Guest Post: Masks of Greedy Hands: Eagerly for, of, by Government
FROM THE PHONE BOOTH: The Smallest Space in Hollywood
by Steve Finefrock, Hollywood Conservative Forum
Analysts of liberalism include William Allen White, whose “Masks in a Pageant” includes this analysis in its introduction:
“[T]he liberal movement in world politics has had its rise, its day of power, its hour of tragedy and its passing. The liberal movement sought to make government an agency of human welfare. One of the major mistakes of the liberal leaders was that they sought to make government the only agency of human welfare. They forgot that masses who require the stimulation of a just prosperity for their happy well-being must themselves first learn to love justice in their own hearts before they can get much out of prosperity except food and clothes and shelter. Liberal governments brought much prosperity to Christendom, distributed the prosperity with something like equity – only to find that the classes they had improved materially were just as greedy and dull as their oppressors had been in the days before liberalism broke with the rusted chains of economic feudalism. Government helped as an agency of human welfare; it failed as the only agency.”
These insights are written in a different style than we normally encounter; they are observations still valid in this political era, though published in 1930 [written in 1928]. Before FDR had gotten his patrician paws on our economy, the Court and media – before the stock market crash had devolved into the Depression – before White would see the next rise of liberalism’s determination to be, if not the only agent, the primary and dominant [and domineering] agent of public welfare. History repeats itself, more than a mere echo or rhyme, more like a rampaging, repetitive reverberation of distraction, and destruction.
White writes about the late 19th century politicians, then through Wilson’s term, and a bit of a wrap with Harding. When his analysis of that era hit the book stands, Hoover was just wrestling with the growing grief of his gargantuan reputation [hard to imagine, but know it to be true: Hoover’s worldwide and domestic reputation was bigger at his peak than Reagan’s]. White’s long paragraph above erroneously credits liberalism with breaking the rusted chains of feudalism – a common mistake for the democrat author [though raised a republican] unlearned, and uninterested in learning, about how capitalism works to free us from medieval and mercantilist concepts of government decisions giving and government decisions taking away. White had no idea how government of Robin Hood’s Sheriff of Nottingham was to be repeated in FDR’s sheriff-like manner. It was yet still a wee bit down history’s yellow-brick road.
And White gets it wrong that liberalism ‘distributed’ the bounty of capitalism’s affluence, fairly or not – that is the process of the marketplace, a zipcode rarely frequented by democrats, then or now. But he did get it as right, and Right, as more recently has been set forth by Bill Bennett, Ronald Reagan, Hugh Hewitt, Charles Krauthammer, Dennis Prager, et al – that the needy classes “materially were just as greedy and dull as their oppressors” in the form of the coming unfettered power given unions by FDR’s dictum disguised as a mere Executive Order.
The copy of “Masks in a Pageant” in my hands is fragile – a special library loan, with instructions to be tender and caring in handling it. One recent op-ed cited “Masks” as the best rendering of political analysis of this period, and so it was a surprise to find the cited paragraph almost immediately. But not encouraging, since this repeat of stupidity is the continuing central cause of our agonies. That liberalism had been so identified – in its pre-1960 and pre-1932 definitions – as ultimately failing to deal with the urgent human needs for meaning – and to “love justice in their own hearts” at this distant marker in our history – is deeply discouraging.
Some wag has said that no one learns from history, another says that such folks are destined to repeat its mistakes. Still a third notes that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure do rhyme! All three are illustrated by this wee tiny discovery. As Reagan was maturing, and Bennett was learning, and Hewitt was yet to be a glint in his parents’ eye, William Allen White identified the problem that would plague us again, in FDR’s realm reaching to LBJ’s failed Great Society.
And which Barack wishes to visit upon us also – Have we not learned? Oh, WE have learned, we on the Right are on the Right because we have learned so very well these enduring insights. But America? The voters?
That’s our mission, to create a Weapon of Mass Instruction, and teach why conservatism is The Right Way, as in the correct way, to guide a government constructed of men who carry the burden of mankind’s flaws and sins. As I must be careful while handling “Masks in a Pageant” so we must be careful in handling how America sees conservatism – for a repeat again, a third repeat, after White’s documented era, followed by FDR’s era [culminating in LBJ’s not-so-Great-Society], might well be the one that breaks the American economic camel’s back.
Liberalism has twice had its supposed passing – let’s hope not to give it a chance to be thrice. That would not be nice, for us or others, which if America goes the way already taken by the rest of the world, then ask: Who will lead them back from the abyss, which so many foreign governments approach with their eyes blinded by socialism’s magic appeal? Reagan and White are dead – their observations are still very much alive and with us. That rhyme of the current time of Obama could be the last poem of American epic economic history.
Unfortunately it is not quite true – that “liberal … politics has had its rise, its day of power, its hour of tragedy and its passing” – for it continues its Greedy Hand [a term coined by “Common Sense” author Thomas Paine, of revolutionary fame], visible in those gesticulating pawings of Obama’s appendages as he greases the proctoscope for our body politic. That Greedy Hand does not believe its ‘hour of tragedy’ has had its passing.
They are striving for a third-time’s-the-charm return to power. And the Golden Dancer [see next Phone Booth] candidate may well inherit the wind of FDR and LBJ’s socialistic dreams. If not the Golden Dancer, maybe his Silver Sister in pants-suited cackles. Either way, the future will be turned into leaden decline.
Third time’s the Harm …. either of them in The Oval will put us, the U.S., into Harm’s Way, turning our economic fleet over to the socialist enemy, and enema, of this Most Important Nation. This third time at the proctologist will make their first two procto-politcos – FDR and LBJ – smile in their graves. JFK’s eternal flame of economic meddling will glow a bit brighter on that inaugural day, should either the Golden Dancer or Silver Sister take the oath.
And William Allen White’s 1930 book’s introduction will again be prescient, and an echo, a rhyme. And scary, petrifying proctologic provenance.