Friday, August 6, 2021

John F. Kennedy vs. the Empire


John F Kennedy JFK British Empire imperialism nationalism assassination treason progress feudalism oligarchy republic

When Kennedy returned from his celebrated World War II Naval service and plunged into politics, he aimed to set the world back on the path of his late Commander-in-Chief, Franklin Roosevelt, and to bury imperialism.

In his first political speech, to the American Legion post in Boston, Nov. 18, 1945, in anticipation of a run for Congress, he explained Winston Churchill's recent electoral defeat by contrasting the outlook of Churchill's party with that of Franklin Roosevelt.

Churchill's Conservative Party had governed England

"during the years of the depression when poverty stalked the Midlands and the coal fields of Wales, and thousands and thousands lived off the meager pittance of the dole. Where Roosevelt made his political reputation by his treatment of the depression, the Conservative Party lost theirs."

And the English voters had been jolted by that contrast when soldiers from Roosevelt's America were stationed there in wartime:

"England traditionally has been a country with tremendous contrasts between the very rich and the very poor. That arch Tory, Benjamin Disraeli, ... once stated that England was divided into two nations—the rich and the poor.... With the ... coming of the American troops with their high pay, with their stories of cars, refrigerators, and radios for all, a new spirit—a new restlessness—and a fresh desire for the better things of life had become strong in Britain."

But Kennedy warned that even if the Labour Party were in power, "Britain stands today as Britain has always stood—for the empire."

In that speech, Kennedy spoke also of the heroic Michael Collins, leader of the 1922 Irish armed revolt against Britain:

"This young man, who was killed in his early thirties, looms as large today in Ireland as when he died."

In the view of the post-World War II Irish leaders, "everything that Ireland has ever gotten from England has been only at the end of a long and bitter struggle.... All have been in British and Irish prisons and many of them have wounds which still ache when the cold rains come in from the west." Kennedy named "the fundamental problem behind all Irish politics—the problem of ending the partition, which divides the twenty-six counties of the south, which form Eire, and the six counties of the north known as Ulster which are attached directly to Great Britain. That this partition must be ended ... all Irishmen agree."

John Kennedy's own family had been shaped over many generations in Ireland's bitter conflict with the British.  (more...)

John F. Kennedy vs. the Empire

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