Portraits of Six Exceptional Twentieth Century Premiers
Epilogue Legacies and Lessons 299
EPILOGUE Legacies and Lessons In his recent study of utopian thinking in the twentieth century, Jay Winter has ‘written against the grain’ of what he calls ‘catastrophic history’ – a history that depicts the twentieth century as one of total war and tends to highlight ‘the monstrous and shocking’.1 This book starts out in this vein in its introductory chapter. But the rest of the book follows Winter’s lead in trying to ‘of fer glimpses’ into what he calls ‘the visionary tempera- ment’. Among those with such a temperament Winter lists Jean Jaurès, the early twentieth-century French socialist leader who espoused socialism because it sought ‘to develop all the faculties of man, his power to think, to live, and to will’, and because it meant ‘a turning away from habits of mind based on deference, inequality, and injustice’. For Jaurès this quest necessarily required involvement in the political process.2 While Winter’s utopian visionaries were not power-holders, the six figures portrayed in this collection all faced the enormous challenge of sus- taining a ‘visionary temperament’ while also wielding authority from the pinnacle of power in their capacity as heads of government. Each of the six shared Jaurès’ vision, but not one was able to realize this vision to the full. A determined striving is evident among each of them, but to varying degrees political realities and external circumstances constrained their ability to bring their socialist ideals to fruition. Each practised a socialist morality, but was able to implement socialist...
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