FDR, Socialism and Useful Idiots
“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents….” –James Madison
Nineteenth-century historian Alexis de Tocqueville once observed, “Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”
Tocqueville was commenting on liberty and free enterprise, American style, versus socialism as envisioned by emerging protagonists of centralized state governments. And he saw on the horizon a looming threat – a threat that would challenge the freedoms writ in the blood and toil of our nation’s Founders.
Less than a century after Tocqueville penned those words, elitist Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt tossed aside much of our nation’s Constitution and unleashed an unprecedented assault on Essential Liberty. Though our Constitution’s author, James Madison, noted in Federalist Paper No. 45 that “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined [and] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce,” FDR summarily redefined the role of the central government by way of myriad extra-constitutional decrees, and greatly expanded the central government far beyond the strict limits set by our Constitution. In effect, he substituted a fallacious “living constitution for our authentic Constitution.
He was even so arrogant as to prescribe a ”New Bill of Rights,“ insisting that the original "rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.” FDR insisted the new rights should include “the right to a useful and remunerative job … right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation … right to a decent home … right to adequate medical care … right to protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment … right to a good education.”
To suggest that government must endow these rights is to call for establishing in the United States, the socialist government that we were battling in Germany, and would spend the next 45 years battling in Eastern Europe.
Of course, none of those “rights” would pass constitutional muster, so FDR attempted to enlarge the Supreme Court so he could pack it with judges who would rubber stamp his proposals. When that failed, FDR implemented his programs by executive and legislative diktat, and the legacy of that gross expansion of the central government has proven disastrous.
FDR used the Great Depression as cover to establish a solid foundation for Democratic Socialism in America. But Democratic Socialism, like Nationalist Socialism, is nothing more than Marxist Socialism repackaged. Likewise, it seeks a centrally planned economy directed by a dominant-party state that controls economic production by way of taxation, regulation and income redistribution. The success of Democrat Socialism depends upon supplanting Essential Liberty – the rights “endowed by our Creator” – primarily by refuting such endowment.
Noted Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, no stranger to the consequences of statism, wrote, “Socialism of any type leads to a total destruction of the human spirit.”
For those timid souls who are offended by the comparison of Democratic Socialism to Marxist and Nationalist Socialism, I commend a basic history course. History reveals that neither Stalin nor Hitler were guilty of exterminating “enemies of the state” until they had ascended to political positions affording consolidation of power in their respective Socialist states.
Regardless of the populist variant of Socialism, the consequences of of all three are tyranny. The terminus of Socialism under any label, is tyranny. As noted by the esteemed classical liberal economist, Friedrich von Hayek, “Many who think themselves infinitely superior to the aberrations of Nazism, and sincerely hate all manifestations, work at the same time for ideals whose realization would lead straight to the abhorred tyranny.”
It is revealing that FDR, in his defense of Democratic Socialism, offered this dubious classist assertion: “Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.”
If Roosevelt’s “American principle” sounds somewhat familiar, then you’re likely a student of history (or The Patriot). Not to be confused with the Biblical principle in the Gospel according to Luke, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required…”, which some Leftist do-gooders cite as justification for socialist policies, Roosevelt was essentially paraphrasing the gospel according to Karl Marx, whose maxim declared, “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”
Some have suggested that Socialism is a Biblical concept, but the Bible places the burden of responsibility for stewardship on the individual, while Marx, FDR and his Leftist successors advocate that the state should enforce redistribution of wealth. In failing to discern this distinction, FDR set the stage for the entrapment of future generations by the welfare state and the incremental shift from self-reliance to dependence upon the state – ultimately the state of tyranny.
English writer, sociologist and historian H.G. Wells, whose last work, The Holy Terror, profiled the psychological development of a modern dictator based on the careers of Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler, said of Roosevelt’s reign, “The great trouble with you Americans is that you are still under the influence of that second-rate – shall I say third-rate? – mind, Karl Marx.”
More to the point, perennial Socialist Party presidential candidate Norman Thomas wrote: “The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism, they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened.”
FDR never embraced self-reliance as the essential ingredient of a free society, nor have his Demo-successors Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Albert Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama.
Perhaps it’s because most leftist protagonists and their benefactors come from tragically broken families (see Pathology of the Left) compounded by the fact that many of them inherited their wealth, their privilege and their political office.
The character of these “inheritance-welfare liberals” – those who were raised dependent on inheritance rather than self-reliance – is all but indistinguishable from the character and values of their constituencies who have been inculcated to depend on state welfare.
Today, eight decades after FDR seeded American socialism, the Soviet Union is but a memory. Former Soviet Block countries are thriving on low taxes and free enterprise. In addition, China and most other states with centralized economies (Cuba notwithstanding) are undergoing a dramatic shift toward free-enterprise – as well as the political challenges that accompany such a shift.
Yet despite the collapse of socialism around the world, wealthy liberals still dominate the Democrat Party and control their Leftmedia propaganda machine. They continue to advocate all manner of dependence upon the state (the poor man’s trust fund), but have always been more dedicated to their country clubs than our country.
Western apologists for socialist political and economic agendas are nothing more than “useful idiots” advocating Marxist-Leninist-Maoist collectivism.
The great promise of socialism was to replace the alleged uncertainty of markets with the comforting certainty of a central economic plan. Socialized central planning has failed in every national application.
In 1916, a minister and outspoken advocate for liberty, William J. H. Boetcker, published a pamphlet entitled The Ten Cannots:
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. You cannot establish security on borrowed money. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves.
Fact is that government cannot give to anybody what it does not first take from somebody else. And as Thomas Jefferson noted, a government that is big enough to give you anything, is big enough to take it away.
However, now the once great Democrat Party is replete with western apologists for socialist political and economic agendas advocating, essentially, Marxist-Leninist-Maoist collectivism – the antithesis of Boetcker’s principles of free enterprise.
Indeed, as avowed socialist George Bernard Shaw smugly declared: “A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”
Has America learned its lessons, or is our great nation still under the spell of its useful idiots? An American majority must reject the propaganda of the Left and their inheritance-welfare benefactors. American Patriots must restore the integrity of our Constitution as the central authority of the land, and reclaim self-reliance as the central character of our people.
If not, then tyranny will prevail and we will be a slave to the cycle of democracy and bondage:
From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty (Rule of Law); From liberty to abundance; From abundance to complacency; From complacency to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage (rule of men).
The recurring cycle is only made possible by an ignorance of history. The great 18th-century philosopher Edmund Burke observed, “The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.” Indeed, that delusion is dependent on erasing the knowledge of the past, as 20th-century philosopher George Santayana concluded in his treatise, “The Life of Reason”: “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” English writer Aldous Huxley put it more succinctly: “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.”
The only economic philosophy congruent with individual liberty and limited government is free market capitalism. Individuals contribute to this system through personal industry and initiative; government contributes by confining its regulatory activity within constitutional limits and by employing a system of taxation that is uniform (Fair or Flat) and comprehensible for all citizens. Entitlements and welfare schemes destroy not only personal initiative and responsibility, but also liberty and prosperity. Political freedom is inseparable from economic freedom. Thus, when the government stays within its constitutional role, America prospers.