolate the Communists of the world from their previous mooring and develop purity of doctrine and practice within the party ranks.” Moreover, the document would make clear “who would be party members, what leaders might do, and how both might do it.”

Harsh or not, it was reprinted at once in the N. Y. Times, Christian Science Monitor, and Current History; it was not secret. Stressed within its belligerent pages was the idea of unquestioning obedience, with the goal uniformity among international Communists. The Monitor thought it uncompromising.

The future Socialists of the world, including America, could see at once that compliance with any future demands of the Third International was going to be the sine qua non of Communist membership. Nor did those who drafted it expect compromise or surrender from Socialists. Reliability as to doctrine would be the watchword; groveling to the U.S.S.R appropriate.

“Really revolutionary propaganda and agitation” was expected in the coming era of “intensified civil war.” Any who rejected the Conditions was to be expelled at once from the Third International.

The word “Party” used by Communists had nothing in common with its use in common political activities in the West. The list of Demands was silent on elections, nominees for office, conventions and campaign speeches, and voting. The goal, it made abundantly clear, was “the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism.” And, there was to be no confidence in “bourgeois laws.” Much was said about the need for infiltration and control of trade unions.

It is vital to say again at this point that the Socialist Party of the United States “rejected membership in the new International reluctantly but nonetheless decisively.” The Soviet Union, in theory, was to be considered a noble experiment to be wished well (more or less), but the means that had brought it into being were to be totally rejected here at home.

Before long (1923) Lenin himself seized an opportunity to uphold the Demands (during the Third Congress), just ignoring vigorous protests from delegates from Italy, Germany, and other nations who said that doing that was certain to inhibit growth of their new parties.

The Communist Party that emerged in America in the years after 1920 “came and went” in name from time to time, following opportunism and expediency. Many know of its going underground in World War II as the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. jointly fought Hitler, for example. Less known is its vote much earlier, on April 7, 1923, to dissolve.

For several years it had a new “front” organization called the Workers Party of America, a name it used in the election of 1924. Meanwhile, by the end of the decade there had been organized a Pittsburgh-based Socialist Labor Party and a Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party.

It is the Socialist Party of Norman Thomas and its doctrines over the years that have undoubtedly been absorbed and espoused by Bernie Sanders. He has several years to go as the Socialist United States Senator from Vermont. The election of 2016 has made him famous as a Socialist stereotype. Yet other leaders of that party should be at least mentioned.

Four are Morris Hillquit of New York City, James H. Maurer of Reading, Pennsylvania, and Daniel W. Hoan and Victor Berger of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Two ran for mayor of their cities and won, and served in office. Hillquit and Norman Thomas before him had little chance of carrying New York, but they tried anyway. This writer had Hillquit’s personal papers broken out of a wooden box for their first use in the Wisconsin State Historical Society in spring, 1952 and found them pleasant going. (Since the Party sold its papers to Duke University; I used them there.)

Victor Berger of Milwaukee served in Congress four terms, taking the floor 29 times, introducing both bills and resolutions. One of his wisecracks was: “The average man does not know the difference between socialism, anarchism, nihilism, communism, and rheumatism. They are all fearful and wicked ‘isms’ to him.”

Anyone who seeks strong, unequivocal, public statements from Socialists about their “fundamental beliefs” may be a bit disappointed. Blending in to run as a Democrat requires careful tact. Socialist author Upton Sinclair, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in California, once gave campaigning a shot. The Socialist goal, said he, was the gradual transformation of natural wealth resources and basic industries to public ownership. A “socialist state,” of course, is bound to be the goal. The best vehicle for getting there is, it is hoped, is with the help of the trade union movement—or at least it might be if “the despoilers” (a dated categorization) can be thwarted.

Considering the handsome and constructive leader for decades, Norman Thomas (of Princeton and Union seminary), a worker for welfare groups, and supporter of many a worthy voluntary organization, one finds his “socialism” (though ardent) carefully proclaimed. Its nature was usually buried under prose devoted to his generally praiseworthy life as an American, urbane man of affairs. (As a boy he delivered to neighbors the newspaper published by future President Warren Harding. As an adult, even William F. Buckley respected him.)

Often, Thomas did try to tell repeatedly why he was a socialist. He said he favored freedom and justice for the individual, a free press and free speech. Achieving these things, and socialism too, would have to come through the ballot. That totally ruled out Communism. His idealistic vision was for a world wherein a fellowship of free men might live in peace. As for him, he publicly and consistently opposed the involvement of the United States in World Wars I and II and Vietnam as well.

Well, good. But it is capitalism that is the major enemy. Another is ownership of property in private hands. Reading Socialist speeches and documents of yesteryear, it can be hard to find declarations that, though pertinent and practical, are very offensive to a welfare capitalist property holder in America. Using diplomatic speech when pushing their doctrine seems somehow de rigueur.

Just how do we convert to Socialism? Officially, this should be spelled out to be the exact way: The Constitution is to be modified in a convention with one omnibus major goal: the nationalization of coal mines, water sites, industrial power systems, railroads … and communications “to recover the rightful heritage of the people.”

Continuing: All sorts of activities are to be shifted to operation by government (as has been tried and partly achieved in the New Deal and LBJ years). It is tempting to say that all the reforms one ever heard of were sought in the late 1920s Socialist platforms and key speeches. The preferred tone is normally proposals—not demands.

Reading masses of Socialist literature of the 1920s and 1930s, it is hard for those familiar with the New Deal and the Democratic Party speeches of later years to avoid the conclusion that the political figures of the Socialist Party “urged all that” years earlier. The words of Norman Thomas, as a public figure on display in the late 1920s, read in retrospect as one quite prescient. The subjects he discussed do sound like predictions of things to be debated and enacted.

Today’s reader does come to realize—if at all alert—that this group of Marxists is preparing hopefully to convert resources and industries to government control and ownership, and that incalculably large units of private property with stockholders are somehow to have their ownership transferred from where it is to, well, everybody probably except its owners. That is to be done somehow or other.

There can be pride in being a Socialist. The New Leader, the party organ, editorialized once about a recent Convention: it had been enough “to make you hold up your head and stick out your chest and be all-fired proud of the fact that you are a Socialist.”

One thing that intellectuals should bear in mind about Socialist lingo. They speak of “workers of the mind” and “workers of the hand.” A special target has long been, they admit, teachers, ministers, artists, and writers; that is, articulate leaders among us. Success has been considerable.

Names of famous persons show up in lists of authors speaking kindly of Socialism. The writings of allegedly Socialist editors, columnists, and others who write to persuade are full of cheerful acceptance. I am reluctant to offer names, for maybe they weren’t Socialist. Many by reputation are considered merely “reformers.” Finally, I don’t even know when or if they quit being party members—if they ever were. The truth is that a vast array of smart persons with solid educations have “flirted” with Socialist preaching.

Socialists in earlier decades did sometimes have to endure caustic critics. Said Arthur Garfield Hays, author of Let Freedom Ring of Socialists then: “Your socialism has become a religion. You have a pattern. Economics must fit into that pattern. You have a philosophy. You have a dogma. … You forget that any system of society is a means, not an end.” (New Leader, Nov. 3, 1928.)

Some years ago when coming to the end of a considerable written discussion of Socialism, I ventured to summarize—in conclusion—the nature of Socialist politicians in action, leaders who spent vast amounts of time enthusiastically making appeals to American citizens. My conclusion was that Socialists displayed “a naïve but enthusiastic mixture of the realistic and the unrealistic; the idealistic and the opportunistic; the enduring—and the ephemeral.”

Marxist leaders “dreamed dreams of perfectionism and thought they could see just over the horizon a better land and a better world.”

In the mid 1960s this non-Socialist summed up the thinking of true believers:

“The Socialist Party was a threat to private ownership of property, to the continuing existence of a balanced two-party system, and to the continuation of a society more interested in opportunity than class consciousness. It did not, on fundamentals, deserve the support of the American electorate.” Moreover,

“No amount of admiration which some may want to give to individuals, reformist program, or occasional idealism of individual expression should wave aside these plain and altogether vital facts.”

At the same time I ventured to summarize my convictions on the value of the overall American electoral system: “The election,” I observed, “had been a political contest—not a battle, struggle, or ideological war.” *

*Quoted from Vaughn Davis Bornet, Labor Politics in a Democratic Republic (Wash., D.C., Spartan Press, 1964), pp. 320, 322. A detailed analysis and summary of the Demands appears on pages 268-281 of my lengthy microfilmed doctoral thesis, Labor and Politics in 1928 (Stanford University, 1951, 520 pages). Domestic Communism in the U.S. is summarized from that work in Bornet, “The Communist Party in the Presidential Election of 1928,” Western Political Quarterly, XI, no. 3 (Sept., 1958), pp. 514-538.

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Military Service Changes Perception

The author of this reflective piece has been considering what life in the American military is able to do to change an individual in fundamental ways.  He brings to the matter 4 ½ years on active duty in WWII plus active participation in the Naval Reserve that adds to 23 years. He was a yeoman; then a line officer on air bases. For six months in 1942 when loaned as liaison to Army’s Postal Censorship he read letters full time.  Among his over a dozen books is SPEAKING UP FOR AMERICA (2011) a collection of his patriotic speeches and essays. His LOVERS IN WARTIME, 1944 to 1945 (2015) contains 156 intimate letters and insights on the last year of our war with Japan. This piece was originally published on History News Network on April 3, 2016.

Military service had its effect on me, that’s for sure. Over time, if you join up, it will almost inevitably have an easily noticeable effect on your perceptions of reality! Of course, it may do a lot more than that…. Continue reading

Why I’m Optimistic About the Future

This essay displays some optimism about our Future. It was stimulated by an interview with a professor predicting an Age of Anxiety.  Additionally, there was a depressing column in the Wall Street Journal   for Feb. 27-28, 2016 by Peggy Noonan that found economic America divided into “Protected vs. Unprotected.” Here is cautious rebuttal which introduces several military matters not generally of concern, while not surrendering to any prediction of coming catastrophe likely to be beyond our handling. It was originally published on History New Network on May 24, 2016.

What kind of Future will Mankind—especially the   American part of it–face? You know, in that distant Life, when we are old and grey—probably when most of today’s  participants are gone? The question is obviously impossible to answer.  Let’s take a hard look, anyway.   Continue reading

Does Mimi’s Book Write Finis to “Camelot” for JFK?

This is a review essay rooted in a new and unnerving book–Mimi Alford, Once Upon a Secret (Random House, 2012, 198 pages), originally published on History News Network on March 5, 2012.

Toward the close of the movie version of the Broadway hit Camelot, the suddenly optimistic king who developed The Round Table and its dreams exclaims hopefully to the idealistic boy before him, “What we did will be remembered—you’ll see!”  The audience, teary eyed and let down by the burial of the movie’s hopes and dreams, eagerly associates with the leader’s fervent declaration. A great refrain has been delivered by the chorus, “Don’t let it be forgot/That once there was a spot/For one brief shining moment/That was known as Camelot.”  It was that idealism that so attracted a stunned Jackie Kennedy when in November, 1963 she forcefully quoted that famous appraisal, adding judgmentally at the end, “…and it will never be that way again.”  Continue reading

Let’s Consider Those Candidates

Published on History New Network on January 6, 2016

Editor’s Note: The author of this essay cast his first vote in 1938, first presidential vote in 1940. He majored in History with a Political Science accompaniment at Emory, UGA, and Stanford, and served in the Navy in war and peace. With his wife Beth he was a precinct person for a decade. Both attended Oregon’s famous midwinter Dorchester conferences for three decades. We think his commentary worth a few minutes of thoughtful reading….


I really believe it is time to speak up. The Republican Party is not progressing toward a viable nominee. The Democratic Party is not getting the public ready for a possible Vice Presidential selection, specifically, a leader of presidential caliber who offers promise of governing successfully if something happens to the President. In my view, the Nation lucked out in the end with FDR’s odd choice of alert high schooler and businessman Harry Truman. This time, let’s at least choose for VP one appropriately educated, with serious skills and major administrative experience. We should not gamble (as before) that all will be well as time passes and people stop saying “Harry…, who?” (In time, that surprise choice developed into a no kidding credit to Independence, Mo., though everybody was not satisfied.)

I have had the feeling for some time that our next President will be of the female persuasion. Especially is that the case when Mrs. Clinton is fully rested. Her triumph is likely to happen, no matter the vicissitudes from now to election day. That Secretary of State who has been all over the globe the past few years, who served in the Senate, who actually occupied the White House though not as prime mover, still looks fresh and, in debates, leader like. She didn’t handle her mail at all intelligently–or is the word presciently? She’s not error-free. But she endured her husband’s misconduct in yesteryear.  (Bill’s role if returned to those corridors and scattered rooms seems to me to be a possible problem, but maybe it will work out, as they say. Maybe New York City will become a good locale for him to love.)

Pleasant former governor O’Malley of Baltimore (!) does not impress me as ready to be President, not by objectionable characteristics, nor really by absence of experience; but maybe it is too soon.  There was a time when he led his now headlined city (but it is not an association that builds admiration far across the country).  The member of a “presidential family” about whom assumptions were made, seems lackluster, and seems to comprise a bit of a vacuity. Yes, he governed Florida, stereotypically a place of recreational inaction, of all places, but “we” never noticed.

Mr. Sanders, almost always angry (and yelling as one lacking the vocabulary to persuade with facts and logic) has a rare economic conviction that he advances with unqualified pride. He endorses totally a Socialism that appears to this one time specialist at first glance unapologetically Marxist. While his version seems in some policy matters to be molded superficially Progressive or Liberal in aspect, it does seem ultimately to be inescapably old school. He apparently repudiates “Communist” and disavows admiration for the U. S. S. R. and its notorious leadership, but one waits to learn more on this subject, expecting ripe quotations sooner or later.

We, in 50 states banded together, were the last time I looked, welfare capitalist, not shrinking from endless government regulation (at every level) of most everything in our society.  While that too white haired, somewhat aged, too often borderline uncontrollably angry advocate does not emerge as Leninist or Stalinist by any means, choosing him would seem to be a quick and total rejection of any form of the Capitalism under the Constitution that sustained this Nation through the Westward Movement and built the giant machine that routinely tries to support our working force. To me, at best, he doesn’t fit in well with The American System.

Our Constitution and our Laws are totally alien from any such doctrines. Moreover, when Socialism has been tried it seems to have normally been found wanting by electorates except in small, cold places. I at least do not think it helps much that in my lifetime Norman Thomas was an admirable political figure, and that Socialists routinely ran for mayor in New York City, Reading, and Milwaukie.

Exposure to public view of several with real experience, persons who could help run the United States from the Oval Office, has been helpful. The gubernatorial experience of Kasich of Ohio and Christie of New Jersey has in my view qualified them; their defects do not seem fatal. (And the former has real legislative experience.)  The narrow, crusading, parochialism of grim Cruz, the religious obsession of pleasant Huckabee, and flaws in others that have had visibility up to now seem crippling, at least to me.  I can imagine handsome Rubio growing in office if fate singles him out; maybe his time will come—some other day.

For the rest: experience governing New York State or City cannot be ignored in anybody, but so far capable ones  who once led from those places have not struck a spark.  Gone are former governors Al Smith, Thomas E. Dewey, and utility leader Wendell Willkie, all failures as candidates. Is the Party that thought Sara Palin a good idea for national exposure about to do it again? Is the Party that stuck with Adlai Stevenson too long, fully serious?

I am pleased there is a woman being considered by the G. O.P., but surely her record at Hewlett Packard is not close to an indication that she is qualified for our key office. She is not angry in the style of one candidate or condescending like another; rather, she seems to display (to me) an unpleasant superiority that is not entirely warranted and maybe would disqualify her from being electable to any office.

For many years (beginning with a documented freshman term paper in 1936!) I have studied several major presidents of our Country, especially FDR, Hoover, and LBJ. One hopes that from next year’s Presidential possibilities will emerge someone with FDR’s communication skills and lofty view of what our home among homes might somehow become. (Many have forgotten that he learned much as a bureaucrat in the Wilson years and as governor of New York for two terms, evidently getting ready.)

While there continues to be a tiresome drumbeat in some parts of our society against lifetime leader Herbert Hoover, those in the know recognize him as the most decorated of our public leaders. Feeling solvent enough by 1914, he determined to devote his working life away from amassing capital and to “public service” as well as to preserving basic aspects of the American Character. All aspirants can learn from Hoover right now how to serve the Nation (as he did at presidential request in the days of Wilson, Coolidge, Truman, and Eisenhower).

Herbert Hoover has been credited with saving something in the vicinity of “billions” of lives thousands of miles from our shores. He admittedly didn’t enlist thousands of our young men in massive efforts to save or spread Democracy as a wartime president.  As Food Administrator under Wilson, major organizer and originator in the Cabinet with Harding and Coolidge, experienced adviser to Truman, and top drawer planner with Ike, he was close to invaluable. Several major entities in the private sector (Boys Clubs; Stanford) who relied on him certainly would agree completely.

FDR and Hoover were Presidential. Gradually, today’s public will come to realize that Lyndon Johnson’s style and real results in Oval Office leadership made the Executive Office a place where ideas were picked up, absorbed, and endorsed. Dreams of emerging national leaders could become feasible public policy.  That happened so often because President LBJ (trained in the Congress, remember) knew exactly how to lead.

(Oh. Be sure to bring up “Vietnam” at this point–though it is only peripherally relevant to the domestic presidential concerns dwelt on here. That conflict, thought worthwhile in varying degrees by three presidents at various levels of violence, can never be minimized when evaluating national service or leadership. The decision to escalate the Vietnam War at various points is easily criticized, but it is irresponsible to keep trying to bury the entire LBJ presidential leadership under that phenomenon. Major innovation when achieved should be duly noted.

Let’s, when worrying about this election, use some of the common sense displayed often, though not always, in the past. “We” knew conservative extremist Goldwater was not right for the task. Pretty much the same electorate declined massively to elevate monolithic liberal McGovern. We seem to have been fooled into choosing Nixon once again, it turned out.  Still, the electorate totally outguessed the commentators and the politically intelligent ones on “that Hollywood actor” (who in representing the film industry showed a real potential.)  Ronald Reagan, smile and all, overcame rejection and proved at home with the grand prize.

A vast number of specialists on the American electoral system and its prominent figures of past and present can write as I have here, dwelling on what seems appropriate at the moment.   I certainly hope qualified individuals continue to reach out to the reading public in coming weeks and months. If they don’t, it is entirely possible that the excessively loud candidate waiting focus here will somehow emerge to be a very dangerous leader indeed.

That man identifiable by his initials “D. T.” is the one strong in polls who has to brag incessantly about his wealth. Those of us who hope ardently not to seehis snarl as window dressing to the Marine Band playing Hail to the Chief really don’t want him anywhere near the White House.

That rich man with the hair, the face, the patronizing manner, and the TV polished put down is just not suitable.  To the extent I knew anything at all about him, I thought a person named Donald Trump was divorced, associated as landlord with big time gambling in Atlantic City, and occupied on TV or someplace with firing people!  He did brag a lot about keeping the Miss Universe Pageant bouncing along. “He can’t be all bad!” “Would you buy a used car from that guy?” “That’s what I thought.” (A columnist I admire just called him “a putz.”)

He is an exceptional entrepreneur, without doubt. Nevertheless, such an individual, I would think, doesn’t need—or deserve—choice, after analytical consideration, for America’s top office. He should not be opining on matters of serious decision-making.  Most of all, he should not become the person who occupies the nuclear bomb equipped job called President of the United States.

So there you have it: my considered opinion of where we are now, not in foreign relations, legislation, or other matters of public policy, but on that coming election—especially on its remote but conceivable possibilities.  I just had to write out–and offer–my personal biases and prejudices. mixed with a bit of learning.  There is still time to reach people who are open to facts and assertion.

A final word of advocacy–if I may:  You People watching political TV out there…. And people who ought to be.  Wake Up!  Make a difference, early on.  “Just a little while longer” will be too long. Discard quiescence! Assume now, if you can, the obligation of having influence.  Write the editor!

Play some part in choosing our next American President. I want every one of you to do your part in helping to determine who will be (and who won’t be) the leader who will take office January 20, 2017 for the rapidly and inevitably approaching term 2017 to 2021.













Herbert Hoover’s Planning for Unemployment and Old Age Insurance Coverage, 1921 to 1933

The following essay was included in a collection of papers on the origins and future of the American Social Insurance System entitled, The Quest for Security, published by the Center for the Study of the Recent History of the United States, 1982

The Herbert Hoover presented in this essay is the humanitarian concerned with planning for the long-range welfare of the people of the United States. Little has been known about the desires, hopes, and plans of Secretary of Commerce and President Hoover in the area the public has come to call social welfare. This is true even though he and several close associates later asserted that those years did in fact witness thought and action by them on behalf of payments and pensions for the unemployed and the aged. The Hoover interest, when mentioned, has been given minimum space. Never, so far as I have learned, has been any effort to place the Hoover ideas in the context of at least some of the national social welfare experience.

My interest in social welfare goes back a quarter of a century and my research on Hoover longer than that. Invited to explore this area of concern, I have tried to piece together a story that ultimately surprised me and that should be new and useful to scholars, students, and the interested and receptive part of the public. For Hoover did in fact leave a record of dreams and efforts in this humanitarian area, just as he did in so many others. Continue reading

To Students Seeking the Ph.D. in History

When at my advanced age one turns nostalgic it is time to beware. “Never look back” is an appropriate motto for the aged.   It is an utterly inappropriate slogan for the historian. In any case, I’m about to look back at aspects of the profession of historian as I have observed it for over three quarters of a century.

This little essay is targeted at students thinking about finally entering a doctoral program in history, at those already deeply involved in one, and the smaller number who are polishing up the very last draft of their dissertation. I am not interested, here, in suggesting changes in the Fields that are currently in use all over the American graduate landscape. Nor am I concerned with reform of The System. One reason is I have no idea what the Fields and Graduation Requirements actually are from place to place, although it would indeed be an interesting detour to ascertain, count, generalize, and recommend changes in the history doctorate coast to coast, public and private, small to large.

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Review of Little Ethiopia of the Pacific Northwest (New Brunswick, N.J., Transaction Press, 2013)

Often a book will be idly described as “timely” on one thin ground or another. This book by Joseph W. Scott and Solomon A. Getahun on Ethiopians who migrated from their home country in Northern Africa and settled in Seattle fits the needs of all who are focusing on immigration policy at this moment and wish they knew a whole lot more about those who came here voluntarily and involuntarily.

Little Ethiopia is a detailed analysis of how the elite of Ethiopia reacted to Communist control of their North African country after the 1974 Revolution; how they fled (chiefly) to Sudan; how they got selected there as immigrants to the United States; how they settled in Seattle and hated, endured, or succeeded in Life there; and how after soul searching, some returned to the homeland where maybe the old ways would again prevail.

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An Intimate and Accurate Method of Communicating with the Bed-Ridden Speech-Impaired

Few if any know how physicians, nurses, and attendants go about communicating with stroke victims and others who have lost the ability to speak, are bed-ridden, and may be severely restricted in their movements. Perhaps they have a standard routine of asking question after question in the hope of accidentally hitting on a subject currently of deep interest to the patient. A nod, head shake, or some other indication of “yes” or “no” is probably indicated by the person asking the question. Is this the best we can do?

For many years I have thought that there is a relatively sophisticated way of establishing good communication with all but the totally immobile. For lack of a better name, I’ll term it “The Bornet Method.” It involves use of the International Morse Code by the patient and ordinary speech or writing by the questioner. There are many reasons why this is a sound method of communicating even the most sophisticated and personal ideas.

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