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The Texas OBSERVER The Texas Observer Publishing Co., 1977 Ronnie Dugger, Publisher Vol. 69, No. 11 June 3, 1977 Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the Austin ForumAdvocate. EDITOR Jim Hightower MANAGING EDITOR Lawrence Walsh EDITOR AT LARGE Ronnie Dugger O ASSISTANT EDITORS: Luther Sperberg, Ray Reece PRODUCTION MANAGER: Lois Rankin STAFF ASSISTANTS: Laura Eisenhour, Susan Reid CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Kaye Northcott, Jo Clifton, Dave McNeely, Wade Roberts, Don Gardner, Warren Burnett, Rod Davis, Steve Russell, Paul Sweeney, Laura Richardson A journal of free voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer. None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with him. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily imply that he agrees with them because this is a journal of free voices. BUSINESS MANAGER Cliff Olofson OFFICE MANAGER Joe Espinosa Jr. ADVERTISING Jeff Reynolds Published by Texas Observer Publishing Co., biweekly except for a three-week interval between issues twice a year, in January and July; 25 issues per year. Second-class postage paid at Austin, Texas. Publication no. 541300. years, $25. Foreign, except APO/FPO, $1 additional per year. Airmail, bulk orders, and group rates on request. Microfilmed by Microfilming Corporation of America, 21 Harristown Road, Glen Rock, N.J. 07452. Editorial and Business Offices: The Texas Observer 600 West 7th Street Austin, Texas 78701 512-477-0746 O 0 An open letter from Lawrence Goodwyn Durham, N.C. To The Texas Observer family: Dear friends: The Observer makes its way even into the piedmont of North Carolina, where I live, and into the metropolitan centers of Washington and New York, where I frequently visit. In all three places, I have been told by readers that Jim Hightower’s ambitious new Observer represents something uniquely important in contemporary American journalism. It is not just that people like the changed-over Observer, but that they see in it the potential for a significant impact on national politics over the next generation. With all of this, I certainly agree. But it is by no means clear just how widespread this understanding is, and unless it becomes genuinely broadbased, I frankly don’t see how the Observer can find the means to address its purposes. I write in the hope that my letter may be of some help in this direction., What really intrigues me about the approach of the new Observer is the evidence that its editors are wholly unimpressed by the stale ideas of progress that have instilled such remarkable complacency in twentieth century Americans, “conservatives” and “liberals” alike. This complacency is not a pleasant topic, but one that should be briefly reviewed before discussingthe new Observer’s potential. It is plain that the conservative’s faith in progress is anchored in the muddy waters of “business enterprise,” but what is less apparent is the extent to which the American progressive has his own illusions about progress. Faith in progress through business is matched in liberal quarters by faith in progress through “education.” To activists, of course, this translates into “political” education. The presumption, often unstated, but no less deeply held for that, seems to be: “Tell the folks how they are being taken to the cleaners by big business, and things will get better.” Twentieth century history betrays the romantic emptiness of this analysis from the utter failure of antitrust efforts in the Progressive era to the charade of “congressional ethics” legislation today. But no matter: the assumption of progress through education continues to undergird the reform impulse in modern America. Only the most naive businessman, alarmed perhaps by reading too much of his own propaganda about creeping socialism, has worried unduly about what might come of these recurring educational campaigns by reformers; smarter business types have always known that they can buy the state and national legislators they need. Whenever the carnage from business raids on our deliberative bodies becomes obvious, reformers grumble about officeholders who “sell out the people.” The same reformers then promptly mount a new educational campaign to replace their unsteady functionaries with new and proper defenders of the public interest. Over time, of course, this dynamic has been elevated to something more than a pastime or even a folkway; quite simply, it is now the way politics works in America. The very persistence of progressive educational campaigns in the face of such evidence has, of course, only served to legitimize the whole process and make the two ideas of progress through business “enterprise” and through