A SAID POEM
for Ronald and Beatrice Gross
"I have seen the future, and it doesn't work," said Robert Fulford.
"If there weren't any Poland, there wouldn't be any Poles," said Alfred Jarry.
"We aren't making the film they contracted for," said Robert Flaherty.
In 1845 an interesting thematic precursor using the descriptive phrase "mystic rhyme" was printed in the publication "The Christian Remembrancer":
"The vision recurs; the eastern sun has a second rise; history repeats her tale unconsciously, and goes off into a mystic rhyme; ages are prototypes of other ages, and the winding course of time brings us round to the same spot again."
I was going to quiz you, but I decided to get straight to the point. Below are two inaugural speeches; the first from Franklin Delano Roosevelt; the latter from Adolf Hitler. Both of these speeches profoundly inspired their respective constituencies. The rhetoric echoes a dire sense of emergency.
Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes administers the constitutional oath of office to Franklin Delano Roosevelt as it occurred on March 4, 1933. President Roosevelt's inaugural address follows.
President Hoover, Mr. Chief Justice, my friends: This is a day of national consecration, and I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our nation impels.
This is pre-eminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.
So first of all let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear. . .is fear itself. . . nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days. In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels: taxes have risen, our ability to pay has fallen, government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income, the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade, the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side, farmers find no markets for their produce, the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.
More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.
Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply.
Primarily, this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failures and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.
True, they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit, they have proposed only the lending of more money.
Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored conditions. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers.
They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.
The money changers have fled their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths.
The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.
Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money, it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow-men.
Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be values only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit, and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing.
Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.
Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This nation asks for action, and action now.
Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously.
It can be accompanied in part by direct recruiting by the government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our national resources.
Hand in hand with this, we must frankly recognize the over-balance of population in our industrial centers and, by engaging on a national scale in a redistribution, endeavor to provide a better use of the land for those best fitted for the land.
The task can be helped by definite efforts to raise the values of agricultural products and with this the power to purchase the output of our cities.
It can be helped by preventing realistically the tragedy of the growing loss, through foreclosure, of our small homes and our farms.
It can be helped by insistence that the Federal, State, and local governments act forthwith on the demand that their cost be drastically reduced.
It can be helped by the unifying of relief activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical and unequal. It can be helped by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications and other utilities which have a definitely public character.
There are many ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be helped merely by talking about it. We must act, and act quickly.
Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order: there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people's money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.
These are the lines of attack. I shall presently urge upon a new Congress in special session detailed measures for their fulfillment, and I shall seek the immediate assistance of the several States.
Through this program of action we address ourselves to putting our own national house in order and making income balance outgo.
Our international trade relations, though vastly important, are, to point in time and necessity, secondary to the establishment of a sound national economy.
I favor as a practical policy the putting of first things first. I shall spare no effort to restore world trade by international economic readjustment, but the emergency at home cannot wait on that accomplishment.
The basic thought that guides these specific means of national recovery is not narrowly nationalistic.
It is the insistence, as a first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various elements in and parts of the United States. . . a recognition of the old and permanently important manifestation of the American spirit of the pioneer.
It is the way to recovery. It is the immediate way. It is the strongest assurance that the recovery will endure.
In the field of world policy I would dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbor. . .the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others. . .the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors.
If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize, as we have never realized before, our interdependence on each other: that we cannot merely take, but we must give as well, that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective.
We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline because it makes possibly a leadership which aims at a larger good.
This I propose to offer, pledging that the larger purposes will hind upon us all as a sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife.
With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people, dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.
Action in this image and to this end is feasible under the form of government which we have inherited from our ancestors.
Our Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement without loss of essential form.
That is why our constitutional system has proved itself the most superbly enduring political mechanism the modern world has produced. It has met every stress of vast expansion of territory, of foreign wars, of bitter internal strife, of world relations.
It is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority may be wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure.
I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require.
But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me.
I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis. . .broad executive power to wage a war against the emergency as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.
For the trust reposed in me I will return the courage and the devotion that befit the time. I can do no less.
We face the arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of national unity, with the clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moral values, with the clean satisfaction that comes from the stern performance of duty by old and young alike.
We aim at the assurance of a rounded and permanent national life.
We do not distrust the future of essential democracy. The people of the United States have not failed. In their need they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action.
They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I will take it.
In this dedication of a nation we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us! May He guide me in the days to come!
SPEECH OF MARCH 23, 1933
IN NOVEMBER, 1918, Marxist organizations seized the executive power by means of a revolution. The monarchs were dethroned, the authorities of the Reich and of the States removed from office, and thereby a breach of the Constitution was committed. The success of the revolution in a material sense protected the guilty parties from the hands of the law. They sought to justify it morally by asserting that Germany or its Government bore the guilt for the outbreak of the War.
This assertion was deliberately and actually untrue. In consequence, however, these untrue accusations in the interest of our former enemies led to the severest oppression of the entire German nation and to the breach of the assurances given to us in Wilson's fourteen points, and so for Germany, that is to say the working classes of the German people, to a time of infinite misfortune....
The splitting up of the nation into groups with irreconcilable views, systematically brought about by the false doctrines of Marxism, means the destruction of the basis of a possible communal life.... It is only the creation of a real national community, rising above the interests and differences of rank and class, that can permanently remove the source of nourishment of these aberrations of the human mind. The establishment of such a solidarity of views in the German body corporate is all the more important, for it is only thereby that the possibility is provided of maintaining friendly relations with foreign Powers without regard to the tendencies or general principles by which they are dominated, for the elimination of communism in Germany is a purely domestic German affair.
Simultaneously with this political purification of our public life, the Government of the Reich will undertake a thorough moral purging of the body corporate of the nation. The entire educational system, the theater, the cinema, literature, the Press, and the wireless - all these will be used as means to this end and valued accordingly. They must all serve for the maintenance of the eternal values present in the essential character of our people. Art will always remain the expression and the reflection of the longings and the realities of an era. The neutral international attitude of aloofness is rapidly disappearing. Heroism is coming forward passionately and will in future shape and lead political destiny. It is the task of art to be the expression of this determining spirit of the age. Blood and race will once more become the source of artistic intuition....
Our legal institutions must serve above all for the maintenance of this national community. The irremovableness of the judges must ensure a sense of responsibility and the exercise of discretion in their judgments in the interests of society. Not the individual but the nation as a whole alone can be the center of legislative solicitude. High treason and treachery to the nation will be ruthlessly eradicated in the future. The foundations of the existence of justice cannot be other than the foundations of the existence of the nation.
The Government, being resolved to undertake the political and moral purification of our public life, is creating and securing the conditions necessary for a really profound revival of religious life.
The advantages of a personal and political nature that might arise from compromising with atheistic organizations would not outweigh the consequences which would become apparent in the destruction of general moral basic values. The national Government regards the two Christian confessions as the weightiest factors for the maintenance of our nationality. It will respect the agreements concluded between it and the federal States. Their rights are not to be infringed. But the Government hopes and expects that the work on the national and moral regeneration of our nation which it has made its task will, on the other hand, be treated with the same respect....
Great are the tasks of the national Government in the sphere of economic life.
Here all action must be governed by one law: the people does not live for business, and business does not exist for capital; but capital serves business, and business serves the people. In principle, the Government will not protect the economic interests of the German people by the circuitous method of an economic bureaucracy to be organized by the State, but by the utmost furtherance of private initiative and by the recognition of the rights of property....
The Government will systematically avoid currency experiments. We are faced above all by two economic tasks of the first magnitude. The salvation of the German farmer must be achieved at all costs....
Furthermore, it is perfectly clear to the national Government that the final removal of the distress both in agricultural business and in that of the towns depends on the absorption of the army of the unemployed in the process of production. This constitutes the second of the great economic tasks. It can only be solved by a general appeasement, in applying sound natural economic principles and all measures necessary, even if, at the time, they cannot reckon with any degree of popularity. The providing of work and the compulsory labor service are, in this connection, only individual measures within the scope of the entire action proposed....
We are aware that the geographic position of Germany, with her lack of raw materials, does not fully permit of economic self-sufficiency for the Reich. It cannot be too often emphasized that nothing is further from the thoughts of the Government of the Reich than hostility to exporting. We are fully aware that we have need of the connection with the outside world, and that the marketing of German commodities in the world provides a livelihood for many millions of our fellow-countrymen.
We also know what are the conditions necessary for a sound exchange of services between the nations of the world. For Germany has been compelled for years to perform services without receiving an equivalent, with the result that the task of maintaining Germany as an active partner in the exchange of commodities is not so much one of commercial as of financial policy. So long as we are not accorded a reasonable settlement of our foreign debts corresponding to our economic capacity, we are unfortunately compelled to maintain our foreign-exchange control. The Government of the Reich is, for that reason, also compelled to maintain the restrictions on the efflux of capital across the frontiers of Germany....
The protection of the frontiers of the Reich and thereby of the lives of our people and the existence of our business is now in the hands of the Reichswehr, which, in accordance with the terms imposed upon us by the Treaty of Versailles, is to be regarded as the only really disarmed army in the world. In spite of its enforced smallness and entirely insufficient armament, the German people may regard their Reichswehr with proud satisfaction. This little instrument of our national self-defence has come into being under the most difficult conditions. The spirit imbuing it is that of our best military traditions. The German nation has thus fulfilled with painful conscientiousness the obligations imposed upon it by the Peace Treaty, indeed, even the replacement of ships for our fleet then sanctioned has, I may perhaps be allowed to say, unfortunately, only been carried out to a small extent.
For years Germany has been waiting in vain for the fulfillment of the promise of disarmament made to her by the others. It is the sincere desire of the national Government to be able to refrain from increasing our army and our weapons, insofar as the rest of the world is now also ready to fulfill its obligations in the matter of radical disarmament. For Germany desires nothing except an equal right to live and equal freedom.
In any case the national Government will educate the German people in this spirit of a desire for freedom. The national honor, the honor of our army and the ideal of freedom must once more become sacred to the German people!
The German nation wishes to live in peace with the rest of the world. But it is for this very reason that the Government of the Reich will employ every means to obtain the final removal of the division of the nations of the world into two categories. The keeping open of this wound leads to distrust on the one side and hatred on the other, and thus to a general feeling of insecurity. The national Government is ready to extend a hand in sincere understanding to every nation that is ready finally to make an end of the tragic past. The international economic distress can only disappear when the basis has been provided by stable political relations and when the nations have regained confidence in each other.
For the overcoming of the economic catastrophe three things are necessary:
Absolutely authoritative leadership in internal affairs, in order to create confidence in the stability of conditions.
The securing of peace by the great nations for a long time to come, with a view to restoring the confidence of the nations in each other.
The final victory of the principles of common sense in the organization and conduct of business, and also a general release from reparations and impossible liabilities for debts and interest.
We are unfortunately faced by the fact that the Geneva Conference, in spite of lengthy negotiations, has so far reached no practical result. The decision regarding the securing of a real measure of disarmament has been constantly delayed by the raising of questions of technical detail and by the introduction of problems that have nothing to do with disarmament. This procedure is useless.
The illegal state of one-sided disarmament and the resulting national insecurity of Germany cannot continue any longer.
We recognize it as a sign of the feeling of responsibility and of the good will of the British Government that they have endeavored, by means of their disarmament proposal, to cause the Conference finally to arrive at speedy decisions. The Government of the Reich will support every endeavor aimed at really carrying out general disarmament and securing the fulfillment of Germany's long-overdue claim for disarmament. For fourteen years we have been disarmed, and for fourteen months we have been waiting for the results of the Disarmament Conference. Even more far-reaching is the plan of the head of the Italian Government, which makes a broad-minded and far-seeing attempt to secure a peaceful and consistent development of the whole of European policy. We attach the greatest weight to this plan, and we are ready to co-operate with absolute sincerity on the basis it provides, in order to unite the four Great Powers, England, France, Italy, and Germany, in friendly co-operation in attacking with courage and determination the problems upon the solution of which the fate of Europe depends.
It is for this reason that we are particularly grateful for the appreciative heartiness with which the national renaissance of Germany has been greeted in Italy....
In the same way, the Government of the Reich, which regards Christianity as the unshakable foundation of the morals and moral code of the nation, attaches the greatest value to friendly relations with the Holy See, and is endeavoring to develop them. We feel sympathy for our brother nation in Austria in its trouble and distress. In all their doings the Government of the Reich is conscious of the connection between the destiny of all German races. Their attitude toward the other foreign Powers may be gathered from what has already been said. But even in cases where our mutual relations are encumbered with difficulties, we shall endeavor to arrive at a settlement. But in any case the basis for an understanding can never be the distinction between victor and vanquished.
We are convinced that such a settlement is possible in our relations with France, if the Governments will attack the problems affecting them on both sides in a really broadminded way. The Government of the Reich is ready to cultivate with the Soviet Union friendly relations profitable to both parties. It is above all the Government of the National Revolution which feels itself in a position to adopt such a positive policy with regard to Soviet Russia. The fight against communism in Germany is our internal affair in which we will never permit interference from outside....
We have particularly at heart the fate of the Germans living beyond the frontiers of Germany who are allied with us in speech, culture, and customs and have to make a hard fight to retain these values. The national Government is resolved to use all the means at its disposal to support the rights internationally guaranteed to the German minorities.
We welcome the plan for a World Economic Conference and approve of its meeting at an early date. The Government of the Reich is ready to take part in this Conference, in order to arrive at positive results at last. . . .
“More than 14 years have passed since that ill-fated day when, blinded by promises at home and abroad, the German volk [people] lost sight of the most valuable assets of our past and of our Reich, its honour and its freedom – and thus lost everything. Since those days of treachery, the Almighty has withheld His blessing from our Volk. Dissension and hatred have made their way into our midst. In the most profound distress, millions of the best German men and women from all walks of life watch as the unity of the nation vanishes and dissolves in a muddle of political and egotistical opinions, economic interests and differences…
HITLER’S FIRST ADDRESS AS CHANCELLOR (1933)
Adolf Hitler made his first address as chancellor in February 1933. In this extract, Hitler condemns the previous government and outlines the focus of his new regime:
The misery of our volk is appalling! The starving millions of unemployed proletarians in industry are being followed by the impoverishment of the entire Mittelstand [middle-class] and artisan professions. When this disintegration ultimately reaches the German peasants, we will be confronted by a catastrophe of unfathomable dimensions. For not only will the Reich disintegrate, but with it a 2000-year-old inheritance, the most valuable assets of human culture and civilisation.
The warning signs of this approaching disintegration are all about us. In a single gigantic offensive of willpower and violence, the communist method of madness is attempting to poison and disrupt the volk, which is shaken and uprooted to its innermost core…
Peasants, workers, and bourgeoisie must all join together to provide the building blocks for the new Reich. The government will therefore regard it as its first and foremost duty to re-establish Volksgemeinschaft – the unity of spirit and will of our volk. It will preserve and defend the foundations upon which the power of our nation rests. It will extend its strong, protecting hand over Christianity as the basis of our entire morality, and the family as the germ cell of the body of our volk and State. It will reawaken in our volk, beyond the borders of rank and class, its sense of national and political unity, and its resultant duties. It will establish reverence for our great past and pride in our old traditions as the basis for the education of our German youth. It will declare a merciless war against spiritual, political and cultural nihilism. Germany must not and will not drown in anarchistic communism…
Resolved and true to our oath, we will — in view of the present Reichstag’s inability to support this work — ask the German volk itself to take on this task we call our own. Reich President von Hindenburg has called upon us and given us the order to use our own unity to restore to the nation the chance for recovery. Thus we now appeal to the German volk to take part in signing this deed of reconciliation.
The government wants to work – and it will work. It was not this government which led the German nation into ruin for 14 years. This government wants to lead the nation to the top once more. It is determined to pay the debt of 14 years in four years. But it cannot make the work of reconstruction dependent upon the approval of those who are to blame for the collapse.
The Marxist parties and their fellow travellers have had 14 years to prove their prowess. The result is a heap of ruins. Now, German volk, give us four years, and then pass judgment upon us!
True to the order of the Field Marshal, we shall begin. May Almighty God look mercifully upon our work, lead our will on the right path, bless our wisdom, and reward us with the confidence of our volk. We are not fighting for ourselves, but for Germany!”
Today, our leaders still echo a sense of defeat, of emergency, but what are our leader's real concerns? That question is so important, and yet we seldom ask it. While our leaders deftly work to inspire fear and mobilize their base, real emergencies face our civilization – crises that most of us have been trained to ignore in favor of our desire to consume.
Although today we have access to more information than ever, we may find it hard to determine the difference between propaganda and information intended to inspire and inform.
Put aside your emotional habits, and think carefully, learn from history, read primary sources, prepare yourself for what's to come. Everything in our world is changing fast, and the remedies of the past will not help us in the twenty-first century.
We are currently facing our species' extinction – this is a fact. It's time to learn why this is so and to demand that everyone take action to prevent our destruction. The global conflagrations of the past two centuries are nothing compared to what is coming. If you are distracted, if you can't focus, if you don't have the strength to educate yourself, if you are not fit, if your mind is not healthy, you will only know horror and panic in the days to come.
I am not a doomsayer, I am a truth-teller, and I blush when I say it because it sounds so arrogant.
When you imagine yourself to be noble and righteous because you are just getting on with it, try to remember that future generations will be the most impacted by how you are getting on with it. If you turn away from reality now, you are not doing younger people any favors by paying rent and tuition. We must all speak truth to power now. Our voices must rise in concert – all of our voices across the world.
We must put aside our differences and come together as a species and determine the right way forward. We don't have a minute to waste. Organize within your community and talk about what we are facing. Don't let yourself be mesmerized by selfish leaders who are only in their position for money, power, and fame.
Do what you can to educate and enlighten those who are less interested in understanding how the world works. The full knowledge of humanity is at your fingertips – learn, discuss, and share.
In many ways, today looks like 1933. We are at a crossroads; only this time, civilization truly is at stake.
Get your inspiration from sincere teachers like Chris Hedges and Peter Josephs.