That truth should be silent I had almost forgot.
Antony and Cleopatra,  Act 1, Scene 2

Unsilent Truth
November 27, 2013

“Johnny, we hardly knew ye!”

But if that’s true, it’s our own fault.


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Enough already. Enough of the young, dead prince of November 22, 1963.

It was merely confirmation of what he stood for — what was obvious even when he was inaugurated — when The Daily Mail published its article "How JFK secretly ADMIRED Hitler: Explosive book reveals former President's praise for the Nazis as he travelled through Germany before Second World War."

Some conservatives, with their usual short-sightedness, are getting on the "O, we love John Kennedy" bandwagon because he wanted to reduce taxes or because he said that the only way to increase state revenues was for the economy to be more productive.

They should have read Ayn Rand's essay "The Fascist New Frontier," but of course they are too involved with absurd attacks on her to do that.

Well, then, maybe Time magazine or The New Republic.

On April 11, 1962, JFK (make that "Kennedy" — he had a name; he wasn't some demigod, some peer of the realm or supermodel needing only initials) gave a televised speech attacking the steel industry for raising its prices $6 per ton.

Showing his complete lack of understanding of how economies work, he said:

Simultaneous and identical actions of United States Steel and other leading steel corporations increasing steel prices by some $6 a ton constitute a wholly unjustifiable and irresponsible defiance of the public interest. In this serious hour in our Nation's history when we are confronted with grave crises in Berlin and Southeast Asia, when we are devoting our energies to economic recovery and stability, when we are asking reservists to leave their homes and their families for months on end and servicemen to risk their lives — and four were killed in the last two days in Viet Nam — and asking union members to hold down their wage requests at a time when restraint and sacrifice are being asked of every citizen, the American people will find it hard, as I do, to accept a situation in which a tiny handful of steel executives whose pursuit of private power and profit exceeds their sense of public responsibility can show such utter contempt for the interests of 185 million Americans.
In case you missed it, notice how he dared to exploit the deaths of men (perhaps conscripts) sent to Vietnam under his policies in an attempt to rally hostility to the steel companies. Americans still fall for this line, and, of course, Kennedy was not the first to use it. Note also how foreign policy (called by Kennedy "defense") affects domestic policy, a point Walter Karp was at pains to make in his book The Politics of War (discussed in TLD by David T. Wright).

The real window to the soul and political ideology (dare we apply that word to a Democrat? dare we apply it to a Kennedy?) of John Kennedy comes near the end when he says:

Price and wage decisions in this country, except for a very limited restriction in the case of monopolies and national emergency strikes, are and ought to be freely and privately made. But the American people have a right to expect, in return for that freedom, a higher sense of business responsibility for the welfare of their country than has been shown in the last two days.
Ayn Rand, of course, was all over that remark:
Here is an explicit declaration by the President of the United States that freedom is not an inalienable right of the individual, but a conditional favor or privilege granted to him by society (by "the people" or the collective) — a privilege which he has to purchase by performing some sort of duty in return. Should he fail in that duty, "the people" have the "right" to abrogate his freedom and return him to his natural condition of slavery. Rights, according to this concept, are the property of the collective, not of the individual. This is the basic principle of statism. (Page 7 of the NBI booklet — you can hear the original speech here.)
Now, the first thing I want to say about Kennedy's remarks is that today they seem almost passé. By 2009 — already four years past — America's Luo president would not have to stop at such remarks. He simply unilaterally — by which I mean without congressional authorization — assumed control of automobile companies, discontinued some models, subsidized others, and objected that executives dared to fly around in their own company jets. And because Americans had become used to being pushed around like that, they whimpered and rode to Washington in automobiles, or maybe they took a Greyhound bus. Or rode Segways. I don't quite remember. And Americans applauded.

What I do remember is that they didn't tell Obama to go to hell, which was (and still is, by the way) their right.

But back in those innocent days when presidents could still ride around in convertibles, Time magazine, in its issue of April 20, 1962, called the speech (and the subsequent undertakings by Congress and agencies in response to it) "one of the most savage sustained attacks ever launched by a U.S. President against big business."

And on April 30, The New Republic carried an article by Charles A. Reich titled "Another Such Victory ..." in which he wrote:

[H]ow far can a President go in demanding, without the authority of legislation, that private business conform to administration policy?... In a free society, there can be no unitary public interest, no single, authoritatively fixed idea of "the public good." Freedom has little meaning if it only allows action that "responsibly" conforms to the President's idea of the national interest.... [Kennedy's] victory is still disquieting. It demonstrates how much power government has today. Such power, no matter how wisely exercised, is hardly any less frightening because the victim forced to surrender was a group of corporate giants and not a small business or a private citizen.... Who, no matter what his legal rights, will challenge the President hereafter? Most businesses are more, not less, in need of favorable public opinion than steel.... Private citizens, having seen giants felled, are not likely to take on the victor.... Much of what Mr. Kennedy accomplished by pressure of government power he will hereafter be able to command by the subtlest suggestion.... Will business now come crawling to government to seek its pleasure? And, what is more important, will individual citizens fear to disagree with "national policy"? President Kennedy's victory may have advanced peace and plenty, but it did no service to freedom.
We can concede that Kennedy's assassination was a tragedy, in that it saddled the country with the infinitely more tyrannical Lyndon Johnson. And, of course, it was Kennedy who foisted Johnson on us when he picked him to run as vice president so that he could win Texas — which, in the event, he did not need. (Kennedy won 303 electoral votes, Nixon 219, and Harry Byrd 15. Texas in those days supplied 24 votes.) But let's not suppose that the intellectuals and the philosophy that Kennedy foisted on us would have been ineffective in bringing us to the stage of serfdom at which we now find ourselves. They were talented propagandists who forged the myth of America's Camelot and dazzled Americans with celebrity. And the two ideas they filled the bubbleheads of the 1960s with were service to the state and "Ask not — don't dare."   Ω

November 27, 2013

Published in 2013 by WTM Enterprises.

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