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Actually, New York is half socialist already
1895 map of New York City shows 'concrete socialism' in red, 'private enterprises' in white.
- As this 1895 map proves, the political argument about socialism in the United States is not new at all.
- The map makes the point that socialism isn't foreign or alien, but as American as the pavements (and parks) of New York.
- It shows 'concrete socialism' in red, and 'private enterprises' in white - each make up about half of the city.
A dirty word
Painting of the Bowery, in the south of Manhattan, in 1895.
Credit: William Louis Sonntag (1822-1900) – Public domain
Socialism is a dirty word in American politics. For many, it stands for heavy-handed government intervention. It is the enemy of individual freedom. It reeks of the Gulag, and it can only end in self-inflicted impoverishment. You know, like in Venezuela.
Or it stands for freedom from want and fear, based on the principle of collective action. Because collective action generates superior outcomes in terms of public services, including but not limited to healthcare. You know, like in Denmark.
The argument is ongoing, and perhaps never-ending. Outlying voices on the left will argue that maybe Venezuela isn't all that bad. Their counterparts on the right will make the point that perhaps Denmark isn't all that great.
Is it too simplistic to presume that the truth is somewhere in the middle? Perhaps so, if it's only one side that is making that argument.
If you define 'socialism' as anything paid by and operated for the public, then America already has plenty of socialist institutions, including its Armed Forces, its National Parks, and its Strategic Petroleum Reserve, those leaning towards the left would argue.
This map makes a similar point by claiming that half of New York is run on 'socialist' principles already. It dates from 1895, proving that socialism has been providing combustible material for political debate in America since way before the Cold War, and even the Russian Revolution.
"For the common benefit"
New York City is only half capitalist (white) because it is already half socialist (red) – a striking cartographic argument by W. Vrooman in 1895.
Credit: PJ Mode Collection of Persuasive Maps – public domain
The map appeared in "Government Ownership in Production and Distribution," a book published in Baltimore in 1895, subtitled "An Account of 337 now Existing National and Municipal Undertakings in the 100 Principal Countries of the World."
The author was Walter Vrooman, a socialist reformer who saw 'fraternal socialism' as the logical – and indeed inevitable – next step, following the present system of 'paternal individualism.'
Born in 1869 in Macon, Missouri as one of Judge H.P. Vrooman's six sons, Vrooman became a Christian Socialist and ran away from home at age 13 (or perhaps the other way around). He also managed to get into Harvard some years later.
In the 1890s, as a reporter for the New York World, "Vrooman was always heroic, seldom tactful, and once successful in his two-year drive for parks and playgrounds for New York's children. That he attained the unique success as a news gatherer few would dispute, for 'he created most of the news he reported'. (1)"
His 1895 book gives hundreds of examples worldwide of activities taken over by municipal and national governments from private enterprise. Over the centuries, societies have nationalised services that affect the public realm, such as policing and the dispensing of justice, designing and maintaining streets and pavements, distributing utilities, providing public transport, etcetera.
Even New York, capitalist America's premier metropolis, can't survive without socialism, this map argues. "Although the centre of plutocratic lawlessness in America, (it) shows that nearly one-half of (New York's) surface is administered by the public, by means of City, State and National governments, for the common benefit of all the people."
In 1895, Vrooman married a Baltimore heiress and a few years after, they travelled to England, where he studied at Oxford and helped establish Ruskin College, which offers education to the disadvantaged.
He may not have turned New York red, but he did do his part in keeping parts of the city green.
Strange Maps #1057
Got a strange map? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(1) Writes Harlan B. Phillips in 'Walter Vrooman: agitator for parks and playgrounds', in New York History (Vol. 33, No. 1 – January 1952)
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What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
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- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
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Researchers dramatically improve the accuracy of a number that connects fundamental forces.
- A team of physicists carried out experiments to determine the precise value of the fine-structure constant.
- This pure number describes the strength of the electromagnetic forces between elementary particles.
- The scientists improved the accuracy of this measurement by 2.5 times.
The process for measuring the fine-structure constant involved a beam of light from a laser that caused an atom to recoil. The red and blue colors indicate the light wave's peaks and troughs, respectively.
Scientists at Washington University are patenting a new electrolyzer designed for frigid Martian water.
- Mars explorers will need more oxygen and hydrogen than they can carry to the Red Planet.
- Martian water may be able to provide these elements, but it is extremely salty water.
- The new method can pull oxygen and hydrogen for breathing and fuel from Martian brine.