Nation: AN AMERICAN CONSCIENCE

Utopia is not a republic of fraternity to be taken by violence. Neither can it be taken by men who have no vision of better things for mankind.

—Norman Thomas, 1963

HE spent most of his 84 years tugging at America's lapels, beseeching it to share his vision of better things. Goad and gadfly to his country's conscience, he espoused a variety of socialism that was questioning rather than doctrinaire, Christian rather than Marxist, democratic rather than totalitarian. Much of what he sought in social welfare legislation was eventually adopted by those who once recoiled from his proposals. "The ultimate token of approval,"...