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On Mythopoeia and Franklin Roosevelt


Conrad Black has a bit o’ fun at Diana West’s expense.

One offends Lord Black at one’s peril.  To the Editor at the New York Sun:

Dear Editor,

It is a question of form. Lord Black’s argumentum ad hominem right out of the gate rather works against his thesis. Diana West, whatever the strengths and weaknesses of her recent work, is set-up as the victim of a flamer. I’ve never read her work, but if she sets a cool head like Lord Black’s afire, is she onto something?

Then there is Black’s imprecision: For example, the term “right-wing” means very different things in today’s American libertarian context than it does in the Anglo-European “Old World” royalist/nationalist context. “Right-wing” huh? As in “Rand Paul” or “Uncle Adolf”? Does West fit either? One is tempted to find out.

I hope it is useful to recount the salient facts, so obscured have they become in cant and emotionalism.” Excellent.

Speaking of imprecision, let us begin with FDR himself, and that exemplar of his intellectual leadership, his “Four Freedoms” of 1941.

Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Worship: Fine as they go, but Duty to Defend both are by default left to the central authorities in his construct, not to the individual citizen. FDR seems to have been somewhat muddy on the importance of the Founders’ juxtaposition of the first two amendments. Not a good sign.

Freedom From? If FDR had had a decent first principles understanding of Liberty, he would have never spoken of “freedom from” anything. One can enjoy respite from Want and respite from Fear, perhaps, but Roosevelt’s flirtations with central planning were never going to guarantee these “freedoms” courtesy of Uncle Sam. The effects upon both “want” and “fear” by the central planners in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany had been abundantly obvious by 1936.

Roosevelt was no puppet of Stalin (nor of Herr Adolf) by strict definition, but then again, FDR was no staunch moral or ideological opponent to either. He was heavily influenced in his day by his close advisors and a media complex intoxicated by the then novel ideas of central planning, be they of American Progressive, British Fabian Socialist, Italian or German Fascist or Soviet Socialist origin. “Planning” was all the rage. The effects were only beginning to be admitted here in the US by a few – one of whom is noted by Mr. Black, then Senator Truman.

Lord Black’s trashing of West reminds me of Bill Buckley’s dismissal of Ayn Rand. Despite all of her naive errors of Faith and meanness – about which Conservatives were correct – Rand today is arguably proven to be more accurate on the issues of Liberty and at the moment far more influential than WFB had ever dreamed to become. Her Atlas Shrugged is still selling.

Now, yours truly has no idea whether Diana West is in Rand’s league or, as claimed, just a pernicious, destructive, fatuous idiot with a laptop. That remains to be discovered.

On myth-making: Tablets of clay from Sumer and Accad attest that mythopoeia is perhaps the oldest disease recorded in the human condition. Psycho-Roosevelt-ementia is one recent example, but then again, so is the wobbly idea that FDR was a valiant [“champion of Freedom.”]

That burden was Churchill’s alone to bear.

Sincerely, etc. etc.

. . .

Dear Reader: Your thoughts are always welcome.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 2013/08/18 20:18

    Saying FDR was pro freedom is like saying Donald Trump likes to work in soup kitchens every day. It’s absurd. He was a collectivist pure and simple and no affect is needed in saying that. Like Saint JFK, there is a mythos with FDR that isn’t supported by the facts if you scratch the surface. The problem is people are epistemologically lazy. They are more than willing to believe the narrative than face the facts. It’s a theme that repeats itself and speaks volumes about beliefs versus facts/logic.

    “Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing wrong with this, except that it ain’t so.”

    Mark Twain

    • 2013/08/19 00:22

      Ah.. One of those rare occurrences when I’m happy to be stuck having to agree. Heh!

      • 2013/08/19 01:54

        I’ve always wanted to take a class that looks at politics, psychology and history and how man chooses his leaders. Not sure if there is a class like that. Sort of political science/history/sociology/psychology. If you can steer me in the right direction with books, that might be cool. In my undergrad classes, the study of JFK/FDR/Wilson was largely hagiographical. It’s a wonder I graduated and with honors considering what I was up against. I remember one of my professors would not accept that there was any structural physiological differences between men and women as it applied to sports.

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