Celebrating Progressives
and Progressivism: Part 8

Commonwealth Communities   Class Warfare Genuine and Counterfeit Progressives
Communism and Socialism Failed

Replacing Capitalism

  Capitalists Are Murdering Workers
Progressives Must Defeat Fascists

Progressive Awareness

  Developing Progressive Awareness

"Out of this modern civilization economic royalists carved new dynasties. New kingdoms were built upon concentration of control over material things. Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities, new machinery of industry and agriculture, of labor and capital - all undreamed of by the Fathers - the whole structure of modern life was impressed into this royal service."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, speech in Philadelphia on June 27, 1936

    In this ongoing series, we're celebrating outstanding progressive leaders of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In this essay we'll review the significant contribution made to American progressivism by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945).

      In the early part of the twentieth century, when the predatory capitalist class--the robber barons, the gigantic trusts and monopolies--had seized such malignant power that it threatened the very life of our nation--as evidenced by the Stock Market Crash in 1929 and the Great Depression of the 1930s--Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration reorganized the economic and political structure of our nation. The American economy was in part judged by Americans to be effective in terms of the plight of the American worker--not just the Rockefellers and the Morgans.

Opposite Response of FDR Administration and Current Capitalist Cabal

FDR Response: for Workers

Capitalist Cabal Response: for Fatcats

Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) bought mortgages from holders who could carry them no longer, financed the immediate payments, and rewrote the mortgages to provide for easy repayment over a long term and at relatively low interest rates. One out of every five mortgaged urban homes in America was an HOLC beneficiary.

The Bush II/Obama/Congressional economic stimulus plan is largely limited to tax cuts for the wealthy. Of the $150 billion allocated, $100 billion will go for tax rebates for individuals and $50 billion for tax incentives for business. The scam "stimulus" package provides no new funding for unemployment compensation, food stamps or other social programs, or for public works. Democratic Congressional leaders agreed to drop any extension of unemployment and food stamp benefits as well as proposed funding increases for low-income heating assistance and state Medicaid programs.

      The people who helped institute Roosevelt's New Deal used as their pattern the prior experience of national coordination that had been effected during World War I. During wartime, the nation had established governmental regimentation of economic and political activities--all to somewhat positive effect. The New Deal was in essence a movement of the nation's political and economic structures somewhat away from total control by the Robber Barons to increased concern for the plight of the working class.

      While conditions for workers improved under New Deal progressivism, Roosevelt unfortunately retained the underlying bankrupt capitalist derangement, so that it soon reared its demonic head and began to seize control once more. The country slowly returned to the earlier system of predatory capitalism, so that full recovery occurred only when the economy was harnessed to arms production in preparation for a new plundering of world markets in the imperialistic bloodbath of World War II. In other words, even the "miracle" of FDR's recovery was possible only when unemployed workers had been transformed into cannon fodder for a new world conflagration.

      Though America moved closer to a commonwealth system under FDR, he failed to replace capitalist, plutocratic structures with a government of and for the people, resulting in the present scourge of a plutocratic police state. FDR came from a rich, capitalist family and much of the incentive for progressive reform such as Social Security and works programs came from his wife and other more progressive advisers within his administration.

    President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped the oil barons seize control of Middle Eastern oil.

"The trouble with this country is that you can't win an election without the oil bloc, and you can't govern with it."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt

History Repeats Itself

"One has to go back to the 1930s when, as today, world capitalism was gripped by a desperate economic crisis to find fitting parallels. Then, mankind was stunned by the savage aggression unleashed in the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, Hitler's backing of the Sudeten Germans to achieve the carve-up of Czechoslovakia, and the dispatch of the German Condor Legion to bomb Spain on behalf of Franco's fascist insurgency.

"At that time, these violent acts of aggression were seen as part of world capitalism's descent into barbarism. Today [2011] in Libya, similar acts are proclaimed to be a flowering of 'humanitarianism' and 'democracy.'

"During that period, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appealed to the democratic sensibilities of the American people--while no doubt positioning the US for the pursuit of its own imperialist aims--by demanding a 'quarantine' of fascist aggression.

"He declared in 1937,
'Without a declaration of war and without warning or justification of any kind, civilians, including vast numbers of women and children, are being ruthlessly murdered with bombs from the air . . . Nations are fomenting and taking sides in civil warfare in nations that have never done them any harm. Nations claiming freedom for themselves deny it to others. Innocent peoples, innocent nations, are being cruelly sacrificed to a greed for power and supremacy which is devoid of all sense of justice and humane consideration.'

"Those words from three quarters of a century ago read like an indictment of the Obama administration and the governments of Cameron, Sarkozy and Berlusconi." 1

    The current, phony "war on terrorism"--instigated by the false flag operation of 9/11--attempts to instill in Americans and citizens of other nations the sense of dread and helplessness. Political leaders use pessimistic language that creates fear and a sense of hepelessness. The capitalist cabal had perpetrated 9/11 on America so it could have a never-ending war and a faceless enemy which would become an excuse for every curtailment of Constitutional rights they desired or the spending of trillions on a contrived "war on terrorism."

    In his September 20, 2001, speech to Congress on the 9/11 attacks, Bush II could hardly contain himself because of his excitement at being involved in a brainwashing, propaganda stunt aimed at increasing Americans' sense of vulnerability.

"Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. . . I ask you to live your lives, and hug your children. I know many citizens have fears tonight. . . Be calm and resolute, even in the face of a continuing threat."

    You can sense Dubya's eagerness in his scare tactics as you read those words. To support the desired effect, the cabal perpetrated a number of subsequent terror alerts by the FBI, CIA and Department of Homeland Security, maintaining and expanding the fear of hidden, sinister enemies.

    Looking back to a similar siutation in 1941, we can see the stark contrast in Franklin Roosevelt's speech delivered the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, when Roosevelt focused on an optimistic future rather than an ongoing threat to Americans' personal survival.

"No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. . . There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces --with the unbounding determination of our people --we will gain the inevitable triumph --so help us God."

"The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Colonel Edward House, October 21, 1933

    Even though FDR did not have the will to replace capitalism with a commonwealth polity--which he should have--he did set forth some specific goals for the betterment of the nation. In his State of the Union Address in January, 1944, Roosevelt set forth what he called a Second Bill of Rights. FDR declared that the nation had come to recognize, and should now implement these rights. Roosevelt did not argue for any change to the United States Constitution; he believed that the second bill of rights should be implemented politically, not by federal judges. Roosevelt's stated justification was that the "political rights" granted by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights had "proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness." Roosevelt's remedy was to create an "economic bill of rights" which would guarantee:

  • "The right to a useful and remunerative job"

  • "The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation"

  • "The right of every family to a decent home"

  • "The right to adequate medical care and opportunity to enjoy and achieve good health"

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

  • "The right to a good education"

     Roosevelt stated that having these rights would guarantee American security, and that America's place in the world depended upon how far these and similar rights were carried into practice.

      If you stop for a moment to reflect on what life would be like in America if this second Bill of Rights were realized, you get a clear picture of how debased and inhuman our present political and economic systems really are.

     Our economic situation at present--a very few obscenely rich people owning companies and corporations and having illegally seized state and federal political power--is one which we can and must change. Our current economic and political circumstances are not written in stone; humans have lived under very different political and economic conditions throughout our history.

"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power."

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

      In the first one hundred and fifty years of our history as a nation, the vast majority of American people lived in a community-oriented culture, on farms or in small towns or cities working as artisans and laborers. Our national identity was associated with interdependence and cooperation--in most cases, for the common good. The working class had put its cooperative, interdependent ideals into their state constitutions and in town and city charters when possible. Women worked with men, families traded labor and animals.

      In this culture of mutual concern and mutual obligation, working class people took care of one another. They shared common values and interests, completely different from the values of a market-driven approach to life. According to this common welfare approach to life, merchants and financiers would be restricted to what the community decided about how resources are used.

    Franklin D. Roosevelt was one of two American presidents--the other being John F. Kennedy--who surprised the capitalist cabal by their progressive sentiments and programs. In both instances, the capitalist cabal assumed that these two men from capitalist backgrounds would fall into place with the usual predatory, murderous practices against the working class. Each man surprised them, initiating progressive reforms--and carrying them out in the case of FDR. Both men proved so threatening to capitalist interests, that the cabal attempted to assassinate FDR--and nearly succeeded--and murdered JFK in cold blood as he travelled to Dallas.

"These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for."

Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936 speech

Toward A Commonwealth Polity

      If we want a stable, just, egalitarian, sustainable world in which the "free development of each is the condition for the free development of all," there is no alternative but a long march to commonwealth propelled forward by a fully-informed, effective workers' movement. A commonwealth can only be instituted when a small group of persons--having suffered under an oppressive form of rule and having prepared themselves for self-rule--take over the direction of a group or community. This preparation involves, among other things, the close examination of real, as opposed to assumed or imagined capacities, and the development of real competence.

      A commonwealth can only come to those who are willing to work for the best and highest in human development for all. We can take encouragement from the progressive ideas and programs of such persons as Franklin D. Roosevelt, but we must find leaders who are intelligent and motivated enough to go beyond tinkering with--while upholding--capitalism, to actually replace capitalism with a commonwealth political-economic-social system in America.

"The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government."

Franklin D. Roosevelt


1 Bill Van Auken, "Libya: The criminal face of imperialism," wsws.org, 27 August 2011