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The following is the opening section of Lyndon LaRouche's "Prolegomena" for a Democratic Party platform. The completed document will appear in an upcoming issue of EIR.
Prolegomena for a Party Platform:
FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT'S LEGACY
by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.
February 18, 2006
To play a useful role in history, influential leaders of institutions are those, like President Franklin Roosevelt, who act to prevent, or to prepare for a crisis before it has happened, while it could still be prevented.
Now, the U.S. Democratic Party approaches a new general election, when that Party Has a pressing need for the immediate circulation of a platform which represents an actually programmatic approach to the crucial policy-decisions with which the presently oncoming world crisis already threatens us.
The mistaken recent assumption by some notable Democrats, which we must now, immediately correct, has been that crucial issues could be postponed until after the coming, November mid-term elections, when a grave worsening of the present crisis will have already happened. So, in effect, it has been assumed, mistakenly, by some Democrats, as others, that any firm position on crucial issues of long-term policy, would be a matter which were better postponed until that point later in this year, perhaps after the actuality of the presently oncoming economic disaster has become obviously irreparable.
As we should have recognized after the near-fiasco of the Senate hearings on the Alito confirmation, such delays in coming to grips with strategic issues now, would leave the Party, for the moment, as it were a flopping assortment of fish on the beach, fish left behind by the outgoing political tide.
For that reason, for the lack of a program for this occasion, the Party's halting efforts fell victim, hopefully only temporarily, to the blight of that same quality of opportunist Sophistry which doomed ancient Athens' plunge into the doom of the Peloponnesian War. That blight is to be recognized as, largely, a symptom of that break of the young-adult, campus-based youth movement of the 68ers from the then-existing mainstream of the great productive agricultural, manufacturing, and science-specialist producers. a break within the ranks of the pre-Vietnam War constituency, a break away from the outlook on which the Party's strength had depended since the 1932 election of President Franklin Roosevelt.
That break from the legacy of the FDR-keyed alliance, made possible the shift of U.S. policy from our great tradition of fostering dynamic forms of interdependent development among basic economic infrastructure, coordinated with progressive family-farm development, with industrial progress, and with bold scientific initiatives. Those had been the four pillars of practical economic wisdom which had made us the greatest economic power the world had seen, under Franklin Roosevelt, and during approximately two decades following his death. The demoralizing effect of that break away from a producer society, to a "post-industrial" orientation, has gripped, and ruined U.S. political life, increasingly, persistently, over most of the recent four decades.
During recent decades, instead of defining the great threats and opportunities actually before us, Democrats have tended to adopt opportunistic perception polluted by those same, pre-existing popular prejudices which had previously helped to ruin our nation. Those prejudices have often steered, or simply greatly impaired our recent general election campaigns. On that account, we must now recall, as a living lesson for today, that the Athens of Pericles was plunged by its own, same, acquired techniques of Sophistry, sophistry akin to the popular spin-doctor voodoo of today, thus mimicking what became the doom of the Greece of that earlier time.
Nonetheless, much of the leadership of the Party had enjoyed increasingly fruitful collaboration during the late Summer and Autumn of 2004, and in deliberations on the policy for the past first year of the second term of President George W. Bush, Jr. The vitality of those efforts of 2005 was weakened during the early weeks of 2006. So, the perspective which had been associated with the Democratic leadership of Senate and House of Representatives during 2005, waned during the early weeks of 2006. It is clear that without an appropriate, soundly premised statement of a clear programmatic perspective, the Party would not be able to recover the vitality it had manifested over the course of 2005.
Since the most crucial of the strategic economic domestic and global issues of 2006-2008 are of types which fit the nature of my special expertise, it is clearly my personal obligation to provide the Party with the clear strategic perspective whose crafting depends to a crucial degree on the technical competence of my special competencies in matters which are now of currently crucial importance. Thus, it is my duty to craft the needed programmatic perspective for 2006-2008, as I do in the body of this report.
The Role of Political Leadership
We should recall a certain charming anecdote from a past century. This referred to one of many pompous, leading French demagogues of the moment, who was sitting in a cafe, chatting with his rivals, when a large revolutionary mob rushed past the window of the place where the demagogue was sitting. At that moment, the startled demagogue in question rose from his chair, explaining: "That is my revolution which just rushed by; I must run out to lead it!" Unfortunately, the not-so-revolutionary would-be leaders of politics here today, are too often just as much clownish opportunists as that.
True leadership does not follow apparent public opinion blindly; true leadership shapes public opinion, by educating the electorate in what it urgently needs to know. This often means, as now, confronting the population with the urgency of changing currently prevailing both press and popular opinion on crucially relevant subjects.
The lesson the Party's leaders must recall, is that we are presently gripped by the most threatening general economic crisis of the planet in modern history, far more ominous than that of the 1928-31 unleashing of what became known as the "Great Depression" of the 1930s. President Roosevelt responded to this global condition, by launching an immediate recovery program through which the U.S. actually entered world war during 1941 with the most powerful economic machine the world had ever known. The continued rise of the U.S. to increasing physical prosperity, per capita and per square kilometer, during the twenty years following victory in Germany and Japan, appears as one of the true miracles of modern economic history: before we ruined that, with a ruinous change in economic and social policy which began about thirty-seven-odd years ago.
The mightiest economic power the world had ever seen, the U.S. revived by the policies of President Franklin Roosevelt, was sent into ruins, not by foreign powers, but by the folly of the policies which we adopted, thus, to ruin ourselves.
Thus, trans-Atlantic European civilization, and, actually, the world as a whole, are presently gripped by the kind of economic crisis which is without any precedent during the centuries since the so-called "New Dark Age" of Europe's Fourteenth Century. Nonetheless, the kind of thinking which Franklin Roosevelt brought to the challenge of he 1930s Depression, would lead, if followed appropriately, toward successful recovery today, despite the many differences, in other respects, in the situation now.
I shall explain what I have just said concerning the hope for organizing an economic recovery now.
Look back. As President Dwight Eisenhower left office, he bequeathed a precious warning to our nation: beware the "military-industrial complex." Suddenly, as he had implicitly warned us, we were faced with the "Bay of Pigs." Then, we were faced with the great missiles-crisis of 1962. The pillars of stability in trans-Atlantic civilization began to fall like bowling pins. President de Gaulle, whose initiative on behalf of the de Gaulle-Adenauer perspective for a Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals was strategically crucial for us, as for Europe, was the subject of repeated assassination attempts from the political faction which had been among the backers of Adolf Hitler during the run-up to and following February 1933. These Synarchist-banker and related forces from the past were the same forces behind what Eisenhower termed the "military-industrial complex." A faction within the United Kingdom moved to cause the premature retirement of Germany's Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. Our President Kennedy was assassinated. The launching of that Indo-China war under the pretext of an alleged Gulf of Tonkin provocation, became the precedent for a wild-eyed-lying Dick Cheney's push for an even more foolish, and more disastrous, generalized, needless, and spreading war in Southwest Asia.
So, today, we are menaced by the same "military-industrial complex," in such guises as the neo-cons of financially connected George Shultz's patsy, Dick Cheney.
About the same time Robert Strange McNamara's new war was launched, the Harold Wilson government of the United Kingdom systematically wrecked his country's productive economy, sending the British pound sterling into a 1967 tailspin. That crisis of the United Kingdom's wrecked economy, set off an echoing chain-reaction in the U.S.-led Bretton Woods fixed-exchange-rate system. This led, from 1968 on, into the opportunity for the monstrous folly known as the eminently impeachable Nixon Administration's school for scoundrels of the drinking, driving, and shooting class of Dick Cheney.
These and related disasters launched during that 1960s decade, had set a general cultural paradigm-shift into motion. The resulting election of a President Richard Nixon, reflected the ruinous state of confusion which the crises of the earlier 1960s had unleashed within what had been the earlier electoral base of the Democratic Party's traditional constituencies. From the time of the trans-Atlantic social and related crises of 1968 onward, there was a radical cultural-paradigm-shift. This was the shift which took the U.S.A. and Western Europe away from the tradition of science-driven economic growth in infrastructure, agriculture, and manufacturing, into the 1970s rapid spread of an orientation toward an increasingly decadent, now increasingly bankrupt "post-industrial services economy." This morbid trend in policy-shaping has swamped other developments in the Americas and Europe, especially, since that time.
Despite everything else, during the twenty years following what has been for our nation the untimely death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the physical conditions of economic life had improved more or less substantially, in virtually all areas of our nation. These improvements were chiefly reflections of the great system of reforms which Franklin Roosevelt's administration had set into motion.
Making a mistake, even a mistake as terrible as the post-1967-68 shift to an increasingly bankrupt U.S. "services economy," or "technetronic economy," is understandable. No such forgiving spirit is allowed, for continuing to tolerate a disaster as catastrophic as that cultural paradigm-shift has become, as "our tradition." Such toleration is the spirit of the kind of folly which has often doomed lost civilizations before our own. So, today, even notable political figures among us, figures whose native personal intelligence should have taught them better, often proceed in fear of what some babbling Pythia of our modern Sophists' pollster-racket tell them is the prevalent trend in the sophistry of current popular opinion. It is that sick trend in popular opinion, which has conditioned a battered mass of the majority of our citizens into treating those current trends which are destroying us, as "inevitable." It is not bad policies which have reduced our nation to an unbelievable state of national bankruptcy and related ruin; it is our treating those ruinous policies as expressions of what are wrongly considered to be inevitable trends, trends under which the majority of our political leadership has now led the nation into a rapidly accelerating current state of national bankruptcy.
Nonetheless, the majority of our citizens are not to be blamed for creating this mess. It is not only that the mass media and kindred agencies have misled them into believing the fairy tales on which our nation's increasingly foolish policies have been premised. The Bush Administration will be seen in times to come as only the worst, by far, of any administration in recent history. That administration is far worse than any since President Richard Nixon. It is also the worst since the wrecking of the internal economy of the U.S. under the "post-industrial" Trilateral Commission madness of the 1977-1981 interval of deregulation. Under these and kindred downward shifts in economic and social policy, the lower eighty percentile of our total population's family income-brackets, has been crushed by the combined direct and indirect effects of a shift from the world's leading producer economy, to a ruined "services economy."
Thus, among most of this lower eighty percentile of our nation's family-income brackets, the sense of the matter is that their layers of the population have no efficient representation of their urgent economic and related interests in the highest places in government.
The lower eighty percentile, which used to be mobilized as mass-based organizations, around such institutions as local party committees, have come to believe that those "at the top," the upper twenty percentile of family-income brackets, are a virtual ruling oligarchy, such that the discouraged ordinary citizen either does not vote, or limits his and her political objectives to the mob-like resort of begging or bullying for token handouts at the gates of the perceived political-economic citadel.
Thus, when a foolish court authorized the payment of lush executive retirement bonuses to the mismanagement provided for the virtually bankrupt Delphi Corporation, the implied decision was to send the pensions of the working employees of the company to hedge-fund Hell. The way in which our leading political class tends to tolerate such brutish and flagrant, Enron-like injustices, is the message a negligent Congress and the party leaderships have tended to send to the lower eighty percentile of our population as a whole. In the case of continued virtually daily such insults to the lower eighty percentile of the population, should today's political leaders actually expect support from anything more comfortable than the tip of a sansculotte's pike?
- The Mission Before Us -
The mission before those who deserve to be the current leadership of the Democratic Party, including those who might deserve consideration as candidates for the 2008 Presidential nomination, is to change what has happened to our nation, and to its people, during the recent four decades of a continuing slide into the present global economic and monetary-financial disaster. This mission might be fairly described as a campaign to eradicate the use of customary, time-worn forms of Sophistry taken by the modern heirs of what was once self-doomed Athens. It is time to return, instead, urgently, to the spirit of what the Franklin Roosevelt of 1932-1933 represented at that time. Then, during 1928-1932, as now, the wrong-headed presently incumbent leadership of the opposing party has led this nation into a great disaster like, but already worse than that which the Coolidge and Hoover Administrations, and the fist of Andrew Mellon, caused to strike our nation during the 1929-1933 interval.
To lead this nation in any direction but to more of its recent downward course, we must, of course, not merely confess, but emphasize the significance of the terrible mistakes of the drift of U.S. policy over the entire sweep of the recent 1968-2005 interval. However, the most important thing is to present the seemingly radical change in direction of policy, as President Franklin Roosevelt did from 1932-33 on, which will return this nation to the prosperous, and mighty but generous tradition which we had thought we represented at the moment President Roosevelt died. Admitting what the mistakes have been, the greater emphasis must be placed, nonetheless, on the positive measures which will undo the accumulated political mischief of about forty years.
The real core leadership of the Democratic Party must now arrange itself as a virtual "Gideon's Army," to provide clear, competent, consistent, and bold national leadership upward and out of the effects of the presently onrushing global economic, monetary-financial, and human disasters.
This does not mean idolizing President Franklin Roosevelt. This means regarding that President as the most memorable expression in recent memory of the tradition which Franklin Roosevelt himself traced to the policies of an ancestor, the Isaac Roosevelt who was a crucial ally of Alexander Hamilton in defending the United States against the murderously treasonous legacy of Jeremy Bentham's agent, Aaron Burr of the Bank of Manhattan.
The policies of Franklin Roosevelt were an expression of a continuity of principle rooted in such locations as the Seventeenth-Century Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in the leadership, centered in world figure and true genius, Benjamin Franklin, who supervised his understudy Thomas Jefferson in crafting our first and continuing Constitution, the 1776 Declaration of Independence. This was the same Franklin who, largely, guided the body which crafted the needed suffix to that Declaration, the U.S. Federal Constitution which was rooted in that overruling principle of natural law set forth in the Preamble of the Constitution.
To understand President Franklin Roosevelt, we must look to a higher authority than he would have claimed as his peculiar personal wont. He represents, for recent memory, the long sweep of the great tradition, from the Fifteenth-Century Renaissance, through the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, and the rich legacy of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries' development of the English colonies in North America. We must recall that the uniqueness of our constitution, its superiority over any rival on this planet to the present date, lies in those ideas of European civilization which are traced from our founders' forerunners among the greatest minds of Classical ancient Greece. These are the traditions which have been reflected, more immediately, by the greatest aspirations of those greatest thinkers of modern Europe, who placed their trust in the role our republic would come to play as a temple of liberty and beacon of hope for all mankind. Our tradition is that we have been created as a republic, as a leading instrument for the cause of that greatest principle in the world's known statecraft, the principle known in Plato's and the Apostle Paul's Greek, as agape@amm, the principle that the promotion of the general welfare of all for our selves and our posterity, is the highest law to be imposed upon government for the cause of freedom.
We are the beneficiaries of President Franklin Roosevelt; but, he was, essentially, the necessary instrument in his time for the great cause of freedom, for the natural-law principle of the general welfare, which is the heart and soul of all that is good and great in the origins and history of our Federal republic.
Let us, therefore, act in behalf of that long tradition in presenting the proposed draft of the Democratic Party campaign platform for 2006, and beyond that, 2008....