Sunday, September 19, 2010


With the Teaparty and its recent gains, progressives need to bite and fight back as we did 100 years ago in national and presidential elections. We need real progressive people in office to fight off the fascists and luke-warm leaders we have now.

This 2010 to 2012 election period appears to be the best time for progressives to make a response to demagoguery and fascism. That is, if the people or electorate wake up.
In 1900, Frank Baum once wrote the Midwesterners perspective on the national cultural wars of the day. I would like to share the scenario to you (BELOW) here and ask you to identify the characters and monsters we are facing in both the 2010 and 2012 elections.
The following summary was used, by the way, in a Wall Street editorial some years ago. (Here is the scorecard to identify the players then. Who are they now in 2010?) --KAS

For those interested in L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" (1900) as a populist novel, the following translation table and discussion are helpful:
In the Wizard of Oz: Meaning:
----------------------- ---------------------
Oz ounce (oz) of gold
Dorothy "Everyman"
Tin Woodsman industrial worker
Scarecrow farmer
Cowardly Lion William Jennings Bryan, populist
Munchkins the "little people"
Yellow Brick Road gold standard
Toto a dog
"In the story, Dorothy is swept away from Kansas in a tornado and arrives in a mysterious land inhabited by `little people.' Her landing kills the Wicked Witch of the East (bankers and capitalists), who `kept the munchkin people in bondage.'
"In the movie, Dorothy begins her journey through the Land of Oz wearing ruby slippers, but in the original story Dorothy's magical slippers are silver [a reference to the bimetallic system advocated by W.J. Bryan]. Along the way on the yellow brick (gold) road, she meets a Tin Woodsman who is `rusted solid' (a reference to the industrial factories shut down during the depression of 1893). The Tin Woodsman's real problem, however, is that he doesn't have a heart (the result of dehumanizing work in the factory that turned men into machines).
"Farther down the road Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, who is without a brain (the farmer, Baum suggests, doesn't have enough brains to recognize what his political interests are). [Shades of Marx's critique of peasants!] Next Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion, an animal in need of courage (Bryan, with a load roar but little else). Together they go off to Emerald City (Washington) in search of what the wonderful Wizard of Oz (the President) might give them.
"When they finally get to Emerald City and meet the Wizard, he, like all good politicians, appears to be whatever people wish to see in him. He also plays on their fears.... But soon the Wizard is revealed to be a fraud--only a little old man `with a wrinkled face' who admits that he's been `making believe.' `I am just a common man,' he says. But he is a common man who can rule only by deceiving the people into thinking that he is more than he really is.
"`You're a humbug,' shouts the Scarecrow, and this is the core of Baum's message. Those forces that keep the farmer and worker down are manipulated by frauds who rule by deception and trickery; the President is powerful only as long as he is able to manipulate images and fool the people. [Politics doesn't change, does it?]
"Finally, to save her friends, Dorothy `melts' the Wicked Witch of the West (just as evil as the East), and the Wizard flies off in a hot-air balloon to a new life. The Scarecrow (farmer) is left in charge of Oz, and the Tin Woodsman is left to rule the East. This populist dream of the farmer and worker gaining political power was never to come true, and Baum seems to recognize this by sending the Cowardly Lion back into the forest, a recognition of Bryan's retreat from national politics.
"Dorothy is able to return to her home with the aid of her magical silver shoes, but on waking in Kansas, she realizes that they've fallen off, representing the demise of the silver coinage issue in American politics."
Source: Michael A. Genovese, _Los Angeles Times_, 19 March 1988. (He teaches Political Science and is director of the Peace Studies program at Loyola Marymount University, where I teach.)
It's amazing what I do to keep from writing my final exams.
Jim Devine BITNET: jndf@lmuacad INTERNET: Econ. Dept., Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles, CA 90045-2699 USA 310/338-2948 (off); 310/202-6546 (hm); FAX: 310/338-1950 if bitnet address fails, try jndf@lmuacad.bitnet


Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

Why ‘The Wizard of Oz’ is the most popular film of all timeWhat ‘The Wizard of Oz’ reveals about ourselves

By Ilan Shrira on June 4, 2010

According to the Library of Congress, The Wizard of Oz (from 1939) is the most watched film ever. This is due in part to its regular broadcast on network TV beginning in the 1950s.

What’s made the film so timeless? What does it tell us that we find so appealing?

One interesting collection of insights comes from the writer Salman Rushdie, who shows that The Wizard of Oz has been successful because it embodies some of our most enduring values. At the same time, it also raises some provocative ideas.

Power and powerlessness

One prominent theme revolves around the inadequacy of adults—their inability to live up to expectations and to face down the larger forces in life. Adults, especially the good adults, are portrayed as powerless.

In the beginning, for example, Auntie Em and Uncle Henry are unable to prevent the wicked Miss Gulch from taking Toto away (after she gets bitten by him). They’re also helpless to protect their farm, or to protect Dorothy, from the oncoming tornado. Later, the film’s defining moment comes when we learn that the all-powerful Wizard is in fact powerless. These episodes will be disappointing to younger viewers, but they should hardly surprise older viewers, who are well-accustomed to the fallibility of adults. Is the film trying to convey this reality to children too?

2:53 PM  

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