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This letter appears in the February 21, 2003 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

The State of the Political Parties

by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.

Feb. 9, 2003—This open letter was distributed today by the Presidential pre-candidate's political committee, LaRouche in 2004.

There are some facts the Democratic National Committee must finally face, if the Party is not merely to survive the crises already in progress, but play a more effective and relevant role in response to the mounting peril to civilization than we have seen from the Party, and the Congress as a whole, since the inauguration of President George W. Bush.

For that purpose, I turn your attention, first, to the contrast of my January 28th State of the Union address to President Bush's address delivered later that same day. I ask you to view the combined state of our national political parties in the context of the current State of the Union as I described the current situation in that address. I put the following proposition to you:

The foremost issue considered by sane and responsible men and women, is not which candidate might lead which party to victory in the November 2004 election, but whether the Democratic Party were, or might become, morally and otherwise capable of adopting and supporting a candidate who would play the needed role in overcoming today's economic collapse of the world's present monetary-financial system. The challenge is choosing a candidate who will play a role like that which Franklin Delano Roosevelt performed so well, during both his Presidency and his preceding campaign for election to that office.

That is the proposition on which my pre-candidacy for the 2004 Democratic Party Presidential nomination stands. I present that proposition as pertaining not merely to the changes from current Party policies which it adumbrates, but also the specific quality of leadership which must be brought back into government by choice of the selection of a certain quality of our next President, a selection consistent with the requirements of presently unfolding conditions of national and world crises,

For reasons identified in my January 28th State of the Union address, the likely fate of our republic—even its continued existence—depends on such a standard of selection for the process leading, from the present time, into the Party's Summer 2004 selection. On this account, I now put the following question to you:

Was Prince Hamlet your implied preference for the next head of state of Shakespeare's kingdom of Denmark? Or, did you, in your imagination, foolishly, blame Hamlet himself for the continuing catastrophe which that kingdom had brought upon itself? Is the Democratic Party, like its presently visible rivals, an ongoing Classically tragic catastrophe for our republic? Are you committed, tragically, to nominating a Hamlet, or worse, for 2004? I put that case as follows.

In the modern history of the national Democratic Party, since Franklin Roosevelt's 1932 campaign on behalf of "the forgotten man," until the period of the 1964-1968 Richard M. Nixon "Southern Strategy" campaign for the Presidency, the national Democratic Party was understood by most citizens, as a party committed to the three great principles of the Preamble of the U.S. Federal Constitution. These are: first, the principle of perfect sovereignty under the terms of natural law; second, the principle that no government is morally legitimate except as it is efficiently committed to promotion of the general welfare; and, third, that it is more efficiently dedicated to the security and betterment of the future generations of our posterity, than even that of the living adult generation.

I point to the general cause of the present crisis of both our leading national parties, as rooted in the mid-1960s, and later, adoption of that "cultural paradigm-shift" to that rabidly existentialist egoism, which is typified by Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Theodor Adorno, and Hannah Arendt, or the kindred views of the Nashville Agrarians' Professor William Yandell Elliott. This same cultural paradigm-downshift, was echoed among the so-called "radical left," and also, in a particular, "right-wing" way, by Nixon's 1966-1968 "Southern Strategy" campaign. Under the influence of that campaign and its sequels in both leading parties, all three of those principles of our Preamble were savaged, and, in the course of decades past, almost obliterated, as today.

This forty years of progressive decadence in our national intellectual and political life, has been recently typified by the odious decisions and worse arguments, for the radical version of "shareholder value," as that of Associate Federal Justice Antonin Scalia. The ugly utterances of Scalia today merely typify the way in which our government has shown increasing toleration for the reckless disregard, even vehement hatred, for the supreme Constitutional principles of sovereignty, of the general welfare, and of obligatory service to posterity.

It is this post-1954, pro-existentialist cultural-paradigm shift, in both its left-tending radical versions and in right-wing populist versions akin to the spirit of Nixon's "Southern Strategy" campaign, which has brought the world into the present world economic crisis. It is that cultural paradigm-shift, from the culture of a producer society, into the decadence of a consumer society, which has brought our national parties presently into a political condition today, which resembles that of doomed fish which an outgoing tide has left on the beach of history.

If we view the present situation in retrospect, over the course of the past four decades' transformation in our nation's leading cultural matrices, we must recognize Scalia's Carl Schmitt-like state of mind, as a typical result of that font of moral perversion known as Presidential candidate Nixon's "The Southern Strategy." The adapting of the Democratic Party's leadership to the "suburban strategy," since approximately 1981, has become the role of a "right-wing" Democratic "Tweedledee" in rivalry with a "right-wing" Republican "Tweedledum."

So, under the influence of such trends, we have seen the precipitous decline, since 1977, of the physical standard of living of the lower eighty percentiles of our family-income brackets. That decline typifies the predetermined outcome of the shift into an increasing decadence in U.S. policy of practice during the recent four decades. The disintegration of our nation's basic economic infrastructure, as unleashed under the guidance of Elliott-selected Presidential advisors Henry A. Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, is a co-factor in, and complement of the worsening calamity of the economic lower eighty percentiles of our households.

For the immediate situation, we, working within the Democratic Party's context, must define fresh views on three aspects of day-to-day work during the coming months. These are: first, the tragic crisis confronting both major national parties; second, the crucial problems to be faced within the Democratic Party itself; and, third, the challenge of discovering an appropriate mode of bi-partisan cooperation with certain relevant currents of the Republican Party.

The Crisis of Both Major Parties

As I emphasized in my January 28th State of the Union report:

During the recent nearly sixty years, the political-party system of the United States, has undergone two successive radical changes in direction of cultural trends. The first post-war change, which dominated the twenty years from the Democratic nominating convention of 1944 until the official launching of the U.S. Indo-China war, was dominated by what was, even at its relatively worst, a relatively successful world monetary-financial system and economic policy, a policy consistent with our republic's traditional role as a producer society. The launching of the 1964-1972 Indo-China war, and the radical cultural-paradigm shifts, at home, which accompanied it, prepared the way for the decisive shift, downwards, into that decadent, 1971-2003 form of consumer-society economy—a shift which has led us, now, into a potentially terminal world monetary-financial crisis, one presently a far worse threat than that experienced during the 1929-1933 period.

For both major national parties, these cumulative effects of these two successive periods—1944-1964, and 1964-2003—has been to introduce certain successive, regrettable changes of axiomatic assumptions into both popular opinion and the habituated policy-shaping reflections of national parties and government. Thus, our government and parties today usually react to challenges in ways which might remind us of the mythical goldfish, which, when released from his small bowl into a large pond, continued to swim in tight, seemingly traditional circles when there was no longer a compelling need to do so.

A forewarning of the mid-1960s change for the worse, was already signalled to some of us, by developments during the closing months of World War II.

Following the decisively victorious Normandy landing of June 1944, the traditional enemies of President Franklin Roosevelt, in both the U.S.A. and United Kingdom, said to themselves, in effect: "We no longer need a Franklin Roosevelt to bring us up out of the Depression or to bring the world to victory over Adolf Hitler." Those of that persuasion were determined that the expected early death of the President would be the opportunity for a turn back toward both the ideology more typical of the Coolidge period. For some then, this was also the occasion for the activation of that new, wildly utopian sort of imperialist policy, one put forward by the author of that evil, utopian doctrine of "world government through preventive nuclear warfare," Bertrand Russell. This glassy-eyed utopians' doctrine is that of those, in both parties, presently allied with Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman, and with Vice President Cheney's Lewis Libby.

At the close of that war, under the perceived threat of a conflict with the Soviet Union, most of the returning U.S. war-veterans and their wives soon assented to what was seen then as a right-wing turn in economic policy, and also a turn to the neo-colonialist and pro-monetarist policies introduced during that period. Nonetheless, as the election of President John F. Kennedy was to show, the generation which had grown up during the Great Depression and experienced that war, could not be weaned of the Franklin Roosevelt legacy so easily. Thus, the Eisenhower Presidency was, on balance, a period of moderation, under the traditionalist military credentials of a President who resisted the utopian "military-industrial complex" policies of such 1950s followers of nuclear terrorist Bertrand Russell as Professor Elliott-groomed Zbigniew Brzezinski and his crony Samuel P. Huntington.

The utopians' post-Eisenhower "Bay of Pigs," the 1962 missiles-crisis, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the launching of the Indo-China war, were only typical of a bloody period of transition, a cultural-paradigm shift, from the still, overall successful producers' society of the 1933-1964 period, to what has devolved, since the "Gulf on Tonkin" resolution, into the failed imperial consumer society of today.

By the beginning of the 1980s, the cultural values, and political axioms of the population, had already undergone a radical change. The early 1980s shift of the Democratic Party, into becoming a party dominated by "suburbanite" consumer-society values, was accompanied by adoption of policies of government which amounted to a manic fit of compulsion to uproot and obliterate the memory of those laws, customs, and other institutions which had pulled our nation and its people up out of the Depression. In effect, since a time coinciding with the formation of the Democratic Leadership Council, the trend has been that the Democratic Party's putatively leading combination of factions, was committed to obliterating all vestiges of those policies of President Franklin Roosevelt's leadership, which had transformed a sick U.S. economy, into becoming virtually the only world economic power existing at the close of the 1939-1945 war.

So, impelled by the continuation, under both major parties, of that downward drift into a sucked-out consumer society, the U.S.A., in 2000-2002, had entered the terminal phase of an accelerating, general economic collapse of the 1971-2003 IMF/World Bank-dominated monetary-financial system.

So, the U.S.A. today finds itself in the grip of a Classical tragedy, as such tragedies were portrayed by the ancient Greek tragedians, and by William Shakespeare, and Friedrich Schiller. In all real-life tragedies, as in Shakespeare's Hamlet, the threatened self-inflicted doom of the nation is caused, not by bad leaders, but by an accumulation of habituated popular customs and opinions of the people and their institutions. Shakespeare's Hamlet and Julius Caesar are typical stage models for this Classical concept of tragedy, as are Schiller's Don Carlos and Wallenstein. The Spain of Schiller's Don Carlos is doomed, in real life, as on the stage, by that rottenness of Hapsburg Spain's Sixteenth-Century culture which doomed Seventeenth-Century Spain, as Schiller portrays—apart from the French-born Queen—the common follies of his characters from that play.

Shakespeare's rotten kingdom of legendary Denmark is doomed, because its prince, Hamlet, clings to the ways of customary national folly, out of his expressed fear of facing accountability in immortality, after death. In real life, as in Classical tragedy, cultures are doomed because they lack leaders who show the wisdom and courage to break with rotten customs, to lead the nation upward and out of the accustomed popular "rottenness" which imperils the society. Such is the threatened tragedy which now looms before the U.S.A. and its Democratic Party, alike, today.

As Gottfried Leibniz emphasized, the Creator has given us the best of all possible worlds (the "universe"), in which mankind has options available to him, options by means of which the effects of natural catastrophes can be ultimately overcome, and the follies of human custom put aside by an appropriate act of will. The peril of the U.S.A. today is nothing but the ugly consequence of our nation's slide into its current, relatively decadent habits of popular custom and belief, notably the errant mental habits which have been accumulated in our popular culture and leading institutions during the period since, most emphatically, 1964-1981. The great danger to our nation, and to the Democratic Party, is the reluctance of popular opinion and leaders alike, to sweep aside those popularized bad habits of decades, which, unfortunately, have come to pass for the currently prevailing custom and popular opinion of today.

Party Unity? With Whom?

Since 1964, when a policy of Vietnam military service as "triage" of our less privileged young became practice, the trend of economic and related policy of the U.S.A. has become the spread of practices sometimes called "lifeboat economics," a practice which has come to include a growing list of categories of such victims as the homeless, the unemployed, the "minorities" generally, the sick, and the ageing. The Nixon campaign's "Southern Strategy" of 1966-1968 institutionalized the spread of such a mind-set in the Republican Party and among those defecting Democrats of Phil Gramm known as the "Boll Weevil" caucus. The Democratic Party's adoption of the so-called "suburban" electoral-campaign orientation, was an echo of the same trend in "life-boat economics." So, it came rightly to be said, as a warning to erring leaders within the Democratic Party, that the United States "does not need two Republican parties."

Under such conditions, as expressed within both the leading national parties, while some among the lower eighty percentiles of family-income brackets are herded into the polls for election-days, the great majority's relationship to the political processes within the parties is chiefly that of spectators of the mass media. Today's critics do not ask what the public thinks of the mass media, but speak fearfully of what the mass media might say against the opinion of the citizen. Chiefly, our citizens rarely dare to object to the change. Our political-party processes tend, thus, to become a parody of what the great St. Augustine described as ancient imperial Rome's politics of mass-media-orchestrated "bread and circuses."

Thus, we live today under government, by a mass-media-orchestrated, mere submissive assent of the people, not consent of the informed mind of the citizen. Events have now reached the point, that, in one way or another, that trend is coming to an end. Now, throughout North America and Europe, young adults of the 18-25 age-interval revolt against their parents' generation, and against today's teachers and university professors: "You have created for us a no-future society!" It is the same no-future society already presented to senior citizens, to the burgeoning mass of homeless, and so on.

In this state of affairs, the survival of our nation, demands a voice like that of Presidential candidate Franklin Delano Roosevelt's cry for the cause of "the forgotten man." As the lower half of the upper twenty percentiles of our nation's family-income brackets have also been decimated by the economic depression which has been onrushing, and accelerating, during the 2000-2002 interval, we have reached a point at which the demands for ever-more-savage, depression-driven cuts in the public welfare, are presently, as in 1932-1933 Weimar Germany, a looming threat to the continuation of Constitutional government in our U.S.A.

The future of the Democratic Party, and of the republic, now requires opening the doors to an active role of the majority of our citizenry, a change which can not be accomplished except by returning to candidate Franklin Roosevelt's heralding the cause of "the forgotten man" of 1929-1932. This means, now as then, pointing the finger of blame to those 1964-1999 changes in policies which created the presently skyrocketting depression throughout Europe and the Americas, especially the policies launched, first, under President Nixon, during 1971-1972. It means a return to the model of thinking expressed as the Franklin Roosevelt recovery methods of 1933-1944.

Admittedly, in a democratic process, this change I have proposed must be thoroughly and constructively debated within the Party; but, it must be debated on the basis of the comparative facts of U.S. historical experience since, especially, Coolidge became President. That debate, situated within the framework of our Constitutional system of self-government, must define the Party and its new role in reversing the present onslaught by the forces of an onrushing "no-future society." Otherwise, given the dismal results of recent trends in policy-shaping, who will accept the invitation to come to our Party?

Admittedly, there is a stubborn residue in both major parties which will disagree vehemently with what I propose. Typical opponents are the circles of Vice-President Cheney and his flock of so-called "chicken-hawk warriors," and also the circles of the collaborators, Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman, whom the Hudson Institute heralds as the "Bull Moose" Presidential ticket for 2004. Typical are the fanatics associated with Professor Elliott's devotees Zbigniew Brzezinski and Samuel P. Huntington.

On this account, we must recognize that there are presently three conflicting, historically determined currents in leading U.S. political opinion. One is to be recognized as the tradition of our republic's principal founder, Benjamin Franklin, a tradition consistent with the three great, ruling principles of our Federal Constitution: sovereignty, general welfare, and posterity. The other two are varieties of active or implicit imperialist policies, one akin to the British "liberal imperialist" tradition, as lately described in a New York Sunday Times Magazine feature by Michael Ignatieff,[1] and the other typified by the rabidly utopian imperialism of H.G. Wells and Bertrand Russell. The latter are represented today by those who persist in proposing military policies reminiscent of the imperial Roman Legions' conduct of genocide against the peoples on that Empire's borders, and the universal fascist model of the Nazis' international Waffen-SS and Samuel P. Huntington.

We must assess the presence of those factions, within our nation and foreign affairs, in the light of the three principal, immediate challenges to the security of our nation, and the world at large.

The first challenge, is the need to reverse those domestic and foreign policies of the 1964-2002 interval which have led both our nation and the world into the presently terminal economic collapse of the existing, failed monetary-financial system.

The second challenge, is the threat of a plunge into a permanent state of spreading world war, which is currently represented inside the U.S.A. by the influence of such wild-eyed utopians as Vice-President Cheney, Senators John McCain and Lieberman, and their like.

The third, and most important challenge, is to recognize what I have defined as the existing opportunities for realizing the goals, at last, of a durable global community of principled economic and related cooperation among a system of sovereign nation-states embracing, principally, Eurasia, the Americas, and the cause of justice for sub-Saharan Africa.

The third and last challenge, is to be recognized as echoing President Franklin Roosevelt's vision for a post-war planet freed from the legacies of imperialism and colonialism. The effects of the economic collapse of the failed 1971-2002 world monetary-financial, "floating-exchange-rate" system, have produced the political preconditions for a return to something akin to the 1944-1958 Bretton Woods system of general economic recovery. This requires now the formation of great, cooperating blocs of sovereign nation-states throughout Eurasia, the Americas, and an African continent freed from the imperial rule of foreign-imposed genocide. Instead of economic rivals, we must now see other national economies as indispensable markets for long-term common goals of great infrastructure-building and technology-transfer agreements.

Unity in the National Interest

The successive and combined failures of both the Federalist party, and that of Presidents Jefferson and Madison, prompted the heir of Benjamin Franklin's publishing consortium, Mathew Carey, to publish the first edition of his book entitled The Olive Branch, the book which outlined what became that American Whig tradition from which Presidents such as John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt adopted their leading historic roles in our nation's affairs.

Now, as during the period of the second war against Britain, 1812-1815, the urgent task is to rescramble the political-party system. The concept of such a timely reform is implicit in a review of the history of our political-party system's evolution, a review guided to large degree by study of Carey's argument in that book.

This rescrambling must, inevitably, take two general forms:

First, if both the Republican and Democratic parties react sensibly to their present situations, the electoral scene will be dominated by a reassortment of the actual and implied components of the two leading parties, each with their appropriate, component factional currents. Otherwise, U.S. electoral politics will be transformed into a desperate mess with foreseeable, but probably incalculable immediate results.

Second, in the best short- to medium-term outcome, the leading currents within both major parties will establish lines of programmatic and related collaboration which are systemically different than those of the recent two decades and more since Paul Volcker's appointment as Federal Reserve Chairman. The nature of the presently cascading types of national and global economic and related emergencies, will impart to such collaboration, forms echoing those of the period of President Franklin Roosevelt's bringing together of those who planned the post-1936 mobilization for the then-inevitable new world war.

Such developments would be fruitful only on the condition that they found their basis in agreement on the three fundamental principles set forth in the Preamble of our Federal Constitution. It should become the included leading function of the Democratic Party to work to unite a powerful combination of political tendencies of our nation around a fuller understanding and efficient application of those principles upon which the existence of our republic was uniquely founded.

In all, healthy politics is mission-oriented policy-making: in brief, what must be done by, and for today's generations, for the assured improvement of the world delivered to the coming next two or more generations. That great principle, called variously agape, the general welfare, or the common good, which Plato's Socrates counterposes to the doctrines of Glaucon and Thrasymachus, must be recognized as the origin of our founders' notion of the meaning of a true republic, and as the principle of law which has rescued our republic, repeatedly, from the sundry follies of our parties and elected governments of our nation's past history.

At the moment, the world fears us more than likes us; but, should we make this proposed change, it will love us again, both for what we have been in the best moments of our nation's past, and what we shall again become.

[1] Michael Ignatieff, "The Burden," New York Times Sunday Magazine, Jan. 5, 2003.


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