The Bourne Identity, randolph bourne

Baflr28-Johnson-Bourne-Bacevich-838x1152Andrew J. Bacevich at The Baffler:

A hundred years ago, Randolph Bourne was a hot property—an intellectual wunderkind who was taking the American intellectual scene by storm. Bourne was the complete package: brilliant, charismatic, filled with social energy, and exquisitely attuned to the moment. Bourne’s essays appeared in leading periodicals like The Atlantic, The Dial, and The New Republic back when magazines set the American political and cultural agenda. Admirers considered him a visionary, an exponent of a humane new cosmopolitanism. True freedom and real democracy, he believed and exemplified, implied a spirit of tolerance, generosity, and creativity consummated in what he called “the beloved community.”

Barely two years after writing these words, Bourne became persona non grata. His offense involved not personal scandal—no violence, fraud, embezzlement, or sexual shenanigans—but something much, much worse: when the climate of opinion abruptly shifted, he refused to follow. They zigged, he zagged. While other members of the New York intelligentsia were swooning at the prospect of waging a war to end all wars that would make the world safe for democracy, Bourne dared to dissent. For this, they shut him out of virtually all the journals in which he had been publishing, and all respectable outlets generally.

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