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Insurance In Force Over $133 Million e /I, de a 4 eeA INSURANCE COMPANY P. 0. Box 8098 Houston, Texas HAROLD E. RILEY Vice-President and Director of Agencies Subscribe to The Texas Observer Name Address City State le [-] Bill the Subscriber Mail to The Texas Observer. $4 Enclosed 504 West 24th St., Austin OH, TO BE A LIBERAL CADDO LAKE No word can compass a man or even one idea; at best it can serve well in a given time and place. I remember when Dell Sackett, the Observer’s first business manager, and I decided “what to call” the Observerthat is, how to describe it on the masthead. “Liberal” as a word was then very much in disrepute, probably because of Senator McCarthy. Dell is a truculent liberal, she is fed up with compromise, and as long as I knew her, which was not for very long, her attitude toward a person was either, “he can be trusted,” or “he can not be trusted.” We were facing each other across our back-to-back desks in the small office near the University of Texas where we first undertook this venture. The conversation, it seems to me, went like this: Dugger: “What shall we call it?” Sackett: “Call what?” Dugger: “The paper,” Sackett: “Oh. . . . Well, what do you think?” Dugger: “Independent. Not Democraticindependent.” Sackett: “Yes, by all means.” She tucked her head a little toward her right shoulder. “Liberal?” Dugger: \(A pause to think while Sackett: “Good!” Dugger: “An independent liberal weekly newspaper.” We had decided together, at that time five years ago, to do our part to reinstate a symbol in Texas. Though in some of the dailies the word liberal is still printed with quotation tongs or preceded by “so-called,” this is not true with such frequency as five years ago. More important, liberals are not afraid of being called liberals. I remember many times when supporters of the Observer objected to the word. “Take that word off your masthead!it’s killing us!” said one of the most liberal of the San Antonio Democrats. Everybody was a loyal Democrat then; that was the game to be played, the symbol better concealed the meanings of the movement that might be vulnerable. Now we liberals are many, and generally we know each other. We know why we have come together, we argue freely, we hold many causes in common, we are somewhat proud; we no longer believe that it hurts to call yourself by your right name. It may strike one as comical that we thought the use of such a mild word as liberal called for some resolution; and it was. Liberalism is a mild course of action, a steady insistence on reform With a “though we wish to be advanced, we also wish to be persuasive.” What Emerson wrote about slavery, rent, and interest in the 1800’s just as surely applies today to school desegregation, public housing and the government bond rate: Every reform is only a mask under cover of which a more terrible reform, which dares not yet name itself, advances. Slavery and anti-slavery is the question of property and no property, rent and anti-rent; and anti-slavery dare not yet say that every man must do his own work, or, at least, receive no interest for money. Yet that is at last the upshot. WHEN A LIBERAL assays to define what a liberal is, he is really discussing what he wishes he , were. That is all right; what a person wants to be is much more interesting than what a word means. What idea ever took its living strength from its formulation? It occurs in the lives of people or it does not move the world. Some other time it may seem otherwise, but this evening, sitting before an open fire with the wind cold outside, it seems to me that liberalism as a fraternity maintains three warm harbors where we may rest from the oceans of our natures. They are Individualism, Humanitarianism, and Freedom for All Ideas. Symbol multiplies into symbols, and metaphor melts into reality. Many individuals are lost awash the sloughs of massive tides they have cast themselves, or been cast, upon. Many humanitarians are undertowed by their honesty about their own selfishness. Many champions of freedom of the seas have special enemies who are different, and need to be sunk. Liberals do not often get very far from their ports because they usually assume they are better than other people. Their flag bears the motto, “I am a liberal, and you ought to be what I am.” Righteousness sails in a rough sea. Join us, won’t you, in pleas for the migrant worker, the slum dweller, the exploited store clerk, the oppressed Negro at the washboard, yea, the starving millions. And show me, will you, the last liberal you saw who gave his substance to the poor? Well, anyway, be kind to the servants, give nickels to the begging children in Mexico, and pledge a little to the United Fund. Then tell me with certainty you are good for the sake of goodness, and not because it feels good to be good, and shameful to be stingy. Sensibly, we advocate more state money for the mentally ill, the imprisoned, the wayward youths, the abandoned young, the abandoned old; federal aid to the schools of the poorer states; national insurance to pay the hospital bills of the poor; the progressive income tax; because the truth is, I do not give my surplus unless all are required to give it; then I can tolerate justice in better grace. The best humanitarian I know does not have many political ideas, he believes in Palmistry, he used to be a minister for a Sunshine Church, but he gave all his surplus, and now he gives all his time, imagination, and energy to feeding and clothing the poor across the Mexican border, and he lives himself in a shack, and eats out of open tin cans. Are you as good as he is? I am not. Well, let us all, at least, be individualistslet us be ourselves! In this harbor, at least, we have the protection of our friends and our enemies both, for are not Republicans individualists? Is not J. Evetts Haley an individualist? \(Aye, but they are not humaniI am afraid J. Evetts Haley is a better individualist than many liberals I know. We embrace in liberalism, as we should, many who are conformists, or liberals for the masochistic pleasures of rebellion and protest, or are proud of their individuality because it gives them grounds for pride. Why, liberals are like other people, and occur in the same forms. I have known liberals who tack into the harbor of civil liberty in skiffs a stray two-by-four would stove in, but once they have arrived at the town they set about to sound the alarm against a riffraft they want turned back without a friendly flag. I know men I would trust my wallet with, my honor, and the care of the poor, but not my liberty if they could command. TO APPEAR FACILE and amuse their advertisers with their in verse cleverness, daily newspaper editorial writers often opine that liberalism in the Adam Smith tradition meant “laissez-faire” leave me alonebut has turned inside out. They think they get next to liberals when they say liberalism used to oppose power and celebrate individualism but now elevates the state and thus socialism. Why, look at all these socialists running around calling themselves liberals! The Dallas News is always saying that. There is some truth in it, and much more stupidity and sham. Between the individualist’s wish to be left alone and the humanitarian’s reliance on the programs of government for the assistance of the poor there is of course a tension. Were this the best of all possible worlds, liberalism could have both its maverick’s arrogance and its protection of the weak through government programs. In advocating limitations upon the economic liberty of the few who have acquired control over great masses of wealth, liberals, I believe, have applied their real ideals to the real world with intelligence, hoping by the limitation of the liberty of the dangerous and powerful few to accomplish the maximum possible liberty for the largest possible number. Why imagine the world is what it was, and not what it is? Greed has organized itself into mammoth businesses, and once defenseless workers fight with the strength of eighteen million. Leave the defense of individualism to the individual, he would be run out of his shop, his tools snatched from his shed, his farm stolen, his children shamed, until, if he persisted at all, he could range in the forests or the beaches; they would hunt him even in the small towns. What editorial writer, if he troubled to think in the pauses between the clatterings of his typewriter keys, could fail to realize that to leave to itself the right to be left alone today is to let it be destroyed, not merely by huge corporate monopolies of business, industry, and finance, but by standardizing and paralyzing diversions. Liberals are not as afraid of government action as conservatives are; liberals are sometimes socialists. What can a liberal do, who distrusts all power and loves liberty, but support one powerful force, the unions, against monopoly; and then support another powerful force, the government, against monopoly and, when necessary \(a necessity greatly exthemselves! A liberal I know, dealing with the world as it really is, believes we must accept the social control of the industries that affect us all and are no longer competitive, while we also erect high walls around the individual’s sacred “fields of freedom.” I believe that is right. If the Dallas News will suggest a good alternative method for controlling massed wealthan alternative to the theory of countervailing power, individualism persisting within the tense restraint of powersit can relax it self from its ceaseless, no doubt debilitating alarm about the march toward socialism. Liberals want liberty more than the Dallas News, and the Dallas News proves it every time it advocates the dismantling of the government to let the managers of billionaire businesses run things. “I trust the bankers more than I do the government,” says their Lynn Landrum; and as long as there is a chance that Lincoln’s government will become of, by, and for the people, liberals will not. I DO NOT, as you will by now I have guessed, know what a liberal is, and while I would like to persuade you that I am one, the task overwhelms my faculties, and involves too many embarassments for me. Perhaps first of all a liberal says to himielf, “I am. I occur. I exist. -I have the right to decide. I am an I, and who is more than an I? Down with them, then, who tell me to respect Authority and Power.” The consequences of “the I-Am experience,” as existential psychoanalysts call it, can be fearful, can destroy a man’s place in the world, lead him into excess, and even to crime, and also to a condition worthy of existence, man thinking; man by himself; thinking and resting; bringing forth, perhaps, but occurring, a self occurring, a person being. A liberal has had guilt happen to him, as who has not? He may think he is guilty on a Church’s account, or because he is an aspect of the Christian heritage, or because he has seen long enough to believe the selfishness in himself. After Mitya Karamazov finished answering questions about whether he murdered his father, he fell into a deep sleep and dreamed that a peasant was driving him in a cart with a pair of horses through snow and sleet in the steppes. They passed a village where half the huts had been burned down, and along the road stood a row of peasant women, thin and wan. One held in her arms a little baby crying, her breasts were dried up, “and the child cried and cried, and held out its little bare arms, with its little fists blue from cold. ” ‘And why are they crying? Why are they crying?’ Mitya asked, as they dashed gaily by. ” ‘It’s the babe,’ answered the driver, ‘the babe weeping.’ “And Mitya was struck by his saying, in. his peasant way, ‘the babe,’ and he liked the peasant’s calling it a ‘babe.’ There seemed more pity in it. ” ‘But why is it weeping?’ Mitya persisted stupidly, ‘why are its little arms bare? Why don’t they wrap it up?’ ” ‘The babe’s cold, its little clothes are frozen and don’t warm it.’ ” ‘But why is it? Why?’ foolish Mitya still persisted. ” ‘Why, they’re poor people, burnt out. They’ve no bread. They’re begging because they’ve been burnt out.’ ” ‘No, no,’ Mitya, as it were, still did not understand. ‘Tell me why it is those poor mothers stand there? Why are people poor? Why is. the babe poor? Why is the steppe barren? Why don’t they ‘hug each other and kiss? Why don’t they sing songs of joy? Why are they so dark from black misery? Why don’t they feed the babe?’ “And he felt that, though his questions were unreasonable and senseless, yet he wanted to ask just that, and he had tol ask it just in that way. And he felt that a passion of pity, such as he had never known before, was rising in his heart, and he wanted to cry, that he wanted to do sortiething for them all, so that the babe should weep no more, so that the dark-faced, dried-up mother should not weep, that no one should shed tears again from that moment, and he wanted to do it at once, at once, regardless of all obstacles, with all the recklessness of the Karamazovs.” If you understand why when later Mitya thought that, although innocent of murder, he was going to Siberia, he said again, “Why is the babe poor? It’s for that babe I am going to Siberia now,” you are guilty enough to aspire to be liberal. At last,. then, a liberal, if ‘he is a cool man, realizes that what he is saying is essentially religious: that to have faith in the individual, one must offset a lot of evidence and just believe, on balance, that it is best to stand by the individual; that to want to help the oppressed, it is necessary not to be deterred by the impurities in one’s own motives, nor by the absurdities of righteousness, because it is enough, of itself, to want to help the oppressed, and is like any other want, complex, and part of