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Dialogue of Cultures
by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.
January 6, 2002
Discussion Document by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.
As announced, on January 24th, a two-and-a-half-hour-long international webcast will be broadcast from a conference held at a Washington, D.C. hotel. It will begin with my opening, keynote address, with the title, "And Now, A Year Later," and will feature participation both from members of the audience assembled there, and also from participants calling in from among listeners in various parts of the world.
That address and discussion will be devoted to an open intellectual and moral challenge to the governments, leading political parties, and prospective heads of state and government of the world's leading nations, especially my own. The focus of that challenge will be the crisis which now confronts each and all nations and their incumbent and prospective heads of state and government.
My presentation and the ensuing discussion will be focussed on today's four most urgent, interrelated topics:
1. The global implications of the way in which the presently accelerating breakdown of the world's present monetary-financial system, provides a unique confirmation of each and all of my published long-range economic forecasts and assessments, for both the U.S. economy and the international system. The world is gripped, at this moment, by what I had forecast as a generally accelerating collapse of most of the world's physical economy. This economic collapse expresses the terminal phase of that international, "floating-rate" monetary-financial system which was introduced in August 1971. Unless that bankrupt, present monetary-financial system is put through what I have prescribed as a reorganization-in-bankruptcy, conducted under the authority of sovereign nation-states, the general economic and social situation will soon become a more or less hopeless one.
2. This economic collapse is accompanied by the threat of a global "clash of civilizations" war. That is the world war proposed by those often identified in the relevant professional literature as "utopian" strategists, who follow, still today, the doctrine set down in 1928, in H.G. Wells' The Open Conspiracy. These utopians are typified inside the United States by the Smith-Richardson, Olin, and Mellon-Scaife Foundations, and by the circles of Harvard's late Professor William Yandell Elliott. Those fanatics have taken increasing control of United States and other nations' military and foreign-policy doctrines, during a period of approximately fifty years to date. Their ideology, against which leading U.S. patriots, such as President Dwight Eisenhower, General Douglas MacArthur, and Senator William Fulbright, had warned, has pushed the planet to the brink of an immediate plunge into a world-wide, genocidal convulsion, akin to the more limited religious warfare which almost destroyed central Europe during the interval 1618-1648.
3. There are well-defined, proven precedents from modern history, which would provide a model for safe passage out of both of those two threats to civilization. This, however, defines a most crucial third problem. This combination of existential crises of civilization as a whole, catches western Europe and the Americas in an unfortunate posture. Today, most among the leading political parties and present governments, including the leading political parties of the U.S.A., exhibit a lack of the capacity to devise, adopt, and implement the specific kinds of clearly defined measures, which are needed to free their nations from the monetary-financial policies which have brought the planet as a whole to the brink of chaos.
4. The fourth and most relevant issue of the present world crisis, is the matter of the role of the world's most powerful nation, the U.S.A. How should we now assess the past, and possibly continuing role in world history, which the American Revolution of 1776-1789, and of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, continues to represent, even under the present conditions of threatened descent of the world into a new dark age of humanity? Is it likely, that the needed global economic and related reforms could be made in a timely fashion, unless the U.S.A. were to assume the role implicit in what Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton defined as the American System of political-economy, and unless it carried out that role in a manner consistent with the qualities of leadership of Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt, in great crises of the past?
Or, to restate the point, what role should other leading nations of the world wish the United States to adopt, in face of the three threats to global civilization which I have summarily identified here? Could civilization survive, were the United States to fail to adopt that role of primus inter pares within the community of nations?
I speak for that American intellectual tradition typified as the legacy of Franklin and Lincoln. That is also the legacy of then Secretary of State John Quincy Adams' definition of a community of principle among a multi-polar array of sovereign nation-state republics. I define what I mean by the phrase, "The Continuing American Revolution," the thematic topic which unifies the continuing discussion of the four issues I have identified above.
I now turn your attention to two crucial lessons from the history of the United States, lessons which point to those issues which will, most probably, determine whether or not world civilization will escape the threatened collapse looming before us.
1. The Roots Of The Revolution
The past 1,100 years of what is now a globally extended European civilization, were dominated by a struggle of those reformers who sought to define what became the modern sovereign nation-state. This was a struggle against the imperial "globalizers" of that time. Then, as now, the would-be "globalizers" sought to subject many nations and peoples to an arbitrary imperial authority, which was chiefly modelled, then as now, upon the traditions of ancient imperial Rome. About 600 years ago, came the first significant, if qualified success for those reformers, in the Fifteenth-Century Renaissance's attempt to establish the form of sovereign nation-state based upon that principle of natural law known variously by the names "the general welfare" or "common good."
That principle of natural law signifies, that no government has the moral authority to reign, except as it is efficiently committed to promote the general welfare of all of its population and that population's posterity. No government has the moral authority to lead other nations, unless it is as zealously devoted to the general welfare of the community of nations, as to its own. This quality of government, the general-welfare principle, which was adopted as the fundamental constitutional law of the U.S.A., in the Preamble of the Federal Constitution, defines the only moral form of government. This is a form of government which has repudiated such abominations as the Roman Empire; whereas, contemporary U.S. utopians, such as Zbigniew Brzezinski and Samuel P. Huntington, base their perverted model of soldier and state, on their intention to establish a form of government, by beasts, reigning over hunted or herded human cattle.
Typical of the qualified success of the Renaissance, was the leading role of Nicholas of Cusa in defining the need to establish a community of principle among sovereign nation-states (Concordantia Catholica), and Cusa's leading role (e.g., De Docta Ignorantia) in defining the principles of modern experimental physical science. The role of Cusa in launching that policy of trans-oceanic exploration, which resulted directly in Columbus using the knowledge supplied by Toscanelli to reach the Americas, and the great impetus to modern science given by Luca Pacioli and Leonardo da Vinci, are typical. Also typical, is the combined impact of the leadership shown by France's Jeanne d'Arc and Jacques Coeur, in making possible the creation of modern France, under Louis XI, and by the England of Henry VII and Thomas More.
However, the enemies of the Fifteenth-Century Renaissance, led by the hegemonic imperial maritime power of that time, Venice, struck back, plunging Europe into a series of devastating religious wars, during that 1511-1648 interval, which some historians have rightly defined as a "little new dark age." It is that interval of evil, of Venice's policy, and that of its Habsburg accomplices, which is parodied by the present homicidal madness of the "clash of civilizations" policy of Professor Elliott's Golems, Samuel P. Huntington and Zbigniew Brzezinski.
The Europe which returned to sanity, under the peace established through the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, turned to the European colonies in the Americas, especially the North American English colonies, as the only likely place in which to reestablish a new precedent for that principle of sovereign nation-state republicanism associated with Renaissance figures such as Louis XI and Henry VII. The leadership of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, under the Winthrops and Mathers of the Seventeenth and early Eighteenth Century, provided the seed-crystal around which the future United States was built. Europeans linked, directly or indirectly, to the leading influence of Gottfried Leibniz, played leading roles from early in the Eighteenth Century, in building up the foundations of what become the future United States, in colonies such as Pennsylvania and Virginia.
It is of crucial importance, today, that our U.S. citizens and their children understand the role which the greatest patriots of England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany, and elsewhere in Europesuch as Leibniz and the networks which he createdplayed, in acting to bring our North American republic into existence. Their conscious intent, as typified by the case of the Marquis de Lafayette, was to bring forth in our new republic what Lafayette described as "a temple of liberty and beacon of hope" for all mankind.
Our victory in 1782-1783, and our escape from chaos, with the Philadelphia draft Constitution of 1787, struck terror and rage in those enemies of humanity ensconced in the British monarchy's East India Company and the Habsburg-centered, imperial interest of the Central European princely powers. Thus, the Jacobin Terror was launched by London-directed agents of the British Foreign Office's Jeremy Bentham, to prevent the implementation of the Constitution adopted under the leadership of Bailly and Lafayette. Five years of Jacobin terror, the reign of Barras, and the first fascist tyranny, that of self-proclaimed "Caesar" Napoleon Bonaparte, eliminated the earlier role of that France which had been the crucial strategic supporter of the cause of our independence. France was thus transformed into our enemy for that time.
Metternich's Congress of Vienna established the domination of all Europe by two rivals, the British monarchy and the Metternich-led Holy Alliance, who were united in one cause: their hatred of, and determination to destroy both the image and actuality of the United States.
Under the strategic conditions associated with these developments of 1789-1815, the United States of the time of Presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, became relatively culturally pessimistic and significantly corrupted. During the gloomy decades up to 1863, patriots such as the American Whigs, who were rallied around Clay, the Careys, Monroe, and John Quincy Adams, saved the U.S.A. from dismemberment; but, the expansion of slavery and the spread of the related forms of corruption typified by Martin Van Buren's and August Belmont's Democratic Party of Jackson, Polk, Pierce, Buchanan, and McClellan, were the principal political correlatives of the continued, combined moral and strategic weakness of the nation. This weakness prevailed up to the time of what has been justly called "The Second American Revolution," President Lincoln's great victory over the British monarchy's puppet, the Confederacy.
Despite the assassination of Lincoln, the victory over the Confederacy and the development of the U.S.A. as the world's leading nation in agricultural and industrial development, over the 1861-1876 interval, caused the spread of the intellectual influence of the American System of political-economy through much of the world. This was to be seen, in such exemplary cases as Germany in 1877, Czar Alexander II's and Mendeleyev's Russia during the same period, in Meiji Restoration Japan, and throughout the Americas and, into the emergence of Sun Yat-Sen's leadership of China.
Thus, as the 1890s approached, France, Germany, Russia, and many other nations, were coming into cooperation around transcontinental railway developments, and related cooperation. This was inspired by the image of the achievements of the Franklin, Hamilton, Lincoln, Carey American System of political-economy, as the obvious alternative to the rival, parasitical, British system.
During the 1890s, the United States' enemies, centered around the Prince of Wales, the later Edward VII, launched a global operation which was called "geopolitics." This was a British scheme which was intended to end the cooperation among those nations, by putting France, Germany, Russia, Japan, and others at one another's throats. Such were the wars and similar disruptions which erupted over the interval 1894-1917.
The hoax of the Dreyfus indictment in France, the launching of Japan's wars against China, Korea, and Russia, during 1894-1905, and Fashoda in 1898, were parts of this process leading into what became known as World War I.
The most significant blow against civilization in general, was the successful assassination of U.S. President McKinley in 1901, which put into the U.S. Presidential mansion a Theodore Roosevelt who was, like Woodrow Wilson later, not only a whelp of the Confederacy, but, like his notorious mentor and uncle, a fanatical devotee of that specifically pro-Confederacy form of adoration of the British monarchy. Thus, during the sweep of the Twentieth Century, excepting the 1933-1945 role of President Franklin Roosevelt, the United States has been dominated, since the 1901 assassination of McKinley, by the influence of a commitment to shared Anglo-American imperial domination of the world at large. This has been accompanied, under Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson, Coolidge, Truman, Nixon, Carter, and also the influence of Eisenhower's unfortunate Arthur Burns, by efforts to uproot even the vestiges of the American System of political-economy, and to introduce radically irrational extremes of liberal ideology into our schools, universities, and mass media, ideologies which are inimical not only to the sturdy republicanism of our traditional patriot, but to the very idea of truthfulness.
That is not to suggest that the role of the United States became "all bad" under these variously failed or soiled Presidencies. The post-War economic reconstruction of the U.S.A. and Western Europe, for example, under the 1945-1963 Bretton Woods system, was a marked success, relative to the later decadence of approximately thirty-five years of the long wave of economic-self-destruction launched by Nixon and greatly accelerated by Carter.
Thus, as the U.S. economy now crumbles, the best features of the past history of our republic, and the related, best features of our past relations with Europe, the Far East, and within the Americas, beckon to us, telling us to return to the American intellectual tradition, which inspired Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt during those memorable past moments, when that tradition was all that saved our republic from a threatened descent into oblivion. It is time to renew and continue the American Revolution.
2. The Role Of Leadership
The cases of Benjamin Franklin, John Quincy Adams, the Careys, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt, illustrate a principle of decisive importance for any people whose nation is gripped by an existential crisis, such as that facing the world today. National leadership in time of great crisis, like leadership in fundamental scientific progress, is a quality which, in known history thus far, has been specific to the kind of exceptional individual personality who leads a people once again out of a recurring condition of habituated moral and intellectual mediocrity, the awful condition into which nations and their peoples have retreated, not inevitably, but repeatedly, as now.
On that account, the most deadly threat to our republic today, comes precisely from those who delude themselves into assuming that the weight of that mediocrity called variously "popular opinion" or "mediaocracy," ought to be the governing principle of national leadership. No nation was ever in danger from within, unless its prevalent popular opinion had sponsored that crisis. No nation was ever self-destroyed, except by the persisting error of its ruling institutions, and by the acquiescence, if not the consent, of its own prevalent and decadent popular opinion.
Therefore, consider the figure of Socrates. Consider the person, like the ancient Solon of Athens, who shocks the conscience of his people into recognizing and abandoning those opinions which have misled them to the brink of destroying themselves. Thus, Franklin Roosevelt, in his election-campaign, and his first crucial acts as President, succeeded in inducing a majority of popular opinion to abandon the fickle fashions of the age of the "Flapper" and "The Charleston," those popular fashions which had misled the foolish consent of the majority of the nation into the great economic catastrophe which Coolidge had bequeathed to his luckless successor.
Those qualities which distinguish a Solon, a Socrates, a Benjamin Franklin, a Lincoln, or a Franklin Roosevelt, are sometimes called "inner-directedness," or simply "conscience." Sometimes, but not always, this quality of leadership is associated with exceptional qualities of true intellectual genius; but, it always reflects a stubborn toughness of personal character, as we see in the case of the great post-War Chancellor of Germany, Konrad Adenauer. In all cases of an effective leader for a time of existential crisis, the difference which sets the true leader, genius or not, apart from the ordinary politician, is a sense of unshakeable devotion to the future, rather than the moral mediocrity's customary sense of immediate interest in nothing but that pathetic state of intellectual and moral littleness, the littleness of blind devotion to the so-called harsh local realities of the here and now.
Indeed, it is precisely that moral weakness of most citizens today, the tendency to fear the risks of offending a popular opinion, which deprives their motives of the morally indispensable quality of truthfulness. This cowardly submission to fear of a mediocre popular opinion, has often deprived a people of its competence to discover and act in a necessary way. At a time of existential crisis, such as this one, a society would certainly destroy itself, if the only solution available to society were widely rejected merely because that solution is considered contrary to popular opinion.
So, the great poet and tragedian, Friedrich Schiller, looking at the horror of the Jacobin Terror in France, said of France, "a great moment has found a little people." The narrowness and the short-sightedness of a popular opinion obsessed with what it perceives to be its most immediate and short-term interests, is that form of moral mediocrity which is the most frequent cause of the horrors which a nation may bring upon itself. A similar rampage of mediocrity among our people, has become the greatest source of danger to our nations today.
Therefore, history reminds us: the necessary leader for a time of existential crisis, is always the person who challenges popular opinion: "We can escape this crisis, if you are willing to face up to the fact, that it was popular opinion which brought this nation into the present disaster!" The leader must be essentially correct in his criticism, but he or she must deliver it, and that forcefully, or, like Shakespeare's Hamlet, prove worthless as a leader for that nation in its time of crisis.
For example, a terribly foolish U.S. popular opinion, praised that "new economy" which has now proven itself the lunacy it was all along. How many Americans who could ill-afford the loss, wasted their resources in investing in the "new economy" hoax?
How many Americans swallowed the fairy-tale, which said that shipping our work-places to cheap-labor markets abroad, would bring prosperity and security here, inside the U.S.A.?
How many swallowed the fairy-tale, which insisted that "free trade," by lowering the prices of goods, "democratically," below the physical cost of their production, would make life better?
How many believed, that the measure of national prosperity was the price of so-called "shareholder values" on financial markets, even if those "values" were based on the predatory financier practices which have now led to chain-reactions of plant closures, loss of health-care and pensions, accelerating mass-firings from places of employment, and, now, the immediately ongoing threat of chain-reactions of national bankruptcies among nations?
The list of those follies goes on, and on, and on.
Keeping in mind what I have just written on the subject of leadership, look at the typical governments and leading political parties of today. Do you hear a murmur of foolish, often repeated slogans such as "You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube"; "You can't turn back the clock"? That kind of foolishness, is precisely the kind of habituated behavior to be seen in most leading political parties around the world.
Does that not remind you of the fabled lemmings diving off the cliff en masse, each murmuring to the others, "We must go along, to get along; this is our way of life!" Should the performance of such party leaderships not remind you, often, of the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, who led the foolish children of that town, off to some place from which they never returned?
To save a civilization which, at this moment, is plunging toward the biggest depression in modern history, and the endless slaughter which religious wars unleash, we must inject a new factor of leadership into the political processes of our own U.S.A. and other nations, more or less as Franklin Roosevelt did in 1932-1933, or Lincoln before him.
Whether either the Republican or Democratic party, or both, could survive the present crisis, is uncertain. Those who have studied the history of parties under conditions of great crises similar to the one gripping us now, would estimate, from those parties' recent behavior, that both parties are veering near to the brink of self-disintegration, if they cling to their presently ingrained habits.
My estimate is the following. It is possible, perhaps even probable, that both the Democratic and Republican parties will soon begin to disintegrate, because they have shown themselves stubbornly incapable of the kinds of reforms which must occur to make them useful once again. I do not know whether or not they will survive during the months ahead, and neither do any among you. It is notable, that similar conditions of decadence exist presently among parliamentary forms of government in most of the world.
We in the U.S.A. can be certain, if we understand the perils of anarchy, that we must organize the political process in the United States around its best traditions, traditions such as that of President Lincoln in his century, and Franklin Roosevelt during the century which has just expired. We must proceed as Mathew Carey's The Olive Branch led the way to the emergence of the U.S. Whig Party, at a time when both leading parties existing at that moment were politically and morally bankrupt. We may be certain, that the only hope for the preservation of our Constitutional form of government, under these perilous conditions, will be a regrouping of existing political forces, as the Whig leaders did, and as Franklin Roosevelt made something good and necessary out of the Democratic Party he led.
Amid all the uncertainties of the U.S. republic's presently decadent political-party processes, one thing is certain. For Democrats, in particular, the road we must travel, wherever that takes us, must bring the best of the Democratic Party back to the Franklin Roosevelt standard, and let the fight to bring about that change, become the way in which we sort out who stays, who goes, and who comes in from other quarters. For this effort, we must not think of a partisan electoral victory as a fight for "shareholder values," but as a way of organizing the national dialogue through which we sort out the arrangements made to constitute a government of which future generations need not be ashamed.
In the United States right now, we must have at least one leading political party which is the servant of truth, rather than a continuation of the recent past's decadent practice, of making mere popular opinion the instrument of party. We must have political leadership in the American intellectual tradition, a leadership which puts the truthful promotion of the general welfare of present and future generations, back into the saddle again. For that purpose, I am, at this moment, your Solon and your Socrates; help me to save you!
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