Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day

I wish all of you a happy Labor Day. Here's to hoping that millions of Americans will be able to get back to work, feel productive once again, and are able to feed themselves and their families. Government is not the problem. Government is the solution. Let's cross our fingers and pray that President Obama will introduce a new WPA.

"[W]e made the best of what we had because despondency, not prosperity, was just around the corner. We were more afraid of that than anything. That's why we played so hard." - Steinbeck, "A Primer on the '30s."


Anonymous said...

Obama isn't going to do shit. Just like the wall street brokers don't care about you or your existence.

Let's not be delusional here. It's quite evident that America is dying. Let's hope that she dies quickly. If I have to suffer, I might as well bring all the law school "professors" along for the ride.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

No one is delusional here. I haven't given up yet. If I had, what would be the point? I will keep fighting until there is nothing left in this body, and I have died. That's when I give up. America isn't dead yet.

One Who Survived said...

FDR's New Deal did more good than harm, I'll give him that.

However, today's America lacks the material and social resources that enabled most Americans to survive the last Depression more or less intact. In the 1930s America was the greatest manufacturing country in the world; today the manufacturing base has been outsourced overseas. In the 30s the majority of Americans still either lived on or near farms or else knew how to - and had the means to - grow their own food. Extended families with an ethos of mutual support were the norm; now even the nuclear family is fragile.
And the majority of so-called "conservatives" (ie nationalist-socialists who fetishise the military) have jettisoned the traditional Augustinian/Thomistic mandate of charity for the superstitious worship of "the market".

In other words, America's social conditions and commonly held assumptions about basic decency were part and parcel of how and why the New Deal's medicine was just enough of a material and moral booster to keep most Americans afloat. The New Deal (whose main effect was to restore hope and morale) was like medicine, but medicine isn't food; you can't live on it.

When the last Depression began, my father's family were better off than most, but still they had to improvise in ways including mutual support throughout the extended family. In 1929 my Grandfather's automobile company went bankrupt, and consequently he was on the edge of ruin; consequently he rented a 70 acre farm around 10 miles from the city (this was 1929 before major suburban developments) and worked off his debt while feeding his family; he was able to do so only because he had learned how to farm as a boy. Dad told me stories about him and his cousins going to their uncle to have their shoe-soles repaired. In their extended family, their Scottish-born grandmother contributed a lot to child-rearing her several dozen grandchildren, thus freeing up her daughters-in-law for other kinds of productive work on their husbands' small farms or businesses. They were a safety net for each other, and they bartered goods and services with their neighbours.

And all of those improvisations - described in the above paragraph - of my Dad's extended family in the last Depression, were CONTRARY to the Ayn Randian fantasy of "the market"! And yet they weren't "socialist" either; they were, rather, the way most people survived through hard times for most of history. Well, at least for the last 1,000 years or so, before which our Viking ancestors survived mainly by murder and theft, which is pretty much what today's American economy is based on.

At any rate, I agree partly that government needs to be PART of the solution, but civil society is the other part, and to reform civil society will require more inventive, more creative - and I say, more reactionary, more restorative - means than the so-called "Left" have been inclined to think about. Preciously nattering about "race and gender and sexual orientation" isn't categorically wrong, but it doesn't address the roots of the problems.