E. B. White plugs federal world government with the dazed urgency of an Esperanto salesman. He has the same high purpose, the same rosy vision, the same conviction that all it needs is a try.
I discovered this review when I read White's book, back in 2005, under the mistaken impression that it would turn out to be an exciting war novel. Rarely has the adage "you can't judge a book by its cover" been so thoroughly validated. Anyhow, that urgent Esperanto saleman got left on the blogging-room floor, so to speak, and I've always meant to find a place to put him.
For a bit more on White's political punditry, see "The blowing of each other up", 2/18/2005. For a more sympathetic appraisal of his world-government ideas, see Charles Poore's review in the New York Times ("Pointers for Statesmen or Skeptics", 11/17/1946):
The Society of Atomic Age Ostriches won't care very much for "The Wild Flag." It brings together the disarming and wonderfully penetrating pieces in behalf of world government that E.B. White has been contributing [..] to the Notes and Comment page of the The New Yorker during the last three or four years. They will distrust its wit and be enraged by its inexorable reasonableness. […] But all who believe that we don't really need to let life on this earth go into bankruptcy by default will be very happy to have Mr. White's book.
White's case illustrates again the difficulty projecting political views onto a single dimension. I'd classify him as left of center simply on the basis of his tenure at the mid-20th-century New Yorker, even without his world-government advocacy, whether you see it as "dazed urgency" or "inexorable reasonableness". But in his language peeving, he used the word "liberal" as a negative label for the people that he generically opposed, as in the letter to the publisher of The Elements of Style that I quoted at greater length here:
I was saddened by your letter — the flagging spirit, the moistened finger in the wind, the examination of entrails, and the fear of little men. I don't know whether Macmillan is running scared or not, but I do know that this book is the work of a dead precisionist and a half-dead disciple of his, and that it has got to stay that way. I have been sympathetic all along with your qualms about "The Elements of Style," but I know that I cannot, and will-shall not, attempt to adjust the unadjustable Mr. Strunk to the modern liberal of the English Department, the anything-goes fellow. Your letter expresses contempt for this fellow, but on the other hand you seem to want his vote. I am against him, temperamentally and because I have seen the work of his disciples, and I say the hell with him.
Like many intellectuals, White valued eccentric opinions, as can be seen in the sentence from The Wild Flag that Time uses to end its review:
"Somebody, we thought, should seize the halyard and run up a token banner to symbolize the world community, even if it were only a pair of scanties."