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Is Democracy Dying before our Eyes in America?

Emanuel L. Paparella, Ph.D.

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Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Freedom” –Thomas Jefferson “And at the end they go crazy”   –Giambattista Vico

[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] J [/yt_dropcap]ohn Adams, the second president of the United States, did a study on the life of Republics from their inception all the way to the 18th century. To his great surprise, he discovered that they all died, sooner or later. In other words, they were mortal. The ones who lasted longer were what he calls “republics of virtue.”

By republic of virtue Adams meant a polity based on the rule of law, concern for the common good of the whole polity, rationality, justice, personal virtues such as courage, honesty, sobriety, wisdom, harmony, enterprise, magnanimity. These were the virtues as enunciated by the ancient Greeks’ ethical treatises, considered essential components of personal as well as collective well-being.

Rome could also function as an example of that stance toward republicanism, at least at the beginning. That may explain why it lasted so long, some 500 years as a Republic based on democratic principles of people’s representation via the Senate. It was built on a solid political foundation.

But as that other great observer of republicanism in Roman history, Giambattista Vico, well observed, it too eventually succumbed to the process of an historical law wherein republican polities begin with a basis in necessity and a need to survive (the poetical era of the gods), continue with a basis in utility based on prosperity (the era of the heroes), and finally, as he puts it, they become corrupt with abundance and luxury and “they go mad” (the era of men) The process of “madness” comes in the third and final cycle. Then the process repeats itself and from extreme rationalism there is a gradual return to the poetical.

That is to say, at the end republics manage to destroy themselves. The destruction happens interiorly, with the corruption of the essential moral core of the republic based on virtue. And this was the second great surprise to Adams: they did not succumb to external invasions by fierce enemies; they committed suicide.

The best example of that sad situation is to be found in Roman history in the reign of Caligula which was the culmination of imperial corruption. Prominent on stage, at that time, there was a deranged emperor sitting on top of a pyramid of power which had lost even the memory of its virtuous republican heritage.

He was a vindictive sort of fellow and thought of himself as a magnificent god before whom his subjects had to kneel in adoration, even when he presented himself naked in every respect, especially the moral sense. Few dared shout that the emperor is naked. In effect, the Romans had become sychophantic narcissistic idolaters worshipping themselves. Caligula was the supreme representation of that narcissistic idolatry. Rome worshipped itself as a goddess. It was nothing less than the beginning of the end.

Enter Thomas Jefferson: he agreed with Adams that virtue was essential but added that it was also important to keep up one’s guard and not sleep on one’s laurels, so to speak, and not take the democratic system, as brilliant as it might be, too much for granted. That too can be corrupted. Hence he coined the famous dictum: “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.”

When Jefferson counseled “eternal vigilance” he did not mean the installment of a powerful invincible army buttressed by state-of-the-arts weapons that would keep the peace world-wide (the pax Americana, similar to the pax Romana), but the preservation of the virtues on which the republic had been built: its democracy, its checks and balances, its freedom of speech, its Constitutional guarantees, its bill of rights, its freedom of religion. Unless those were preserved, Democracy would eventually turn into a shamble of sorts. Democracy can be powerful in a military sense, but to remain a democracy, its foundations cannot be based on sheer power, in a Machiavellian mode, so familiar to European nationalism, but on virtue as the Greeks and early Romans understood it.

Let’s now briefly look at the present situation. The parallels between Trump and Caligula are uncanny. Undoubtedly we still have all the trappings of democracy in America: three branches of government, elections, congress, executive, judicial, constitutional guarantees of human and political rights, free unfettered debates.

All this in theory. In practice we have an electorate of which 50% and more does not bother to vote; of the other 50% approximately 25% have opted to vote for a madman who has somehow managed to become a president by the subversion of democracy even if never won the popular vote (which he lost by 3 million votes). He won mostly by electoral college count and, most importantly, by harnessing the help of an undemocratic foreign power run by authoritarian oligarchs, Putin at the forefront. That remains to be investigated.

To be perfectly truthful and frank, the whole process was rigged and fraudulent. Had Congress insisted on the revelation of Trump’s tax returns, as all other modern presidents had done, his financial connections with Russia, going back 30 years, would have come to the surface and would have revealed malfeasance and corruption. He has no intention of doing so, and the Republican controlled Congress has no intention, so far, to demand the disclosure; which in effect means that they are in on the malfeasance.

This illegitimate president reigning like Caligula and demanding constant adulation, has so far fooled some 40% of the electorate by making it look like populism: he feigns to be for the people and by the people. In reality he has surrounded himself with “fat cats” who are beginning to show their bias for tax cuts for the rich and diminishment of social benefits for the poor and middle class, not excluding their health insurance. This is in process as we speak.

Behind the scene, pulling the strings, there is his strategist Steve Bannon, who is in possessions an historical theory of clash of civilizations and white supremacy. His allies are those who believe that there is an alternate government at work (consisting mostly of Intelligence agencies) which they call “deep alternate government.”

It stand to reason that the enemy would be perceived to be intelligence agencies, globalization in any shape or form, the liberal media, and, by default, genuine democracy itself. And that is exactly what we have been witnessing for the last few weeks. Few pundits and media experts have shouted “the Emperor is naked.”

The allies, on the other hand, are perceived to be “white supremacist” authoritarian fascist-leaning nations like Russia or Hungary who have little use for democracy and social justice. It’s all “grab what you can” for yourself, at the personal and collective level and to hell with democracy.

We have now reached the sorry stage when some 30% of Americans have more sympathy for Russia than for our traditional allies in the European Union. The same people continue deluding themselves that they live in a thriving democracy. I suppose derangement is like a disease: it spreads exponentially.

So the urgent question resurfaces: are we witnessing the beginning of the end of American and Western democracy as we know it? Will Jefferson’s dictum come back to haunt us when America and the EU will have destroyed themselves by destroying their own principles and ideals? Indeed, Jefferson had in on target: “eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.”

Let me end with a modest proposal. The Romans had in place a system of emergency in case of a political disaster. It was the equivalent of desperate measures to confront desperate situations, like a Hannibal, for example. We should install such a measure, democratically installed and approved, of course: when the republic is in mortal danger, and it is discovered that a national election was rigged and fraudulent, it should be declare null and void and the citizens be invited to return to the urns and vote again, this time in a legal and fair mode. Any takers? Let those who have ears, let them hear.

Professor Paparella has earned a Ph.D. in Italian Humanism, with a dissertation on the philosopher of history Giambattista Vico, from Yale University. He is a scholar interested in current relevant philosophical, political and cultural issues; the author of numerous essays and books on the EU cultural identity among which A New Europe in search of its Soul, and Europa: An Idea and a Journey. Presently he teaches philosophy and humanities at Barry University, Miami, Florida. He is a prolific writer and has written hundreds of essays for both traditional academic and on-line magazines among which Metanexus and Ovi. One of his current works in progress is a book dealing with the issue of cultural identity within the phenomenon of “the neo-immigrant” exhibited by an international global economy strong on positivism and utilitarianism and weak on humanism and ideals.

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Russian Head Games: American Citizens, American Puppets

Dr. Matthew Crosston

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Analysis gave me great freedom of emotions and fantastic confidence. I felt I had served my time as a puppet.”~ Hedy Lamarr

There has been a steady drumbeat since before the 2016 Presidential elections in America that declared the Russian intent to undermine and subvert American democracy. That drumbeat has only become louder in the lead up to the newest Presidential electoral cycle in 2020.

While the old complaint of Russian cyber specialists striving to help the Trump campaign remains intact, there is also a new taint circling American media about how those same hacktivists are simultaneously striving to help the Bernie Sanders campaign.

For those who do not automatically understand why Russia wants to help both Trump and Sanders at the same time, the FBI comes out with the bold premise that its ultimate desire is to see America ‘tear itself apart.’ While interference in another country’s elections is never a good thing and rightfully should be exposed and remedied with extreme prejudice, there are some unique aspects to this so-called Russian interference that reveals to the world just how far the American people have fallen when it comes to something critically important to democratic elections in general: engagement, civil debate, and analytical subtlety. Ultimately, American society is spending too much time trying to preempt Russian head games while giving itself an unmitigated pass on correcting its own mental flaws, which are self-induced and self-promoted.

Somewhat unforgivably, people have forgotten how much accusations of ‘Russian interference’ in elections around the world have evolved since 2015. At first, the concern was that Russian cyber intelligence was good enough and craven enough to actually compromise the physical technology responsible for submitting, tallying, and counting votes. Thus, Russian interference was a decidedly direct and explicit variety. However, thousands of tests since 2016 have proven that while some attempts at hijacking the technology were indeed made, those attempts were easily thwarted and no actual evidence exists of Russian-sourced interference physically changing a single vote or single vote count. This should be important to analysts but for some reason it has largely been ignored in the West. Because this strategy was unviable, Russian strategy shifted to one of saturation and disinformation across the ubiquitous social media platforms that so dominate Western minds in the modern day.

Thus, the head games began: Russia could not truly interfere in elections by physically altering a vote, so it would mentally alter the Western voters. How? By sowing ‘social discord,’ by making people existentially angry by being exposed to fraudulent but ideologically provocative stories all over social media. It did not matter for whom these stories were, whether left or right, liberal or conservative, Trump or anti-Trump. What mattered was the emotion of it all: to make Americans so irascibly triggered by their respective trigger points, that any sense of having a rational, in-depth, high-quality, civil societal engagement of issues and candidates would be nigh impossible. This is in fact the formal definition Russian interference has devolved to. It is not so much interference in American elections as it is interference in the actual minds of Americans electors. Suddenly, we have woken up inside of a James Bond SPECTRE movie, where we are all helpless dupes unable to protect our brainwaves from the evil saturation of Russian misinformation. No less important a figure than the FBI’s assistant section chief of the Foreign Influence Task Force, David Porter, stated that Russia has no preference for anyone in particular when it comes to this electoral malfeasance. Rather, it is more interested in ‘information confrontation’ aimed at blurring fact from fiction, eroding American confidence in democratic institutions and driving wedges into society’s fracture lines.

Poppycock. Perhaps worse than poppycock: total, responsibility-dodging, hand-wringing, problem-deflecting, bullshit. In all of these lamentations the one critical aspect of self-judgment, of citizen responsibility for the processing of information, of voter duty to analyze information critically for veracity and power, is completely removed. Glossed over. Eliminated. If there is anything more disturbing about supposed Russian interference in the 2016 election and beyond it is the realization that it clearly identified the weaknesses of American society, of the American people themselves, and exploited them far better than all of the massively paid K-street lobbyists ever could dream of in Washington DC. Russia, who is always criticized by the Russian Studies specialists across America and Western Europe as being a fake democracy, whose leadership is always characterized as wantonly authoritarian and the farthest thing from true democratic principles, expertly waded into the social media platforms of the world’s greatest democracy and supposedly turned the minds of the voting electorate of the most mature and stable democratic voters inside out and upside down simply by posting fallacious memes and false stories. Suddenly, research was impossible. Suddenly, taking a few extra steps to investigate proclamations, to reach out to other citizens and rationally discuss the truthfulness of claims, was simply destroyed from within. When did the American electorate become such sheep, or worse, lemmings so easily led on the drive off a cliff? How is an intrinsically internal thinking process suddenly the exclusive blame of an external state government on the other side of the ocean? When did we give up Ms. Lamarr’s freedom and tie ourselves up back as puppets?

Disinformation, social media manipulation, and the saturation of fake news is not something to be ignored. But that attention should start reflecting the simple reality that all of it is easily defeated if a society can once again make as priorities critical reasoning, analytical thinking, balanced debate, open discussion, and engaged citizen civility. Right now, those are severely retarded in American society, if not outright dismissed as ‘too much work’ or ‘too tedious’ by far too many. And that retardation started far before there was any talk of Russian cyber trolls. If you want to defeat electoral interference via mind games, then you need to spend less time on the technical prowess that puts up stories like ‘the Killary list’ or ‘Epstein didn’t kill himself’ and focus more intensively on the people who willingly and enthusiastically consume those stories without any interest in vetting the details. The challenge is not about producing more agile ethical hackers with lightning quick defense skills. It is about reengaging society’s citizens to cut the very puppet strings with which they long ago restricted themselves.

#FreeThePuppets

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Saving The Republic: A Titanic Struggle For Mind

Prof. Louis René Beres

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Arthur Schopenhauer

“Truth cannot appear naked before the people.”-Arthur Schopenhauer, On Man’s Need of Metaphysics[1]

If America’s core problems could be reduced to their barest essentials, they would coalesce around issues of mind. What this implies, especially in the “Trump Era,” is the secondary or reflective nature of all politics. More precisely, it suggests that fixing American society calls for more than repairing or changing presidents.  Rather, any such fixing must be a matter of seeking truth dispassionately by intellectual or analytic means.

Always, it is a requirement for serious and capable thinking, optimally via well-established and appropriate methods of science.

For the moment, of course, Americans are most focused on elections. Still, whatever the outcome, the country’s most deeply underlying debilities will remain more-or-less unchanged. To be sure, there may be certain palpable improvements at one life-level or another, but these improvements will almost certainly be distressingly partial and transient. Before this can change, much more will be needed than any such quadrennial change of personalities. 

Somehow, the United States must be willing to restore suitable intellectual standards of policy assessment to their proper and indispensable place.

Though counterintuitive, this unvarnished expectation is not far-fetched. Ipso facto, for Americans to continue to select reflexive obedience over critical analytic thought would represent the literal opposite of what Thomas  Jefferson and other Founders had in mind for the New Republic. More to the point, any such selection would present a potentially lethal “insult” to a steadily weakening United States.[2] Eventually or suddenly, by hard-to-see increments or as a dramatic bolt-from-the-blue, such an insult could include a full-blown nuclear war.

“The worst,” says Swiss playwright Friedrich Durrenmatt (as if we should really need such an obvious reminder) “does sometimes happen.”

 There is more. Even in the conspicuously unraveling Trump years,  truth is exculpatory. In this connection. real American renewal can never emerge from endlessly barren presidential promises or from embarrassingly empty presidential witticisms.

What does America really seek? In the final analysis, every society represents the sum total of its individual “souls” seeking some sort or other of redemption. Under no foreseeable circumstances can these individuals be “mended” by governments that willfully eschew science and the humanities and regularly undermine the rudimentary protocols of citizen integrity.[3]

 It’s not all that dense or mysterious.  We Americans now inhabit a society so numbingly false, so disturbingly rancorous, that even our all-too-abundant melancholy lacks credibility. Steeped in the assorted misfortunes of ritualistic national conformance, we the people have shown infinite forbearance for imitation and falsehood, but none for the overriding challenges of cooperation and coexistence.

With no apparent calculations, our lonely American mass hides from its most prospectively lethal characteristic.[4] This trait is the country’s uncontested preference for believing over thinking.[5]

 There is more. We the people ought not express any surprise at the measureless breadth of our collective failures. For many years, the tangible requirements of wealth and “success” have become the unsteady foundation of America’s economy and polity. In essence, American well-being and “democracy” sprang from a debilitating posture of engineered consumption. We are what we buy.   End of story.

It follows, among other things, that today’s American political scandals are largely the product of a society where anti-intellectual and unheroic lives are “measured out,” dolefully, not by any rational accretions of mind or spirit, but without cheer, anaesthetized, without any discernible general satisfaction.

It’s not dense or mysterious. What most meaningfully animates American politics today is not any commendable interest in purpose or progress, but rather a steadily-escalating fear of  personal failure or (far worse) insignificance. To be properly analytic, such insignificance could be experienced individually, alone, or collectively, as a nation. Either way, it must concern deeply-felt human anxieties about not being “wanted at all.”[6]

For us, candor is indispensable. Incessantly ground down by the babble of pundits and politicos, we the people are only rarely motivated by intellectual insight. Just now, we are learning to understand that our badly injured Constitution is subject to variously dissembling intrusions by a head of state who “loves the poorly educated,”[7] who reads nothing at all, and yearns openly not to serve his country,[8] but himself.

Let us remain candid. This is a president who wants to be an “emperor.” Plainly and desperately.

Truth is exculpatory.  In these fragmenting and deeply-polarized United States, a  willing-to-think individual is little more than a quaint artifact of some previous or previously-imagined history. More refractory than ever to refined intellect and learning, our mass society sustains absolutely no decipherable intentions of taking itself seriously.

Not at all.

For Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, things in America could not possibly be better. Manipulating those too-ample parts of an American society that yearn to believe rather than think, a sweeping Putin victory in “Cold War II” is all but inevitable.[9] Though counter-historical, such a fearful triumph could end up being celebrated at the Trump White House as well as at the Kremlin.

Credo quia absurdum, announced the ancient philosophers.

“I believe because it is absurd.”

 There is more. It is possible for the American people to be lonely in the world or lonely for the world, and our unchallenged mindset of “mass” has brought forth both. Before a better America could ever be born from any such bifurcated loneliness, a willing “gravedigger” would have to wield the civilizational forceps. But where shall we find such a person or persons?

 What next for the increasingly imperiled Republic?  Consider that we the people may wish to slow down and smell the roses, but a self-battering country now imposes upon its exhausted people the breathless rhythms of a vast machine.We witness, each day, an endless line of trains, planes and automobiles, transporting weary Americans to yet another robotic workday, a day too-often bereft of any pleasure, of reward and possibly of any hope itself. How long can this be expected to go on?

 There are additional questions. What can be done now to escape the pendulum of our own mad clockwork? We pay lip service to the high ideals of the Declaration and the Constitution, but almost no one cares about these musty old documents.  Invoked only for ostentation, the doctrinal foundations of the United States are today the province of a handful of people. Nothing more.

Presently, we the people lack any genuine sources of national cohesion except for celebrity sex scandals, local sports team loyalties, and the comforting brotherhoods of war.[10] As for the more than seven million people stacked cheek to jowl in our medieval prisons, two-thirds of those released return promptly to violent crime and mayhem. Increasingly, at the same time, “senior” and recognizable white collar criminals look forward to presidential pardons.

Oddly, we Americans inhabit the one society that could have marked a different trajectory. Once we had unique potential to nurture individuals to become more than a mere crowd.[11] Then, Ralph Waldo Emerson had described us as a people animated by industry and self-reliance, not by paralysis, fear and trembling.

 Bottom lines? In spite of our proudly clichéd claim to “rugged individualism,” we Americans are shaped almost exclusively by demeaning patterns of visceral conformance. Amusing ourselves to death, our voyeuristic society fairly bristles with annoying jingles, insistent hucksterism, crass allusions and telltale equivocations. Surely, we ought finally be able to inquire:  Isn’t there something more to this yelling country than abjured learning, endless imitation and expansively crude commerce?

If there is something more fulsome, where can it be discovered?

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,” intoned the poet Walt Whitman, but today the American Selfis created by a generally stupefying “education,” by far-reaching patterns of utter tastelessness and by a pervasively rancorous culture of gratuitous obscenity.

Though not generally understood, credulity is America’s very worst enemy. Our unchanging inclination to believe that societal redemption lies in politics (especially the presidency) has already become a potentially fatal disorder. Social and economic issues do need to be addressed by government, but our deeper problems must still be solved by individuals and as individuals.[12]

 For the moment, this key requirement is not even faintly appreciated.

 While allegedly a democracy, only a rare few can actually redeem America, and these quiet souls remain hidden, even from themselves. You will never see them engaged in the frenetic and agitated self-advertisements of presidential politics. To be sure, our necessary redemption as a people can never be found among the crowd, or mass, or herd or horde. There is a way to fix our fractionating country, but not while we inhabit our pre-packaged ideologies by rote, without mind, and without virtue.[13]

A starkly diseased civilization compromises with its afflictions. To restore us to long-term societal health and prosperity in America, we the peoplemust first look far beyond a futile faith in politics. Only when such a desperately required swerve of consciousness can becomes a compelling and irreversible gesture – that is, only when we can restore a meaningful, central and deserved faith in ourselves as individual thinkers – can we the people hope to fix a land in crisis.

To start the process, we can at least acknowledge the limitations of a democracy now based insecurely upon multiplying geostrategic fallacies and utterly inane slogans.[14] 

Most emphatically, we must insist upon expanding the sovereignty of a mindful and virtuous[15] citizenry. This insistence will not succeed overnight, but the time to finally begin is now.

—————-


[1] Arthur Schopenhauer warned, in his “On Man’s Need of Metaphysics” about “…the great majority of men who are not capable of thinking, but only of believing, who are not accessible to reasons,  but only to authority.”

[2]On this growing threat of nuclear war, by Professor Beres, see:  https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2017/08/louis-rene-beres-trump-nuclear/  See also https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/articles/nuclear-decision-making/  For early authoritative accounts, by the author, of expected consequences of a nuclear attack, see: Louis René Beres, Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980); Louis René Beres, Mimicking Sisyphus: America’s Countervailing Nuclear Strategy (Lexington, Mass., Lexington Books, 1983); Louis René Beres, Reason and Realpolitik: U.S. Foreign Policy and World Order (Lexington, Mass., Lexington Books, 1984); and Louis René Beres, Security or Armageddon: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (Lexington, Mass., Lexington Books, 1986).

[3] Both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung thought of “soul” (in German, Seele) as the intangible essence of a human being. Neither Freud nor Jung ever provided any precise definition of the term, but it was not intended by either in some ordinary religious sense. For both, it was a still-recognizable and critical seat of both mind and passions in this life. Interesting, too, in the present context, is that Freud explained his already-predicted decline of America by various express references to “soul.” Freud was plainly disgusted by any civilization so apparently unmoved by considerations of true “consciousness” (e.g., awareness of intellect, literature and history), and even thought that the crude American commitment to perpetually shallow optimism and material accomplishment at any cost would occasion sweeping psychological misery.

[4] “The mass-man has no attention  to spare for reasoning;” warns Jose Ortega y’Gassett in The Revolt of the Masses (1930, “he learns only in his own flesh.”

[5] Apropos of this preference, see Oswald Spengler: “I believe is the one great word against metaphysical fear” (The Decline of the West, 1918). Here, Spengler underscores humankind’s utterly primal search for an ultimate victory over death.

[6] “It is getting late; shall we ever be asked for?,” inquires the poet W H Auden in The Age of Reason. “Are we simply not wanted at all?”

[7] Said candidate Trump in 2016, “I love the poorly educated.” This strange statement appears to echo Third Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels at Nuremberg rally in 1935:  “Intellect rots the brain.”

[8] This brings to mind the timeless observation by Creon, King of Thebes, in Sophocles’ Antigone: “I hold despicable, and always have….anyone who puts his own populate before his country.”

[9]Regarding the effects of Cold War II on security matters in the Middle East, by this author, see:  https://besacenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/162-MONOGRAPH-Beres-Israeli-Nuclear-Deterrence-CORRECTED-NEW.pdf

[10] War, of course, is arguably the most worrisome consequence of an anti-intellectual and anti-courage American presidency. For the moment, the most specifically plausible area of concern would be a nuclear war with North Korea. https://mwi.usma.edu/theres-no-historical-guide-assessing-risks-us-north-korea-nuclear-war/

[11] “The crowd,” said Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, “is untruth.” Here, the term “crowd” is roughly comparable to C.G. Jung’s “mass,” Friedrich Nietzsche’s “herd,” and Sigmund Freud’s “horde.”

[12] See, by Professor Beres, at The Daily Princetonian:  https://www.dailyprincetonian.com/article/2018/02/emptiness-and-consciousness

[13] “There is no longer a virtuous nation,” warns the poet William Butler Yeats, “and the best of us live by candlelight.”

[14] The worst of these limitations concerns the growing risks of a nuclear war occasioned by an American unprepared president. In this regard, we may recall the words of “beat poet” Lawrence Ferlinghetti back in 1958 (A Coney Island of the Mind): “In a surrealist year some cool clown pressed an inedible mushroom button, and an inaudible Sunday bomb fell down, catching the president at his prayers on the 19th green.”

[15] As used by ancient Greek philosopher Plato, the term “virtuous” includes elements of both wisdom and knowledge as well as morality.

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Harry Truman, Too, Was a Self-Described Democratic Socialist

Eric Zuesse

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This is from the public papers of U.S. President Harry S. Truman in 1952: “Public Papers, Harry S. Truman, 1945-1953, October 10, 1952” [rail-car campaigning for Adlai Stevenson in N.Y. State to become Truman’s successor, against Dwight Eisenhower]

Socialism is a scare word they have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years.

Socialism is what they called public power. Socialism is what they called social security.

Socialism is what they called farm price supports.

Socialism is what they called bank deposit insurance.

Socialism is what they called the growth of free and independent labor organizations.

Socialism is their name for almost anything that helps all the people.

When the Republican candidate inscribes the slogan “Down With Socialism” on the banner of his “great crusade,” that is really not what he means at all.

What he really means is, “Down with Progress–down with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal,” and “down with Harry Truman’s fair Deal.” That is what he means.

Politico headlined on February 24th, “Sanders sends Democratic establishment into panic mode” and reported that “A renewed sense of urgency washed over establishment Democrats, who fear it’s quickly becoming too late to stop Sanders.”

Today’s Democratic Party Establishment — the Clintonites and Obamaites and the supporters of every one of the current crop of Democratic Presidential candidates except for Bernie Sanders — are not in the tradition of Truman, and of his immediate predecessor Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but are instead in the post-Reagan tradition of the Democratic Party, the tradition that was well represented by Bill Clinton when he, for example, created “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and then joined with the Republicans in Congress to abolish FDR’s Glass-Steagall Act and also to allow unregulated trading in investment-derivatives, and generally to deregulate the economy, and to sign into law and promote NAFTA, which expanded U.S. corporate profits at the expense of America’s working-class. His wife wanted also that there would be expanded fracking, just like the Republicans wanted, and she wanted Iraq to be invaded, just like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney did. And the Democratic Establishment nowadays is pushing lots of proposals that the Republican Party had pushed for prior to the Reagan revolution, proposals for unleashing the nation’s mega-corporations and producing enormous wealth-inequality.

Bernie Sanders is the only Democrat who is running in today’s ‘Democratic’ Party Presidential primaries. All of the other candidates in those primaries are warmed-over pre-Reagan Republicans. Only Sanders is running against the Republican ‘Democrats’, who are, basically, spitting on FDR’s grave.

The revolt against Sanders, by the Democratic National Committee, and maybe by its 700+ superdelegates at the upcoming Convention so as to throw its nomination to Elizabeth Warren or one of the other ‘moderate’ ‘Democrats’, is simply the revolt against Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Democratic Party. It is their revolt against progressivism, and for conservatism, so as to keep today’s Democratic Party, a liberal instead of progressive party. Liberalism blends progressivism and conservatism. The founder of liberalism was the man who had blended conservatism and progressivism, John Locke, about whom John Quiggin has noted, with an honestly that is stunningly rare: “As secretary to the Earl of Shaftesbury, then chancellor of the exchequer, Locke assisted in drafting the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina. He was secretary to the Council of Trade and Plantations (1673–74) and a member of the Board of Trade (1696–1700), with responsibility for the American colonies. He was a major investor in the English slave trade through the Royal African Company and the Bahama Adventurers company.” This is what today’s Democratic National Committe (DNC) represents — that tradition, of the British aristocracy, even the slave-traders amongst them, not the progressive tradition, which FDR created in the Democratic Party, and which Bernie Sanders calls simply “democratic socialism” and cites Denmark and other Scandinavian countries as being contemporary examples of what has worked well elsewhere that can also work well here. (Although FDR created it in the Democratic Party, he was simply copying and adapting from the best of the European nations; for example, Social Security was instituted in 1935 but already six European nations had it by that time — and what Bernie Sanders is trying to do is in that tradition, of copying and adapting the best from abroad, not just continuing exceptionally bad existing U.S. practices.) 

Today’s DNC, and its ‘Third Way’ mouthpieces (Third Way is now propagandizing against Sanders in South Carolina) are scaremongering against Sanders being a “socialist,” and (as that news-report said) “When Third Way held a meeting in Charleston in June 2019, one of the group’s founders referred to Sanders as an ‘existential threat’ to the future of the Democratic Party.” This is the line that the Democratic Party’s billionaires are now spreading. They’re determined to retain control over the Party, just as the Republican Party’s super-rich have always had control over the Republican Party since the very moment when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865.

Abraham Lincoln had said:

The insurrection is largely, if not exclusively, a war upon the first principle of popular government — the rights of the people. Conclusive evidence of this is found in the most grave and maturely considered public documents, as well as in the general tone of the insurgents. In those documents we find the abridgement of the existing right of suffrage and the denial to the people of all right to participate in the selection of public officers, except the legislative boldly advocated, with labored arguments to prove that large control of the people in government, is the source of all political evil. Monarchy itself is sometimes hinted at as a possible refuge from the power of the people.

In my present position, I could scarcely be justified were I to omit raising a warning voice against this approach of returning despotism.

It is not needed, nor fitting here, that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions; but there is one point, with its connexions, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above labor, in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connexion with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it, induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered [Page  52] whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them, and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers, or what we call slaves. And further it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer, is fixed in that condition for life.

Now, there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed; nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.

Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital, producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few avoid labor themselves, and, with their capital, hire or buy another few to labor for them. A large majority belong to neither class — neither work for others, nor have others working for them. In most of the southern States, a majority of the whole people of all colors are neither slaves nor masters; while in the northern a large majority are neither hirers nor hired. Men with their families — wives, sons, and daughters — work for themselves, on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favors of capital on the one hand, nor of hired laborers or slaves on the other. It is not forgotten that a considerable number of persons mingle their own labor with capital — that is, they labor with their own hands, and also buy or hire others to labor for them; but this is only a mixed, and not a distinct class. No principle stated is disturbed by the existence of this mixed class.

Would the post-Lincoln Republican Party assert any such thing as that “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”?

To anyone who would spout the line of America’s billionaires (either Republican or Democratic ones), Bernie Sanders would, as the Presidential nominee of, and standard-bearer for, a restored progressive Democratic Party, be able to quote both Harry Truman and Abraham Lincoln, in order to expose those persons’ frauds and take the White House away from them and restore it to the people. 

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