11 September 2011

Wisdom from beyond the ages....

Now writing, albeit far too infrequently from New York City, my sojourn here has led me to study in somewhat more depth the History of this influential country, perhaps with a view to understanding more of the roots of the massive issues facing it and by extension the entire world. Whilst reasonably familiar with US history, at least up to the end of the Napoleonic wars and during the Civil War, the remainder of the period up to the end of World War I remained something of a murky one. I was inspired by a picture of president Obama working at a desk. The history of this desk, The Resolute desk, was that it was given to arguably one of the least well-known presidents (at least for British audiences) Rutherford B. Hayes , the 19th President of that country, by Queen Victoria during a period of gradual closening of relations between the two countries, carved from the hull of a ship, H.M.S Resolute which had been lost in the Arctic Circle and recovered by the USA.

Studying Hayes, a Republican from the 19th Century, I was struck by how sensible he seemed, and how this speech could provide a wake -up call both for Tea Party extremists who claim to represent the 'authentic' Spirit of the US, and Left wing extremists who think that any 'DWEM' 'Dead White European Male' (Hayes would be classifed as European on the grounds of being White) has nothing to tell us:

"In church it occurred to me that it is time for the public to hear that the giant evil and danger in this country, the danger which transcends all others, is the vast wealth owned or controlled by a few persons. Money is power. In Congress, in state legislatures, in city councils, in the courts, in the political conventions, in the press, in the pulpit, in the circles of the educated and the talented, its influence is growing greater and greater. Excessive wealth in the hands of the few means extreme poverty, ignorance, vice, and wretchedness as the lot of the many. It is not yet time to debate about the remedy. The previous question is as to the danger—the evil. Let the people be fully informed and convinced as to the evil. Let them earnestly seek the remedy and it will be found. Fully to know the evil is the first step towards reaching its eradication. Some are strong when they portray the rottenness of the present system. We are, to say the least, not yet ready for this remedy. We may reach and remove the difficulty by changes in the laws regulating corporations, descents of property, wills, trusts, taxation, and a host of other important interests, not omitting lands and other property'

Food for thought , certainly..

1 comment:

Hal Berstram said...

Great stuff, but making a speech like that these days in the Republican party would have you labelled a communist and expelled!