Re: [OPE] Edward Bellamy

Date: Sat Jan 01 2011 - 10:09:06 EST

Hi Paul C - and everyone else:
Happy new year!
> That phrase 'from the cradle to the grave' became the defining idea of the welfare state from the 40s to the 60s.
> I am not sure who introduced it into popular political discourse. It clearly comes from Bellamy, but was it a standard
> utterance on socialist platforms in the first half of the 20th century.

I'm not sure either but it seems to pre-date Bellamy. Consider:
"Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave" - Muhammad
"A little rule, / A little sway, / A sunbeam in a winter's day,/ Is all the proud and mighty have/ Between
the cradle and the grave." - John Dyer
"From the cradle to the grave he never had a day's illness" - Richard Steele
"Nature gives to time and seasons some beauties of its own; as from the cradle to the grave, it is but
a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress" - Charles Dickens
"From his cradle to his grave a man never does a single thing which has any first and foremost object
but one - to secure peace of mind, spiritual comfort, for himself" - Mark Twain
"It is certain that in whatever situation of life a woman is placed from her cradle to her grave,
a spirit of obedience and submission, pliability of temper, and humility of minds are required of
her." - The Yong Ladies Book
(Post-Bellamy: "National compulsory insurance for all classes for all purposes from the cradle
to the grave" - Winston Churchill)
Commentary: Even before Marx, socialists have referenced - often *inverted* - popular religious,
spiritual, and cultural expressions. As you can see from the above sampling, they refer by and large
to what was considered to be "natural". There is also - on a related note - a fatalistic side to these
sayings (indeed, Dickens referred to it as an evolutionary process). To use a contemporary
saying, Bellamy was basically saying that "another world is possible". This was by no means
an original thought by Bellamy, but it perhaps resonated well with people because of the above
- and a desire to change their lives rather than submit to what was claimed to be their
natural place and "fate".
In solidarity, Jerry

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Received on Sat Jan 1 10:10:32 2011

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