The Fortunes of Progressivism, 1919-1929
By Kevin C. Murphy, Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.
Intro | Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Conclusion
"THEM was the days! When the muckrakers were best sellers, when trust busters were swinging their lariats over every state capitol, when 'priviledge' shook in its shoes, when God was behind the initiative, the referendum, and the recall - and the devil shrieked when he saw the short ballot, when the Masses was at the height of its glory, and Utopia was just around the corner.
…Now look at the damned thing. You could put the avowed Socialists into a roomy new house, the muckrakers have joined the breadlines, Mr. Coolidge is compared favorably to Lincoln, the short ballot is as defunct as Mah Jong, Mr. Eastman writes triolets in France, Mr. Steffens has bought him a castle in Italy, and Mr. Howe digs turnips in Nantucket.
Shall we lay a wreath on the Uplift Movement in America? I suppose we might as well."
"I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And one fine morning --
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
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2. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925), 189.
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