Freedom from fear: The greatest gift
Expanded from the 12-24-2006 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
On Jan. 6, 1941, the greatest president of the 20th Century delivered his second-greatest speech and the greatest State of the Union Address.
While Franklin D. Roosevelt may have been preparing the nation for war, his words in The Four Freedoms still inform us today. We ignore them at our peril.
"In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
"The first is freedom of speech and expression everywhere in the world.
"The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way everywhere in the world.
"The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants everywhere in the world.
"The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor anywhere in the world.
"That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called 'new order' of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb."
Fear is arguably the genesis of all the ills which Roosevelt decried, but let's take them one by one.
Freedom of expression is a basic human need going all the way back to when the first cave person scrawled on a wall. Without it, societies eventually explode. No less than Raul Castro last week announced that he was loosening up his brother's chokehold on what people say a convenient and necessary way to let an aggrieved populace let off steam as the power struggle to replace Fidel gains momentum. Cuba has the potential of making the Iraq Civil War look like a training video.
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Freedom of paranormal belief is also critical to the majority of what e.e. cummings termed "this monster mannunkind."
Unfortunately, the world's major and minor religions suffer from the malady of mass marketing. In order to sell-sell-sell, the hustlers of the holy of holies have to come up with a standardized product and in so doing make the same error for which moonhowling conservatives deride our public school system.
Whether in church or in class, the standardized product is purveyed to people who are taught that they are round pegs who fit in the round hole of the system. For those who may be square pegs, the institution will knock off the rough edges to turn them into well-rounded automatons who can recite the creed or conventional wisdom committed to memory by rote.
Hence the surgical removal in the Protestant Bible of the epistle of St. James the Less who dared to opine that faith without works is nothing. That's the kind of thinking which gives us Dubya who knows he's going to heaven because he's a true believer despite any despicable acts such as mass murder and manslaughter.
I think science is on the edge of demonstrating a compatibility between empirical evidence and religion. It will completely satisfy no one, especially the entrenched, but the truth rarely does.
Roosevelt's Four Freedoms have been called the keystone of modern liberalism. I disagree. I think they are the best and certainly most economical summary of the U.S. Constitution ever written.
I am a liberal in the broadest sense of the word, meaning open-minded, and I find the current direction of the evolution of physical science absolutely wondrous.
As physicists and mathematicians unravel the marvels of string theory, I can see a distant point where science and belief, physics and metaphysics, can converge. Which is why I ravenously read writers who are proceeding down that path, like Karen Armstrong, most recently author of The Great Transformation, an absolutely elemental work demonstrating a philosophical unanimity among the world's great belief systems.
Roosevelt has been reviled by nutso right wingers for 75 years for the egalitarian leanings he so well stated as freedom from want.
Conservatives, defined as those opposed to change, have long pimped the ride of the late economist Milton Friedman, the leader of the advocates of the capitalist system as God.
Well, the kinkoids finally got their shot at establishing a country where there were no government shackles on business. No labor or environmental laws. No regulation of any kind. The U.S. government threw open the doors of Iraq and invited the titans of industry to turn it into a laissez faire paradise.
Roosevelt recognized the need for a balance between business and labor arbitrated by government. As a nation, we have lost our way.
FDR and World War II both passed away in 1945. Since then, we built the greatest economy in the world which was so strong that it could finance an imperial war machine and still keep the homefront relatively satisfied. Those days are at an end as Toyota prepares to eclipse General Motors worldwide next year.
As the great economist Pierre A. Rinfret advised at his professional peril in 1966, PEACE IS BULLISH. Spending money on war is the equivalent of throwing dollars into the ocean. A tank doesn't plow a field or perform other productive work for the economy. It is literally a one-shot deal which can backfire if used because wars kill our young people, our greatest asset.
The Gospel of St. Thomas was excised from the official canon because the great doubter was certain of one thing, that the kingdom of God is within you. People thus don't necessarily need a practitioner of proselytizing to promote them to paradise.
Illiberal preachers and demagogues of the demigods of dictatorship sell fear of the other, the non-members of the tribe, those of another language or hue.
We are so primitive, continuing to ignore the wise words of so many holy men who have advised us otherwise.
Roosevelt was right.
We have nothing to fear but fear itself.
Happy High Holly Days.
Be well. Raise hell.
Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007; (not available online for several months, if at all). I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune.
Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate. For additional comments on the work of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning team, use the NevadaLabor.com search engine and sweep for "Barlett."
The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below
ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press
SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.
By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)
Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.
Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006; Free registration may be required
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A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy
The sands of time do not affect the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966
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Copyright © 2006 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 38-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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