We Have Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself: FDR and Divine Retribution in the Post-Modern Age


With the accession to power of Michael Ignatieff as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, our great nation finds itself on the cusp of a new era. A window of opportunity is now opening itself to us.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, in the dark days of the Great Depression of the 1930s, that ‘we have nothing to fear, but fear itself’. Truer words were never spoken. They ring just as true today. Except now, the economic turmoil that we are facing is of a different nature.

I’m no Communist, but I daresay that ever since the fires of Bolshevism were extinguished from underneath the posterior portion of the anatomy of the worldwide Liberal movement with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989-90, there has been no power either temporal nor spiritual, sacred, or profane, which has been able to stop the slow but steady erosion of living standards for the average person on this planet.

At least when the Soviet Union existed, pressure was brought to bear upon the forces of liberal capitalism, and concessions were granted which allowed us to be liberated, at least temporarily from the fear which FDR spoke of so eloquently.

Ironically, the power which facilitated these reforms to be instituted came, as Mao Tse Tung once put it quite bluntly, ‘out of the barrel of a gun’. Meaning that having the atomic warheads of Godless Communists pointed at our homeland was a sufficient motivation for our leaders to treat us with respect.

In the absence of which, all bets seem to be off. The Wal Martification of society continues with alacrity. As the Wal Mart manager says to his sales clerk in the TV ad who’s in the process of lowering prices in the store: ‘I like you, you’re lower!’ Think of the metaphorical significance of it. I like you because you’re a lowly, subservient powerless peon working for a giant corporate behemoth.

Coming back to fear. I think that if no temporal power is going to compel the forces of liberal capitalist democracy to shape up, then the only thing we can count on is fear. Fear of Divine Retribution. John Mellencamp, the rock singer once sang that ‘we’d better start respecting this world, or it’s gonna stand up, and bite off our face! You gotta stand for somethin’ or you gonna fall for for anythin’.’

I feel that the clock is ticking. We’re whistling past the graveyard. If anything, we should be very scared of Mother Earth unleashing her fury on us in full measure. This unto itself should compel us to enact policies which radically reduce greenhouse gases, produce alternative energy sources, recycle virtually everything, etc…

Instead we get more talk. Talk of education. Raising awareness, blah, blah, blah. I think everybody’s awareness has been raised to a fever pitch. What we need now, is what Harvey Mead, my former Philosophy teacher at St. Lawrence, and environmental activist called, ‘putting a dollar figure on the rain forest’. We could just as easily do it for the boreal forest. Calculate how much it’s worth standing as opposed to how much its worth chopped down and sawed into so many board-feet of lumber.

I’m sure a strong business case could be made for eco-tourism in BC as opposed to chopping down the trees, especially as demand for pulp for newsprint plummets as more people use the internet.

Let’s seize the opportunity that new leadership of a long-standing national party has, to effectuate the kinds of changes that are needed in Canada. A general election is likely around the corner in the fall. Let’s give the New Kid on the Block a kick at the can. Maybe he can dispel some of the Fear. It’s worth a shot!

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