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This condensed version of Lawrence Goodwyn’s Democratic Promise, the highly- acclaimed study on American Populism which the Civil. Lawrence Goodwyn, sitting on the floor, during interviews for Duke’s oral (An abridged version, “The Populist Moment: A Short History of the. Economic populism is the new flavor in politics, but it won’t be Wall Street (read Lawrence Goodwyn’s The Populist Moment to learn the full.

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Unfortunately, history does not support the notion that mass protest movements develop because of hard times. The story Goodwyn tells is by equal measures uplifting as we consider the audacity of what the Populists rhe to gooodwyn and dis-spiriting as we consider the comparative narrowness of our conventional discussions about reform. It’s also at its core a cultural change project. Anyone with even a passing interest in third party politics in the United States needs to consult this volume.

But American Populists did not parachute in from Mars. Account Options Sign in. As theoreticians concerned with certain forms of capitalist exploitation, they were creative and, in a number of ways, prescient.

This level of political analysis has not yet been reached, despite the theoretical labors of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and their sundry disciples and critics. And, more specifically, who was going to pay the enormous debt incurred to fight it.

Today, political life in America has once more returned to normal momebt of resignation. The Populist experience in any case puts this proposition to a direct and precise test, for the agrarian movement was created by landed and landless people.

The sober fact is that movements of mass democratic protest — that is to say, coordinated insurgent actions by hundreds of thousands or millions of people — represent a political, an organizational, and above all, a cultural achievement of the first magnitude. Oxford University Laawrence is a department of the University of Oxford. Meanwhile, millions of small landowners hung on grimly, their unpaid debts thrusting them dangerously close to the brink of tenantry and peonage.

The summary interpretation of these sequential democratic stages populisg on pp. In summary, though Populists generated a vibrant democratic movement, they were not unfailingly guided by genius. They had earlier learned a number of things taught by the dominant culture; and more oppulist a few people stumbled into the movement with many of their traditional inheritances almost wholly intact.


They accepted this complexity about mankind, and they tried to conceive of a society that would be generous — and would also house this complexity. The last chapter gets weird, though.

The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America by Lawrence Goodwyn

The fatal problem this strategy encountered was lack of credit. A multifaceted terrorism prevailed. Populist resistance to this proposal, led by Brian, was of a character that inevitably prepared the way for a Populist-Republican coalition in One political result of this situation is that the financial industry can cause the American and world economy nearly to fall into a cataclysm, receive a bailout of a magnitude far beyond that dreamed by the most ambitious proponent of new liberal social programs, populisf without any fundamental effort or even discussion about re-structuring the financial industry or the financial system, carried out under the imprimatur of a president widely regarded as the most liberal in one if hte two generations.

The populists who had seen through this fiction in their own struggles lost the shared platform and ability to influence millions through their homespun civic education which had originally organized these poor farmers into powerful cooperatives. Academic Skip to main content. Farmers by the hundreds of thousands flocked into the Alliance.

Goodywn really went through the Populist movement from beginning to end and integrated every persons part in its development. And because it is a myth that is almost universally accepted, the author notes, real political reform in the US is virtually impossible to achieve, in short because we refuse to see the world the way it really is. In diverse forms, popular resignation is visible from Illinois to the Ukraine.

The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America

We have, as a result, neither the confidence nor the persistence to force the owners of capital, which control the political agenda, to give up the advantages they have enshrined into American politics and business. The principal hazard to a clear understanding of the meaning goocwyn American Populism exists in this central anomaly of contemporary American culture. He wrote his book inand it stands the test of time. Millions knew genuine and prolonged privation.

The interior life of the agrarian revolt makes this clear enough. The alternative path is far more difficult.

However, Goodwyn’s storytelling fails to live up to contemporary standards of political history from favorites like Doris Kearns Goodwin and Robert A. The Populist movement in the West and South of the U. A Critical Essay on Authorities. The number of typos in the Kindle edition was off-putting.


Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. The Populists did not know that the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, and the ascendancy of the multinational corporation were to be the coercive and competitive products of the industrial age. I will warn people, this is a scholarly work and can be very dry. Self-organizing from the ground up, Goodwyn shares one of the most honest accounts of American grassroots revolution in a century. Public life is much lower on the scale of priorities.

But, though railroad land agents created beguiling stories of Western prosperity, the men and women who listened, and went, found that the laws of commerce worked against them just as much in Kansas and Texas as they had back home on the eastern side of the Mississippi River.

In the South and West there were increasing reports of starvation, both on the farms and in the cities. Would that noticeably improve the level of ethics in the United States Senate? The TL;DR of it is that the laarence movement could not both sustain its original principals while simultaneously finding broad appeal. It can be said, in advance of the evidence, that this condition of social constraint is by no means solely an American one; it is worldwide and traceable to a common source: Goodwtn starts his story in Texas where farmers are being overcharged by merchants and railroads, charged exorbitant interest rates by banks, and sometimes forced to sell crops at or below cost.

Morgan Company, The effort unnecessarily saddled the country with a debt of over a quarter of a billion dollars, from which only bankers profited. Politically, the polulist exists today primarily as a mass folkway of resignation, one that has become increasingly visible since the end of World War II. Finally, and by all odds most importantly, our greatest problem in understanding protest is grounded in contemporary American culture.

We still laawrence decided where we will take our stand, or have we?