History as Farce

"Those who do not learn the lessons of history are suffered to repeat them." "The farther back you can look, the farther forward you can see." "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce."* Is history useful prognosticator? Alex Rosenberg thinks not, '"Human history is a thoroughly Darwinian process. Like all other Darwinian processes, it can't repeat itself, not even as farce. It is always unpredictably producing novelty, which historical study can't anticipate. The lesson of history - both natural and human - is that there are no lessons to extract from it."

But we humans don't often accept reality, and ardently believe certain things, and argue for these things, and think these things mean something. Consider as you read the excerpt below that America had her best years after FDR's New Deal and read carefully the bold words and then ask your self, maybe history does repeat itself. Maybe today we are living in a time of farce.

"The thin veneer of civility between Roosevelt and the Liberty League did not last long. In dozens of speeches and pamphlets, the organization depicted the "ravenous madness" of the New Deal as a monstrous usurpation of power: "Businessmen are denounced officially as 'organized greed," unscrupulous money changers' who 'gang up' on the liberties of the people ... 'The dragon teeth of class warfare are being sown with a vengeance." The New Deal thwarted the Constitution, the league claimed, by elevating the federal government over the state governments, leading to a frightening, even "totalitarian" centralization of power. The policies of the New Deal were only exacerbating the economic downturn. As the chairman of the Illinois division insisted, "You can't recover prosperity by seizing the accumulation of the thrifty and distributing it to the thriftless and unlucky." The league asserted that the Federal government should keep out of the relief business, leaving it all to the Red Cross. Indeed, the New Deal bureaucracy a vast organism spreading its tentacles over the business and private life of the citizens of the country" - would ultimately prevent the return of any prosperity at all.

The league took special pleasure in attacking Social Security, arguing that the hastily planned system infringed on the rights of states, that it was fiscally unsound, and that it would hurt the economy. Social Security, said the president of the league, was far too heavy a burden for the delicate economy to bear. In 1936 one lawyer associated with the league sought to mount a legal challenge to Social Security, suing on behalf of a New Jersey milk company. His argument was that the effect of the law was "to take the property of employers and of certain employees for the benefit of a class," resulting in the "taking of property without due process of law."

Despite the league's claims to be coordinating a mass movement of the common man, when the Du Ponts sought to build their organization, they turned to other executives. 'There is no secret that one of the 'experiment's to endeavor to redistribute wealth, in fact, that is what the 'New Deal' really means," Irenee wrote to the president of Eastman Kodak..."

Except, page 11, 'Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan' by Kim Phillips-Fein

* Santayana, Churchill, Marx quotes.


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