FDR Wasn’t FDR … Until His Hand Was Forced By Civil Disobedience

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FDR Wasn’t FDR … Until His Hand Was Forced By Civil Disobedience
Posted on November 18, 2010 by Foreclosureblues
FDR Wasn’t FDR … Until His Hand Was Forced By Civil Disobedience
Today, November 18, 2010, 54 minutes ago | noreply@blogger.com (George Washington)Go to full article

Progressives are disappointed that – contrary to the hype – Obama is no FDR.

But FDR himself wasn’t who we think of as FDR until he was forced by protests, strikes and other forms of civil disobedience.

As historian Howard Zinn wrote in March 2008:

In 1934, early in the Roosevelt Presidency, strikes broke out all over the country, including a general strike in Minneapolis, a general strike in San Francisco, hundreds of thousands on strike in the textile mills of the South. Unemployed councils formed all over the country. Desperate people were taking action on their own, defying the police to put back the furniture of evicted tenants, and creating self-help organizations with hundreds of thousands of members.

Without a national crisis—economic destitution and rebellion—it is not likely the Roosevelt Administration would have instituted the bold reforms that it did.

Today, we can be sure that the Democratic Party, unless it faces a popular upsurge, will not move off center. The two leading Presidential candidates [i.e. Obama and McCain] have made it clear that if elected, they will not bring an immediate end to the Iraq War ….

They offer no radical change from the status quo.

They do not propose what the present desperation of people cries out for ….

They do not suggest the deep cuts in the military budget or the radical changes in the tax system that would free billions, even trillions, for social programs to transform the way we live.

None of this should surprise us. The Democratic Party has broken with its historic conservatism, its pandering to the rich, its predilection for war, only when it has encountered rebellion from below, as in the Thirties and the Sixties. We should not expect that a victory at the ballot box in November will even begin to budge the nation from its twin fundamental illnesses: capitalist greed and militarism.

***For instance, the mortgage foreclosures that are driving millions from their homes—they should remind us of a similar situation after the Revolutionary War, when small farmers, many of them war veterans (like so many of our homeless today), could not afford to pay their taxes and were threatened with the loss of the land, their homes. They gathered by the thousands around courthouses and refused to allow the auctions to take place.

The evictions today of people who cannot pay their rents should remind us of what people did in the Thirties when they organized and put the belongings of the evicted families back in their apartments, in defiance of the authorities.

Historically, government, whether in the hands of Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, has failed its responsibilities, until forced to by direct action: sit-ins and Freedom Rides for the rights of black people, strikes and boycotts for the rights of workers, mutinies and desertions of soldiers in order to stop a war.
Voting … is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens.

Similarly, Zinn said in 2008:

The obstacles are a kind of resignation that things will go on as before. That’s always the obstacle to change. The obstacle to change is not that people don’t want change. People want change. But most of the time, people feel impotent. However, at certain points in history, the energy level of people, the indignation level of people rises. And at that point it becomes possible for people to organize and to agitate and to educate one another, and to create an atmosphere in which the government must do something. I’m thinking of the 1930s; I’m thinking of Franklin D. Roosevelt coming into office not really a crusader.

Roosevelt came into office, you know, with a balance-the-budgets history. It was not clear what he was going to do, and I don’t think he was clear about what he was going to do, except that he was going to be different from Hoover and the Republicans. But when he came into office, he faced a country that was on strike. He faced general strikes in San Francisco in Minneapolis. He faced strikes of hundreds of thousands of textile workers in the South. He faced a tenants movement and an unemployed council movement. And he faced a country in turmoil, and he reacted to it, he was sensitive to it, he moved. That’s what we will need.

We will need to see some of the scenes that we saw in the ’30s.

Liberal Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig pointed out last week that – instead of mocking the Tea party – progressives should emulate it’s energy:

Many of my friends have been puzzled that I have not been a strong critic of the Tea Party. Indeed, quite the opposite, I stand as a critical admirer…. I am a genuine admirer of the urge to reform that is at the heart of the grassroots part of this, perhaps the most important political movement in the current political context.

My admiration for this movement grew yesterday, as at least the Patriots flavor of the Tea Party movement announced its first fight with (at least some) Republicans. The Tea Party Patriots have called for a GOP moratorium on “earmarks.”


This disagreement has thus set up the first major fight of principle for the Tea Party. As leaders in the Tea Party Patriots described in an email to supporters,

For two years we have told the media and the rest of the country that we are nonpartisan and that we intend to hold all lawmakers to a higher standard.

This, they insist, is their first chance for that stand with the new Republican Congress. And the Tea Party Patriots have now mobilized their list to pressure Republicans to support this first and critical reform in the new Congress.


Earmarks are … an essential element in the corruption that is Congress today…. they have become the key to an incredible economy of influence that effectively enables lobbyists to auction too many policy decisions to the highest special interest bidder. That economy won’t change simply by eliminating earmarks. But eliminating earmarks is an essential first step to starving this Republic-destroying beast.


We do face a common enemy. Special-interest-government is anathema to both the true Right and the limping Left. Progress would be to work together to end it.

Lessig is not alone.

As I’ve previously pointed out, progressives such as Dave Lindorff, political science professor Peter Dreier, economist Dean Baker, Daniel Ellsberg, Jonathan Capehart and many others say that we should be emulating the protest energy of the Tea Party, because we have to raise some hell before anything will change.

In fact, as I’ve repeatedly noted, the whole left-versus-right thing is just a distraction trick. It’s really the American people versus the giant bankers, captains of the military-industrial complex, and handful of others who are benefiting by shafting the average American.

Remember that one of the founders of the Tea Party – Karl Denninger – has slammed the current Tea Party (which was quickly co-opted by the mainstream GOP) for serving the rich and the Republican party instead of fighting against the giant banks, and is calling for non-partisan, Gandhi-style nonviolent resistance to take on the banskters.

And remember that “liberal” George Soros is paying a top aide to “conservative” Sarah Palin.

Of course, some have argued that there are more effective methods of disobedience than protests and strikes such as this or this. I will leave strategy to those who have better tactical sense than I have.

But one thing is for sure: unless we make the lives of those in power a little more uncomfortable, nothing will change.

Note to conservatives who dislike FDR: Glass-Steagall and other regulations against fraud wouldn’t have been passed unless the public had raised hell through protests and strikes.

18 Responses

  1. i really take offense to the comment about realors, flippers. I am a realtor as well as former trial attorney. All the agents I know at Keller Williams are working very hard for the average american here in Kansas City. Stop ranting and raving about things you don’t know about and making generalizations–its a real turn off for those of us who ae serious about this and are trying o help to listen to those of you who just want to rant against the whole world for what is going on–take responsibility whether for your own actions in buying something you could not afford, or for voting for all thsoe republicans who sent your jobs oversees and helped wall street and voted for repeal of glass-segal.

  2. start with the Realtors, flippers and developers who masquerade as innocents. They try and take advantage of the people who really need help. Theu try to use thses sites and others like it to fix their financial mistakes. You know who they are and the know what they are.

    they lied in the market and now they lie and cheat here..

  3. do yourself a favor, google: crash JP Morgan, buy silver

    Research it & see what you think.

  4. Gwen, you are absolutely correct. I am doing my part to fight this beast.

  5. Speaking of attorneys, jailed for fighting the corruption and greed of the present system, let us
    not forget Edgar Steele, who is couped up in a
    Federal prison on trumped up charges he hired
    someone to murder his wife.
    Steele was a crusader for the first amendment rights of the militia movement and ran afoul of the
    powers that be. He is being railroaded on trumped up
    charges in order to silence him. He predicted the
    financial meltdown long before anyone else saw it coming as well as the Mid East War long before it
    happened. He needs our help, so go to his web site
    and do your part. Sinn Fein, Ourselves Alone!

  6. I wholeheartedly agree that we are going to have to do something. It has to be carefully planned and executed, or you will just get some poor person in jail for ten years. This is a war–you should keep that in mind. They will fight to keep their crooked system. We are all headed for some kind of slavery. I also like the idea of the Tea Party, but it just turned out to be the same ole krap. I do not believe that other people have to be stomped on and their civil rights trampled in order to survive. We have to work together and get over the right/left thing. Another poster put an article about German citizens lying on railroad tracks and resisting the police so that a train full of decomposing nuclear waste would not be put near their homes. Very good point. That should give all of you some ideas. Remember the sixties? There were protests then, too about another idiotic war. Some of you remember them. Very major protests will have to be created and delivered. Obama is a wimp, and his financial advisors have to go as well. Do not be fooled that by voting for Republicans there will be an improvement. They are in it together. Congress should be put on notice. Improve the policies for the people or else! Save the USofA from the mega banks. Remember that saying: people deserve the government they get. http://www.challengingforeclosure.com Sirak@challengingforeclosure.com

  7. Add this to the mix. Do we have enough for widespread civil disobedience yet?

    Countrywide NEVER Transferred Notes, on the record now.


  8. Following up on Gwen, the elites need to be given a dose of ‘audacity.’

  9. Go Gwen !

    I heard of an attorney who was jailed for seven years because he was helping homeowners and exposing the corruption.

    It is hard to imagine such injustice in this country.
    It defies everything we stand for.

  10. This is an incredible post and I am sorry to say there are not more comments on it. I think the momentum however is building for all out strike and I am going to tell you how it will come about: if the republicans with conservative democrats seek to “fix” the mortgage crisis by giving the banks what they want–relief from the lawsuits, class actions by debtors, class actions by investors, multiple plaintiff insuance companies–then mass strikes in the cities will happen. Americans are fed up with being hit by the rule of law in foreclosure actions against them, but when the rule of law is sought to be applied to the banks, servicers, wall street, foreclosure mills, somehow they manage to get congress to pony up to “save them”. There is a rule of law for fraud, corruption, false affidavits, false mortgage documentation, ruining millions of titles at the country recording offices, stealing money from the county courthouses by circumventing thru MERS recording fees–but the banks, mers, wall street, servicers are saying if we apply this rule of law our financial system will collapse–it will be worse than it already is. I disagree or “strongly object”. If we do not hold banks, wallstreet, servicers, mers collective feet to the fire and put in jail everyone from the lowly notarial who violated his/her oath, to the fraudsters who created the “pools” and destroyed thetitles to our property–we might as well just shred the american flag and all our laws–and I mean that literally not figuratively. I spent my entire adult life fighting for civil rights for the little guy. I was forced to stop practicing when I caused the big guys too much money and changed laws. I got interested in this law about a year ago when BOA/BAC started screweing me around and I sued them. This is worse than the civil rights crisis because it affects every family in the United States who owns a home and has had a mortgage issued in the last ten years if you go look at your title and see how it was recorded and whether the rules were followed by your bank when they gave it to you and then sold it or transferred it for servicing. I will bet nine out of ten loans done in the last ten years have one or more problems. Should we let all those people who caused the problems “off the hook” just because there are so many of them? No. This is a “war” by the averge american on the street against the financial giants who run this country. If we let republicans and conservative democrats try to overturn hundreds of years of state property law to allegedly save “us”, we the people will be the loosers. So I say, rise up–yelll and scream and get together and DO something about this. If we don’t, its over for the American Dream of not only home ownership, but the American Rule of law. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. FDR was challenged in 1936–we need to challenge OBAMA in 2011 to save our country, our laws and our dreams

  11. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by kim thomas, Financial Wellness. Financial Wellness said: COMBO Title and Securitization Search, Report, Documents, Analysis & Commentary http://foreclosureblues.wordphttp://bit.ly/azSZ6n […]

  12. What is the recall process?

    We need strategists and tacticians. I suspect many of them visit this site.

  13. I liked the part in the FDR story where it said the people “educated themselves”. I have been a strong critic of the Tea Party, but you are correct…the idea of the Tea Party is awsome…as original all-American as jazz and apple pie…but they need to educate themselves! They need to stop blindly following the right-wing dogma and propoganda that their super-rich behind the scenes supporters and promoters have been feeding them.

    Fox News and the Koch brothers do not care anything about the issues facing the middle class…they just want the middle class to stay healthy enough to continue to support their terrible money and power habit. They did that over the last two decades by making us believe that we were doing just fine in our beautiful homes that would continue to appreciate and by extending credit lines on our fake equity to buy the symbolic accoutrements of wealth like fancy cars and vacations to Disney World.

    Now that the facades of the Disneyland and the Land of Oz are crumbling, we can no longer afford to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Those of us who have seen the truth must educate the rest by continuing to expose the lies that are leading us to total enslavement before it is too late. As they say…the truth will set you free.

  14. I think you’ve got it right here !!

    “In fact, as I’ve repeatedly noted, the whole left-versus-right thing is just a distraction trick. It’s really the American people versus the giant bankers, captains of the military-industrial complex, and handful of others who are benefiting by shafting the average American.”

  15. We need to shut down the Capitol for 24 hours. No traffic in or out. Zip, NADA. People used to climb fences to protect Trident Missles, but no one is willing to stop traffic to save their homes? Shutting down Geithner’s office is another good idea.

  16. @Dying Truth,
    I humblely disagree. I think all hell needs to start breaking loose.

    I am needing at least 5-6 volunteers across the country to help me organize a massive protest in DC. Any takers?

  17. Americans are sheep going to slaughter. The French would have shut this country down. We should take a lesson from that, if people can get away from Sarah, Brittany, Dancing with the Stars, NFL, etc.,

  18. Ahhh yes, History does have a tendency to repeat itself. But we must be cautious not fall into such a trap prepared expecting US to react in such a way when THEY have every intention to make an example out of SOMEONE. So as to repress any other dissidents acting out. WE MUST DO THIS, BUT NEED TO DO IT USING A LOGICAL STRATEGY, NOT ACTING OUT AS MANIACS. That’s what they’ll be expecting.

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