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This time we're goin' for the whole ball of wax

Not everything you read at Counterpunch is as good as Father Smiff's recent low-Mametic blow. Take this offering:

... titled New Deal Nostalgia by one of those new radical rainbow hypenates, Dunbar-Ortiz.

Off the top — here's a passage striking a bogus brass bell:

"By 1880, a little over fifty percent of the U.S. population was farming, but the proportion declined to seventeen percent in 1940 and then to about two percent today. The decline to 17 percent in 1940 was largely due to New Deal policies to industrialize agriculture. What happened to those who would have become farmers? Were they no longer needed? Growing food remained and will remain a necessity, but large corporations took over the land and displaced individual farmers. Patriotism — in the form of allegiance to a distant government, with its flag and other symbols, with its wars in distant lands — has filled the black hole left by the loss of land and a way of life they loved."
The New Deal — a death star to yeomanry? Read on.

"New Deal policies were themselves designed to end subsistence farming. Farmers could have survived with government assistance, but the New Deal allowed banks to foreclose and destroyed surplus food production to maintain high prices, while people were starving. The government could have bought and distributed the food they destroyed ("dumped in the ocean," my father used to say)."
To what devil's end?

"the Dust Bowl refugees were put to work picking cotton and fruit for agribusiness in California, the Northwest, and Arizona, driving out the Mexican farm workers, until the United States entered World War II, and the Dust Bowl refugees went to work in the war industry. All those angry ex-farmers and wannabe farmers making bombs and fighter planes, whole new generations following in that nasty work, a good many other of them serving in the military, now a business, not a civic duty. They get to drop the bombs and man the guns on the tanks that the others manufacture. Subsistence farmers, small farmers, like peace — not war that takes away their young sons, and now daughters. Getting rid of them, reducing them to a tiny minority, has made military recruitment and passive acceptance of war much easier than during World War I, when farmers rose up in rebellion, as did workers, against a "war for big business," which all modern wars are."

"Subsistence farmers, small farmers, like peace — not war." Could ya expect to find a more flat-footed raw-bar nugget of kandy korn retro guff — even in a month of secular Sundays?

There's a lesson drawn: "As we search for historical models, it is important that we be fearless in what we draw from them." In this case, according to our radical hyphenate, Howie Zinn sums up the New Deal just right:
"capitalism remained intact. The rich still controlled the nation's wealth, as well as its laws, courts, police, newspapers, churches, colleges. Enough help had been given to enough people to make Roosevelt a hero to millions, but the same system that had brought depression and crisis — the system of waste, of inequality, of concern for profit over human need — remained."

The message?

"When we envisage the New Deal as our model for social change, we are accepting the permanence of capitalism and assuming it can be reformed, and we are separating the state from capitalism, rather than acknowledging that the US state is a plutocracy"

Now why does such a black and white checker pattern portrait of the New Deal and arsenal of democracy render me — fatigued?

Because its center of gravity, the point this thought field condenses to, exists somewhere between hapless bald earth nonsense, and all or zero noodledom. Premise: we need to suggest refoms that burst the bonds of "the system... be realistic and imagine the impossible."

I suggest we find the boundaries of the real and push them for a burst through. Want a for-instance? The arsenal of democracy is a fine figurative blueprint for a clean green automated production machine for Norte America.

This time we don't build a better death star.

RLCC Comment: We need voluntary land reform. Help us to translate mammon into land to raise food for everyone.

Link to source-webpage by Thomas, obtained via:, April 3, 2008, 5:13pm


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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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