Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/09/18/remembering-ike-our-unexpected-egalitarian
The second to last paragraph captures an example of Ike getting it wrong as we have witnessed every POTUS Democrat and Republican of the past quarter century threatening Social Security, reconfirming my observation that Ike, Nixon, and Gerald Ford would be put on the same group W bench with Sanders if they entered the Democratic Primary in 2020. The GOP would have those three deported.
Notice how the Democrats never mention anything that happened prior to the 1985 Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) formation and the GOP never mentions anything that happened prior to Saint Ronny ascending the throne in 1981 ? Their corporate owners know that its easier to control people idf you can get them to forget their history.
Eisenhower and Nixon were both odd Republicans. Ike taxed the rich as they should have been and ended the Korean war. At the same time, he committed grievous errors abroad in Iran and the Dominican Republic. Nixon, besides ending the lives of a million SE Asians, also passed laws protecting the environment as well as recognizing “Red” China. With the exception of LBJ (also odd in doing atrocious things as well as admirable ones), Democrats have been the party of the status quo–often exacerbating corporate abuse of power. If only there was a party that stood up against that…
I grew up in a time where the future was envisioned as ever more leisure time for the working class even as their wages and wealth improved. Machines and technologies would make the worker ever more productive and as their labor created wealth it would spread to all.
This is not what happened. This is Capitalism. the investor class felt that they were the ones deserved of all this extra money and they spent next decades on reworking the system and buying the politicians so that all of the benefits of that increased productivity would go into the pockets of fewer and fewer. The size of the piece of pie for the worker would shrink so that the owners could have more for themselves.
Contrary to what our resident Ludwig Von Mises fanboy proclaims, this is in fact theft. The laborer producing ever more wealth with the benefits of it all going to a single guy IS theft. They profit off that labor and the larger the profit margin on unit hour worked, the more they are stealing.
Yes, even though Ike beat Robert Taft in the GOP 1952 primaries, Taft’s platform is what was subsequently fully implemented by the GOP and complicit Democrats by the end of the 20th century.
Thank you Sam for not trotting out the well known Eisenhower meme, of him informing the public of the MIC. I give Ike credit for the items Sam brings up, and our Interstate Highway system, but he had many failings also, some pointed out above. But the MIC issue bugs me as much as anything about the man. How courageous was it to warn the people about the MIC problem, as your going out the door, when he could have broken the corrupt system when it was young and not nearly as established as it is today, and had 8 years to do so. This would have also kept our “intelligence” agencies in check too. Knowing the level of corruption we live under today from this system, and the millions it has killed around the world, destroying the MIC could have been his crowning achievement.
I don’t have a reference, but I’ve heard progressives say that Nixon getting credit for the EPA is misplaced. The people and Congress were headed in that direction and Nixon wanted to get out in front so he’d still be thought of as the leader, but wasn’t inclined to do this otherwise. On China, I’ve not heard pushback. Of course the guys crimes in SE Asia are off the charts and advisors talked of how often he was drunk on the job and feared for his control of nuclear weapons.
On Eisenhower, I don’t really care if he gets a memorial or not - it would be nice if there was some discussion at the memorial itself of his crimes of overthrow and the lost opportunity to smooth relations over with the USSR because of the Dulles brothers.
Maybe he didn’t think it could be done Recon ?
Personally, I don’t think he could have. And I do appreciate this article from Sam Pizzagati !
Ike repeats what Abe said so many decades before:
"But it has so happened in all ages of the world, that some have laboured, and others have , without labour, enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits. This is wrong, and should not continue."
@Birchie, on another thread, said much the same as the gist of this article lays out - that the New Deal was exceptional in its creation of a more egalitarian society.
I was impressed greatly by Birchie’s comment that all wealth should go the way of the Dodo bird, something I have alluded to in past posts - something hinted at in John Kenneth Galbraith’s “The Affluent Society”.
Affluence = excess - in other words - and excess is the opposite of sanity.
But that’s a really hard sell - as hard as dismantling the predatory capitalist system in place today.
I think it was just as hard in Ike’s time.
A five star General is unlikely to be a fool in practical matters.
It is almost impossible for me to comprehend a time when the wealthy with incomes of over $400,000 were taxed at 91% !
But it was so - and it reinforces the words I am hearing in that new book of mine by complexity social scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon - that ‘anything is possible’, and that hope in a true sense requires uncertainty.
Just as an aside - perhaps a coincidental aside;
‘anything is possible’ is in a way the basis of modern quantum theory.
Be that as it may, I am thinking what Ike went thru is what JFK went thru - all out non-asymmetric war.
That would ground you as surely as a great mountain will.
As Anatoli Boukreev was fond of saying - “The mountain decides”.
Agree with you that Nixon supported certain New Deal type measures only to stay in power. The Zeitgeist of the 30’s and 40’s still influenced Washington thinking. Whatever his motivation, he got a few things right. It is hard to believe he was the last president who advocated having a national healthcare system.
Yes. The New Deal era was the only time in all of European history that large masses of people did not live in abject poverty and suffering, brutalized by their overlords.
Pizzigati is incorrect, however, that it was the first time on Earth that such misery and disparity did not exist. That’s whacked. Indigenous people all over the world, many of whom were still without contact with westerners in the early 20th century, had very egalitarian societies. Some didn’t maybe, but overall they were all far more equitable societies, and no they didn’t have masses of starving brutalized people in their societies. I can provide lots of historical quotes to the contrary.
But let’s get back to the fact that we are ALWAYS oppressed in Euro-cultures. WTF? What is it going to take? Because it’s not just the people at the top. Part of the inability of this culture to change is related to my other comment. The people are terrified to change, because no matter how bad it is (and it is bad) they believe they are still better off than everyone else ever has been in all 300,000 years of modern human existence. Sam Pizzagati tells them that this is how things are right here in this article.
It’s not true! Lots of people have been happier than we are. Lots of people had more food than Europeans. Lots of people had greater freedom, democracy, and equality than we have now, and they had it for thousands of years.
But that sneaky white supremacy and mythical American exceptionalism just keeps popping its ugly head up everywhere. Gawdalmighty.
There is no logical, moral, or material justification for wealth. Wealth is anti-life.
“Maybe he didn’t think it could be done Recon.”
Not sure I believe that, lets not forget at the start of Ike’s first term the MIC was in it’s infancy, and didn’t exist as we know it, before WWII. And it wasn’t the behemoth we have today. As you bring up, he was a military man who had commanded all US forces in the war, not an everyday politician, and knew better than most the danger in letting these fascist entities take control of parts of our government behind the scenes. I credit him for bringing it to the publics attention, but his administration use it, by allowing Nazi’s into our government, Korea, plans for Castro’s assassination, Vietnam, etc., and allowed it to grow for 8 years, then handed the growing problem off to the American people.
Anatoli Boukreev, same climber who was part of the 1996 Everest disaster, and I think killed on Annapurna a few months later?
Yes indeed Recon. His book. “The Climb”, is all about his side of that tale. From his book I actually used his Soviet way of acclimatizing on my one and only high altitude mountain - and it worked like magic. Another book, “Above the Clouds”, was about Anatoli and written by his American girlfriend Linda Wylie - and gives a fuller picture of this remarkable individual, coming as he did, from the Cold War Soviet Union into the winner take all world of competitive mountaineering as a guide.
A real tragedy his death on Annapurna - a winter ascent with Simone Moro and one other man. I saw Simone Moro at the Banff Film Festival a number of years ago. He survived the fall on Annapurna when the cornice above him broke - both Anatoli and the other climber were below and were never found - something like an 800 foot plummet as I recall - miraculous that anyone lived.
As for Ike - well - nobody’s perfect, that’s for sure - the good and the bad - they go together.
But remember Recon. the US had already saved the day in WW I, and by the end of WW II I think everyone knew that the MIC was already established and in fact won the war on our side - the Soviets won the war also from their geographical location - the big squeeze converged on Hitler’s Germany.
Yamamoto declared to his Japanese compatriots that he had toured the US before the war and found your industrial might awesome - even then.
So I wouldn’t be too hard on Ike - he did his best to his way of thinking - what more can we ask ?
These politicians, like Ike and JFK - they were parachuted into a world not of their own making - look what happened to John when he went after the MIC ! Then his little brother payed the same price.
So maybe Ike wasn’t a martyr - I can understand that.
You know Birchie - I spent all my money after a career in the oilpatch of western Canada and climbed full-time for seven years, ‘for to see an’ for to admire’, as Robert Louis Stevenson put it.
I was broke and in debt when I met my future wife, Underacanoe, she 26, me 52. Our son Cloudrunner is now 15.
My name - it was given to me by a friend, a climbing bud from Chile ~
A pleasure to make your acquaintance !
Thank you. More on the article, I do love how the writer calls Euros WEIRDos. That’s good. That is true.
I like what he said about universalizing. That one makes me crazy. Absolutely bonkers. It’s an usurpation of god-like powers. It is more than assuming that special, little 'ol I can represent all people. It assumes knowledge no human can possess. We are always saying “all people have XYZ,” and we list them. “All people have war. All people had slavery. All people were starving before we fed them, blah, blah, blah.”
No human alive can know what “all people” have been like. It’s not even remotely possible.
This is straight out of our Judeo-Christian heritage where we universalized all the time about God. God wants this, and God hates that, and God sees things in just such and such way . . . , the high priest at the front of “God’s house” told us for over 1200 years.
We say we had an enlightenment, but that’s bullshit. Nothing changed. We kept all the materialism, all the stratification, all the patriarchy, all the misogyny, and we just rationalized things differently. And we became the supreme power on Earth with our thinly veiled humanism.
Universalizing deserves its own chapter in why WEIRDos are weird. That’s just one.
There are so many others. The bizarro intellectualizing, and objectifying of EVERYTHING. Your author mentions that, too. The way we divide every aspect of reality into separate and interchangeable parts. The second part of dividing everything up into separate, unrelated and isolated “things,” is the belief in a logical progression which tells us that if we are only clever enough and work hard enough to figure it out, we can make techno-magical wonders, we can do anything, and we don’t need anything else but our own specialness. It’s our mechanistic view of reality, as opposed to an organic view of Life.
Yeah. That’s a good article you pointed out. He gets a lot.
I thought so too Birchie.
We are all trying our best to work our way out of this mess - and articles like the one about WEIRDO’s are attempts to think outside our self-constructed boxes.
There’s much farther to go I imagine - your “organic view of life” is a good way of putting it.
The Seven Years War, also called the French and Indian War (ca 1754/56 to 1763) was regarded by Winston Churchill, if I a remember correctly, as the first truly global conflict.
That was followed by WW I & WW II, basically the subject of this thread.
In my view, these three wars are showing us the breakdown of WEIRD Civilization, one after another.
Canaries in the coalmine.
There are many dead canaries these days.
I’m never sure intellectually why I’m here on Common Dreams - and that’s significant.
Because I’m here thru instinct - and I believe that will be a key player if we are to survive this wholesale assault on the natural world.
Pardon me if I continue this conversation ~
I was just reading the huge comment tread on the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg, and realized I wanted to come back here.
I’ve got a domestic cat behind me on the couch - Spots - and he’s zoned out. He lives for the attention we give him, and that of our second cat Stormy.
He and Stormy are domesticated - like much of humanity.
On page 147 of this book “Commanding Hope” by Thomas Homer-Dixon, complexity social scientist at the University of Waterloo, he is discussing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (see link - the pyramid graph)
“Some regard Maslow’s theory as outdated, especially his concept of self-actualization, which is the motivating need at the top of the hierarchy; and we must all recognize that huge numbers of people around the planet have little prospect of reaching the pyramid’s top levels, because they’re struggling on a day-to-day basis to satisfy their most basic needs.”
OK - back to wealth and affluence being “anti-life” - back to my zoned out domesticated Spots.
Why is it not possible to achieve all of these ‘compartmentalized’ levels in this pyramid while
“struggling on a day-to-day basis to satisfy their most basic needs.” ???
It seems to me I did that all my life, and when I could do exactly what I wanted, free of obligations for the first time, I went mountaineering.
One step at a time - referred to as ‘the grunt’ - but if one does this full time it quickly becomes apparent that it is no grunt at all. In fact, each step is a small work of art - balance and precision and situational awareness are actually the key to success - to life - it is a form of meditation, a professional psychologist once told me when I described what I did.
We were designed to struggle, n’est pa ?
What happens to us when life is easy ???
Zoned-out cat on the couch - an African hunter trying to survive domestication.
Now I am confused. Why is it not possible to achieve compartmentalized levels? I don’t know what that means.
Life isn’t “levels.” That’s the western view. Everything is hierarchical, and I mean everything, to us. I’m not sure reality is hierarchical. Rather, it is all interdependent. Power is not a one-way street.
Anything can be a work of art. In indigenous societies clothes, canoes, baskets, weapons, drums, pipes, jewelry, headdresses, and many other things were works of art. Dance and culture was a work of art. The work of being human was the biggest project of all. But it wasn’t about talents and drives. It was the opposite. It was your inner life, your “connection” to power, your own and that outside of you.
I am friends with a very famous shaman, a Yupik woman who is one of the international 13 indigenous grandmothers. She once told me how when she was a young wife and mother she lived apart from her family in certain ways one to two weeks of every month. She did not eat nor touch any meat. She didn’t cook meat for her family. She did many other things. After she described how she lived in this traditional way, she told me, “It was how I kept my power.”
I’m here to tell you, that woman has some power. She is the real deal.
We were designed to struggle? Feeding and sheltering ourselves can be a struggle. Most of our struggles, however, especially in the dominant culture are self-created. Anthropologists say that tribal people around the world “worked” about 20 hours a week. The rest of the time they did whatever they wanted. If you read history, read what the original Euros arriving here had to say, thousands and thousands of early colonists chose to live with the Native Americans for that much freer, more joyous life. No Native Americans wanted to live with white people.
The following was written by Benjamin Franklin in a letter to a man named Peter Collinson in 1753.
The proneness of human Nature to a life of ease, of freedom from care and labour appears strongly in the little success that has hitherto attended every attempt to civilize our American Indians, in their present way of living, almost all their Wants are supplied by the spontaneous Productions of Nature, with the addition of very little labour, if hunting and fishing may indeed be called labour when Game is so plenty, they visit us frequently, and see the advantages that Arts, Sciences, and compact Society procure us, they are not deficient in natural understanding and yet they have never shewn any Inclination to change their manner of life for ours, or to learn any of our Arts; When an Indian Child has been brought up among us, taught our language and habituated to our Customs, yet if he goes to see his relations and make one Indian Ramble with them, there is no perswading him ever to return, and that this is not natural [to them] merely as Indians, but as men, is plain from this, that when white persons of either sex have been taken prisoners young by the Indians, and lived a while among them, tho’ ransomed by their Friends, and treated with all imaginable tenderness to prevail with them to stay among the English, yet in a Short time they become disgusted with our manner of life, and the care and pains that are necessary to support it, and take the first good Opportunity of escaping again into the Woods, from whence there is no reclaiming them. One instance I remember to have heard, where the person was brought home to possess a good Estate; but finding some care necessary to keep it together, he relinquished it to a younger Brother, reserving to himself nothing but a gun and a match-Coat, with which he took his way again to the Wilderness.
Eisenhower backed the corrupt and authoritarian Diem regime in Vietnam and is listed as one of the first US Vietnam War presidents. This is something that hardly anyone mentions when they start singing his praises or talking about who was to blame for that horrible war. Also, he was given the authorization in 1959 to implement the Food Stamp program, but chose not to use it - Kennedy did.
Kansans love to brag about being the state that the great “Ike” was from, even naming an airport for him in Wichita, but I’m not a big fan of what he did with the power he had.
I am enjoying talking to you Birchie !
I was not clear enough in my reply - sorry for the confusion.
I agree - my experience is that just living well, on the path as the Buddhists say, removes all compartmentalization -
This breaking things into pieces is a scientific trick - it works after a fashion but a lot of scientists are rapidly coming to the realization that a holistic approach is needed.
This could get complicated - too many words from different worldviews and mindsets.
I agree with all you say, and yes, I am totally familiar with the observations of Benjamin Franklin.
When I was in Apache country, New Mexico and Arizona, back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I read read John C. Cremony’s “Life Among the Apaches”, and exploring that southwest desert landscape, as I did year after year, I came to so admire the Apache’s original ways - original democrats was the way Cremony put it.
But I do think struggle is part of life - if not for food and shelter, then to learn to live with the great mystery that is life.
As our explorations of the universe proceed - we edge closer and closer to this way of thinking, some of us anyway.
If I have shamans, they are the explorers - physical, scientific and intellectual.
And yes - anything can be a work of art - if dedication and passion are added to tradework.