From the Editor

The HSC is being posted a few hours later than usual this week, which may not be an altogether bad thing. Monday morning may be a better time to think about social and political issues than Sunday afternoon -- that is, if one has time.

One reason we're late is that yesterday I had to drive down to Arlington, Vermont to do a library book talk on Doris Kearns Goodwin's No Ordinary Time, a joint biography of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt during the war years. I generally expect, when talking about that subject, to be with an audience who doesn't personally remember the time. But that wasn't the case yesterday. Almost everyone in the room remembered the Roosevelt era and had anecdotes about where they were when the major events of the period occurred.

The main theme of my remarks was that thought is, mostly, a time-bound phenomena. The period that we all remembered was so different in attitude from today that it seems in one sense perfectly remote. And yet, for all of us, it was perfectly familiar.

What time does to thought is a topic we should all keep in mind when poring through the contents of this little journal. Fifty years from now, will it seem ridiculous or not? Most of us who write for it would like to think we're writing for all time, but there's no way we can be sure. The social mind is not a static thing, and the wisdom of one era can become ridiculous in another.

I'd like particularly to call to your attention this week to the quotation from Milton Mayer's They Thought They Were Free, sent to us by Warren Seamans. It's related to the topic of time-bound thought in its concise description of how the mind can be incrementally altered such that an idea which formerly would have been considered hideous can become acceptable. The march to political degradation is insidious. And if we don't make any other point here, I hope we can make that one.

Send us your thoughts.

Return to the Table of Contents

Articles may be quoted or republished in full with attribution
to the author and harvardsquarecommentary.org.

This site is designed and managed by Neil Turner at Neil Turner Concepts