Jesse Halsey | 1934 | Part II
“And there were in all the ship two hundred, three score and sixteen souls.”
In a neighboring factory, one day last week, an emery wheel “let go,” as they say, and flying off into space, worked havoc. Something in the conglomerate composition of the carborundum was not able to stand the stress, and break-up resulted. This is a picture, to many contemporary minds, of our civilization. It is flying to pieces. On the other hand, there are many whose picture is much more moderate. Forces of disintegration are undoubtedly at work, they say, and for better or for worse, changes have come and are coming; but the essential fabric is sound. The emery wheel still revolves and has cutting quality, though its spindle may be slightly eccentric.
No one but the extreme Tory believes that the machinery of our social and political life is in anything like perfect alignment. To begin with, there are no end of personal and party differences. The President last week very pointedly told the bankers that their group did not agree among themselves. There is certainly a divided counsel in the administration itself. No one can predict whether it will swing right or left. Take any church group, and it is hard to find a dozen people who absolutely agree about any one thing.
Four ministers sat at lunch last Friday. After rather vigorously criticizing the President, one of them pointed out that if they four were committed with the destiny and policy of their own denomination, they could not agree among themselves, not only in details of administration, but on some points of, what their fathers would have considered, basic theology.
Everywhere you find it:
Catholic versus Protestant
Jew versus Gentile
Democrat versus Republican
Charter versus Organization
Blacks versus Whites
Capital versus Labor
The haves versus the have-nots
Conservative versus Radical
Pacifist versus Militarists
The list could easily be doubled. It looks like a football schedule, only in this game there is generally less sportsmanship than is manifest on the intercollegiate gridiron. What is it, then, that holds our conglomerate society together? With all the causes of faction and division, what is it that makes the whole cohere? There must be something in the life of our body politics, for in spite of all the disruptive forces, in peace and in war, the nation, for over one hundred and fifty years, has held together.
It is encouraging to note, in the first place, that these divisions are nothing new. The present agitation in political circles, induced by Catholic interest in public school money, is a mere echo of the thunders of the “Know-Nothing” agitations of sixty years ago. We will always have some “Klansmen” with us. Likely, all that we can ask is, that they go unmasked.
The newer and more accurate historians of our Revolutionary War indicate very clearly that sentiment in the colonies was anything but unified. John Adams says that in Massachusetts, likely the most patriotic colony, nearly forty-five percent of the people were opposed to the Revolution. (Curiously enough, the loyal people in those days were those that supported the king. In this case, as often, the revolutionist of one period becomes the patriot of another.)