FDR’s Four Freedoms—Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear—were presented to the American people in his 1941 State of the Union address, and they became the inspiration for a second bill of rights, extending the New Deal and guaranteeing work, housing, medical care, and education. Although the bill never was adopted in a legal sense in this country, its principles pervaded the political landscape for an entire generation, including the War on Poverty and the Great Society reforms of the 1960s. Furthermore, the ideas expressed in the Four Freedoms speech inspired the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But since the late 1970s and early 1980s, these freedoms have been under assault, from administrations of both parties, economic pressures, and finally, the alleged requirements of national security. After 9/11, this process accelerated even more rapidly.
The authors address the hard questions of individual freedom versus national security that are on the minds of Americans of all political stripes. They bring together the pivotal events, leaders, policies, and fateful decisions—often pathbreaking, more often ending in folly—that have subverted our constitutional government from its founding. “You reach the inescapable conclusion,” the authors write, “that the United States is a warrior nation, has been addicted to war from the start, and is able to sustain its warfare habit only by mugging American taxpayers, and believing in its mission as God’s chosen.” With a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich, a journalist, activist, and the author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)
Marcus Raskin is the distinguished fellow and cofounder of the Institute for Policy Studies, the first think tank of its kind. He is also professor of policy studies at George Washington University, a member of the editorial board of the Nation, and author or editor of twenty books, including In Democracy’s Shadow (2005), edited with Carl Le Van, and Liberalism (2004).
Robert Spero, author of The Duping of the American Voter: Dishonesty & Deception in Presidential Television Advertising, served with the Agency for International Development during the Kennedy administration and the president’s domestic Peace Corps group. He is a journalist (Present Tense, the Progressive), consultant to international service organizations, and former advertising executive (Ogilvy & Mather).
“Marcus Raskin has been warning us for decades about the perils and paranoia associated with the National Security State. Raskin as much as anyone in America anticipated the nightmare we are now living. In this new paperback edition of The Four Freedoms Under Siege, Raskin and his coauthor Robert Spero show why it is essential for Congress and the citizenry to force our Executive at long last—to come to terms with a national security policy mechanism that has ended up producing catastrophe domestically and internationally.”
Seymour M. Hersh, contributor to the New Yorker
“Raskin and Spero have written an important book about the corporate state's assault on Franklin Delano Roosevelt's proclamation of the Four Freedoms from his 1941 annual message to Congress. The analysis is compelling. And the need to champion the Four Freedoms—Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear—is overwhelming.”
“Provides a thorough and sobering account of how gravely certain leaders have betrayed the very rights that our fellow Americans first articulated. This accessible and compelling book belongs on the shelves of all who seek to think critically about liberty, justice, and our government. Fully restoring these fundamental and universal rights is of first priority, and Raskin and Spero have created an airtight case for the call.”
Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI)