Professor John Wegner
December 14, 2015
America: Reform and Conflict
Eisenhower’s speech and the Port Huron Statement draw correlations on several levels, but the most prevalent is the issue of protecting democracy in the United States.
In Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, he argues that while our military has greatly evolved in the years since World War II, he is concerned with “the potential disastrous rise of misplaced power…the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture…(and) the technological revolution…” He philosophizes that the individual has been overshadowed by the advances in science and technology of the fifties and how government funding is the motivation behind these new discoveries as opposed to the research based on “intellectual curiosity” as it had been in the past.
To that end, the Port Huron Statement theorizes that “there are few new prophets…our own generation is plagued by program without vision…there is an astute grasp of method, technique…but, if pressed critically, such expertise is incompetent…” Later in the Statement, they express the desire for “the establishment of democracy of individual participation….the individual share in those social decisions determining the quality and direction of his life;(and) that society be organized to encourage independence in men….”
Without using the exact same phrasing, both documents discuss how the democracy of the United States has shifted away from a for the people, by the people to a constant state of having the next biggest invention at the ultimate cost of individual thinking. The lecture stated that “over 1400 retired military officers were then employed by the nation's largest defense contractors, many serving on boards of directors”. This, with the downturn of heavy industry in the late 1950s set the country on course for almost certain destruction, having gotten too caught up in the next potential advancement in warfare.
Both documents address the ideal that human beings as a whole have become a carpe diem society, but not in a good way. They stress that lack of individualism and making the world a better place for future generations is key. However, the threat of that...