Prompt: Did all four of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms promote liberty?
Each one of Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms promote a different outlook on how much power a government should have. The first two are fairly basic to classic American beliefs, while the latter two are far more ambitious and revolutionary. I’ll go over them in order.
“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world.”
This first freedom does promote liberty, it’s a fundamental part of our constitution. But already Roosevelt is referring to the entire world instead of just America, making his speech seem overambitious and rationally unattainable. America has a track record of sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong, and a US president specifically talking to the world instead of just to his own country seems more than a bit unnecessary.
“The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world.”
Again this is a freedom basic to our constitution, but just like the last Roosevelt shouldn’t be talking to the entire world. An American presidents job is to tackle the issues going on within the states, not to attempt fixing someone else’s problems for them.
“The third is freedom from want–which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants–everywhere in the world.”
This is where Roosevelt’s speech jumps the shark for me. It changes from a basic, yet harmless speech into a big government promoting power trip. A freedom from want, as Roosevelt describes, could only be accomplished by the government completely taking over the free market. Its akin to communism, the people gain this “freedom from want” because the government steps in and provides for them the bare necessities. This doesn’t at all take into account or even acknowledge the equivalent exchange the people would have to trade for this governmental take over (which most likely would translate to higher taxes), but it also hints at reforming the entire structure of the free market worldwide. Want is not something to be antagonized, want is the oil that keeps the wheels of free trade running smoothly. Without want (or in other words without a balanced number of consumers in comparison to the producers) the entire ecosystem of commerce falls apart.
I’ll use the example of the food chain, if all the prey is moved to a fenced in pen and provided with food from the government then it no longer has to go searching for food. If the prey no longer searches for food then it never steps foot into the predators domain, and with that the predators starve. Translated into economical terms this would mean the producers go bankrupt, for if the government provides for the people all that they need the people stop spending money elsewhere. I’ll give it to Roosevelt that it is a hopeful declaration, everyone wishes that all the nations of the world could live in a never-ending flourish of peace and providence. But economically speaking unless a major reform took place its simply not possible.
“The fourth is freedom from fear–which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world.”
If you thought that the last freedom was unattainably arrogant than Roosevelt just stepped up the worldwide domination proclamation to a whole new level. What Roosevelt just suggested is a worldwide pillage under the facade of a peaceful neighborly transaction. The “freedom from fear” is as hopefully naive as it is destructively brilliant. If someone wanted to completely uproot the way countries have bargained, exchanged, and protected themselves for the last few hundred years this would certainly be a effective way to go about it. Phrasing it as if repossessing all the weapons of the world would be bloodless is some of the best mass manipulation I’ve ever heard. In reality if someone were to attempt this it would be chaos. Many countries would simply refuse to hand over all their protection, and the ones who accepted would now be a massive target for any groups looking to attack the unprepared. Roosevelt was certainly an optimist, but in world affairs one needs to be more of a realist.
In conclusion Roosevelt’s speech was extremely ambitious, and it certainly seemed worldly peace was what the late president was after. But you can’t expect all the other countries of the world to act as your chess pieces, even if peace is the goal. Roosevelt should have focused on Americas internal issues instead of trying to reestablish a new worldly order. American presidents need to focus on bettering America instead of getting involved with other countries wirings, maybe then we could actually make a real positive difference towards our citizens day to day lives.