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Happy Birthday, George Schuyler: A Great Foe of Statism

A name generally ignored during Black History Month.

Mary Grabar


February 25, 2013 - 10:41 am

In these times of demonization of conservatives at the presidential level, a looming civil war within the Republican Party, and governors supposedly desperate to compromise on a federal budget in order to ensure continuing services, it is useful to look to the past. While Marco Rubio may be following the Republican consultant class, pandering with a Republican response to the State of the Union address given in Spanish, Dr. Benjamin Carson gave a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast that alluded to the observations of Alexis de Tocqueville.

It is also useful to revisit a January 21, 1950 column by George Schuyler, whose birthday happens to be today, February 25 (b. 1895).  As a tribute, most of the following are quotations from that column published in the Pittsburgh Courier.

This first quote is a straightforward civics lesson:

It is impossible to have a democratic system without at least two parties — one in and the other out. When for any reason one party is eliminated, democracy dies and dictatorship is born.  When these two parties become too much alike in program and goals, it is the same as having but one party.

Think of all the ink and time wasted on “outreach” and “messaging” since the 2012 election. Referring to the splinter groups within the party intent on “reform,” Schuyler predicted:

The Republican party, born on the eve of rebellion, may die before World War III, because it has committed this fatal error. … The Republicans have become apologetic and imitative.

Schuyler did not believe in “outreach” or “reaching across the aisle” if it meant giving up principles (as it does today regarding sovereignty, borders, and the rule of law).

Apparently, the best the Willkies and Deweys have been able to do is promise to wreak the same havoc on the nation, but to do it more efficiently and economically! If the Democratic policies are unsound, they should be repudiated and denounced in toto. Otherwise the Republican party is useless and ought to die.

Schuyler harkens back to the founding principles of the Republican Party:

[The] political creation of forces symbolizing personal freedom and individual rights and initiative unshackled by statism.

Yet, in 1950, its spokesmen were:

 … apologetic about being called the party representing business, forgetting that in so being it represents the economic enterprise of the country in which all Americans, directly or indirectly, have a vital stake.

Schuyler never would have dreamed that the government would own General Motors. But he knew what such takeovers and “public-private ventures” would lead to:

For the Government to own or control business is to own and control the people who derive income from business — and who doesn’t?

Schuyler went further, promoting a Tea Party platform before there was a Tea Party. It is of course the kind of platform that is ridiculed by not only the opposition party and the liberal intelligentsia, but also by Republican pundits and strategists who seek approval:

Not only should the Republicans damn the entire New Deal-Fair Deal program out of hand, but should adopt a platform designed to drastically reduce the Federal and enhance the state power and authority on every level.

Today, Republican strength lies in the states. Twenty-eight states are controlled by Republican legislatures, with five split. Thirty governors are Republican. Consider Schuyler’s proposals:

[States] should (a) urge immediate repeal of the Federal income tax and finance government by a single levy upon the states, and urge that they handle all such things as social security, insurance and pensions, thus automatically reducing Federal personnel, expenses and authority.

They should (b) urge reduction of Federal “take” to customs and eliminate all the nuisance taxes on jewelry, amusements, travel, liquor, tobacco, etc., thus immediately reducing the cost of these items. … This would also reduce personnel and authority of Federal agencies.

Indeed, Schuyler was proposing a means for states to disentangle themselves from federal control — a solution particularly apt in a day when an agency like the Department of Education proposes a federal (and socialist) curriculum (called Common Core), and “cradle to career” (their terms) initiatives like federal daycare (called preschool), ranking of colleges, and federally controlled student loans (and terms of forgiveness that include “public service”).

Schuyler’s third proposal is one for which the Tea Party has been vilified — to return the election of Senators to the states:

[Republicans] should (c) urge repeal of popular election of Senators and a return of the old election by legislatures. This produces a higher caliber of men for the upper house with a minimum of demagogues and charlatans having to appeal directly to the ignorance, envy and gullibility of the generality.

The arguments I’ve heard at Tea Parties is that this would restore the balance of power between the state and federal governments — but you have to admit that Schuyler also has a point about “charlatans” and “demagogues.”

The other part of the federal vice consists of regulations by 456 federal agencies (and numerous sub-agencies) today. In 1950, Schuyler saw their potential for metastasizing:

[Republicans] should (d) eliminate or vastly curtail the size and functions of the Labor and Commerce Departments, and let labor and business finance and perform those services through machinery of arbitration and otherwise.

In short, the Republicans should urge restriction of the central government to its traditional role of umpire supported by the states directly. It is only by curbing big government that freedom can be retained. With such a daring program the GOP might get somewhere in the next elections.

February is also Black History Month, a significant irony because, although black, George Schuyler simply considered himself an American, and few blacks who do not follow the socialist agenda are honored in our schools and media. Similarly, columnists like Jim Galloway quote only political science professors who on their public university sites list Democrat Party activism and specializations in environmental policy and animal rights, as they charge advocates of states’ rights with racism.

So happy birthday, George Schuyler, someone who deserves study during Black History Month, and all year.

Mary Grabar is a resident fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization in Clinton, New York. Her writing can be found at Subscribe to dispatches here.

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All Comments   (9)
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Damn new system!
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
Schuyler was a outlier of the Booker T Washington school of black uplift, which oftentimes was anti-immigrant (during the time of major SE European immigration). I'm sure that didn't endear him to a lot of fellow New Yorkers and scions from that period - hence little historical reverence. I used to hold Barbara Jordan in high regard, but....
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
Schuyler is also an outlier of the Booker t Washington school of Black uplift which tended to be very anti-immigrant (at a time when it was mostly immigration from SE Europe). There's probably a whole generation or more of otherwise conservative whites who cannot stand him. Kind of like me not liking Barbara Jordan.
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
George Schuyler is a fascinating man, but I cannot get over the fact that he was an atheist.

What is it with the overabundance of conservative atheist authors?

I'm a live and let live kind of guy, but I find the rejection of God by an ideology which holds man to be inherently immoral to be hypocritical. I suppose nobody is perfect, but when I look at the "heroes of conservatism" such damning ideas leave a mark that is too big to ignore.

Funny thing is, I doubt there exists an ideal. Somebody comment on this for me, if you please: Was there another product of the Harlem Renaissance like Schuyler, who shared the same ideas and opinions about the New Deal, Great Society, and Civil Rights Movement but was not an atheist?

I doubt it, personally. It would be as rare as a respected Conservative writer acknowledging that Abe Lincoln was not conservative - a creature as rare as BigFoot.
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
George Schuyler wrote a brilliantly funny satire titled Black No More that is sadly overlooked.
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
One could easily surmise that the administrators of this site have, like the federal government, forced these changes on us users 'for our own good.' And, as the government, you're sure we will grow to love these changes as we will grow to love Obamacare, solar-wind cars, foot-operated giant-screen TVs, etc. And, best of all, you will stand tall and firm to ward off the angry diatribes of the malevolent few who deride the changes because - oh, well. You will stay the course even if your constituents don't want it. Because you know best!
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
Why is the site destroyed?
I just signed in an I am commenting. Is it because it is "change"?

Lighten up, good article too, I will look this guy up.
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
Ugh! You people have complete destroyed this site!
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
This commenting system is meh bordering on bleh.
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
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