Liberty By Compassion

The Institutionalization of Tyranny

by Paul Craig Roverts – CounterPunch 21-1-2013

Republicans and conservative Americans are still fighting Big Government in its welfare state form. Apparently, they have never heard of the militarized police state form of Big Government…
Republicans, including those in the House and Senate, are content for big government to initiate wars without a declaration of war or even Congress’ assent, and to murder with drones citizens of countries with which Washington is not at war. … But heaven forbid that big government should do anything for a poor person.

Bush-CompassionRepublicans have been fighting Social Security ever since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it into law in the 1930s, and they have been fighting Medicare ever since President Lyndon Johnson signed it into law in 1965 as part of the Great Society initiatives.

Conservatives accuse liberals of the “institutionalization of compassion.” … It does not occur to conservative Republicans that it is far better to institutionalize compassion than to institutionalize tyranny.

The institutionalization of tyranny is the achievement of the Bush/Obama regimes of the 21st century. This, and not the Great Society, is the decisive break from the American tradition. …
It turns one’s stomach to listen to conservatives bemoan the destruction of liberty by compassion…

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. His latest book, Wirtschaft am Abgrund (Economies In Collapse) has just been published. CounterPunch 2013

Great Society Speech, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964

The challenge of the next half century is whether we have the wisdom to use our wealth to enrich and elevate our national life, and to advance the quality of our American civilization. …

mlk-lbjYour imagination, your initiative, and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth.
For in your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the “Great Society”.

The “Great Society” is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.

Aristotle said: “Men come together in cities in order to live, but they remain together in order to live the good life.” … It will be the task of your generation to make the American city a place where future generations will come, not only to live but to live the good life.

A second place where we begin to build the “Great Society” is in our countryside. We have always prided ourselves on being not only America the strong and America the free, but America the beautiful. Today that beauty is in danger. … A few years ago we were greatly concerned about the “Ugly American.” Today we must act to prevent an ugly America.

A third place to build the “Great Society” is in the classrooms of America. There your children’s lives will be shaped. Our society will not be great until every young mind is set free to scan the farthest reaches of thought and imagination. We are still far from that goal.

A richer life of mind and spirit

Will you join in the battle to give every citizen the full equality which God enjoins and the law requires, whatever his belief, or race, or the color of his skin?
Will you join in the battle to give every citizen an escape from the crushing weight of poverty?
Will you join in the battle to make it possible for all nations to live in enduring peace — as neighbors and not as mortal enemies?
Will you join in the battle to build the “Great Society”, to prove that our material progress is only the foundation on which we will build a richer life of mind and spirit?

Johnson’s ambitions for a Great Society were checked by his ambitions in Vietnam. The cost of the war in Vietnam along with the costs of his domestic programs strained the economy. Funds he had envisioned to fight his war on poverty were now diverted to the war in Vietnam. Moreover, as the war became more and more unpopular, Johnson lost the political capital needed to continue these reforms. (Source)

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