- This writer just completed a six-part series on Ellen
Brown's remarkable 2007 book titled "Web of Debt." This article
follows from it by picking up on the theme she struck, using L. Frank Baum's
"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" as a combination parable, monetary
allegory, and political manifesto for change at a time it's most needed.
- Published in 1900 as an American fairytale, it became
a popular staple, later made into the classic 1939 film staring Judy Garland,
the 1975 award-winning Broadway musical, The Wiz, featuring the first-ever
all-black cast, followed by a hit film on the stage production.
- As Brown explained, who would have thought this "charming
tale....was drawn from that most obscure and tedious of subjects, banking
and finance," and (in the wrong hands) the chokehold they have on
societies. Who understood that it was "all about people power, manifesting
your dreams, (and) finding what you wanted in your own backyard."
Who also could have imagined that "the real-life folk heros who inspired
(Baum's) plot may have had the answer to" today's global economic
- Brown began by quoting Hans Schicht in a 2005 editorial
headlined "The Death of Banking and Macro Politics" in which
- "Through a network of anonymous financial spider
webbing only a handful of global King Bankers own and control it all....Everybody,
people, enterprise, State and foreign countries, all have become slaves
chained to the Banker's credit ropes."
- Schicht continued saying:
- -- "Big Brother has come to us in the striped suit
of the Banker" robbing everyone through "legal tribute in the
form of interest...."
- -- "Modern fiat banking has developed into an instrument
of usurpation and people control....a form of government, 'bankdoms,' (much
like) kingdoms, republics, (or) dictatorships" but more subtle.
- -- Today, "The New World Order wants open frontiers
for international finance, but (that's like) asking the house owner to
leave the doors unlocked for the burglar to have easy access" and
be able to strip it bare.
- Today, international bankers are looting world economies
with the aim of turning them into Guatemala - subjugated, unempowered,
enslaved, and impoverished like in Orwell's classic dystopian novel - "Nineteen
Eighty-Four." He warned that:
- "Big Brother is watching you (and) If you want a
vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."
- In "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," Baum struck
a different theme even though he claimed to have written it "solely
to pleasure the children." Some scholars, however, see another purpose,
allegorically portrayed in his characters:
- -- Dorothy is the typical American girl; in her case,
a rural Midwestern one;
- -- the Scarecrow is the American farmer;
- -- the Tin Woodman is the American factory worker;
- -- the Cowardly Lion is silver advocate William Jennings
Bryan, best remembered for his 1896 Democratic National Convention "Cross
of Gold" speech in which he railed against banker-controlled gold-backed
- -- the Munchkins are Eastern "little people"
who didn't understand how banking wizards control money, the economy and
government - much like how ignorant most people are today;
- -- the Wicked Witches rule the East and West where Populists
had little influence; the Good Witches control the North and South corresponding
to agrarian regions of the country;
- -- the Wicked Witch of the West refers to Republican
imperialists who captured the Philippines (the Yellow Winkies representing
all the enslaved), slaughtered six hundred thousand or more people, then
occupied and controlled the country;
- -- the Winged Monkeys represent Native Americans - slaughtered,
displaced, and put under authoritarian rule;
- -- the Hammerheads were hard-headed men who perpetuated
regional differences between North and South;
- -- the Wizard of Oz holds real power as the wizard of
the gold ounce, oz being the abbreviation of ounce;
- -- Oz is also where the wicked witches and banking wizards
- -- the Emerald City is Washington;
- -- the Yellow Brick Road refers to a gold one (or gold
standard) leading to Oz, home of the wicked banking Witches;
- -- Dorothy's magic silver slippers represented the silver
standard and Populists' goal of replacing gold with bimetallism; they were
Ruby Red in the film to highlight the new Technicolor technology; by clicking
her heels three times and repeating "There's no place like home,"
Dorothy's instantly transported to Kansas; after awakening, however, she
discovers her slippers fell off, symbolizing the demise of silver coinage
as a form of currency; and
- -- she and her friends' march on Oz recreated businessman/populist
Jacob Coxey's Army 1894 march on Washington to demand jobs and the return
to debt and interest-free Greenbacks.
- Like the early 20th century Populists, Brown explained
that "Dorothy and her troop discovered that they had the power to
solve their own problems and achieve their own dreams." The Wizard
of Oz embodies "the American dream (and) national spirit" potential
to realize it.
- At the end of Baum's tale, the Witches are exposed as
crude fakes and vanquished. Hope springs eternal as a result. The Tin Man
actually has a heart. The Cowardly Lion finds courage. The Tin Woodman
is emboldened by a bimetallic tool, a gold ax with a silver blade, and
the Scarecrow learns he's intelligent, not stupid. When the Wizard disappears
in his hot air balloon, he becomes leader of Oz. The Tin Woodsman rules
the West, representing the Populist dream of empowered farmers and workers,
and the Lion protects smaller beasts in "a grand old forest."
- Thereafter, farm interests achieved national prominence,
industrialism moved West, and Bryan commanded only a number of lesser politicians,
far short of his hoped for goal.
- Baum had dark message as well. As Brown explained: "there
are invisible puppeteers pulling the strings of the puppets we see on the
stage, in a show that is largely illusion." The Federal Reserve and
most central bankers rule world economies by controlling their money, their
very lifeblood without which commerce can't function. As long as that continues,
Wicked Witch power will prevail.
- Baum's "Parable on Populism"
- Like Bryan, Baum supported the Free Silver Movement,
and like many others at the time distrusted Eastern bankers. As a result,
writers like Henry Littlefield described his charming fairytale as a "Parable
- Born in 1856 in Syracuse, New York, Baum developed an
early interest in theater, wrote plays, and in 1887 left for Aberdeen,
South Dakota where he edited a local weekly until it failed in 1891. It
was a time when Western farmers lived daily with the stark reality of dry,
open plains and all the hardships they brought - drought, low prices, manipulated
freight rates, and the terrible blizzards of 1886 - 87.
- At this time, the Populist Party was founded - as an
agrarian People's Party opposing gold, supporting free silver, and seeking
government aid without success. As a result, the movement was a desperate
attempt for empowerment by the ballot.
- In 1891, Baum moved to Chicago where he associated with
reform elements. He saw the fallout of the 1893 depression, sided with
working class people, consistently voted Democrat, then later marched in
"torch-like parades" for William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 election.
Yet he wasn't a political activist despite his sympathies with populist
- Henry Littlefield believes that "the original Oz
book conceals an unsuspected depth....(Although) a children's story, (it)
delineated a Midwesterner's vibrant and ironic portrait of (America) as
it entered the twentieth century," beset with serious flaws.
- Besides writing "solely to pleasure children,"
Baum delivered a powerful populist allegory. Littlefield wrote:
- "The Wizard of Oz says so much about so many things
that it is hard not to imagine a satisfied and mischievous gleam in Lyman
Frank Baum's eye as he had Dorothy say (at his story's end), "And
oh, Aunt Em! I'm so glad to be at home again!" - meaning, she "and
her troop had the power to solve their own problems and achieve their own
dreams." So do we, and that's the key message to remember and act
- Lyricist E Y (Yip) Harburg's Anthem of Hope - "Over
the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz
- His son called him "the man who put the rainbow
in The Wizard of Oz." Born in New York in 1896, he became a successful
electrical contractor, then went bankrupt after Wall Street's 1929 crash.
Out of work, George Gershwin's brother Ira introduced him to musician Jay
Gorney. In 1932, they wrote "Brother Can You Spare a Dime," an
anthem reflecting the plight of the unemployed.
- In 1970, Studs Terkel said this about it in his book,
- "In the song the man is really saying: I made an
investment in this country. Where the hell are my dividends? 'Can you spare
a dime?' What the hell is wrong? Let's examine this thing. It's more than
just a bit of pathos. It doesn't reduce him to a beggar. It makes him a
dignified human, asking questions - and a bit outraged, too, as he should
- In Hollywood, his memorable lyrics included issues of
race and class in Finian's Rainbow, "Over the Rainbow" from "The
Wizard of Oz," and the special meaning he imparted. He wrote it for
Judy Garland, Dorothy in the film, who was about to take a journey, and
it began with the working title: "I Want to Get on the Other Side
of the Rainbow," then shortened to "Over the Rainbow." It
- "Somewhere over the rainbow
- Way up high,
- There's a land that I heard of
- Once in a lullaby."
- It's about Dorothy taking a journey, wanting to get out
and go somewhere. In Kansas, the rainbow was the only color she saw. She
wanted to get "over the rainbow (where) skies are blue And the dreams
that you dare to dream Really do come true." It continues:
- "Someday I'll wish upon a star and
- wake up where the clouds are far
- Behind me
- Where troubles melt like lemon drops,
- Away above the chimney tops
- That's where you'll find me
- Somewhere, over the rainbow, bluebirds fly
- Birds fly over the rainbow,
- Why, oh, why can't I?
- If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow,
- Why, oh, why can't I?"
- Harburg's son Ernie wrote his biography titled: "Who
Put the Rainbow in The Wizard of Oz." Interviewed on Democracy Now,
he called the film (and song) an "American artwork because the story,
the plot with three characters, the brain, the heart, the courage, and
finding a home is a universal story for everybody."
- In 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)
began investigating Hollywood's motion picture industry for suspected communist
sympathizers. "Friendly witnesses" came forward and named 19
people accused of having leftist views. Of those, 10 refused to testify
and became known as the "Hollywood Ten," among them authors Ring
Lardner Jr. and Dalton Trumbo, noted for his powerful 1938 anti-war novel,
"Johnny Got His Gun."
- In all, hundreds of actors, directors, producers, screenwriters,
musicians, songwriters, and other artists were blacklisted and denied employment
for their progressive political beliefs. In 1951, Harburg was one of them.
His son called it horrible seeing friends suddenly with no income. There
were divorces, ruined lives, suicides, and in some cases people left the
- Figures like Screen Actors Guild president, Ronald Reagan,
and Walt Disney told the HUAC that communists threatened the film industry
based on hearsay and the tenor of the times - McCarthyism, coined in 1950
for the demagogic senator, infamous for his politically-motivated witch-hunts
until his own his own excesses brought him down.
- Once blacklisted, Harburg returned to New York, found
work on Broadway, then went back to Hollywood in 1962. In 1981, he passed
away at age 84, and in 2005, the US Postal Service honored him with a commemorative
stamp. It's taken from Barbara Bordnick's 1978 photographic portrait along
with a rainbow and lyric from "Over the Rainbow" - where "dreams
that you dare to Dream really do come true."
- Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre
for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday
- Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished
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