In Appreciation of Gore Vidal

We talk about the characteristics of ‘fully evolved human beings’, and 3D Eye is still intending to post some descriptions of such people, taken from those which Abraham Maslow noted in his studies.

Perhaps we should also consider some well-known individuals and how well they match the ideal. I didn’t know Gore Vidal personally, but I have several of his books and several recordings of TV interviews with him and documentaries about him. To judge from his thoughts, his ideals, his manner and his eloquence, Gore Vidal was an outstanding human being, and a great credit to America – the country of his birth, and the place where he lived for most of his life. He died this week at the age of 86.

I’m not sure how well-known Gore was in Britain, or even in America. He was a liberal in a country whose politics have been dominated for some time by neo-conservatism and Republicanism, which frustrated and dismayed him. Nevertheless, he represented the decency, humanity, thoughtfulness, intelligence and generosity of the majority of ordinary Americans.

According to the Guardian, “Gore Vidal is the most elegant, erudite and eclectic writer of his generation.

The Times said, “There is no one quite like him, and if you do not know his work you should.”

The Observer said, “Vidal’s combination of learning, wit and disdain gets into your blood. He can change the way you think.”

Melvyn Bragg called him “the outstanding literary radical of America.”

Gore Vidal was a great thinker whose family background and circle of friends gave him  connections with the highest levels of government, so he had every right to see himself as an ‘insider’ with a clear understanding of how power operates in the USA

Vidal  thought that it’s possible to have a positive impact on society through literature and fiction. His instincts were to ‘intervene in the affairs of a sad country’.

He was old enough to remember America in the time of the New Deal, back in the era of liberal intervention and federal policies to reduce poverty and unemployment – the era before the USA’s spending on ‘defence’ went completely crazy. He spent decades living in self-imposed exile in Italy, but he was still a great patriot, in that he always believed in the ideals of America’s Founding Fathers.

“Fifty years ago Harry Truman replaced the old republic with a national-security state whose sole purpose is to wage perpetual wars, hot, cold and tepid.

Representative government of, by, and for the people is now a faded memory. Only corporate America enjoys representation by the Congresses and presidents that it pays for in an arrangement where no one is entirely accountable because those who have bought the government also owns the media.

Although we regularly stigmatise other societies as rogue states, we ourselves have become the largest rogue state of all. We honor no treaties. We spurn international courts. We strike unilaterally wherever we choose. We give orders to the United nations but do not pay our dues . . . We bomb, invade, subvert other states. Although We the People of the United States are the sole source of legitimate authority in this land, we are no longer represented in the Congress Assembled.

Our Congress has been hijacked by corporate America and its enforcer, the imperial military machine. We the unrepresented People of the United States are as much victims of this militarised government as the Panamanians, Iraqis, or Somalians. We have allowed our institutions to be taken over in the name of a globalised American empire that is totally alien in concept to anything our founders had in mind.”

– Gore Vidal
Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (2002)
Pages 158-159

Gore Vidal wrote this about America, but a lot of it is equally true of Britain and any number of countries around the world where politicians are reviled and despised more and more with the passing years.

10 years on, and we in Britain are still afraid of the power of the banks, the City of London, international financiers, ‘the markets’, and the billionaire owners of the media. The only possible hope for the future of our politics is the much-needed emergence of political leaders and grassroots activists who will stand up for world peace, decent human values, human rights and the rights of children to live in a civil society where spiritual intelligence and social intelligence are the norm, and not the exception.

Gore Vidal said this about education:

“Our education system is designed to kill all curiosity. l seldom encounter a boring six year old. But I never get to see an interesting sixteen year old. What has the 10 years of our education system done?”

– from an interview with Melvyn Bragg for The South Bank Show


About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at or see our website at
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2 Responses to In Appreciation of Gore Vidal

  1. Gina's Professions for PEACE says:

    Thank you so much for bringing such rich information about this amazing man’s life. I appreciate all your links for more info as well.
    With gratitude, Gina


    • 3D Eye says:

      Hi Gina, and many thanks for your appreciation. We’ve missed you! [New picture avatar – new Gina?] Prior to posting this piece one of Gore’s best-known quotes came to mind – “If you want a successful career in politics, there is one subject you must never mention, and that is politics.” Could it be that something similar might apply to bloggers?, we asked ourselves. However, GV also said, “A writer must always tell the truth, unless he is a journalist.” Since we’re not journalists, then we ought to concern ourselves with the truth – and the truth is that Gore Vidal was indeed a great man, a gifted writer and commentator, and an important critic of the world we see around us. He was sardonic and satirical rather than cynical, and he was critical of politicians and governments because he knew that countries could be much better governed if politics weren’t so corrupt, superficial and sleazy – full of over-ambitious creeps rather than statesmen and women. He will be sadly missed.


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