Re: Professor Gardner
----- Original Message -----
From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
To: Howard Gardner
Sent: Friday, April 07, 2006 4:07 PM
April 7, 2006
Professor Howard Gardner
Thanks very much for your email. I wanted to respond earlier, but have been completely tied up assisting in the preparation for and attending a trial. Unfortunately, I suppose, I am still a lawyer, even at my rather advanced age. Trial preparation, both before and during a trial, is, as you may imagine, pretty much all-consuming; indeed I write this at 3:30 a.m. Friday morning because there has been no other time.
Anyway, you are the only person thus far who seems to have observed the echo of Lenin’s What Is To Be Done. I could barely restrain myself from using his exact and classic title, but did think this would not be wise in view of the horrible things that happened in Russia because of Lenin, his successor, and his successor’s successors.
I do look forward to reading the piece you sent me (which I at least hope to get to over the weekend), and would gladly read whatever additional information and books that may be available. Please let me know where to get the information and books. I do have a recollection of reading one book that resulted from your project a few years ago -- by perhaps four young women, with an introduction by you, if I remember correctly.
I think I agree with your reading of history, although I might go back a bit before TR’s Presidency to the Grangers, populists and believers in expertise of the late 19th Century. (I recently read a review of a new book about William Jennings Bryan that said he was one of the persons who instilled the relevant ideas into the Democratic Party. Is this true, I wonder?) I also agree that what you call the new dispensation would cut across party lines and red-blue divides. It would also, I think, include many -- millions indeed -- who are turned off from our current political system because of its inadequacy and unfairness, its corruption, and the incompetents whom it places in office.
There are, by the way, some interesting ideas about huge corporations that might be part of the “new dispensation” near the end of Charles Fishman’s recent book on Wal-Mart.
I would also comment that your view regarding the winner-take-all nature of our society is terribly right. It is a problem that has been on my mind for a long time, at least since I read of it a number of years ago in an article by or about -- I don’t remember which - - Robert Frank, the Cornell economist who has dealt with this. This winner-take-all mindset enables some to become filthy rich, while it simultaneously excuses the fact that others are being screwed over beyond, and often contrary to, the necessities of an innovative capitalism and a decent society. By the way, I do indeed recognize, and take no umbrage whatever at, the fact that the two of us would be considered among the “winners” of this (increasingly) economically and socially unbalanced society. In my own case, as my quartet of fictionalized memoirs makes clear, I was long one of its losers, largely because of the ways in which I believe a person must act in order to be a decent, honorable person. The fortunes of life change, however, and so your description would now be applicable to me, I guess.
So . . . . thanks for setting down some of your thoughts. When the current trial is over, I shall write some more about matters relating to a proposed new party that relies heavily on the Internet. (Interestingly, just a few days ago, The Times carried a page one story about our standard politicians also making greatly increased use of the Internet.)
Would you mind, incidentally, if your email (and perhaps this response too) were posted on my personal website and on the site established for the new party?
All the best.