RUGGED INDIVIDUALISM vs PATERNAL SOCIALISM

One thing is sure, my father-in-law, Carl Whorton, had a visceral dislike for  President Herbert Hoover.Carl Whorton

Carl was a workingman who grew up in the Alabama during the great depression working in the coal mines.  He saw people who needed help very badly, sometimes nearly starving at times; and he thought that Mr. Hoover was only out for the big money guys, ignoring the rest.

Although Carl believed in hard work and independence, it became exceedingly real that feeding a young family of five is sometimes not possible even with the help of the church or other volunteerism.

I always admired that he was never shy about doing an honest day’s work for an honest days wage doing what he had to do to earn a living. He worked in the mines then moved north to Southern Michigan and worked in the factories carving out a life for himself and his family with the tools he had available.

Still, he never varied in his dislike of President Herbert Hoover; he was very clear about that. Carl may well have been spot-on in his evaluation of Herbert as many other Americans shared his opinion during the years of 1929-1933 when Hoover was President of the United States.

But to be fair, I have found a couple of probing questions that Herbert posed in a campaign speech before his election in 1929 that are as relevant today as they were in 1928.

herbert hoover

These two questions are from Herbert Hoover’s “Rugged Individualism” campaign speech (Oct 22, 1928) where he states:

“When the war closed (WWI), the most vital of all issues both in our own country and throughout the world was whether Governments should continue their wartime ownership and operation of many instrumentalities of production and distribution.

We are challenged with a peace-time choice between the American system of rugged individualism and a European philosophy of the diametrically opposed doctrines of paternalism and State socialism.”

“. . . Our American experiment in human welfare has yielded a degree of well-being unparalleled in all the world. It has come nearer to the abolition of poverty, to the abolition of fear of want than humanity has ever reached before.”

Our 31st President of the United States held the office during the worst economic times in America for the 153 years of its existence at that time as the Wall Street crash of 1929 came just eight months after he took office.  His attempts to combat the Great Depression with volunteer efforts and other impotent methods failed to change the tide of the economic downturn.  For this and other reasons, he is largely remembered among the poorest of past American Presidents.

Setting aside this historical position he occupies in the minds of many, I still credit him with two important questions; vitally relevant to our country then as they are today.

The two questions are:

1.  Whether Governments should continue their wartime ownership and operation of many instrumentalities of production and distribution.

2. Whether to continue the American system of rugged individualism or go with the European philosophy of paternalism and state socialism.

These two questions have reappeared with a vengeance with the roiling seas of tumultuous financial and economic waters in which we tread today in 2009.

Through implementation of nefarious methods ably outlined in the book by Naomi Klein, “The Shock Doctrine,” we see the current Government – through the printing press and computerized money creation and other means – gobbling up major institutions and industries of the American economy and culture; effectively owning the means of production, distribution and consumption.  Any Totalitarian dictator would be proud of the “progress” made in this direction.

The rugged individualism, whether born of necessity or design, which created an American humanistic ideal for the world, is eroding faster than ever imagined.  And the movement toward the European model of paternalism and state socialism has become a fact and a way of life in our country.  Both of these “new ideas” are promoted as humanitarian progress and “for the good of all.”  But giving away our “inalienable rights” as if they were Halloween candy has become “normal.”  Demanding that the Government do it all for us is the byword.  Freedoms once considered sacred and inviolable are thrown away and discarded like yesterday’s trash.

In other articles, I have written, “the price of freedom is never too great when the cost of indifference is so dear.” Freedom is the bedrock on which this country was founded.  It is now and has been since inception, the guidon for people of the world.  It is what is wanted at any cost and it’s need is without question.

Although the spark of freedom can be smothered, it can never fully be extinguished.  It is always lying there dormant, waiting to come back to life in spite of all attempts to dominate or eradicate it.  It cannot be killed.  There is nothing that is stronger. For freedom is an idea.  It can cut through a ten-inch inch armor plate as if it weren’t there; it knows no boundary; it is not limited by physical barriers; it is, in fact, not subject to the limitations of the physical universe in any way.

Freedom is a concept, an idea, a thought, a feeling that is invisible to the eye; it cannot be measured with any known scale, is impervious to any efforts to dissolve or destroy it.  It is not of this universe.  It can be temporarily supplanted by economic, familial, political, financial pressures, but is still always there.  It resides in the mind of mankind, and it is the goal, the purpose, the dream of any live being.

When a people align themselves with the concepts of personal freedom it does not go unnoticed; rather, it stands out like Mars at Perihelion.  The spotlight of freedom draws people to it no matter the obstacle.  You don’t have to sell people on the idea; just let them know where it can be obtained, and they will come.

America today still holds the position as the final bastion of hope for freedom in the world.  But the erosion of the position is rapidly increasing.  People in positions of power, whether by design or pressures of high office, are giving up on the concept of rugged individualism and instead, adopting the easier route of paternalism and State socialism. instead.

cross-roads(This photo,Crossroads after a night of rain” is by MARTIN LIEBERMANN. (c) by Martin Liebermann/zeitspurenare, available for purchase at  http://www.flickr.com/photos/liebermann/580181284)

This has brought us to a crossroads in history in my opinion: whether to maintain the vital, animating, activating element of humanity . . a factor of freedom; or go the way of too many in history and succumb to the acceptance of slavery.

The choice is yours.  To be free and alive or to be a slave, cared for by the State to do its bidding at its whim.

For me the answer is simple, and I know I’m not alone. I share this sentiment with my father-in-law . . . I too never wanted to be a slave.

Daniel Jacobs
(c) 2009, all rights reserved

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2 thoughts on “RUGGED INDIVIDUALISM vs PATERNAL SOCIALISM

  1. Myrna Jacobs

    Wow, exceedingly well written. I, sadly, think that my Dad saw people who, during the Great Depression, needed help very badly, often almost starving and so, thought that Mr. Hoover was out only for the big money guys. He believed in hard work and independence but also knew that feeding a family is sometimes not possible even with the help of church or other volunteerism.

    That said, I can’t help but think that today he’d be 100 percent behind your thoughts here . . . with continuing ambivalence because of his own personal history.

    Anyway, wonderful article. Very well done!

  2. Eddy Curtis

    Thanks again for sharing… In the several years I have known you and your writing, you’ve never disappointed! This is again a spot on, well written, and profound article.

    Eddy Curtis

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