The Most Revolutionary Act

Diverse Ramblings of an American Refugee

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
New Plymouth, New Zealand
December 02
Retired psychiatrist, activist and author of 2 young adult novels - Battle for Tomorrow and A Rebel Comes of Age - and a free ebook 21st Century Revolution. My 2010 memoir The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee describes the circumstances that led me to leave the US in 2002. More information about my books (and me) at


NOVEMBER 13, 2012 9:28PM

My Introduction to Socialism (Age 10)

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“There were no poor people in the land of Oz, because there was no such thing as money, and all property of every sort belonged to the Ruler. Each person was given freely by his neighbors whatever he required for his use, which is as much as anyone may reasonably desire. Every one worked half the time and played half the time, and the people enjoyed the work as much as they did the play, because it is good to be occupied and to have something to do.” L. Frank Baum.

A reader has recently turned me on to William Still’s 2009 film, The Secret of Oz, about the socialist writer L. Frank Baum, who happens to be my earliest political influence. In addition to his outrageously popular The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Baum wrote thirteen sequels in which Dorothy returns to Oz for further adventures. Many of his later books provide detailed depictions of Oz (always governed by women) as socialist utopias. I still vividly recall one of the more remote regions of Oz being governed by a young woman who is required by law to dress in plain clothing and live in a crude one room hut.

According to numerous scholars, parts of Baum’s 1900 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are loaded with symbols related to monetary reform, which was at the core of the Populist movement and the 1896 and 1900 presidential bids of Populist Democrat William Jennings Bryan. The yellow brick road represents the gold standard, the Scarecrow farmers, the Tin Man industrial workers, the Wicked Witch of the West Cleveland banker  J.D. Rockefeller, the Wicked Witch of the East (NY banker J.P.Morgan), the Cowardly Lion William Jennings Bryant (who abandoned the call for monetary reform), the Emerald City of Oz (greenback money) and Dorothy’s silver slippers (changed to ruby slippers in the movie) Bryant’s call to introduce silver coins (in addition to gold-backed currency) to ease the money shortage during the 1890s depression.

This is clearly Still’s take on the controversy, though the primary purpose of the film is to explain the creation and control of debt-based money by private bankers.

Still traces the politics of monetary reform back to 30 AD, when a Nazarene carpenter engaged in violent direct action in a Jerusalem synagogue to evict the private bankers who sold the silver coins collected as temple tax. He also explores the use of state-controlled money in the American colonies and the early United States. He focuses particular attention on periods in which private banks deliberately shrank the money supply to trigger depressions (to increase profits or achieve specific political objectives), as well as efforts by Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson to end private corporate control of money. Both Jackson and Lincoln oversaw periods in which the federal government issued debt-free money. The former was the only president to ever pay off the national debt.



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Thank you for sharing your fine piece. I have never been an ardent capitalist -- or socialist, for that matter. Neither one is perfect. I have traveled to other countries and know that I know that I know that we tell ourselves, here in the US, that we are better off, not because our system is better -- but it is in the DNA of our overly sentimental culture, which lends itself to this belief that we are one giant machine of Christmas morning giving, as we hop on the Salvation Army band wagon, joining in with the other driven elves of mercy. This is our reckoning, as we are not so much more giving that our Asian and European cousins. We like our sentiments salted lightly, yet with its requisite double- coating of honey. We love this "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE" fantasy.
All that I really know, for absolutely certainty, is when I had lived in Denmark, I saw not one apparently poor person. There were plenty of places that a challenged student like myself could find food and shelter for almost nothing. And I loved it. The people are not verbose or brash, just down to it. I found the same thing in Amsterdam and France. They were more concerned with the quality of the moment at your very hand, than worrying about how much more or less taxes one pays than ones friends and neighbors.
The days of some measure of Socialism will always be with us to some degree. Let's look at what works, forget the labels of other people, their tired old constructs that do not work ...
R>>>>>>>>>> Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
You make some really profound points. I agree with Charles Eisenstein in "Sacred Economics" that profound fear and insecurity drive American concern with wealth accumulation and taxes. That's one really good thing about having a safety net - it allows people room to worry about more important things.
Once again I am highly impressed by a video you have shared with us. Well worth the two hours spent on it.

I have begun mentioning, to a few close acquaintances, what I'm in the process of learning about how our present money is created by the banks, of the banks, and to the banks profit. People seem to understand that quickly and easily.

What I'm having more difficulty with is government issued money." I repeatedly get asked, "But what value can it have if it isn't 'based on' something of value?"

My response is a bit unsure due to me being so new to this idea and not yet having a grasp of its intricacies and implications, but goes something like this:

1) Debt based money (that is issued by the banks) is only based on future wealth created by your labour (as is all wealth) on the assumption that you will use the income from your future labour to "pay back" the money you borrowed from the banks, which you have agreed to do.

2) Government issued money is backed by the entire wealth of the nation as well as the value of the wealth to be created by your future labour.

I may misunderstand this. If so please correct me.


Very interesting post. I'll read more about Baum's work later. It is very interesting to see how much WofO is adored by the American public (the movie at least). Yet, its premise is based on socialism.
The Doh moment for me is that although I'd read that Baum was a socialist and progressive, until I read your post, I never realized the metaphors in Oz... sneaky socialists trying to corrupt the minds of our children!!! R&R ;-)
What amuses me about the Wizard of Oz is the fact that hardly any religious people seem to have noticed that it is a satire of their religion and the characteristics they attribute to God as well. Hardly any secularists seem to mention this either.
You got it, Sky. That's exactly how it works. The only point I would add is that the banks create and manipulate money to increase their own profits, by sucking it out of the economy as a whole.

Thanks, Kanuk, for pointing out this irony.

I guess I must have been thoroughly corrupted, jmac. And re-corrupted as I read many of the books to my own daughter.

Great point, Zachery, about the religious satire in the Wizard of Oz.