Jul 10, 2008

Re-Dependence Day

On our most recent sortie through Sir Winston’s old papers and notes, we came across an item of interest, particularly in light of the philosophical divide that is the subtext of the current United States presidential contest.

It is an early draft of The Atlantic Charter , the 1941 statement composed by United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill outlining their vision for the post-World War II world. The historical value of the Atlantic Charter is the subject of another post. In this instance, we shall focus on a key edit Sir Winston made to that charter which ought to have changed the course of history. It did not.

In the draft pictured, Mr. Roosevelt had incorporated the third of his “Four Freedoms” – “Freedom from Want” - rather prominently in the Charter’s fifth statement regarding the future global economic field. As you will note (click image to enlarge), Sir Winston struck through this statement and attached it as mere afterthought to the far more vague and aspirational sixth statement.

This is not an insignificant edit. Mr. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms introduced in his January 1941 State of the Union Address just months before issuance of the Atlantic Charter, were all the rage at this time.
1. Freedom of Speech and Expression
2. Freedom of Religion
3. Freedom from Want
4. Freedom from Fear

The first two of Mr. Roosevelt’s freedoms had, of course, been brilliantly articulated and secured a century and a half prior by the American Founders, the culmination of some 600 years of English Common Law. It is the second two “freedoms” which demonstrate FDR’s contribution, if you will, to the American ethos. They have since become central tenets of modern American liberalism, i.e. Leftism, and, we shall argue, will prove the undoing of the free world if not stuck through once and for all.

Freedom from want and freedom from fear. Want and fear are subjective states of mind. To be free from them is something only the “wanter” or “fearer” can achieve for themselves.

Consider want. One may want with equal desperation for the basic necessities of life as for a weekend bang-fest in Vegas with Spitzer-vintage whores. Regulating either the degree or the object of another man’s want is not only impossible but generally necessitates extraordinary levels of brutality in the attempt. History is replete with examples. What can be regulated are the actions men take in their efforts to gratify – and thus free themselves of – their wants. This is already done. It is called “The Rule of Law.” You cannot kill. You cannot rape. You cannot steal. In other words, you cannot take what is not yours without the consent of its owner, no matter how severe your want.

Within legal parameters, citizens in free market economies are otherwise free to seek to gratify their wants till the cows come home. If these citizens find they, nonetheless, “Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” we recommend they seek the counsel of their local priest, rabbi, or swami, for this is a personal spiritual dilemma. This is not the purview of government. Only those entertaining sadomasochistic fantasies of Orwellian behavioral modification techniques could seriously suggest it ought to be.

Ditto for fear.

Surely FDR had none of this in mind when penning his Four Freedoms speech. He merely sought a catchy slogan for declaring his earnest desire that no one ought be poor and no one ought live their lives in fear. We applaud politely at Mr. Roosevelt’s kind sentiment but disagree profoundly with the suggestion that these wishes constitute rights, particularly rights equal to those of freedom of speech and religion which government is obliged and able to honor.

One here notes the careful wording in America’s founding documents concerning these matters. The Declaration of Independence specifies the pursuit of happiness as an unalienable right, not happiness itself. The Constitution ascribes to government the responsibility of promoting the general welfare, while it must provide for the common defense. The choice of verbs is no accident and the distinction is not insignificant.

To have declared that their new government, or any government, were capable of protecting its constituents from want and fear would have struck the Founders as hilarious, and that it sought to do so as terrifying. For only a government assuming for itself the authority of an all-powerful, over-protective, over-bearing mother could wish to achieve such a thing. Behold the Nanny-State.

Sadly, in 1948, Lady Roosevelt saw to it that her husband’s grotesque add-ons to the Founder’s genius were prominently incorporated within the preamble of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Sir Winston had little say in the matter.

In the sixty years since, the free world has dutifully supplanted civic and historical education with nanny-state nonsense adorned in the raiment of “human rights” and “social justice.” Is it any wonder that today a formidable number of free persons seek to relinquish their freedom, running like sobbing toddlers into the open, all-powerful arms of government, promising to protect them not only from foreign and domestic molestation, but hospital bills, mortgage payments, and second hand smoke as well?

These central tenets of American liberalism are dangerous lies. There is no such thing as freedom from want and freedom from fear. There is only self-control. The consent of free men ought be given only to those governments which require and honor self-control. That would be the essence of self-government i.e. the very object of the American experiment.

In 1941, Sir Winston – the British Prime Minister (though half American by birth) - said all this and more with the stroke of his pen. Unfortunately, sixty-plus years of cultural devolution have eroded his mark.

“It is better to perish than live as slaves,” he once said, echoing the conviction of liberty’s champions before and since. At one time it was understood as essential that this conviction be cherished in the hearts and minds of all free men in order for them to remain truly free. Today, it is smirked off as so much draconian melodrama as we hand over our personal sovereignty piece by piece. Liberty is not enough. We want total freedom: freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom from responsibility, freedom from choice, freedom from ourselves.

“You shall have it,” promises the Left, like The Pied Piper of Hamelin leading generations to the second childhood they’ve been cultivated to covet. “All you need to do is listen to the music … and follow.”




NeoConstant said...

Well done, Charlie. In America, FDR still holds a sort of mythic place in our history. It is very easy to "forget" about his socialist legacy, and the ushering in of Leftism on to the American political scene--at least in any meaningful way.

Tremendous essay, as has become expected...

All the best,

E.D. Kain

Findalis said...

Excellent post Charlie. Although a socialist, he was also a realist. His socialist tendencies were actually out of the idea of "Noblesse Oblige". That those with wealth and power were destined to help the less fortunate.

It is too bad that his ideals, born out of his background and disability, have become the basis for the "Nanny State".

It is not the job of the government to run our lives. But there are some aspects of the "Nanny State" that we do need. We need a government to regulate those industries that produce our food. We need a government to regulate and enforce laws that keep industry from polluting our environment. We need government to provide the common defense of us all in the form of police, fire, and military personnel.

But we do not need government to hold our hands and tell us what to eat, drink, or think.

Guy Macher said...

Excellent post, Charlie, but you are much kinder to FDR than he deserves. Such a puffed up pastry of a man! FDR is the most overrated and unconstitutional president of the USA. He should have been clapped in irons the moment he started his prattle about the New Deal. I disagree with findalis, FDR was mean spirited man who loved to watch his lackies war amongst themselves. He was a tyrant through and through.

However,the more I learn about Sir Winston, the more I respect the man. Thanks for this little nugget.

Is there a Churchill in the wings? We certainly need one now.

Denise said...

"But we do not need government to hold our hands and tell us what to eat, drink, or think." Amen to that!

StuartF said...


I've been tracking Churchill using Google alerts and thought your article was really interesting and well written.

I like the fact that you are championing Churchill as I am a big fan like so many people, I know this to be true because I have been doing a book signing tour of Borders stores in England promoting my new book called "What Would Churchill Do - Business advice from the man who saved the world". It takes Churchills talents for managing WW2 and turns them into personal business advice.

It is a quirky affectionate way of keeping Winnie relevant. I am just starting to try and promote it in the US and have it on Amazon.

Take Care


Chris McClure aka Panhandle Poet said...

Are you by chance a William F. Buckley (RIP) fan? Reading your posts reminds me of him. I hope you consider that the compliment that it was meant to be.

Churchill's Parrot said...

Well well - we've some correspondence to address haven't we?

First off - thank you all! Your readership and commentary does our 108 year old heart good.

Let's see - according to order in which they were received:

My dear Neoconstant - As a wartime leader FDR earned his mythical place to a large degree. As a domestic leader of the world's greatest free market economy he was slighty more injurious than LBJ and Jimmy Carter combined - a terrifying concoction to ponder.

My Dear Findalis - we concur that FDR was acting largely according to what he believed to be "Noblesse Oblige." As is so often the case when people of power believe themselves to be doing so, however, the result is/was rather tragic.

My Dear Mr. Macher - FDR had his good points, thourough understanding and appreciation of the genius of the American Founding Fathers, however, was not among them. As for another Churchill in the wings? We can only hope!

My Dear Denise - Here, here!

My Dear Mr. Finlay - So glad you happened upon us! The relevance of Sir Winston is profound, and illustrating this relevance for the modern world is an important and necessary labor - be it for business, personal motivation, or the present geo-political status of the free world. Best of luck with your book and associated tour! Should any of our readers be curious - as are we - Mr. Finlay's book can be found at http://www.amazon.com/What-Would-Churchill-Do-Business/dp/0955817803/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215941256&sr=1-1. (Thought we'd do you the honors.)

My Dear Panhandle Poet - Our affection for Mr. Buckley - the man, his mind, and his pen - is infinite. Please see our eulogy at http://churchillsparrot.blogspot.com/2008/03/captain-o-my-captain.html. That our writing for you calls Bill to mind is no accident, and among the highest of compliments we could imagine. We thank you!



Gary Fouse said...

They are the new Nazis, the successors to Adolf Hitler. They hold many of the same hatreds, and they use many of the same tactics. They hate Jews. In fact, they hate everyone who is not of their own persuasion-in this case, religious. There are many similarities between the Nazis of Germany and their successors- those who want to spread their own ideology around the globe. They are the radical Islamists-the Islamo-nazis.

While Hitler and his followers preached their ideology (prior to coming to power) in beer halls, radical Muslim imams spout their hateful rhetoric in mosques.

The Nazis had a written basis for their hatred. It was Hitler's own book, Mein Kampf. The radical Muslims find their guidance in the Koran, in which page after page, Sura after Sura, repeats the idea that non-Muslims will burn in Hell. Not surprisingly, Hitler is to this day, admired by millions in the Middle East. His book is translated into Arabic, coincidentally enough, entitled; My Jihad.

The new Nazis use similar tactics as the old ones. They employ violence and intimidation. Like the Nazis of old, they have driven their Jewish citizens out of Arab lands. They preach separation from those who are not like them. They deride any concept of freedom and democracy. Like the Nazis, they seek world domination-an Islamic Caliphate, if you will. Like Hitler and the Nazis did to the reputation of the German people, both good and bad, the Islamo-nazis have cast a pall of suspicion over Muslims, both good and bad everywhere. Like the Nazis in Germany, the Islamo-nazis have largely succeeded in intimidating decent Muslims into silence. Those that speak out against the evil ones put themselves and their families at risk. Like those Germans who spoke out against Hitler, such as Thomas Mann, they are forced, in many cases, to go into hiding in the West and live under the protection of bodyguards. Examples? Nonie Darwish and Ayaan Hirsi Ali to name just two.

Like the Nazis, the Islamo-nazis have their defenders and/or apologists in the West. Hitler had like-minded allies like Oswald Mosely in Britain and American admirers such as Charles Lindbergh. The Islamo-Nazis have their modern-day supporters or Dhimmis in the West as well. Consider the useful idiots, who seek to reach an accommodation with radical Islam. Neville Chamberlain-meet the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams and Lord Phillips, Britain's top judge, both of whom are ready to accept Shariah Law in the UK in the place of British Civil Law. Meet Jimmy Carter, the critic of Israel and champion of the Palestinians-no matter how many innocents they kill-Israeli and American. Many Jews in Israel and America have sadly concluded that Carter is an anti-Semite.

Like Hitler, who browbeat the British and French into accepting the dismantling of that "inconvenient country", Czechoslovakia, the Islamists seek to browbeat the West into abandoning the new "inconvenient country", Israel.

Like Hitler, who had the German-American Bund in America, the radical Islamo-nazis enjoy the presence in America of organizations like the Muslim Student Associations, with chapters in some 150 American universities, groups of radical Muslims who bring fiery speakers to their campuses to preach hate against Israel, Jews and America-with the acquiescence of compliant and cowed university administrators (like my school at the University of California at Irvine), who insist there is no hate speech going on when it is clear that it is right there in front of their collective noses. Then there are the legions of university professors in the US, who support the Islamo-nazis, simply because they are against the US and Israel-people like Ward Churchill, formerly of Colorado University, Norman Finklestein, formerly of Depaul University and Julio Cesar Pino of Kent State. One could go on and on.

Then there is CAIR, which seeks to litigate any perceived slight against Muslims in America in the false belief that they can legally force the American people to respect Muslims.

Like Hitler, much of the world prefers not to accept the truth, that there is a large and growing element among the world's Muslim population that seeks to destroy us, our freedoms and our way of life. Largely because of the world's refusal to accept the truth about Hitler and the true nature of his intentions, World War II resulted.

Today, the world faces the same danger. Yet, it compromises. It plays for time in the hope that the threat will simply go away. It deludes itself into thinking that we can convince the Islamo-nazis of our good intentions, and thus, we can reach an accommodation with these people, as if one can negotiate with fanatics. In many cases, especially in Western Europe, it simply submits to the threats and intimidation.

Why have we not learned the lesson of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis? At what point does the world draw the line in the sand and say enough of the outrages? Is it not too late to nip it in the bud?

gary fouse

Storm'n Norm'n said...

No need for me to echo the qualities of such an essay; we (previous commentators)find these truths to be self-evident.
But for a sign of the times I would add an appendage or rather a response to Roosevelts, "You have nothing to fear but fear itself."
"Let me say this about that,fear has arrived!" ...and Americans are still dreaming!