PROLEGOMENA FOR A PARTY PLATFORM:
Franklin Roosevelt's Legacy
by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.
February 17, 2006
Once again, the U.S. Democratic Party approaches a new, 2008 general election, without an actual programmatic approach to the crucial policy-decisions with which the presently onrushing world crisis presents to us. Instead of a program for this occasion, the blight of Sophistry which doomed ancient Athens' plunge into the doom of the Peloponnesian War, once again grips U.S. political life, increasingly, persistently, over the recent four decades. During recent decades, instead of defining the great threats and opportunities actually before us, a perception of the same, pre-existing popular prejudices which had already ruined us, has usually steered election campaigns, So, the Athens of Pericles was plunged by its own acquired habit of Sophistry, to what became the doom of the Greece of that time.
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 just as clownish 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.
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 historybefore we ruined that, beginning 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 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 the 1930s Depression, would lead, if followed appropriately, toward successful recovery today, despite the many differences, in other respects, in the situation then, as now.
I shall explain what I have just said concerning the hope for organizing an economic recovery now.
How We Came To Where We Are
Look back. As President Dwight Eisenhower left office, he bequeathed a precious warning to our nation: beware the "military-industrial complex." Suddenly, 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's initiative on behalf of the de Gaulle-Adenauer perspective for a Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals, 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, 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.
About the same time 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 impeachable Nixon Administration.
These and related disasters launched during that 1960s decade, set a general cultural paradigm-shift into motion. The resulting election of a President Richard Nixon reflected more, than it actually caused, 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 trans-Atlantic social and related crises of 1968 on, there came a radical cultural-paradigm-shift, taking 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 trend has swamped developments in the Americas and Europe, especially, since that time.
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 improved more or less substantially, in virtually all areas of our nation, improvements which 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 shift to an increasingly bankrupt U.S. "services economy," is understandable. Worshiping a disaster as catastrophic as that cultural paradigm-shift has become, as "our tradition," is the kind of folly which has doomed lost civilizations before our own. So, today, even notable political figures whose native personal intelligence should have taught them better, often proceed in awesome worship of what some witches of our modern Sophists' pollster-racket tell them is the prevalent trend in 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 inevitable, by which the majority of our political leadership has 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 by times to come as only the worst, by far, of any administration in recent history. Worse, since the Nixon Administration--especially since the wrecking of the internal economy of the U.S. under the "post-industrial" Trilateral Commission madness of the 1977-1998 interval of deregulation--the lower eighty percentiles of our total population's family income-brackets, have 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, for most of this lower eighty percentiles, the sense of the matter is that their layers of the population have no available representation of their urgent economic and related interests.
The lower eighty percentiles, which used to be mobilized around such institutions as local party committees, have come to believe that those "at the top," the upper twenty percentiles of family-income brackets, are a virtual ruling oligarchy, such that the ordinary citizen either does not vote, or limits his and her political objectives to the mob-ish resort of begging or bullying for token hand-outs at the gates of the perceived political-economic citadel.
Thus, when a foolish court authorized the payment of lush executive retirement bonuses to the management of the virtually bankrupt Delphi corporation, the implied decision was to send the pensions of the working employees of the company to hedge-fund Hell. How our leading political class tends to tolerate such brutish and flagrant, Enron-like injustices, is the message a negligent Congress and party leaderships sends to the lower eighty percentiles of our population as a whole. With such insults to the lower eighty percentiles of the population, do you actually expect their support?
The Mission Before Us
The mission before those who deserve to be the current leadership of the Democratic Party, including those who would reach toward the 2008 Presidential nomination, is to change what has happened to our nation, to its people, during the recent four decades of continuing slide into the present global economic and monetary-financial disaster. This might be fairly described as a campaign to eradicate the use of customary forms of Sophistry from the lips of the modern heirs of what was once self-doomed Athens. It is time to apply, urgently, the spirit of what the Franklin Roosevelt of 1932-1933 represented at the time, then, as now; that the wrong-headed leadership of the opposing party had led this nation into the great disaster which the Coolidge and Hoover administration, and the fist of Andrew Mellon, caused to strike our nation during the 1929-1933 interval.
To lead this nation in any direction but more of its recent downward course, we must of course, not merely admit, but point out the terrible mistakes of the drift of U.S. policy over the entire sweep of the 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 emphasis must be placed on the positive measures which will undo the 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, and bold 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 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, and 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 Classical ancient Greece, and which reflected, more immediately, 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 agapé, the principle that the promotion of the general welfare of all for our ourselves 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 that tradition in presenting the proposed draft of the Democratic Party campaign platform for 2006.