Re: Make Mine Freedom

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Stephan, I see that the pro-American propaganda of the time, despite its flaws and corniness, was centered on the glories of free enterprise, production, and private property. And they even boast of other freedoms, like due process in courts, free speech, freedom of religion, etc, all while explicitly warning of the dangers of state central planning and administration.

Nowadays — and especially since the Vietnam War, according to Andrew Bacevich — American pride has moved away from a focus on economic strength, and now mostly concerns pride in US military capability, and the power of the US to project its might all around the world.

What it means to be an American, and to be proud to be an American, has thus changed from a generally anti-statist disposition to a pro-state one. A clue as to how this happened occurs at the end of the film, where the characters parade in front of the Lincoln Memorial, having re-learned the glories of capitalism. Associating capitalism with the coercive nationalism of Lincoln is subtle, but it indicates that even sixty years ago, pro-capitalist American patriots unfortunately saw free enterprise as something that was not always and necessarily at odds with the state and any of its encroachment, but rather something that could coexist with the mega-state — if not of the “socialist” variety, certainly of the militarist one. The American right has long been okay with business but has had its greatest faith in the Lincolnian state. Which is why when it has to choose between free enterprise and the Lincolnian program of aggressive war, imperialism, suspending civil liberties, censorship, national planning and collectivism, it is just as quick as the fledgling socialist to drink from the poisoned elixir.

12:56 pm on August 13, 2006

re: Make Mine Freedom

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Anthony’s comment below reminded me of a statement Clyde Wilson once made: The image of America has been transformed from George Washington on his white horse to a corporate lobbyist in an armchair. (The latter is a reference to the old railroad industry lobbyist from Illinois who sits like Zeus atop the Lincoln Memorial).

7:59 am on August 14, 2006
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