Dear Matt Stoller:
I've been alerted to the fact that on your blog you have relayed a false charge that I plagiarized my recent Salon article on the dawn of the fourth American republic:
It's worth noting that Michael Lind is plagiarizing Stirling Newberry's Fourth Republic concept, which Stirling wrote about for years while the Republicans were ascendant. Lind is a so-called 'radical centrist' at the New America Foundation, so I suppose it's not a surprise that he's swinging with the times and stealing the intellectual capital of a progressive. That's how things work in DC.
Before I read your nasty and groundless attack on me a few minutes ago, I had never heard of Stirling Newberry, just as I had never heard of you (I generally don't read partisan opinion blogs). According to the Wikipedia entry on Mr. Newberry, he is a composer who writes a political blog. It appears that he has never published any articles or books on political issues, only entries on his own blog and musical scores.
Mr. Stoller's Wikipedia entry cites a blog entry of February 22, 2005, entitled "The Rise of Rove's Republic." I assume that it was from this that you and he claim that I stole my ideas about American history without acknowledging his priority.
Not only was I unaware of the existence of Mr. Newberry and his blog until my attention was drawn to your piece half an hour ago, but I set out my own scheme of three American republics in my book The Next American Nation, which was published nearly fourteen years ago in 1995 but substantially written by 1993. I then used a variant of it again in the book I co-authored with Ted Halstead, The Radical Center, and yet again in a history of the American social contract published by the New America Foundation last spring.
The idea of discussing American history in terms of successive republics is inspired by France, as educated people ought to know. It was not original with me back in 1995. Bruce Ackerman had used his own scheme earlier, and before that Theodore Lowi had spoken of two republics. As I am scrupulous about giving credit where credit is due, I cited both of them in my Salon article, before setting forth my own version of the concept, which differs from theirs.
I would be pleased to give Mr. Newberry, the never-published composer-blogger, credit for yet another variant of the scheme, if his proved interesting, on the grounds that I had never heard of him and had therefore overlooked his ideas on the subject.
However, instead of complaining that I overlooked him and asking me politely to cite him next time, he has accused me of lifting the idea from him. You, without doing the basic research that an honorable person would do before putting up an accusation on the Internet, then repeated the charge and amplified it by including a groundless attack on the New America Foundation, which I co-founded.
It appears that Mr. Newberry's first mention in his obscure blog of the idea of a fourth republic came a decade after I developed the idea at length in The Next American Nation in 1995. I would have to be a time traveller, to steal from Mr. Stirling in 2005 and then go back in time to plagiarize him in 1995 and 2001.
Unless Stirling Newberry claims to have come up with the concept in 1991-93, when I was researching and writing The Next American Nation, and can prove a) that he had published the idea and b) that he published it in a venue that was well-known enough that I could be expected to have encountered it, his charge of plagiarism cannot hold up.
While Mr. Stirling's blog is obscure, The Next American Nation is very well-known. It was a New York Times Notable Book and has been in print continously since 1995. It is assigned every semester in universities around the country, and I've been told of two dissertations that were based on it. So it would appear that if anyone is to be accused of plagiarism, it is the opinionated composer with a vanity weblog, Stirling Newberry.
But I won't accuse him of plagiarism, because I don't know the circumstances, and for all I know he was unaware of my extensive use of the concept from 1995 onward and got the idea not from me but from Bruce Ackerman, or Theodore Lowi, or the ultimate source, France itself. Unlike Mr. Newberry and you, I don't make false accusations against people.
I'd appreciate it if you would post this letter on your blog. I've never read your blog before, but I promise to do so, to see if you are honorable enough to retract this malicious accusation, now that its falsity has been demonstrated.