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Drift and Mastery

Walter Lippmann

Publication Year: 1986

Drift and Mastery, originally published in 1914, is one of the most important and influential documents of the Progressive Movement, a valuable text for understanding the political thought of early twentieth-century America. This paperback edition of Walter Lippmann's classic work includes a revised introduction by William E. Leuchtenburg that places the book in its historical and political contexts.
    In his first book, A Preface to Politics, Lippmann was sharply critical of traditionalism in favor of creativity—so much so that he was accused of anti-intellectualism. In Drift and Mastery, he corrected this imbalance, exploring the tensions between expansion and consolidation, traditionalism an progressivism, emotion and rationality. He wrote to convince readers that they could balance these tensions: they could be organized, efficient, and functional without sacrificing impulse, choice, fantasy, or liberty. Mastery is attainable, Lippmann argued, but scientific endeavor is driven by human curiosity and creativity—an argument in favor of science as both a method as both a method for discovering the truth and a means of wish fulfillment through diligent attention to facts.
    Drift and Mastery is both a telling product of its times and a lucid exploration of timeless themes in American government and politics. It will continue to serve new generations of scholars and students in American intellectual history, mass communications, and political science.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-x

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Walter Lippmann's Drift and Mastery

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pp. 1-14

Seldom does a work by an author only just turned twenty-five attract the kind of attention accorded Walter Lippmann's Drift and Mastery when it first appeared in the fall of 1914. Randolph Bourne, who sometimes dipped his pen in acid, called it "a book one would have given one's soul to have written," while the distinguished Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, never one to settle for less than the very best...

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pp. 15-20

In the early months of 1914 widespread unemployment gave the anarchists in New York City an unusual opportunity for agitation. The newspapers and the police became hysterical, men were clubbed and arrested on the slightest provocation, meetings were dispersed. The issue was shifted, of course, from unemployment to the elementary rights of free speech and assemblage. Then...

Part One

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1. The Themes of Muckraking

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pp. 23-34

There is in America to-day a distinct prejudice in favor of those who make the accusations. Thus if you announced that John D. Rockefeller was going to vote the Republican ticket it would be regarded at once as a triumph for the Democrats. Something has happened to our notions of success: no political party...

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2. New Incentives

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pp. 35-44

We say in conversation: "Oh, no, he's not a business man, -he has a profession." That sounds like an invidious distinction, and no doubt there is a good deal of caste and snobbery in the sentiment. But that isn't all there is. We imagine that men enter the professions by undergoing a special discipline to develop a personal talent. So their lives seem more interesting, and their incentives more...

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3. The Magic of Property

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pp. 45-51

The ordinary editorial writer is a strong believer in what he calls the sanctity of private property. But as far as highly organized business is concerned he is a pilgrim to an empty shrine. The trust movement is doing what no conspirator or revolutionist could ever do: it is sucking the life out of private property. For the purposes of modern industry the traditional notions have become...

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4. Caveat Emptor

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pp. 52-56

I am sure that few consumers feel any of that sense of power which economists say is theirs. No doubt when Mr. Morgan was buying antiques there came to him a real sense that he commanded the market. But the ordinary man with a small income to spend is much more like a person who becomes attached to an energetic bulldog, and leaves the spectators wondering which is the...

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5. A Key to the Labor Movement

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pp. 57-67

When employers talk about the freedom of labor, it may be that some of them are really worried over the hostility of most unions to exceptional rewards for exceptional workers. But in the main that isn't what worries them. They are worried about their own freedom, not the freedom of wage-earners. They dislike the union because it challenges their supremacy. And they fight unions...

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6. The Funds of Progress

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pp. 68-76

By this time, I imagine, the reader will be wondering how these modern ambitions are to be financed. For at the core of all the spiritual demands of the labor movement there is a perfectly frank desire for more wealth. The consumer attempting to pull down prices and jack up quality is making the same demand from another angle. And all through society there runs an increasing...

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7. "A Nation of Villagers,"

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pp. 77-88

It has been said that no trust could have been created without breaking the law. Neither could astronomy in the time of Galileo. If you build up foolish laws and insist that invention is a crime, well-then it is a crime. That is undeniably true, but not very interesting. Of course, you can't possibly treat the trusts as crimes. First of all, nobody knows what the trust laws mean. The...

Part Two

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8. A Big World and Little Men

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pp. 91-100

Those who take city children out into the country for a day's airing can tell you one story after another about how squirrels and rabbits are classed as cats, cattle as horses, sheep as woolly dogs, how green things are just grass, a tree merely a tree. They will tell you that this is the tragedy of urban civilization,-to rear children who live in a half-noticed, carelessly classified universe, as dumb to...

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9. Drift

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pp. 101-112

It seems as if the most obvious way of reacting toward evil were to consider it a lapse from grace. The New Freedom, we are told, is "only the old revived and clothed in the unconquerable strength of modern America." Everywhere you hear it: that the people have been "deprived" of ancient rights, and legislation is framed on the notion that we can recover the alleged democracy...

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10. The Rock of Ages

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pp. 113-120

I happened to be in Dublin some time ago during what was undoubtedly a crisis in Irish history: Home Rule in sight, Ulster arming itself for rebellion, Dublin torn by a bitter strike. No one felt any assurance as to the outcome. Before nationalism could prevail a long controversy seemed inevitable with the Presbyterian and industrial North. And even if Ireland became a nation it...

Part Three

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11. A Note on the Woman's Movement

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pp. 123-134

Liberty may be an uncomfortable blessing unless you know what to do with it. That is why so many freed slaves returned to their masters, why so many emancipated women are only too glad to give up the racket and settle down. For between announcing that you will live your own life, and the living of it lie the real difficulties of any awakening...

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12. Bogeys

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pp. 135-139

There are people who are always waiting for the heavens to fall. In 1879, when Massachusetts granted school suffrage to women, a legislator arose and said: "If we make this experiment we shall destroy the race, which will be blasted by Almighty God." That silly man was not a prehistoric specimen. He is always with us. And he is in the soul of most of us. He is the panic that seized...

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13. Poverty, Chastity, Obedience

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pp. 140-145

Poverty, chastity, and obedience are not the ideals of a self-governing people. Occasionally, however, some well-fed old gentleman announces that it would be wrong to abolish want because poverty is such an excellent training ground for character. The sentiment does not attract the poor, of course, and even the friends of the old gentleman wish that he had not made an ass of...

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14. Mastery

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pp. 146-151

The Dyaks of Borneo, it is said, were not accustomed to chopping down a tree, as white men do, by notching out V-shaped cuts. "Hence," says Mr. Marettl in telling the story, "any Dyak caught imitating the European fashion was punished by a fine. And yet so well aware were they that this method was an improvement on their own that, when they could trust each other not to...

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15. Modern Communion

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pp. 152-157

But, you will say, granted that the breakdown of authority in a complicated world has left men spiritually homeless, and made their souls uneasy; granted that it may be possible to exorcise many of the bogeys which haunt them, and to cultivate a natural worldliness in which economic and sexual terror will have been reduced; granted that women are tending to create a new environment for...

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16. Fact and Fancy

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pp. 158-178

Most people still feel that there is something inhuman about the scientific attitude. They think at once of a world grown over-precise, of love regulated by galvanometers and sphygmographs, of table talk abolished because nutrition is confined to capsules prepared in a laboratory, of babies brought up in incubators. Instead of desire, statistical abstracts; a chilly, measured, weighed...

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780299106034
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299106041

Page Count: 186
Publication Year: 1986

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Social conditions -- 1865-1918.
  • United States -- Politics and government.
  • Progressivism (United States politics).
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