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The Populist Moment: A Short History of the…
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The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America… (utgåvan 1978)

av Lawrence Goodwyn

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This condensed version of Lawrence Goodwyn's Democratic Promise, the highly-acclaimed study on American Populism which the Civil Liberties Review called "a brilliant, comprehensive study," offers new political language designed to provide a fresh means of assessing both democracy andauthoritarianism today.… (mer)
Medlem:lyndagdodd
Titel:The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America (Galaxy Books)
Författare:Lawrence Goodwyn
Info:Oxford University Press, USA (1978), Edition: Abridged, Paperback, 384 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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The Populist moment : a short history of the agrarian revolt in America av Lawrence Goodwyn

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Journal entry for October 11, 1993

Since I am running out of time, this will be a highly sketchy consideration of Goodwyn, to which I must later return and fill in details. It strikes me that Livingston is right to question that if Lawrence Goodwyn is right (about Populism being the last truly democratic movement in American history), how can we talk about the 20th Century? For Goodwyn, as Livingston observes, the Populists are more than just the "liberals' Lost Cause." The failure of Populism is the end of American democracy and the story of the 20th century must be written as "the unheroic residue of tragedy."*

Building on C. Vann Woodward, Goodwyn's Populists come out of the New South, especially Texas. Understanding the development of the "movement culture" of the Farmers' Alliance is the key to understanding Southern and thus national Populism. The cooperative vision and program of the Alliance's lecturers formed the core of this cultural vision. By educating the masses in economic democracy, the Alliance politicized the masses. Yielding to silverism and to the shadow movement of William Jennings Bryan, Populism yielded on its most fundamental premise, the economic democracy of the sub treasury system. The failure of Populism, as the result of silverism, meant the triumph of the corporatist state and the end of any hope of true democracy.

Goodwyn's history of the 20th century is the exact opposite of Hofstadter's. For Goodwyn, the New Deal "unconsciously reflected the shrunken vistas that remained culturally permissible" (313). Hofstadter's New Deal is free from ideology. Goodwyn's New Deal is a mere shadow of the grand social vision of the Populist moment. One could quite easily see the Hostadtlerian vision as typical of the 1950s and Goodwyn's as typical of the 1960s, but where does that put us now? In the 1990s we are still debating the place of the Populists. We still haven't decided where we will take our stand, or have we?

And here is where class discussion should begin ...

*Walter Nugent underestimates the consequences of accepting Goodwyn's interpretation of the Populists. See his review of Promise; The Populist Movement in America by Lawrence Goodwyn, In Journal of American History 64 (September 1977): .464-5. Like many other reviews in ~-this one is rather bland. With such a controversial book as this, one would expect more.
  mdobe | Jul 23, 2011 |
The populist "moment", as Lawrence Goodwyn describes it, was a point at which farmers in the southern US banded together to take control of their destinies. Goodwyn attributes the populist movement to several factors. First, the return to the gold standard meant a shrinking money supply. This was exacerbated by a credit system that was stacked against the farmer in favor of the supply merchant, who would take a lien against future harvest. The result was that it was very difficult for farmers to break even.

The first response was forming Alliance cooperatives, but the hostility of suppliers and bankers meant that credit was nearly impossible to obtain. This made the alliance turn from economics to politics as the only way to protect the interests of its members. Several lists of demands were made across the country for financial reform culminating in the formation of the Populist Party, which nominated William Jennings Bryan for president in 1896, As Bryan was already the Democratic candidate, this effectively submerged the populist movement under party priorities. ( )
  Scapegoats | Dec 12, 2009 |
In spite of what you may think, the nation’s most successful movement against the forces that came to dominate post-Civil War America arose not from the cities or radical intellectuals but from southern and southwestern farmers. In the last quarter of the 19th century, farmers were painfully aware of how the rules of the Gilded Age economy were rigged for the benefit of Eastern banks and local merchants.

In ‘The Populist Moment,’ Lawrence Goodwyn details how a tight money supply demanded by Wall Street and creditors devalued the price of crops and land and bought the nation’s farming class to its knees. America’s farmers responded to the forces arrayed against them by promoting buying and marketing cooperatives, launching lecturers to spearhead their movement, and (when their organizing proved insufficient) by building their own political party. Goodwyn strength as a writer lies on how he depicts people usually consigned to the dustbin of history as individuals with goals, aspirations, a strategy and a vision the nation’s rulers found too subversive. Although we may seem light years removed from the world of a Texan or Kansan farmer of the late 19th century their predicament still holds important lessons for us. Goodwyn describes how exceedingly difficult it is for a social movement to push for economic reforms and the pitfalls laid before anyone who wishes to form an independent political party. ( )
  seisdedos | Mar 20, 2007 |
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This condensed version of Lawrence Goodwyn's Democratic Promise, the highly-acclaimed study on American Populism which the Civil Liberties Review called "a brilliant, comprehensive study," offers new political language designed to provide a fresh means of assessing both democracy andauthoritarianism today.

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