Skip to main content

tv   Book Discussion on Upton Sinclair  CSPAN  May 31, 2014 9:00am-10:05am EDT

9:00 am
we did one on urban agriculture versus open spaces in nature, and so tonight we get to do what we really like -- how we're road, is -- rooted is history. and history in california never gets fully digested, there's so many different threads of it. and the story of upton sinclair is essential to most to have 20th century in a way that i think these days is forgotten, to say the least. and lauren, i've had the pleasure of knowing her for a while. i first met her doing her history on napa valley history. we're really honored to have her here tonight. i do want to read a brief introduction to her so you can hear about that. ..
9:01 am
wish we were talking about before. it could not have been told before. we needed to evolve as a society where we could rethink of the seminole character like sinclair in light of his feminism and not criticize or feel like he was a whimper or something which is what historians tended to do in the past. the take it away and thanks for coming. >> thank you very much. i will share the stage with my friend jay martin who will tell you about his relationship to dr. sinclair after i am done talking and we will both take questions. i am thrilled to be here. this is my first and perhaps will only event in san
9:02 am
francisco. i am excited about this book. i would like to talk about how i came to write it. i will launch into that. i will not read aloud from it. i was a teacher of women's history, i retired a few years ago. one i started teaching in 1975 at the junior college where i live there was no such course as women's history. me and other women around the country and around the world. invented the course. and if you were around in the 70s, we did not have a background in history. one of the most incredible things that happened was learning about women activists of the 20th century whose names i had never heard. not only had i not heard of them
9:03 am
but my students had in 10 deegan 35 years later, still hadn't heard of them. in the 35 years that i caught. with that in mind, how did i write the biography of a man? i always had a lot of men in my classes and they enjoyed the classes and sometimes they would say what about the guys? word there some cool guys back then? we don't know about a lot of guys in history either. were there ever men who supported women in the struggle for women's equality? was there anybody like that? and into it myself, they say. i come from a background of domestic violence or alcoholism. i want to be different and needs a role models. that is what they asked me for. so i started a little folder called men who worked for women's equality and whenever i would find something i would put it in a little folder and in the
9:04 am
90s i was asked to substitute for a political science class and i had a movie. i wish i could remember how i acquired it but it was in my hands and it was called we have a plan:the story of the epic movement. filmmaker win goldpharma made this film about upton sinclair's campaign for governor. not only did my jaw drop but my students did too. why don't we have that now? we need to end poverty in california. let's just sign up. this is great. they were really thrilled. so that became what i wrote for my thesis, i went back to get an am a in history to be a real historian and decided to write a thesis on why there should be a new biography of upton sinclair. seattle had one. when i went back to school in 1995 there was only one, written in 1975, it was full of
9:05 am
derision, sarcasm. he was slapped around, he was made fun of, he was called a mollycoddle and bluestocking, bluenose which is derogatory term for a guy who is a little wimpy. there was always a septet's there's something a little off about upton sinclair. he was not very sexual. he couldn't be sexual because he didn't sleep around. so there is something wrong. maybe he sublimated. there's all this psychoanalytic stuff going on. i wrote my thesis about all the things that i thought should be in his biography. his activism, his play writing, his journalism, his interest in food politics, all those things, his writing of oil, spectacular novel that sort of told us where we are going in california, what the discovery of oil man and how mccain oyster everything, 1927.
9:06 am
his anti fascist spicier ease, how thousands of people learned history and more so they learned why the u.s. should enter world war ii. was an anti fascists' by theory that was deliberately with like casablanca was made to bring people into willingness to fight against hitler. i'm giving away all these copies. these are paperback. he found a utopian colony, otherwise we in the 60s would call a commune where a bunch of people live together, the sole reason was to free women from housework and child care based on the ideas of charlotte perkins gilman, one person i talked about in women's history so i slowly started to see him as a feminist when i realized
9:07 am
his good friend floyd dell writing his first biography in 1927 said upton sinclair is a feminist. i said what? really? they said that in 1927 but nobody said it since. a couple guys did it do biographies in 2006 and i was still working full time, i was unable to do a biography, i did a collection of his writings in 2004 but both of their books i admirable in many ways but they kind of miss the points i have been making end one of the reasons is they didn't look at him with my eyes. my eyes were the eyes of someone who had been teaching women's history for 30 years so i had a unique vantage point. in the 90s i got a fellowship to go look at his letters in indiana. it was one of the most adventurous things i had ever done. i went to indiana and in those
9:08 am
days, doesn't seem like so long ago but we had to use white gloves and we had a xerox thing. there were no computers. i asked if i could see the letters that women wrote him and i didn't really know what there was going to be but i saw all these fascinating names in the list of items. i am going to beat you a few of the names because at the end of my book i decided to make an appendix of his women friends. he was really noteworthy in that he be friend did these women and he wrote to them, some of them for decades as a colleague, as of konrad. he wasn't sleeping with any of them. wasn't trying. had a stable marriage. these women, some were married, some not, they were dedicated activists who really needed the moral support, friendship, financial help, sometimes the publicity that somebody like upton sinclair could give.
9:09 am
in order -- his women friends that he either red or wrote to were charlotte perkins gilman, shane adams, kate richard suttmeier, margaret singer, julia -- millsholland who i discovered with his secret love of his life. maybe i will get back to that. mary austin, susan glassbill, allison blackwell, helen keller, eileen burns, vera albritton, elizabeth flynn and gertrude atherton. if you know half of those names i give you an a-plus in women's history because most people still don't know these names. in 2006 there were two find biographies written and i thought i missed my chance. but then i went back to the letters and retired two years ago and looked at these letters and i thought i am going to try. i am going to try.
9:10 am
i have no idea how to write a biography. i have never done one. if i had known how hard it was i would have stopped right then. it is hardest piece of writing i have ever done. i wrote it, had to struggle to find a publisher. it took several years to find a publisher, almost gave up. i would say that i was a community college teacher, i didn't have connections in the academy, i didn't have a ph.d. i wrote to everyone i knew who had never been published and said do you have any ideas? roxanne ortiz helps me, she introduced me to her press, univ. of nebraska and they took the book. i can never thank her enough. i worked on this book for quite a few years. it is such a thrill. i can't believe i actually got it published. very proud of it. a few other things i want to mention about upton sinclair.
9:11 am
there are no scholarly societies. there is no upton sinclair house, there are no upton sinclair scholars. as far as i know there is just me. that is rather shocking because many many people have organizations and symposiums and houses you can visit and of course it has been my dream to establish an upton sinclair house. i hope out of this book and whether publicity i can get we have eventually a home. my idea, every room would be an exploration of a different one of his work for different one of his life projects. he founded the southern california aclu. was arrested for reading the bill of rights to striking lobbies in san pedro. that was one thing he did. he rode the first, i think it is the first children's book with an ecological message. he wrote see nomobile about why the redwood is to be saved. was made into a movie for children with walter brennan and the kids from the married
9:12 am
cottons movie. was a wonderful success. he was a genius at using popular culture to draw attention to his progressive ideas and that is something we can all learn from. the san francisco mime troupe was interested in his works. he did and did prompt theater. one of his big supporters, a german guy, met with the mime troupe and mentored them in his life. i convened a symposium on upton sinclair in 1995 to try to get the all the existing sinclair scholars, there were only four and most admired about him for 20 years and since then two of them have sadly died and the last one said to me you are the keeper of the flame now. it is up to you. i said really? why? upton sinclair is so famous that he is only famous for the jungle. that is where the story ends for most people and that is where
9:13 am
his story began. that is how he became famous. my publisher used the term celebrity intellectual. that wasn't my idea but it is true that he kind of invented the idea of being a celebrity like matt damon, like michael more and stands for something, and says i know i am famous, you will listen to me talk about this. he did that with the local strike, he invented the idea of picketing corporate headquarters of rockefeller in new york city with black armbands to protest the massacre at mud low, he also invented investigative reporting in chicago with "the jungle". there is so much more i would like to say about him but i hope you will read my book, i hope he will join me in helping not to have him disappear from memory.
9:14 am
he has a lot to teach us whether it is about the politics of food, one of the central issues of his life, temperance, dare i say it, he was a very ardent temperance crusade because he was a child of an alcoholic. as chris said we can only understand sinclair best now, we know about the children of alcoholics, we know what they go through and how they feel about alcohol. that was him. he made a movie called the parade which was one of the very few movies that feature the temperance agent as a hero. the guys who were trying to bust up the bootleg liquor places as a hero and jimmy durante in it and a grand premier at grumman's chinese in l.a.. they wouldn't even allowed in because he didn't have a tuxedo. so many stories i could tell. turn it over to j n g will have more time to ask questions.
9:15 am
is that all right? i didn't mention the epic campaign on purpose of my friend jay could pick up. >> terrific. i brought a few things from my campaign. thank you. >> 1933, 25% of people were unemployed, banks were failing, savings were gone. roosevelt began his presidency and upton sinclair was writing a book called way out. i wanted to read a little of upton sinclair. the government is now buying boots for men who are going into
9:16 am
the forest with saplings, he is following the things roosevelt is developing. the government is sending unemployed of allowed to plant forests for us that is constructive and socially useful action. when the government buys shoes for these men it is a socially wasteful action because the government should buy clothing factories and shoe factories. this is his critique. doesn't want money just to be given to people, he wants people off from unemployment which is crushing the country. he says sunday before long in one of our states a radical government, radical governor will laydown the law that the factories have to open and will start commandeering those which do not open. somebody came to upton sinclair and said what about you? do you want to run for governor of california? this was a government democratic committee in los angeles near
9:17 am
where he lived and there was not much of the democratic party in california at that time. there hadn't been a governor for 40 is the roosevelt was enormously popular and the democrats had a chance. they knew it was likely the next governor of california would be a democrat. in any case it was going to be an exciting campaign. sinclair couldn't resist the chance to educate people for doing that, by throwing himself into the campaign and he had done it before. he had run for governor in 1924-1930. it was 1930. he wrote a book, the governor of california, how i ended poverty. it says the people's history of california, 1933-1938. is about what will happen if you give him a chance, begins by describing a conference where he is meeting with the committee and they are asking him to
9:18 am
consider the possibility of running for governor and he has prepared a plan called end poverty in california. epic, everything had wonderful initials in those days. this plan was to have the state by land so that people who were farmers but were thrown off their land would have a place to work and grow food for themselves, to have the state of california, factories where people could go to work. if you are producing for the use of the unemployed, you are not getting money from other people to support them. he was against this idea piling up state-to support people who are out of work. he wanted to get out of the system and put people to work, the unemployed would be producing what they could use in farms and factories. that is what he describes in his book and has other measures to end poverty such as removing the sales tax which taxes the poor,
9:19 am
bringing pension for windows, there was no state pension like social security. this book has a big scramble from the person who was trying to understand this plan. what about psychology which makes every bum of potential millionaire? having people learned to distrust any political action and any politician, this is the thought of someone reading it, upton sinclair says i try to make -- answer all the questions here. the task is up to you. he goes on to talk about winning the election and goes on to talk about the campaign that will try to stop him from winning the election. chinos the book that will be the most troubling, the thing he wrote called the profits of religion where he runs down just
9:20 am
about every church there is but of course it is not that he is against religion. he is against the institutions. he describes how all these things will help people, taxes lift small homes and small farms that this will all be that -- benefit the various elements that will benefit constitute 95% of voters handed is purely a question of getting to understand their true interests. you can see he wrote how 90% of voters, that was the number is then. it is a true story, a happy story, the epic measures were driven through the legislature, first time one of the epic legislators, one of the epic legislators began to waver and
9:21 am
passed a vote against the plan. the governor summoned and the goldfish bowl. that is the nickname for the governor's office because it is completely open government, one of the things upton imagined was we will have reporters there, the public will have a stenographer take notes, every meeting will be entirely public. this imaginary member of the legislature who is not going to vote as promised, mr. x, what has happened? you had a year to study these measures, you accepted them, you were elected on the basis of that exceptions, you're no longer free man but a trustee of the voters of california. i you going to be straight or trust? mr. x began to explain he had not understood the measure. the governor set i am told you were playing poker in one of the rooms at the blanco tell. you were playing with charlie why, you cannot be aware of the reasons, one of the hired lobbyists, the attorney for gas
9:22 am
interests, they are notoriously bad poker players, that is to say they lose large sums of money continually and always to members of the state legislature. there is some whimsy in this book. it is to the very hard-nosed plan and it goes into an imaginary nice government and upton sinclair was accused of being a visionary which in 1934 was not a pleasant word. it really meant a person who was diluted about things. at the end, he himself was cool about the meaning of the book, he said such reader is the story, what shall i say to you? her is you to get busy and make it happen and have you think perhaps this is just one more candidate? shall i follow my own impulse
9:23 am
and say this is book number 47? it won't before you will still be in poverty or on your way to it. this is your way out, there's no other way and you have to take it. i have given you my best in this book. is now up to you. i had to read about them. that is why i like him. he is fun to read. the thing that happened is people did start reading this book and passing it around and when he said it is up to you, people in california were helping themselves, an enormous movement of cooperative self-help books. there was a group called the unemployed exchange association. people who had no money were finding a way to get by, they were exchanging their labor for what they could get. they would harvest crops for crops, they would go around to
9:24 am
do odd jobs for people, the things people didn't need and fix those things up. there were people who were when there was no money around finding ways to work so when a candidate comes along who is not about himself but a plan and is about to say you can make this happen, that -- people come and it becomes a real campaign. it begins to have his picture on the front, to make this real and the newspaper publisher comes to him, publishing the epic news, and every city, there are hundreds of the clubs that form. the campaign is really ugly. even the democrats, especially the democrats start trying to
9:25 am
run down upton sinclair and they start mailing out mass things about all look horrible things he has written about all these topics. everything he wrote because he was so opinionated was used against him. this says he is opposed to all the established churches, others say he dynamited churches which is crazy. apart from what was published in newspapers, you would have the people's campaign which was people painting signs on barnes, having picnics and pageants showing history. it became a campaign that people ran themselves, and he won the democratic nomination, the people he brought in and registered as democrats became the democratic party. it became established in california which had not been much before. this was a month before the election and was so incredibly frightening to the money interests in the state that the money to defeat him was enormous
9:26 am
and the plans were in huge. that in itself, it is not the story of sinclair. it is just horrendous. they did things like make fake newsreels where they show him, thousands of people coming to the state to get the free studs and show people saying that they will -- the people they show voting for sinclair saying they are not as pleasant people in the newsreels. so it was a national news and he did not win the governorship of california or we would be doing something else. the campaign itself is a thing to remember. i bought a poster from the campaign because i consider an
9:27 am
all-purpose campaign poster. the special interests are not fooling me. at this campaign sinclair was going back to what he did best which was to write books. this is a book i highly recommend. what was the campaign? it is called candidate for governor and how i got like to. this book is kept in print because it is such a good story. he also wrote a novel of living together which was about the movement which continues in california as a response to the depression. do you want to go to questions? >> anybody who wants to get and i will bring you the mike and you can ask a question that you can jump in whenever you are ready. >> how close did he come?
9:28 am
there was a flood of anti money but was he really close to the left and everything went to hell? how did that happen? >> close and not so close. the official result was a guy who won 49% of the those, there was the third candidate. it was close of things done differently. a couple weeks before the reelection, the poll results, only 25% of those and that was demoralizing to people who had worked for a year. if that hadn't come out and looking back on it it is so strange. what is the point of taking that? you have the election two weeks later. we love polls now but that whole hurt him. he also was hurt by having said people would come to the state because of the program and in
9:29 am
his mind that was a good thing. he was going to help those people and everyone who showed up would have a place to work but it was a fight that was played up and he was sorry he said it. he also did not receive an endorsement from roosevelt. roosevelt didn't endorse anyone who was running for office in the state so it wasn't so unusual. he was expecting it and he let on that he was expecting roosevelt would say something favorable about production for use which was the concept that if roosevelt had just said that and sent the message that this was -- this program fit into the new deal, it might have been different but officially it was -- she got 38%. >> one of his followers was so inconsolable that she committed suicide when he lost. another one named her baby for
9:30 am
him and his wife wept tears of relief because she was convinced he would be assassinated. there had been a lot of death threats and they tried to make him get a body guard but he finally finally agreed to have a dog who became very close to him. no one has ever written about the dog before but i did. i am a picture with him with his dog duchess who was a comfort in the 30s and 40s. i don't think he wanted to be governor as much as he needed to put himself forward because he felt the situation was desperate in california. he saw himself more as a writer than as a governor but he was willing anyway to be the founder of the movement, its figurehead and to inspire people because he saw so much suffering here, the grapes of wrath when he was running.
9:31 am
>> 49-38, is 87. were there a bunch of sample parties competing for the remaining votes? >> there were some small candidates. there was a guy who was a republican, who was the runner-up for the republican nomination. it was -- no one wanted the republican really, the republican was not even -- the funny things that happened in the election is the previous governor, mayor of san francisco tied and they were stuck with someone who was far from chiming . he leveraged himself into the
9:32 am
nomination in the assault against sinclair and they hope to go to raymond hate who was perfectly progressive republican and a acceptable republican. sinclair was not going to withdraw. with the support of all these people that would be a betrayal and from the beginning it wasn't a question. raymond hate wasn't going to withdraw. he was strung along because if nothing else he would give people the chance to vote for somebody besides sinclair. if you could bring yourself to vote for the republican candidate but didn't want to go to sinclair he was absorbing votes to keep sinclair from winning. >> it is correct that he ran for congress and the senate.
9:33 am
if so, do you know the results of the electoral effort that he made? >> it was very small. he would get 50,000 votes and false state of california. it was a different number and what he was doing was lending his name to the campaign. he had run for governor twice the there was always going to be somebody on the ballot and he did give a speech at a picnic, very good speeches but he wasn't campaigning. it prepped him. he had what was needed to be a candidate. he could be in front of an audience and speak off the cuff. he could write a newspaper when they began publishing a weekly newspaper and leaving it on doorsteps for free. upton sinclair had written a newspaper before. he had the makings of a candidate, but just didn't realize he was going to be a candidate all the way up to
9:34 am
election day. >> this is a fascinating history of the radical part of california. i want to ask about the election. upton sinclair was one of my heroes. one of the things i know is there was then unprecedented amount of propaganda for governor's race whose newsreels' you mentioned, the mayor of metro-goldwyn-mayer, every theater had these anti sinclair newsreel that every movie for months. they were very sophisticated little newsreels for the time. also you mentioned the profits of religion.
9:35 am
that title is the profits, very important, it is especially the catholic church but many churches gave anti sinclair speeches at their sermons every sunday for months. there were things that happens, they were really afraid that the guy would win and he could have won. raymond hate, the progressive candidate, third-party progressive candidates got 13% of the votes. many people believed that was to siphon off a moderate votes, that was a crucial difference so that is one of my questions. how valid is that way of looking at it? some people claim he lost because that was a crucial part of it, hate was tricked into running and that took away from so many votes and the second question is the local question.
9:36 am
is there any relationship between heat street in san francisco and raymond hate and that family? i am curious. >> i don't know about the connection. i remember looking about for getting the answer now. i will tell you the epic headquarters in san francisco were on haight street. the building still stands where they were and after the campaign the epic movement was still in effect, they opened cooperative store on haight street. hate street figures in the story of upton sinclair. whether or not those votes would have made the difference i don't know. i heard the argument made the other way that those folks would have gone to -- those votes might have gone to miriam, the republican.
9:37 am
you don't know. it was complete the numbers game. the reason they took the democratic party is they got hundreds of thousands of people to register and for the first time in history there more people in california registered as democrats than republicans. that was the feeling. if we had got more people to vote. there was an incredibly dirty work done to try to get people off the voting rolls. the republicans in various counties published the names of voters with the demand that they show up and prove faber qualified to vote. it was 30 -- in conceivably dirties that they would do that. they were trying to make it so
9:38 am
you couldn't vote. q go to the voting booth in your name was not there -- was the second part of a question? >> reporter: governor hate vetoed the plan is to flatten the hill that went to the state legislature. it was rescinded later. >> tell us more about the utopian society you mentioned and why was he interested in creating that? word there women card with him in doing that? how did it work out especially for the women? did it work out for them? >> he wanted to do it because he and his wife had a baby and they were overwhelmed by being
9:39 am
parents. he didn't like living in isolation as a couple with a baby. he felt one of them was never going to be able to do their own work and they both deserve the chance to have some peace and privacy so he felt if they got together with other people who had children then the child care could be shared. in my book i have discussions of the rules about children, i had marked that place. maybe i could find it. it was one of the most successful parts of the commune or collective that the children had their own school and their own living quarters and was a little bit in some ways, the children acted in amateur theatricalss. this was the one flaw in its feminism. mothers took turns watching the children. it was the mothers, some of them got time off.
9:40 am
they all got time off but they rotated care of the children. one of them for example went to medical school during this period. p.s. summer's kelly wrote that this had been the best experience in her life. the only time she had been relieved of domestic duties was living in the hall which was a boarding house in new jersey and this went down in a mysterious arson fire. it went up in flames, everything burned, the dream was over and as upton sinclair said i had to go back to reality. you went and visited a number of other colonies. he eventually became a single parent to his son david and visited -- founded by henry george, a colony in alabama, there were many interesting experiments in communal living and he tried them all because he was a huge believer not in the isolated nuclear family.
9:41 am
he really loved having other people around, eating together, talking together late into the night. there was wife swapping in this colony, no documented wife swapping, mostly married couples. >> that sort of experimentation hurt him in the campaign because he talked about setting up farms where people would have communities are factories where people would be, having meals and it was -- he couldn't have those ideas if he hadn't visited all these places, but asking to experiment with something, it was a picture of upton sinclair over a cliff saying try the experiment. in his mind that is fine. the experiment was going to work. if you give the unemployed chance to manufacture something
9:42 am
for themselves it is going to have to help the little bit. that was his argument. it is going to help somebody and whatever help it does help would be that much the state doesn't have to pay for. that much depth that won't be incurred to give relief to these people. >> i found a little bit more about the children's program. one reason the men did not do child-care, perkins gilman did not advocate child care. this utopian colony was based on her theory and she was about women sharing the work so they followed her series. this is the only utopian colony i ever found that was based on the series of woman, founded by man so this cooperative child rearing, cornerstone of gilman's vision drew the most ridiculed from newspaper reporting supposing concern about the harm
9:43 am
it might cause he believe the children's program had been the most successful aspect, described how children ate dinner and dining room with miniature chairs and tables, food designed for their taste and a symbol that children's parliament and discuss their problems deciding what was right and what was wrong for them. speak changeful one of my favorites of his books is the brass check. i think it is brilliant, he was asking, really telling you who actually owns the mass media. and getting you to ask what is in it for them and how does this shape our reality. very few people are even asking that today. he was asking get back in 1924 so. was anybody else doing work like
9:44 am
that at that time? >> no. i don't think so. he wrote the first book that exposed as you say the owners of newspapers and how their ideology was disseminated through their newspapers. the brass check was what people put in prostitutes doorway. he was saying a lot of journalists are prostitutes, they are basically lying for money. of very daring book. as you can imagine it was also part of the way he was attacked later on. he wrote it in 1920 very early. one of the reasons he wrote it, i think people don't know, blackwell wrote to him about all the ways the suffrage movement was ridiculed in the press was misrepresented. when there's a demonstration they always find the most bizarre person and photographed them or get a quote from somebody who has no idea, this
9:45 am
is what is happening in the movement for women's equality. blackwell was the only child of henry blackwell and bluesy stone, the first woman in america to change her name upon marriage. she and her husband were lifetime, a 50 year campaigners for suffrage in the nineteenth century and their daughter. her daughter was one of the names i wrote her, very good friend of upton sinclair. she sent her notes which was one of the inspiring moments for him in writing this book, to look at what happened. margaret sanger had the same experience, sent notes about how birth control was mischaracterized. she wrote him a letter, a beautiful letter in 1959. and here we are, old friends. we are still here, largely. i quote it in the book and i was stunned to see a letter in 1959
9:46 am
recognizing they have both been in it for the long hall. >> what is interesting to me about the brass jacket is upton sinclair was despised by the men who owned newspapers such as hearst or notice in los angeles, the owners of the papers hated him and that is what question in the campaign. he was on very friendly terms with reporters, with the editors of these newspapers and that is part of his character. he was -- a likable guy, he must have been. so many people would trust him and the reason he was able to write this book about journalism in america was he was given a lot of information. people would talk to him and he piled up the information about what was happening in the newspapers. one reason his papers, he kept them all together and got them finally to a library is he had even more good material in his
9:47 am
files that he couldn't use in the book. he was completely trust worthy. people would give him things and know that it wasn't going to ruin their own careers. it was just going to be information that he could include in the story was telling. >> i was just wondering about the long-term plans for at tech, if there was any vision to turn those factories and farms over to the people or how long he envisioned the state would maintain control. >> he thought the factories and farms would be of finally by the people. they would be financed not by state money but buy bonds, savings bonds people would buy from the state of california. once farms and factories were pass the point of supporting the people and began to sell the things they were producing, money would pay back the loans it had bought them. eventually the factories, the
9:48 am
farmers would be owned by the workers, people working there and that is the way he was headed. this is why it was completely frightening idea. the idea of a factory run democratically was what sinclair was envisioning. he would not have an autocrat running the place. it would be worked around. in a way that was his vision. what he saw as the only way out. that is what he called it from the beginning. that was the plan. that makes him a socialist, this is not a democrat. >> in terms of practice, how as a feminist is feminism as a
9:49 am
writer, does he have some ridings or theories about feminism and what -- >> another scholar found some unpublished writings of his in the late teens. and ruth published writing by him. you have quotes from this stuff. it was about marriage or equal marriage and is it possible to have equal marriage. or a double standard, felt strongly about the double standard where women are condemned for having sex outside marriage but men are not. he was very interested at that
9:50 am
time, syphilis was an issue and women were getting infected by their male partners so he wrote a play about that. those are the kinds of things he thought about and the house word thing was a feminist thing. getting women out of their individual kitchens, charlotte perkins gilman's idea that it was a waste of every woman's energy to be stuck in her own kitchen. why wasn't there one kitchen everyone could go to get fed? that was the idea. >> you spoke earlier about groups, people who work for goods instead of money or whatever they can get. word there any other programs locally that were inspired by sinclair that were not necessarily about work or food or that sort of thing? >> there were a lot of collapse
9:51 am
all around and they started before sinclair and they vigorously supported his campaign. the epic -- that is what they call themselves -- campaign continued to open cooperative stores and continue to do as much as they could to get close to the plan. they tried to run for other offices like city council in los angeles. there were members on the ticket who were elected and it was all about the plan. they were in to trying to get it through the initiative later on. it went on for a long time. there were four more years of ethnic clubs and at the newspaper. it was an extendable plan. end of poverty in california but the idea behind it was really
9:52 am
can be done anywhere. you can say end poverty in connecticut or end poverty in kansas fbn. i am stalling because i don't know what else around the bay area was inspired. that is what i want to read up on next. after this gets exciting in the election, what do they do in the next four years? >> question that goes back to your explanation of the women who would write to upton sinclair, i am interested in what was most interesting to you but also in where you might have seen his ideas take shape out of the ideas that women were discussing with him, the things trying to work out about their own experiences in their own attempts to gain agency and if you could see any true lines of
9:53 am
his ideas that he would then be able to publish and get out there more widely that coming from these women. >> the great love of his life, if you saw the magnificent film on hbo, has anyone see it? it has mulholland on the course leading the suffrage parades through washington d.c. the first suffrage parade. this was a woman he fell in love with very passionately. they were both involved with other people. it didn't last, but i believe it really influenced both of them. she went on to join the naacp as well as the campaign for suffrage and the campaign against world war i. she died campaigning for severed in california. the only woman to die in the suffrage campaign. he on the other hand the year after she died came up with the
9:54 am
idea of ticketing rockefeller headquarters, similar to the civil disobedience the suggests reducing at the white house. very similar. the ideas that instead of going to the place in colorado where the miners were picketing where no one could see them he would go to new york, where the new york times was a few would get photographs, where he would get arrested and this is exactly what alice paul and the suffrage movement in england were doing, doing these nonviolent civil disobedience to get suffrage. that is where the influence is the strongest. >> i am interested in a couple different questions. one, he was famously prohibition and anti alcohol. nowadays we look at that time and recognize organized crime got a major boost from prohibition and a lot of the critique of today's prohibition
9:55 am
is rooted in a rise of heinous organized crime in our streets. did he ever show any signs of figuring that out in terms of after the fact? part ii has to do with the cold war. suzanne ardent cold war liberal at that point and i suppose he was some kind of socialist but part of that cold war was destroying the ability of workers to organize and being in this experience 0 -- imperial expansion area moment. how did his left-wing socialism fit into that logic? >> i have been accused of being a fan of upton sinclair and not writing anything bad about him, especially not putting enough dirty in my book. i would say that i have some criticisms of him and one has to do with the cold war and i tried to indicate that in the book. i didn't agree with the perspective he came to adopt about the cold war.
9:56 am
i tried to understand it, to explain it but i didn't agree with it. how he came to it is a long and complicated story that has to do with some attacks on him by the communist party in the 30s, partly running for governor and as a democrat and partly the brouhaha in mexico, a long and complicated story some communist party people here thought he had not correctly use the footage that was financed by him. you have to read the book to get the whole story of that but there was certain kinds of attacks on him and critiques of him by the last, by the communist party that turn , by communist party that tuparty tc
9:57 am
life very strongly anti-communist, he lead the afl-cio was went wherever they went. if they supported the war in vietnam he supported it. he supported what johnson was doing. he was thrilled with the continued new deal johnson was trying to enact. he became much less of a socialist and more mainstream democratic party person in the last decade of his life. your other question was about temperance. for him for people who worked for prohibitions since they were children, this was the realization of a dream. they weren't booking at what the downside was. they were hoping for less children would be subjected to family violence, less families would be effected. less children would have to look for their father in pars and dragging them home as he had to do. he felt very much about
9:58 am
alcoholics and native american communities do. just get it out. it is a social wrong, it is a bad thing. it is hurting people land that was kind of his religion. he did not see any problem with prohibition except that there wasn't enough money put into enforcement. that was his critique. >> who else wants to get into the conversation? >> i was wondering if you could talk about his constituents in terms of california, if they were largely in the north or south or if you could collaborate oil little bit on that. >> most of this support was in los angeles where he was and the state was split. democrats were strongest in san francisco and that is where his contender in the primary came
9:59 am
from. of fellow who was working for the federal administration in san francisco who was also a writer and the fellow, the most important person who was endorsed by epic who was elected was from los angeles, a state senator and four years later they were able to elect him as governor, as the first democratic governor in 40 years. i know it was centered around los angeles for those reasons. the people who were voting for him, i have to -- you can see it is a program to help the unemployed and those are the people he was registering and he was saying that helps everybody. but i don't know who the people
10:00 am
were. [inaudible] >> is there a history of conservatism? >> yes. i don't know where you go. .. >> and the ones in los angeles.
10:01 am
sinclair's view was that the republicans and the democratic party were so tied up with each other in san francisco that it really made no difference. and in his mind it wasn't, he wasn't going to reject support from anybody. it was a campaign about a plan, the epic plan. and he was willing to endorse anybody who would support the plan. and when you get to one of the later brochures -- i'll leave these out for everybody to look at -- when they list the candidates who they're endorsing, you see that one of the people is the existing secretary of state. he wasn't going to, he was going to allow a republican to be an epic candidate, a socialist, and he was going to let the people in each assembly district, the local club, choose its candidate based on support for the program rather than support for a party. >> okay.
10:02 am
anybody else? well, lauren coodley, jay martin, thank you so much for a great presentation. [applause] go ahead. >> i brought four of my books. in case anybody wants one, i'll sign it. and as i said, i brought a few paperbacks just to give out if anyone's curious and wants a free book. thanks for being here. >> we'll be back in two weeks, we'll have yolanda lopez and judy drummond and donna amador, especially focusing on yolanda lopez's great work, a big contributor to the politics of this neighborhood, the mission district. so come back for that in two weeks, and then there's more programs ahead in may, we have a busy schedule in may, it's on the calendar at thank you all for coming, hope
10:03 am
to see you again soon. [applause] >> c-span2, providing live coverage of the u.s. senate floor proceedings and key public policy events. and every weekend, booktv. now for 15 years the only television network devoted to nonfiction books and authors. c-span2, created by the cable tv industry and brought to you as a public service by your local cable or satellite provider. watch us in hd, like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. >> stephen sestanovich, former ambassador at large for the former soviet union under president clinton and former senior staff member at the national security council and state department under president reagan, argues here that there is no such thing as a golden age
10:04 am
in american foreign policy. he says since world war ii u.s. foreign policy has been wavering, uncertain and plagued by internal conflict, much like today. this is just over an hour. >> thank you very much, mary. and i have a lot of thank yous to say to people in this institution. to meritt and her predecessors as dean. to my colleagues on the faculty, especially those who read parts of the book and helped me improve it. to my students, especially those who listened to me as i worked on it and thought about what i wanted to say. i'm grateful to all of them. in this book i try to get my arms around american foreign policy since the start of the cold war in 1947. now, this is a big and


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on