How Franklin Delano Roosevelt Invented Modern Leftism

When we look at Leftism, it makes sense to analyze it as a series of road forks and straightaways. It continues on its inertial path until interrupted, then adapts to the new reality, and continues onward, gaining momentum. These points both reveal to us the great villains of our age, and how their ideas are inevitable extrapolations from the original concept of “equality.”

Consider, perhaps, the case of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He presided over a war against the quasi-Right, partnered with the far Left, and despite his own elitist outlook, defined the next several generations of Leftism with one incendiary speech:

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights — among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however — as our industrial economy expanded — these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

Although the precious darlings in the cosmopolitan cities refused to recognize this, Roosevelt has essentially demanded that Leftism move from its first step — political equality, a result of equality under the law being interpreted pre-emptively — to its second step, in which a wealthy but dying society assumes that economic subsidies are required to give people political equality.

Those who have read this blog for some time know that we have a hardline anti-work attitude because jobs are jails. This does not mean we are against requiring all to contribute, because a civilization is made of contributors. Some will do so without jobs, and these are usually the best among us. For most, all that they know how to do is pitch in where others give them direction.

American conservatives in particular hammer out the “work hard, go to church, and have a family” line that keeps conservatives neutralized and paying taxes to fund the Leftist state. An anti-work conservative sees this, and transmutes “work hard” — nonsense language designed to mean “spend all your time at work” — into an intersection of be effective and contribute.

For example, some live impoverished lives but care for a patch of forest or aspect of culture. These are contributors, too, even if they get paid little. Others, such as homemakers, contribute more than their fair share by perpetuating the tribe and raising children to be morally alert, mentally perceptive and physically healthy.

This means that for a thinking person, there is a middle path between “work hard” and “subsidize everyone.” This path is to reduce the amount of time people spend working, to make jobs less odious, and to recognize that not all contributions come from jobs. With the advances in efficiency from technology, we should be working a few hours a day, but instead work far longer to pay for the free riders, government, irrelevant “experts” and do-gooder social programs that benefit no one.

Socialism destroys the chance of this path by taking from the contributors and giving to non-contributors. This ensures that contributors work longer hours and the group of non-contributors grows. Instead of fixing a problem by limiting it, by subsidizing the source of the problem, socialism makes it permanent and prone to take over a society.

With the above, Roosevelt set out an argument for socialism by going back to the root of idea of America, which is that people must be politically equal without a hierarchy of caste or aristocrats. This gives in to the weakest impulses of human nature and guarantees that people will, instead of cooperating, go in many different directions and compete against one another, creating internal friction.

He justifies it by appealing to our prosperity and saying, essentially, that since we can afford it, it is a good idea. In doing so he created the modern “big government” which uses a justification of egalitarianism to argue for its endless expansion and debt spending. But most interesting was this:

In the plain down-to-earth talks that I had with the Generalissimo and Marshal Stalin and Prime Minister Churchill, it was abundantly clear that they are all most deeply interested in the resumption of peaceful progress by their own peoples — progress toward a better life. All our allies want freedom to develop their lands and resources, to build up industry, to increase education and individual opportunity, and to raise standards of living.

The argument for “progress” arises again, which amounts to the increase of the personal wealth of the individual and using “education” as an excuse for how we will make rabble into wise decision-makers, a power they will exercise with the vote. This disease was spreading across the civilized world, much as egalitarianism had after the French Revolution.

Almost a century on, we can see that Roosevelt was wrong. Instead of increasing wealth, this pattern of policies reduces it by increasing the cost of every detail of the process through the taxes and costs imposed by the welfare state. Even worse, it has made citizens into entitled, destructive people.

We like to think that all people are good and like us, if just left to their own devices will do the right thing. History shows us otherwise: without a strong social order and hierarchy, people devolve into a mob in which each pursues his own interest at the expense of all others. Egalitarianism does not work.

In that context, we can see the history of Leftism as a series of failures:

  1. Legal equality. The idea of all people being equal under the law seems intelligent, until we realize that this means that wrongdoers have their bad deeds expunged and good people are unable to point to their history of positive contributions. This results in penalization of the good, which causes them to retreat from public life as much as possible in order to avoid conflict with the wrongdoers who will use the courts against them. This creates the apathy and rootlessness common to modern societies.
  2. Political equality. Notions of all people having the same contribution to the political process appeal to the same portion of our minds that finds pacifism appealing; if we remove the source of contention, we “reason,” then people have no cause to act irrationally. This denies the fact that most people act in illogical ways much of the time, and when they can cancel out the few votes of the sane with their number, they do so every time, which makes the illogical into policy and then into ideal. This causes the most intelligent in society to essentially give up on it and its future and act for themselves only, creating a predatory mindset.
  3. Economic equality. In order to defend against the “winner takes all” mentality created by political equality, Leftists then demand economic subsidies, taking the form of socialism or the welfare state, in order to keep people from being ground under by the resulting highly competitive and violent socioeconomic battle. This further penalizes the most intelligent, driving them into retreat from success, while enabling those whose intent is to deceive and profit at the expense of others to the fore, effectively corrupting the social structure of society.

Where does it go after this? Let us revisit the original endgame of Leftism, which we might call The Napoleonic Cycle. Revolutionaries overthrow the more-intelligent upper castes, establish subsidies, and promptly end up in a greater plight economically than they had experienced before.

Their solution is to throw out more subsidies and go to an authoritarian state in order to force people to do what is necessary for the nation to survive. When this fails, they mobilize the nation by non-economic means, usually warfare. This creates a cycle where there must be constant warfare and so the wars expand in scope until the world is absorbed in them.

The same pattern happened with the Soviet Union. When it struggled economically, it was at its most militant, and when that failed, it collapsed inward and dissolved into third world kleptocracy and chaos. Its satellite republics suffered the same fate, leaving behind failed states.

When we embarked on the Roosevelt path, the West began to suffer The Napoleonic Cycle. The modern West, comprised of welfare states like the EU and USA, devoted itself to the welfare state, and now has no option but to expand the state while keeping the population in a state of terror through constant warfare, crisis, crime and instability.

As history churns on, we see — yet again, as these little wake-up calls happen every few millennia — that there is one right way to have a rising civilization, and that as we have deviated from this, living off the wealth of the past, we have decline both as individuals and as cultures. If we do not fully escape egalitarianism, it will consume us.

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