Today’s installment in the “Something That I Wish I Had Said” Department comes from an essay by George Orwell.
“It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley’s broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.” (“What is Fascism?” in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968).
With all respect to Orwell, it is fortunate that he died before having come to the same conclusion regarding the term “New Deal.” To paraphrase Mr. Orwell, if I may:
“It will be seen that, as used, ‘New Deal’ is almost entirely meaningless. It has been applied to bank bailouts, highway-building, getting U.S. troops out of Iraq, sending more U.S. troops to some god-forsaken Third-World Hell-hole, global warming, the new Ice Age, the collapse of communism, the New Venezuela, the Old Cuba, pills that ‘burn fat while you sleep,’ body art, penis enlargement, and only God Himself knows what all else.”
The obsession with the words “New Deal” has even spread to shores of the Sometimes-United Kingdom, which dispatched Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the former colonies in order to inform the American Congress that “a global New Deal” is the only solution to a global economic crisis that threatens to make France and Iceland seem like the very models of financial stability.
A story reporting Brown’s visit posted on the IrishTimes.com web site begins with:
“British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has warned Americans against a protectionist response to the “economic hurricane” that has swept the world, declaring that Europe now has its most pro-American leadership in living memory…”
Is that so, Prime Minister? I recall having read something about Europe being very pro-American the last couple of times that Germany threatened to shove sauerkraut down the Continent’s throat (or up some other part of its alimentary canal). Besides that, what will the UK do if America doesn’t play along? Invade the United States and burn Washington DC to the ground? Now, that’s an idea I could support!
We can at least take heart to know that the current generation of the American Body Realpolitik is certainly not the first to have grown tired of these incessant attempts by some political hack to justify one of his or her incredibly bad ideas by appealing to something that only Robert Byrd is old enough to remember. In support of my contention please see “A Constitution for the New Deal” by H.L. Mencken, which begins with, appropriately, a “new” preamble:
“We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish social justice, draw the fangs of privilege, effect the redistribution of property, remove the burden of liberty from ourselves and our posterity, and insure the continuance of the New Deal, do ordain and establish this Constitution…”
All things being equal, or about as equal as is possible without resorting some sort of “New Deal” egalitarian hocus-pocus, Mr. Mencken probably said it best when he noted that:
“The New Deal began, like the Salvation Army, by promising to save humanity. It ended, again like the Salvation Army, by running flop-houses and disturbing the peace.”