Randolph Bourne

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Randolph S. Bourne
RandolphBourne.jpg

Born May 30, 1886
Bloomfield, New Jersey
Died December 22, 1918
New York City

Randolph Silliman Bourne (May 30, 1886 - December 22, 1918) was a left wing academic who was an ardent voice for social justice,[1] and is best known for his phrase "War is the health of the State".[2]

Early life

Randolph S. Bourne was born in Bloomfield, New Jersey, May 30, 1886. An inept use of forceps during birth left him partially deformed, and at 5 he had spinal tuberculosis, which disfigured his body and left him as a hunchback.[3][4]

Bourne went to the public schools in his native town, and then for some time earned his living as an assistant to a manufacturer of automatic piano music. In 1909 he entered Columbia, graduating in 1913 as holder of the Gilder Fellowship, which enabled him to spend a year of study and investigation in Europe.

Literary Work

He was one of the more important of the younger contributors to American magazines on social and political movements and on education. His most important books are "Youth and Life" (1913) and "Education and Living" (1917).

In 1911 he had begun contributing to The Atlantic Monthly, and his first book, "Youth and Life," a volume of essays, appeared in 1913. He was a member of the contributing staff of The New Republic during its first three years; later he was a contributing editor of The Seven Arts and The Dial. He had published, in addition to his first collection of essays and a large number of miscellaneous articles and book reviews, two other books, "Education and Living" and "The Gary Schools."

During this time, he was supportive of the work of the Industrial Workers of the World, including their actions at the Paterson strike. He wrote poems, such as "Sabotage", which encouraged rebellion against oppressive businessmen.[5][6] He also found much agreement with Jean Jacques Rousseau's big government ideal of a General Will.[7] He also lauded the work of Maurice Barrès.

At the time of his death he was engaged on a novel and a study of the political future titled "The State".[8]

Transnationalism

His work "Trans-National America" is a discussion on the assimilation of the immigrant into American life which has come to be referred to as the "Melting pot" - a concept that Bourne did not hold in high regard.[9]

Death and Legacy

He died in New York, December 22, 1918. In 2001, the Randolph Bourne Institute(RBI) was founded[10] in pursuit of Bourne's ideals of a non-interventionist foreign policy for the United States. RBI is the publisher of Antiwar.com.

Quotes

  • "Who that saw the Paterson Strike Pageant in 1913 can ever forget that thrilling evening when an entire labor community dramatized its wrongs in one supreme outburst of group-emotion? Crude and rather terrifying, it stamped into one's mind the idea that a new social art was in the American world, something genuinely and excitingly new."[11][12]
  • "He [the radical] feels himself, not as an idle spectator of evolution, but as an actual co-worker in the process. He does not wait timidly to jump until all the others are ready to jump; he jumps now, and anticipates that life which all desire, but which most, through inertia, prejudice, insufficient knowledge, and feeble sympathy, distrust or despair of."[13]
  • "As long as the employer is entrenched in property rights with the armed state behind him, the power will be his, and the class that does the diverting will not be labor." - "What is Exploitation?", The New Republic, November 4th, 1916[14]
  • "Yes, that is what I would have felt, done, said! I could not judge him and his work by those standards that the hopelessly moral and complacent English have imposed upon our American mind. It was a sort of moral bath; it cleared up for me a whole new democratic morality, and put the last touch upon the old English way of looking at the world in which I was brought up and which I had such a struggle to get rid of" - On Rousseau's General Will

See also

Bibliography

  • Abrahams, Edward (1986), The Lyrical Left: Randolph Bourne, Alfred Stieglitz, and the Origins of Cultural Radicalism in America
  • Hansen, Olaf (1977), Randolph Bourne: The Radical Will: Selected Writings, 1911–1918.
  • Lasch, Christopher (1965), The New Radicalism in America, 1889–1963: The Intellectual As a Social Type
  • Vaughan, Leslie (1997), Randolph Bourne and the Politics of Cultural Radicalism

References

External links