The View From 1776

Never Mind the Spin Machine; What Was Actually Said?

      http://www.thomasbrewton.com/index.php/weblog/never_mind_the_spin_machine_what_was_actually_said/

To understand what Senator Kerry really intends, it’s necessary to look at the implications of his New Deal political philosophy.  Those implications can be understood more clearly by examining what his predecessors in the 1930s advocated.

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In common with most liberal Democrats and liberal Republicans, Senator Kerry is opposed to tax cuts for “the rich” and he wants to fulfill the liberals’ New Deal crusade to implement a socialized national health system.  Senator Kerry also chastises “Benedict Arnold” American companies that outsource jobs to overseas locations.

A UPI news article dated September 25, 2004, reports:
     
“Rep. Nancy Pelosi [the House Democratic leader] says Republicans are undermining U.S. prosperity and a Democratic Party-controlled government would improve U.S. foreign relations…...

“Democrats believe in a prosperity that provides all Americans with the opportunity to succeed and to live a secure and comfortable life,” Pelosi said. “We support middle-class tax cuts, investing in education, providing affordable healthcare and keeping good jobs here at home.”

“Secure and comfortable life” in the liberal lexicon means the welfare state.

The unifying premise for these sorts of pronouncements is the socialist conception of a managed economic state.  Liberals like Senator Kerry clearly believe that the American economy would function more efficiently and more fairly if they were empowered to regulate it as tightly and thoroughly as imaginable. 

A central precept of socialism is that modern economies can increasingly produce more goods and services than are needed by society.  Economic recessions are, for liberals, proof that business people are incompetent and must hand over management control to the bureaucrats, who will find ways to increase production and give to all citizens (including illegal aliens who vote Democratic) whatever goods and services they wish, free of charge.  Looking at the economy from the ivory tower of socialist academia, it seems evident that, if government simply ordered business to produce certain quantities of goods, with regulated prices and wages, then everyone would have a job, good housing, ample clothing, plenty of food, good education, and complete and free health care.

This socialist paradise is to be paid for by using the excess production capacity that theoretically inheres in a free-market economy. Liberals are confident that, employing the economic principles of scientific socialism, they can manage this excess production capacity in ways that will make America into a land of milk and honey for all.  Of course, that’s what liberals said about Soviet Russia in the 1920s and 1930s, but let’s not trouble ourselves with inconvenient facts.

The philosophical connection here is liberal-socialism’s faith in the power of modern science, which they see as a secular and materialistic force that has outmoded ideas like spiritual religion, morality, and personal responsibility. We see this faith in science and bureaucratic management endlessly expressed, for example, in environmental rules, affirmative action policies, anti-discrimination laws, mandatory health insurance coverage, farm production and price controls, criminalization of thought in hate-crime laws, and suppression of the religious and political traditions of 1776.

As Lenin famously asked, “What is to be done?” to implement the promise of liberal-socialism.

Liberals have seen that most Americans react negatively to the word socialism, even though few Americans really understand what socialism truly is.  Focus groups, however, tell liberals that most people would like to believe that a properly managed economy could make life vastly easier and more plentiful.  Ergo, promise the aims of socialism, while calling it true Americanism.

We saw in How Socialists Stole Liberalism that this process was used to transform the potentially totalitarian power of the socialist state into the pussy cat of individual liberty.  Tell people that individual liberty is, not limitation on government’s power to take private property and restrict individual economic freedom, but hedonistic license to indulge in marital infidelity, sexual promiscuity, drug use, foul language, and an in-your-face effrontery to people who disagree.  Tell people that the religious and political traditions of 1776 are oppressive to the masses, because they deny people’s Constitutional right to free goods and services, instead unfairly enriching the power elite like Halliburton Corporation.

This liberal facade of sweet reasonableness can be easily stripped away if we go back no further than the 1930s, when Franklin Roosevelt and his Brains Trust of socialistic professors came to Washington intent upon imposing socialism under the New Deal.

In those days, Soviet Russia still appeared to be the answer to the prayers of mankind.  The intellectuals were aware of the brutalities imposed by Lenin and Stalin, but the general public was oblivious.  Socialism still seemed to be a worthwhile alternative path for the United States.

Let’s look at what spokesmen for liberal-socialism were saying then. 

Anyone reading Mr. Stuart Chase?s 1932 book, “A New Deal,” will immediately recognize the exact phrases and the specific policies that President Roosevelt subsequently adopted.  Even the term, the New Deal, came from Mr. Chase?s work. 

Mr. Chase said regarding the Depression, ??the cycle is a direct product of that specialization which appeared with the industrial revolution.  It is a product of laissez-faire, and the neglect to inquire what an economic system is for?There never has been control from the top, and that is the only point from which the cycle may be steadied.?I suspect it is the end of the economic system as we have known it ? and suffered with it ? in the past?a new deal is in order.?  Mr. Roosevelt repeated this theme during his campaign and again in his first inaugural address.

What remedies did Mr. Stuart Chase propose?  ?The drive of collectivism leads toward control from the top. ? At bottom the conception of economic planning is science supervising a people?s housekeeping. ? And so the final idea of a National Planning Board emerges; ?a group which knows the past, can give capable advice as to the present, and sees into the future, especially the technological future. ?The real work, the real thought, the real action must come from the technicians: that class most able, most clear-headed of all in American life, hitherto only half utilized in technical detail and in college class rooms. ?This is a long-swing project we are starting, longer than the secular trend; longer than the industrial revolution itself.  Errors will be made; methods will be tried out and discarded; but the principle of control from the top must go on.? 

It is also instructive to note the New Deal thesis about the relationship of the individual to the state, as described by Mr. Chase: ?The state is the embodiment of the whole community, and its rule of action, in theory at least, ?the public interest.?  If your corporation is busily dynamiting the public interest, the state has the right to close you up. ?To tell an American that he cannot invest his money in this project, or even to suggest that it is thrown away in that, is a bold and unheard-of step to the left; ?But how else can the obsolescence rate be steadied, excess capacity and overproduction kept within bounds of market requirements, thoroughly vicious and wasteful enterprises be checked, the non-speculative investor be protected? ?”

“One of the most interesting tasks of the Planning Board will be an attempt to draw the line between those economic areas where competition is still useful and those where it has outlived its usefulness, and either is already supplanted or should be supplanted by some form of collectivism. ?The balancing and regulating of man hours will, like minimum wages, operate to weed out parasitic enterprises, establishments so inefficient that they can make their margin only by driving workers through a ten or twelve hour day. ?This is the program of the third road.  It is not an attempt to bolster up capitalism, it is frankly aimed at the destruction of capitalism, specifically in its most evil sense of ruthless expansion.  The redistribution of national income, the sequestration of excess profits, the control of new investments, are all designed to that end. ?And woe to Supreme Courts, antiquated rights of property, checks and balances and democratic dogmas which stand in its path.?

Compare this to Benito Mussolini?s statement in “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism” (1933), ?Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. ?The Fascist State has drawn into itself even the economic activities of the nation, and, through the corporative social and educational institutions created by it, its influence reaches every aspect of the national life and includes, framed in their respective organizations, all the political, economic and spiritual forces of the nation.?

Most people think that the summation of Mr. Roosevelt?s first inaugural address of March 4, 1933, was, ??the only thing we have to fear is fear itself??  Reality was somewhat different.

The New York Times front-page headline for Sunday, March 5, 1933, said, ?Roosevelt Inaugurated, Acts To End The National Banking Crisis Quickly; Will Ask War-Time Powers If Needed.?  The lead-article headlines said, ?Scores ?Money-Changers? ? In Fighting Speech He Demands Supervision of Credits and Investments.?

Following Mr. Chase?s lead, the new President said:

?Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply.  Primarily, this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind?s goods have failed through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence??Our greatest primary task is to put people to work?It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of war??Hand in hand with this, we must frankly recognize the overbalance of population in our industrial centers and, by engaging on a national scale in the redistribution, endeavor to provide a better use of the land for those best fitted for the land.?It can be helped by the unifying of relief activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical and unequal.” 

“It can be helped by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications and other utilities which have a definite public character?if we are to go forward we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of the common discipline, because, without such discipline, no progress is made?We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good.?With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people, dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.?”

Mussolini’s Fascist state corporatism, as we saw above, had the same methodologies and aims, conceiving of the public as an army under central command, working for the collective national purpose.

But what about the Constitution, expressly founded on the natural law principle that a government infringing individual property rights thereby forfeited its right to rule?  President Roosevelt’s answer was “implied” powers to regulate whatever the government chooses to control.

“Our Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangements without loss of essential form [i.e., New Dealers can interpret the Constitution to mean whatever is convenient to the aims of socialism]??

Another prominent spokesman for liberalism in the 1930s was George Soule, a writer for “The New Republic,” the most influential of the liberal journals in the first half of the 20th century.

In his 1936 book, “The Future of Liberty,” Mr. Soule employs a three-card-monte process to transform the definition of liberty.  He candidly admits that the original definition of liberty, as embodied in the Bill of rights, was limitation on government power to take individuals’ property or to constrict their individual economic activity.  However, he says, when the nation became industrialized after the Civil War, individuals lost that original liberty and became the vassals of large corporations and Wall Street bankers.  Liberty, as we entered the 20th century, had come to mean the unrestricted right of corporate employers to exploit the workers.

Thus, the nation had no choice but to use the coercive power of government to wrest power from the corporate and financial elite, the few hundred largest organizations that “owned” America.  The definition of liberty, in the 20th century, thus become “democracy,” the power of the masses to take from property owners what rightfully belonged to the workers. 

This, you will recognize, is the orthodox doctrine of liberals today.

Mr. Soule deplores the concept of powers reserved to the states and to the people by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the Bill of Rights.  Only the collectivized power of the socialized national state can do what must be done.

He says, “Whatever the states may be able to do, there is one kind of thing that they certainly cannot do, and that is the kind of thing that the sponsors of the New Deal announced it was going to do, the kind of thing that brought President Roosevelt an overwhelming popular majority in 1932.  The states can trim the economic system about the edges, but they cannot improve the central principles of its operation…..there is no possibility of national planning to produce the abundance that we are capable of producing, as long as the planning must be delegated to forty-eight separate sovereignties, no one of which has the power over the essentials of economic life…....The real issue is private control vs. public control.”

In the chapter of his work entitled “Planned Abundance,” Mr. Soule says:

“If we grant the main thesis of this essay ? that liberty is indefinable except in the frame work of a society that has a common purpose, and that the common purpose must be expressed in feasible measures in order that it may be decided whose liberty to do what has the right of way in any given situation ? then it is of utmost importance to know whether the desire of the majority of the people for the kind of liberty that goes with security and abundance can really be embodied either in a system of laissez-faire or a system of regulated capitalism…..The only other general type of possibility besides automatically regulated capitalism and state-regulated capitalism is collectivism or socialism of some kind.  Such a system would acknowledge, as the leading social purpose, production for abundance.”

“That necessarily implies socializing the decisions about prices, wages, production, investment, etc., instead of leaving those decisions in the hands of those who represent private owners of productive resources, or to the play of chance and circumstance.” 

Again, you will recognize in this the present-day rhetoric of liberals like Senators Kennedy and Kerry.  They will “create” jobs, they will give everyone health care at public expense, they will order corporations to cease outsourcing jobs, they will require new energy sources that free us from dependence on imported petroleum, and they will do all of this while turning the United States into a pristine, unspoiled nature preserve.  Higher taxes on “the rich” will pay for it all.

What sort of political society will be required to bring about this miracle of harmony and abundance? 

Mr. Soule’s answer is, “These considerations lead us to a rough conception of the manner in which planning for abundance would have to be organized.  There would be necessary a production program, laid out over a period of time….The program would have to embrace industry in the conventional sense, public works, government activities of all sorts, cultural necessities such as education, recreation, the arts, health, social insurance, and the various service occupations.  It would have to lay out the allocations and the use of natural resources and power, plants and machinery, labor energy.  Credit and capital investment would have to be adjusted to the program, as would foreign trade.  Levels of wages and salaries, prices and costs, would have to fit the plan, so that purchasing power would be available in the right places and at the right times to keep output moving into channels of consumption.”

“........ the power to give a general direction to economic affairs must remain in the hands of the masses; they must control government and government must manage industry in their interest.”

And there you have it, the happy vision of America advocated by liberals like Senator Kerry and Al Gore.

Unfortunately, as a century of experience in France, Germany, Soviet Russia, China, Cuba, and elsewhere demonstrates, socialist planners simply can’t deliver the goods.  But, never mind.  All those illiterate voters who can’t find their way to the polls and don’t even know who is running for office are entitled to economic hand-outs at public expense and to the hedonistic amorality that the Constitution denied them in 1776.  And they can have it all if they just vote for liberal candidates.

Despite the brief respite afforded by the Reagan administration, liberalism among Democrats and Republicans is in resurgence.  As our educational system turns out more and more students with anti-American passions and religious fervor for socialism, the United States is being pushed toward the abyss.

If liberty remains defined as “democracy,” what Alexis de Tocqueville called the tyranny of the majority to overwhelm individual property rights, liberalism will assuredly lead the United States to the same dismal fate that overtook the Soviet Union.  In the final analysis, the reality of nature can’t be repealed by “science” in the hands of liberal intellectuals.