FDR, The Benign Dictator

President George H.W. Bush, speaking on the 5th anniversary of FDR’s “Four Freedoms” speech, called him “our greatest American political pragmatist” and praised him for having “brilliantly enunciated the 20th-century vision of our Founding Fathers’ commitment to individual liberty.” In 1996, Wild Bill Clinton claimed that government should foster and protect those same “Four Freedoms,”  as did George W. Bush in 2003 during his “Mission Accomplished” speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. 

In 1941, FDR during the State of the Union address,  FDR articulated to Congress the Four Freedoms he believed that every man should be entitled to, regardless of where he lived, the first two of which, freedom of speech and religion, are guaranteed to Americans under the First Amendment. However the second two freedoms that FDR stressed, freedom from want and fear, were and still are today a mark of Socialism.

While pretending to “recognize” the freedom of speech, FDR went on to explain that “a free nation has the right to expect full cooperation from all groups…The best way of dealing with the few slackers or trouble makers in our midst is, first, to shame them by patriotic example, and, if that fails, to use the sovereignty of government to save government.”  FDR’s “suggestion” that government should guarantee his Four Freedoms and his statement that government could and should suppress dissent, left many worried that he was looking for an extreme expansion of government power.  How right they were because regardless of its authoritarian overtones, FDR’s Four Freedoms doctrine quickly became enshrined in American political mythology.

The Four Freedoms became a primary justification for the creation of the United Nations which FDR helped establish after the war.  His wife, Eleanor, worked to have them included in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

During his 1944 State of the Union, FDR decided to dip his toe deeper into the socialist pool by suggesting that our Bill of Rights were “inadequate” to assure us “equality” in the pursuit of happiness.  The solution he offered was a new bill of rights, specifically an economic bill of rights because “true individual freedom can’t exist without economic security.”  And “security included “the right to a useful and remunerative job,”  “the right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;”  as well as a “decent home,” adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health” and, “the right to a good education.”  These specific rights, he claimed, would not only guarantee America’s security but would guarantee America’s place in the world.   And of course, it would also allow government to stick their nose into the lives of every American. 

Roosevelt also declared that liberty required “the right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which would give him and his family a decent living.”  In other words, government should inflate food prices high enough to keep the nation’s least efficient farmer behind his mule and plow.  Of course all this economic freedom required unlimited federal control over every farm.

Economic freedom also required “the right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition.”  And naturally this new right could only be secured by giving bureaucrats unlimited control over the private sector.   

Only two years earlier Congress had enacted the Emergency Price Control Act, which created an Office of Price Administration with sweeping power to set prices that were “generally fair and equitable,” or to strike down prices in practically any industry.   The US Supreme Court upheld the law in 1944 but Justice Owen Roberts dissented saying the “Act creates personal government by a petty tyrant instead of government by law.” Pundits and progressives who are whooping up Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights almost always ignore perhaps the biggest surprise in his speech.   

While speaking of new rights, FDR scooped George Orwell’s 1984 by revealing that slavery was freedom – or at least “close enough for government work.”   He urged Congress to enact a “National Service Law” which for the duration of the war would make “available for war production or for any other essential services, every able-bodied adult in this Nation.” 

FDR invoked the just principle of FAIR for ONE, FAIR for ALL to justify destroying the freedom of every worker in the nation.  He promised that the Universal Conscription Act, would be a “unifying moral force” and “a means by which every man and woman can find that inner satisfaction which comes from making the fullest possible contribution to victory.” Presumably, the less freedom people had, the more satisfied they’d become. And anyone who did not feel liberated by federal commands was a bastard who deserved all the misery officialdom heaped upon them.

H.L. Mencken wisely observed, “One horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms.” Americans are still suffering because Franklin Roosevelt’s freedom bunkum was not immediately laughed off the national stage. Any politician who seeks more power today to bestow more freedom in the distant future deserve all the ridicule Americans can heave his way.

“FDR, with the approval of Congress, turned the US into a National Socialist economy…. The United States has been a National Socialist economy ever since. Some people have renamed this “capitalism.” It is not however, free market capitalism but state sponsored or “crony” capitalism, which is in line with a National Socialist economy.”  Howard Galt, Editor,  A Conscious Conservative  

Source:  FDR’s Worst Perversion of Freedom: The “Four Freedoms” Speech, Mises; The “Four Freedoms” Speech: FDR’s Worst Perversion of Freedom, Foundation for Economic Education;  1944 State of the Union Address, Teaching American History.org

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