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the founding of the United States means. In the last letter he wrote before he died (on July 4 !, the same day John Adams died; something providential, mystical, and / or karmic about that!), Thomas Jefferson wrote:
May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826

Why did the overwhelming majority of English elites support the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War? Was it because they desired to finally see an end to the "dangerous experiment" in self-government? Could such "feelings" (better word, I think, is "intentions") exist some nine decades after American independence was violently wrested from the oligarchs' grasp?

If you think of it in these terms - that there are some oligarchs who despise the idea of the rabble governing themselves, a lot of things in history make sense. Consider it a simple case of colonialism versus anti-colonialism. Then consider the lengthy excerpt below  from Elliott Roosevelt's 1946 book, As He Saw It. Elliott accompanied his father to all the major conferences with Churchill, and later, Stalin. In FDR's and Churchill's face to face, the "Atlantic Conference" on board the U.S. cruiser Augusta in August, 1941, it immediately became apparent that the post-war war plans of the United States and Britain were in complete conflict. Amazingly, this conflict is glossed over or even ignored by most American historians, even though the conflict over post-war plans had global ramifications that we still live with today.

Last night, Churchill had talked without interruption, except for questions. Tonight, there were other men's thoughts being tossed into the kettle, and the kettle correspondingly began to bubble up and-once or twice--nearly over. You sensed that two men accustomed to leadership had sparred, had felt each other out, and were now readying themselves for outright challenge, each of the other. It must be remembered that at this time Churchill was the war leader. Father only the president of a state which had indicated its sympathies in a tangible fashion. Thus, Churchill still arrogated the conversational lead, still dominated the after-dinner hours. But the difference was beginning to be felt.

And it was evidenced first, sharply, over Empire.

Father started it.

"Of course," he remarked, with a sly sort of assurance, "of course, after the war, one of the preconditions of any lasting peace will have to be the greatest possible freedom of trade."

He paused. The P.M.'s head was lowered; he was watching Father steadily, from under one eyebrow.

"No artificial barriers," Father pursued. "As few favored economic agreements as possible. Opportunities for expansion. Markets open for healthy competition." His eye wandered innocently around the room.

Churchill shifted in his armchair. "The British Empire trade agreements," he began heavily, "are..."

Father broke in. "Yes. Those Empire trade agreements are a case in point. It's because of them that the people of India and Africa, of all the colonial Near East and Far East, are still as backward as they are."

Churchill's neck reddened and he crouched forward. "Mr. President, England does not propose for a moment to lose its favored position among the British Dominions. The trade that has made England great shall continue, and under conditions prescribed by England's ministers."

"You see," said Father slowly, "it is along in here somewhere that there is likely to be some disagreement between you, Winston, and me. I am firmly of the belief that if we are to arrive at a
stable peace it must involve the development of backward countries. Backward peoples. How can this be done? It can't be done, obviously, by eighteenth-century methods. Now-"

"Who's talking eighteenth-century methods?"

"Whichever of your ministers recommends a policy which takes wealth in raw materials out of a colonial country, but which returns nothing to the people of that country in consideration. Twentieth-century methods involve bringing industry to these colonies. Twentieth-century methods include increasing the wealth of a people by increasing their standard of living, by educating them, by bringing them sanitation-by making sure that they get a return for the raw wealth of their community."

Around the room, all of us were leaning forward attentively. Hopkins was grinning. Commander Thompson, Churchill's aide, was looking glum and alarmed. The P.M. himself was beginning to look apoplectic.

"You mentioned India," he growled.

"Yes. I can't believe that we can fight a war against fascist slavery, and at the same time not work to free people all over the world from a backward colonial policy.

"What about the Philippines?"

"I'm glad you mentioned them. They get their independence, you know, in 1946. And they've gotten modem sanitation, modem education; their rate of illiteracy has gone steadily down. . . ."

"There can be no tampering with the Empire's economic agreements."

"They're artificial. . . ."

"They're the foundation of our greatness."

"The peace," said Father firmly, "cannot include any continued despotism. The structure of the peace demands and will get equality of peoples. Equality of peoples involves the utmost freedom of competitive trade. Will anyone suggest that Germany's attempt to dominate trade in central Europe was not a major contributing factor to war?"

It was an argument that could have no resolution between these two men. The words went on, but the P.M. began again to get a tighter grip on the conversation. He no longer spoke sentences, he spoke paragraphs, and Commander Thompson's worried, glum look began to clear. The P.M. gathered confidence as his voice continued to fill the room, but there was a question un answered here, and it would remain unanswered through the next conference these men would join in, and the next after that. India, Burma-these were reproaches. Father, having once mentioned them aloud, would keep reminding his British hearers of them, sticking his strong finger into sore consciences, prodding, needling. And it was not from perversity, either; it was from conviction.
Churchill knew that; that was what worried him most.

Smoothly he changed the course of the conversation, smoothly he involved Harry Hopkins, my brother, me-- anyone to keep the subject away from Father and his mention of the colonial question and his nagging insistence on the inequalities of the Empire's favored trade
agreements.

It was after two in the morning when finally the British party said their good nights. I helped Father into his cabin, and sat down to smoke a last cigarette with him.

Father grunted. "A real old Tory, isn't he? A real old Tory, of the old school.'

"I thought for a minute he was going to bust. Pop."

"Oh," he smiled, "I'll be able to work with him. Don't worry about that. We'll get along famously."

"So long as you keep off the subject of India."

"Mmm, I don't know. I think we'll even talk some more about India, before we're through. And Burma. And Java. And Indo-China. And Indonesia. And all the African colonies. And Egypt and Palestine. We'll talk about 'em all. Don't forget one thing. Winnie has one supreme mission in life, but only one. He's a perfect wartime prime minister. His one big job is to see that Britain
survives this war."

"I must say he sure gives the impression he's going to do Just that."

"Yes. But you notice the way he changes the subject away from anything postwar?"

"It's embarrassing, the things you were talking about. Embarrassing to him."

"There's another reason. It's because his mind is perfect for that of a war leader. But Winston Churchill lead England after the war? It'd never work."

As it turned out, the British people agreed with Pop on that one.

--Elliott Roosevelt, As He Saw It, 1946, pages 35-39.

Unfortunately, FDR did not survive the war, and U.S. foreign policies were radically altered from FDR's vision, with a proto-colonialist tilt that was firmly set in place in Indochina, with a series of disastrous results that continue to this day.

by NBBooks on Wed Mar 5th, 2008 at 10:30:33 AM EST
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NBBooks:

Churchill shifted in his armchair. "The British Empire trade agreements," he began heavily, "are..."

Father broke in. "Yes. Those Empire trade agreements are a case in point. It's because of them that the people of India and Africa, of all the colonial Near East and Far East, are still as backward as they are."

Churchill's neck reddened and he crouched forward. "Mr. President, England does not propose for a moment to lose its favored position among the British Dominions. The trade that has made England great shall continue, and under conditions prescribed by England's ministers."

This, and the reference to "eighteenth century methods" reminds me of
The difference between the genius of the British constitution which protects and governs North America, and that of the mercantile company which oppresses and domineers in the East Indies, cannot perhaps be better illustrated than by the different state of those countries. — Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations


We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 5th, 2008 at 10:38:59 AM EST
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