SCOTUS Justice Elena Kagan’s socialist thesis-“hope and change”?
Here is Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s 1981 Princeton thesis on socialism. Kagan went to Harvard Law School, was President Obama’s Solicitor General and then was appointed by him to the Supreme Court.
In the acknowledgments, she thanks her brother Marc:
Finally, I would like to thank my brother Marc, whose involvement lin radical causes led me to explore the history of American radicalism in the hope of clarifying my
own political ideas.
In the body of the thesis, she decries the fact that socialism has never risen to power in the United States:
In our own times, a coherent socialist movement is nowhere to be found in the United States. Americans are more likely to speak of a golden past than a golden future, of capitalism’s glories than of socialism’s greatness. Conformity overrides dissent; the desire to conserve has over whelmed the urge to alter. Such a state of affairs cries out for an explanation. Why, in a society by no means perfect, has a radical party never attained the status of a major political force?
She goes on to conclude that the Socialist Party’s growth in the U.S, was basically stymied by infighting and sectarianism (emphasis added):
Through its own internal feuding, then, the SP exhausted itself forever and further reduced labor radicalism in New York to the position of marginality and insignificance
from which it has never recovered. The story is a sad but chastening one, for those who more than half a century after socialism’s decline, still wish to change America. Radicals have often succumbed to the devastating bane of sectarianism…Yet if the history of Local New York shows anything, it is that American radicals cannot afford to become their own worst enemies. In unity lies their only hope.
Interestingly, back when Kagan was being vetted, the NY Times mentions that she did a thesis on socialism, and that her brother was the inspiration for her thesis. But they don’t mention either anything she said in the thesis or what her particular politics might be. A natural question, given that she did the research in hope of clarifying her own political ideas, although they do describe the family in general as “left leaning” in their article. The Times even did a piece on her significant writings but made no mention of the thesis.