On the night of January 17th 1961, just before he stepped down as President, Dwight Eisenhower delivered a farewell message to the American people. It was an important moment in the American experience.

While I have serious issues with any politician, I like to meet people where they are, and I think that anyone born as far back as 1890 deserves a little bit of slack: it’s not fair to expect him to know everything I know. And Ike (his nickname) seems to have been a serious, thoughtful man.

Ike’s farewell speech is remembered by some because it contained the phrase “military-industrial complex,” but there was more than that in the speech. (Which you can watch in full here.) Eisenhower – on his way out of government – defined three serious problems that have caused great ruin since. He warned the American people.

The problems he warned about, however, went right on, and the American people let them. I think it’s a good thing to revisit them:

THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

Here is what Eisenhower said:

We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals…

In other words, this is a serious threat people. YOU have to prevent it from getting out of control, or it will deprive you of your rights.

Result: The people failed and the military-industrial complex (now the military-intel-political-media complex) has shredded the Bill of Rights. Airports are no-rights zones, the NSA is tasked with violating the 4th amendment, the boss of the DHS may as well be Reichsfuhrer, fear is sold continuously, and a long list of abuses follow.

Whatever his failings may have been, Eisenhower did his job and warned the American people about this.

STATE CONQUEST OF SCIENCE

Not many people have paid attention to it, but Ike also warned about research being taken over by the state. That is a very big deal, though few people have paid it much attention.

He said:

The free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution… a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

Result: It happened exactly as Eisenhower worried it might. The Approval Certificate industry rules over all research and all approved knowledge, like a fat, arrogant pasha. “Education” strangles knowledge yet demands not only obedience, but perpetual worship.

Ike was ignored and the intellectual life of millions was pushed into squalor. Ah, well…

BANKRUPTING THE GRANDKIDS

Utterly forgotten is Ike warning the nation about the one thing that they went on to do more than anything else: Spend every cent they could find, times five… enough to keep the next ten generations in debt slavery. Here’s what he warned:

[We] must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage.

Result: Eisenhower was called an ageing fuddy-duddy, assigned to the “old” generation, and generally relegated to “boring” status… but he was dead-on right.

REMEMBER, REMEMBER…

America was warned. Perhaps its moral dissolution was already unstoppable by that point, but between January 17 1961 and today, millions of people could have tried a lot harder than they did.

Now the lesson rests upon us. We need to do better than our predecessors… a LOT better.

 

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