Walter Lippmann was born in New York City on September 23, 1889. Educated at Harvard, where he received a B.A. in 1909, he later studied for a year with George Santayana. He went ton become an assistant to Lincoln Steffens during his investigation of corruption in business and politics. He supported the election in Schenectady of George Lunn, New York state`s first socialist mayor in 1912 and remained as Lunn`s secretary during the reformation of city politics.
Lippmann`s book A Preface to Politics had a considerable influence on Theodore Roosevelt`s Progressive Party. In 1914, he joined the staff of the newly established New Republic, a bastion of liberal journalism, as an associate editor. He took a leave of absence during World War I in order to act as special secretary to the secretary of war, later seeing service in Army Military Intelligence in France.
From 1921 to 1931, Lippmann worked for the New York World newspaper, becoming its editor in 1929. When the newspaper ceased publishing in 1931, Lippmann began writing a widely-syndicated column about politics called Today and Tomorrow. An example of Lippmann`s writing is found in his June 5, 1934 column, which began:
While no one will grudge relief in the emergency, the question is bound to be raised in many minds as to how far the government can and should go in assuming the burdens caused by natural and by man-made calamities. The traditional view is, of course, that farmers must take the weather as it comes; relying not at all upon government devices, they become the self-reliant independent stock from which the nation renews its vitality. In this view a paternalistic policy for the farmer is undesirable, not so much because it costs money, but because it softens him as an individual.
There are few persons who would not feel that while there is something in this view, it is infected with a kind of moral blindness. Is the modem American farmer the same kind of farmer around whom there has grown the ideal of complete self-reliance? The traditional view is an ancient one based upon the experience of farmers working their own land for their own needs and for a neighboring community. But the wheat farmer in the Dakotas and Kansas and Nebraska does not live that kind of life. He produces for a world market and he supplies his own needs out of a world market. He is no longer even approximately self-sufficient. Can he then be expected to be wholly self-reliant?
In earlier days if his crop was bad, he suffered and accepted his lot. But today if his crop is bad, his competitor in another region makes a big profit. In earlier days, because he supplied his principal needs at home or in the neighborhood, his standard of life was relatively independent of the consequences of political and economic policies. Today his real income fluctuates spectacularly due to causes which he cannot control by his own prudence, thrift, or industry.
Respected for his insights into foreign policy, Lippmann was sometimes criticized for advocating power politics. An example was his book, "U.S. Foreign Policy: Shield of the Republic," which appeared in 1943. In it, Lippmann concluded that no world order could be stable without a "nuclear alliance" of Britain, America, and Russia, regardless of any ideological differences they might have or the wishes of smaller nations.
Walter Lippmann won two Pulitzer Prizes for his column, in 1958 and again in 1962. He died on December 14, 1974, in the city of his birth at the age of 85.
---- Selected Quotes ----
Quotes by Walter Lippmann.
Regarding Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt is no crusader. He is no tribune of the people. He is no enemy of entrenched privilege. He is a pleasant man who, without any important qualifications for the office, would very much like to be President.
New York Herald Tribune, January 8, 1932
Regarding Political Power
It does not matter whether the right to govern is hereditary or obtained with the consent of the governed. A State is absolute in the sense which I have in mind when it claims the right to a monopoly of all the force within the community, to make war, to make peace, to conscript life, to tax, to establish and dis-establish property, to define crime, to punish disobedience, to control education, to supervise the family, to regulate personal habits, and to censor opinions. The modern State claims all of these powers, and, in the matter of theory, there is no real difference in the size of the claim between communists, fascists, and democrats.
A Preface to Morals, 1929
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