Videos: Two Blasts from the Past to Give Us Some Perspective

As an historian, I see one of historical analysis most important values is to give us perspective on where we are and also where we should struggle to be.

Today, we look at skyrocketing gas prices, wars raging through the Middle East, economic stagnation, and reactionaries trying to profit from an economic crisis that their policies created Dejavu all over again?  Maybe not, if we fight to to build peoples movements that take seriously the themes in these  two crucially important videos from Franklin Roosevelt's 1936 and 1944 presidential campaigns.
The first is Roosevelt's famous defense of his administration's achievements and  his complete repudiation of the rightwing Republican governments that had brought about the depression.

 Notice that Roosevelt does not seek any cooperation with the forces of monopoly; he not only attacks their policies but their core philosophy, their definition of America. He is not afraid of them or of the people's ability to think rationally in spite of the media propaganda with which they were bombarded.
Things were much worse in 1936 than they are today(double digit unemployment, significant improvement from 1932, but still a low general standard of living). But labor and the masses of people were on the move, and the administration, rather than ignoring them or fighting, them had begun to identify with their struggles.
Roosevelt in 1936 had already achieved far more than Obama can hope to achieve by 2012, but this famous speech could help Obama  prepare for a campaign which would not only bring victory but a victory that would mean more than keeping the far right out of power--a victory that would enable him to really accomplish what those who elected him with the strongest majority for a Democrat in 40 years hoped that his administration would accomplish after the wreckage of the Bush years.
The second is if anything more important. It is Roosevelt's "new bill of rights" radio address from 1944, which the press called the "Economic Bill of Rights," and which the CIO and all left forces rallied around as ideological foundation for both reconversion to a peacetime economy and the creation of a society whose government would use all of its powers to guarantee the economic and social security of its citizens. Here also there is a warning about the dangers of rightwing reaction and a clear connection of that reaction with fascism.

Roosevelt is less angry in 1944  than hopeful of a postwar future for the American people based on security and abundance. He didn't live to try to implement that future. Harry Truman's reckless postwar confrontations with the Soviet Union, intervention in the Chinese Civil War, and other acts created a lasting Cold War where those whom Roosevelt had earlier denounced as "war profiteers" became the prime beneficiaries of the military industrial complex and the economic and both the enormous productive power, money capital, and what one might call moral capital that the U.S. emerged from WWII with were to squandered in the following decades.
Together, these two video clips should help us develop a 21st century perspective:

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  • Today, especially in the U.S., the fledgling rabid Tea Party government, in the persecution of Muslims, and of course the perennial hounding of Jews, we could easily replace Christians with Muslims and Jews in my previous comment. Adding again, the communists, the far right, waxes in the squalor of barbarism.
    This is where the attacks on the president of the U.S., the charges of Arab,African and alien stem from, and the bigotry which must be overcome if we are to have a nation and world free from hatred, racism, religious dogmatism and anti-communism, a "Bill of Rights"socialism.

    Posted by peaceapplause, 04/27/2011 4:47am (9 years ago)

  • Just as the persecutions of early Christians fueled revolution,the persecutions of workers,Christians and communists has and will fuel the victory which historian Markowitz correctly states is what the farsighted electorate meant Obama to do,when it thrust him forward in 2008.
    Just as Friedrich Engels described in On The History of Early Christianity,and our Thomas Riggins did in his Frederick Engels and Early Christianity there are essential parallels in these movements.
    The hundreds of thousands of Christians could not be stopped as the ancient slave representatives of the working class,by the Roman oppressive state, and the millions of the modern, underemployed,homeless,and unemployed hungry will not be stopped by modern finance capital and its bourgeois state.
    Especially since it will at once hold a 3 trillion dollar largess in the face of the hungry, telling the workers that "this is untouchable private property"(it does not matter that the workers have paid for it and will pay for it in posterity).
    "...the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.
    This is why our W.E.B. Du Bois, as his first point in his application letter to the CPUSA states that the CPUSA will call for :

    Public ownership of natural resources and of all capital.

    The incredible productive power and capital unleashed and recorded by our workers,exploding in public buildings,vast transportation projects,art projects and even international cooperation of Roosevelt's and the working class' New Deal has indeed been squandered for decades,but will be reclaimed,as the need is grasped by workers and the oppressed,recounting among many, these "Two Blasts from the Past".
    This according to the Du Boisian Prophecy-"The path of the American Communist Party is clear: It will provide the United States with a real third party and thus restore democracy to this land."
    This both with, because and despite the missteps of Democrats and the Obama administration supporting imperialist wars and policies abroad and ICE at home(all will be defeated).
    This "new bill of rights",stalled by history, will be ushered in by "Bill of Rights Socialism".
    But none of this, if we do not broaden our work, organize as our people, study our "Blasts from the Past".

    Posted by peaceapplause, 04/26/2011 1:20pm (9 years ago)

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