Thursday, May 26, 2011

WWH~~ Wake'N'Bake 101: Heroes

Dr. Woody grows increasingly uncomfortable with the reverential references to Roosevelt's and Eisenhower's famed, cautionary speeches: The "Simple Freedoms" speech by FDR, in '38 (when he STILL had SIX more years in office), in which he quite accurately predicts the dangers of the power of dominant, private capital:
The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group or by any other controlling private power.
The second truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living. Both lessons hit home. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.
For Ike, it was the "military-industrial complex" speech--his "Farewell" address--wherein he named and specified the danger posed by the emergent power of the national security state as a direct threat to the actual, political security of the national enterprise:
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
"We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."
FDR was in the middle of his second term, war was looming but still afar; he had just won the largest electoral margin in HISTORY. And he couldn't/wouldn't/ (crucially) DIDN'T do anything. He was, in fact, at that time, beginning to cave in to the money. Ike carefully only mentioned it on the way out the door; you can sense his golf-bag is in the corner, beckoning him impatiently.

If events of the intervening years have shown anything is is that it is impossible to be too cynical. We're entitled to ask: What were the effect of the announcements?

Both of 'em were in positions from which they COULD have done something to have prevented these dread and fell predictions when the had the power to do so. They were obviously well aware of the dangers long before they spoke of them; but they declined. Did their words CHANGE anything? Did ANYBODY act on the warnings, either when spoken or when repeated? Did our students, armed with these insights, band together to resist the Fascists? (Well, in fact, some of us DID do that, in the '60s and '70s of the last century, and we all recall how well that turned out. But I digress...)

But the thing that one misses from both is the sense of immediacy, of the hortatory, clamorous urgency that one might hope from the announcement of the immanence of such dire and imminent emergencies.


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