Page 9


accountable for itself. Let us have again the real community to live, work, and play in, the real community that is small enough that its members know each other when they pass each other in the street, or in the shop. Not to repudiate or fail the world and times, but to have a special place to live and work in this world and time, I think we must carve out, within the mass, small logical units in which small numbers of people can find a community and a group of friends who stay there because they live there, identify there, and are needed there. If we will imagine, and then experiment in what we have imagined, the big cities can become many communities within themselves. The little towns in the country can be nourished, protected, beautified, and celebrated. We can form and nourish new towns in the forests and by the rivers and the sea. The great economic combinations must not be permitted to continue to occupy our economic life on the strength of the argument that they are efficient producers. They will produce us out of our usefulness, and then what will it profit us to have more than we need, and be useless? We must carve out, in new small communities, literally millions of nooks, of shops, of laboratories, and return to the crafts that were once an engrossing part of the daily life of the inventiveness and art and personality of the people. National production statistics do not make a national life that is worth having. “The Great Society” is not necessarily a worthwhile society. We must make the modern methods in sizes that fit the hand or the brain of a man. We must test our system, not by whether we get to the moon, but by whether a man can freely and fully express himself here on earth; not by whether we are ahead in weapons, but by whether we are ahead in real room to be free and alive, to be various and unwatched: to be ourselves. I say down with efficiency, and up with life. Let us break up the mass and make our wonders serve, not masses, but each one. . . . Ronnie Dugger July 10, 1964 The Caste System and the Righteousness Barrier .. . The politics of the present, focused on candidates and orthodox political action, involves the grubby but necessary business of organizing in the precincts, finding good men to seek office, working for them in the campaigns, and, generally, presenting an appealing public posture within the limitations of what is already known to be popular or, from a liberal standpoint, immediately saleable. The politics of the present can be creative, as it sometimes has been in Texas, and when ably conducted may help change the whole culture somewhat by inducing the conservative orthodoxy to moderate its positions in order to maintain a winning stance. The politics of the present, however, is necessarily defensive in its overall style; politicians are not much interested in raising issues for the purpose of creating a winning liberal consensus ten years from now not when the price . is their defeat this year. Delicate matters in civil rights and foreign policy are thus banished from the politics of the present. “A partisan of the politics of the future asks questions that fall out side the ground rules of practical electioneering.” Larry Goodwyn For candidates, the revolution ends with their election. Anything that seeks to alter substantially the conditions that prevailed at the time of their election is a threat to them as office-holders unless it is accomplished with great quiet. It is doubtless for this reason that liberal politicians hate to see civil rights demonstrations in their own states. Astute politicians change with the consensus but will not risk very much to change the consensus. Their profession requires this posture; if they disdain it they become ex-politicians. Those who take their political cues from liberal office-holders will therefore be involved more or less habitually in the politics of the present. A majority of white people who call themselves Democrats in the North or Liberals in the South may be observed to be in this category. They are motivated by the profound belief that the task of humanizing values in our society can be achieved by electing good men to public office. Yet it is understood, when it is thought about, that the actions of these good men, once they are elected, will not too dramatically contravene the current consensus. For those who consciously or unconsciously subscribe to the tactical necessities of the politics of the present, the object of politics is to win. Not so for those who choose to shape their present activity with a view to its impact on the politics of the future. For them the object of politics is to give people the opportunity to create fundamental changes in the quality of their lives. A partisan of the politics of the future asks questions that fall outside the . ground rules of practical electioneering. For instance, he may inquire how the election next spring of a given liberal candidate in Dallas will have any real meaning in altering the caste system under which the people of Dallas live. The victor in Dallas would not, by the precepts of the politics of the present, take the relatively mild step of introducing civil rights legislation \(say, to facilitate the hiring of Negroes in state defeat him in Dallas next time. He would be a silent sympathizer at best; at worst, he would stifle the efforts of others to achieve more germane \(but in the way people live. The politics of the future asks a wide variety of similarly awkward questions, most of which are unanswerable within the framework of the politics of the present. Indeed, as events at the Houston meeting demonstrated, these questions sometimes cannot even be raised, for the very act of bringing them to the surface endangers liberalism’s prospects for the spring campaigns. . . . But if the liberal organization is itself now ready to address the politics of caste, other goals loom. One might be to acquaint farmers, Negro and white, with the relevance of elections to the Agricultural Stabilization Committee boards in the style that has been pioneered by the civil rights movement in Mississippi. These boards in Texas are now generally staffed with wealthy farmers, giving a distorted grassroots conservative bias to discussions of legislation affecting agriculture. Since A.S.C. decisions have a very real dayto-day effect on the lives of farmers, the attempt to build interracial cooperative efforts might succeed in dramatizing to white farmers the personal cost of their adherence to customs of caste. Wherever this lesson could be driven home, a genuine basis for economic democracy could be forged, one that would undergird future efforts of urban liberal organizations and politicians to achieve political breakthroughs. Candidates with liberal voting records in civil rights would not have to worry about a “backlash” from East Texas white farmers who had achieved a working political relationship, based on mutual self-interest, with neighboring Negro farmers. Working with the local and state leadership of the Farmers Union, could not Texas liberals develop a meaningful approach here? The same principle making our THE TEXAS OBSERVER 35