21 January 2005

Four freedoms

FDR's four freedoms speech in 1941 is one of my favorite pieces of political rhetoric. It talks about the importance of both positive and negative liberty, and boils down a rights-based political order into four clear principles.

We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.

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.

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.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.

That plus the “inalienable rights” passage from the Declaration of Independence pretty much sums up the core of my political philosophy.

Famously, Norman Rockwell did a series of paintings illustrating the four freedoms. “Freedom of Speech” is easily my favorite, but all of them are indelible images.

But I mention all of this to you not so much to get misty about high political rhetoric as to frame these dark, brilliant little satires from cartoonist Tim Kreider:

That last one is my favorite.


Indri said...

Huh. I didn't realize that the Rockwell Thanksgiving painting was actually one of a series.

I agree with you about "Freedom of Speech"--that's a great one. Not sentimental, just quiet and assured.

Jonathan Korman said...

Yeah, many people don't. To the contemporary eye, Freedom From Want is an idealized picture of family, but in its time it was an idealized picture of food. Which tells you something ...