Amory Blaine on socialism (via F. Scott Fitzgerald)
“Oh, I’ll admit there’s money in it eventually. Talent doesn’t starve any more. Even art gets enough to eat these days. Artists draw your magazine covers, write your advertisements, hash out rag-time for your theatres. By the great commercializing of printing you’ve found a harmless, polite occupation for every genius who might have carved his own niche. But beware the artist who’s an intellectual also. The artist who doesn’t fit—the Rousseau, the Tolstoi, the Samuel Butler, the Amory Blaine—”
“When life gets hold of a brainy man of fair education…that is, when he marries he becomes, nine times out of ten, a conservative as far as existing social conditions are concerned. He may be unselfish, kind-hearted, even just in his own way, but his first job is to provide and to hold fast. His wife shoos him on, from ten thousand a year to twenty thousand a year, on and on, in an enclosed treadmill that hasn’t any windows. He’s done! Life’s got him! He’s no help! He’s a spiritually married man.
“Some men…escape the grip. Maybe their wives have no social ambitions; maybe they’ve hit a sentence or two in a ‘dangerous book’ that pleased them; maybe they started on the treadmill as I did and were knocked off. Anyway, they’re the congressmen you can’t bribe, the Presidents who aren’t politicians, the writers, speakers, scientists, statesmen who aren’t just popular grab-bags for a half-dozen women and children…
“He may vary from the disillusioned critic like old Thornton Hancock, all the way to Trotsky. Now this spiritually unmarried man hasn’t direct power, for unfortunately the spiritually married man, as a by-product of his money chase, has garnered in the great newspaper, the popular magazine, the influential weekly—so that Mrs. Newspaper, Mrs. Magazine, Mrs. Weekly can have a better limousine than those oil people across the street or those cement people ’round the corner…
“It makes wealthy men the keepers of the world’s intellectual conscience and, of course, a man who has money under one set of social institutions quite naturally can’t risk his family’s happiness by letting the clamor for another appear in his newspaper.”
On the middle class:
“They haven’t clear logical ideas on one single subject except a sturdy, stolid opposition to all change. They don’t think uneducated people should be highly paid, but they won’t see that if they don’t pay the uneducated people their children are going to be uneducated too, and we’re going round and round in a circle. That — is the great middle class!”
“Reform won’t catch up to the needs of civilization unless it’s made to. A laissez-faire policy is like spoiling a child by saying he’ll turn out all right in the end. He will — if he’s made to.”
From ‘This Side of Paradise’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1920.