Raimondo’s article “Apocalypse Now – Or Apocalypse Later” is, to use a term I dislike but must acknowledge is appropriate, a must read. Indeed, I believe that this article is so important that I will do something else I dislike, urge all readers to spread Raimondo’s article to all parts of the social web. The excerpt below is the heart of the article as it nicely summarizes why the US government justifies perpetrating seemingly never ending atrocities around the world while spewing forth nauseating pronouncements of piety. Astute readers will note the strong influence of Rothbard upon Raimondo’s analysis.
‘Fraught with all kinds of pseudo-religious overtones, and explicated by a cadre of intellectuals dedicated to the worship of the war god, the American ideology of “exceptionalism” justifies the empire in the name of destiny. It’s America’s destiny to show the world the way forward, according to this doctrine: we were meant to liberate mankind from its chains and lift up the teeming masses so they can learn to appreciate the wonders of capital-‘D’ Democracy.
In 19th century America, this ideology went by the name of “progressivism,” and was the invention of those who saw themselves as “liberals.” The New Republic magazine exemplified their ideas and their conceits, which were often the same thing: they saw themselves as on the cutting edge, the avatars of modernity: the idea of “progress” was their religion, and World War I was their holy war – the “war to end all wars.”
This rising ideology of American imperialism had two aspects, one theological and the other secular.
In the early 1800s there arose in New England a new revivalism that augured the rise of evangelical Protestantism as the dominant religious doctrine in this country. It was centered around the idea of post-millennial pietism: that is, the idea that Christ would return to the world and receive his Kingdom only after the earth had been purified and swept clean of sin. In short, it was up to human beings to establish the Kingdom of God on earth – then and only then would Christ consent to return and mankind would be saved. Indeed, they came to believe they could hasten the coming of Christ by reforming the world.
Thus from the beginning the prohibitionist movement and the so-called Social Gospel – support for economic regulation, labor unions, and Big Government in general – were intertwined. Social improvement meant the abolition not only of drunkenness but also of poverty, child labor, sexual promiscuity, and inheritable diseases. The solution: Big Government, which would abolish poverty, outlaw child labor, crack down on promiscuity, and establish a program of eugenics that would sterilize the flawed, the weak, and the criminal element so that only “healthy” children would be born.
And not content to reform their own country, the messianic pietists, both religious and secular, soon set their sights on the rest of the world. Government was their chosen instrument of reform at home, and so it was abroad, where the US military was sent to Christianize and lift up the Cubans, the Puerto Ricans, and the Filipinos. Teddy Roosevelt was the perfect embodiment of their ambitions,: bombastic, moralistic, hectoring, and possessed of a seemingly inexhaustible energy which he utilized in the single-minded pursuit of power, Teddy was the War Party’s perfect leader and symbol.
World War I was the culmination of this trend in American intellectual life: a struggle in which all the strains of moralism, fanaticism, and bigotry swirling beneath the surface of society rose to the top and shot out, geyser-like, from the depths of the American soul. The campaign against alcohol took on patriotic colors as the beer-drinking Germans were demonized, isolated, and often lynched by furious crowds. Alcohol-free zones were declared around all army bases, and drunk soldiers were court-martialed. Alcohol was seen as a subversive substance, planted by German brewers – agents of the Kaiser! – in order to weaken the moral and martial spirit of the country.
The same pietist fervor that arose in the country at large with the burgeoning evangelical movement came to dominate the intellectuals, who took concepts based in religious experience and gave it secular form. The Social Gospel of the preachers was transformed, in their hands, into the socialism of the economic planners, and the fashionable doctrines of collectivism that promised the Kingdom of God on earth – without the inconvenient presence of God. The quintessential American philosophy of pragmatism and the new “social science,” John Dewey, jumped on the war bandwagon when it came rolling along, triumphantly proclaiming the “end of business” as the government assumed control of production, prices, and distribution on goods in the name of the war effort. We cannot go back to the old system of production for profit, he gleefully proclaimed: from now on the State would take the lion’s share of the national wealth and redistribute it on a “scientific” basis.
The New Republic, owned by a prominent investment banker associated with the House of Morgan, took the lead as the Voice of the War Party. The first issue of that now august publication was devoted to extolling the political and economic effects of war collectivism, hailing the total mobilization of national resources in the service of the state, as a progressive development. Founded by Willard Straight, a partner in the investment banking firm of J. P. Morgan, and his heiress wife, Dorothy Whitney, the magazine has since that time been the veritable bellwether of the War Party’s latest projects.
The New Republic became a platform for the socialist Walter Lippmann, and Herbert Croly, the chief theoretician of Teddy Roosevelt’s “New Nationalism,” the fountainhead of cutting edge progressive thought. Backed by Straight’s wife’s money, the new magazine soon became the chief cheerleader for Wilson’s war to make the world safe for democracy.
It was a crusade that married all the worst trends in American life: the rising evangelical fervor of the masses, the collectivist trends gaining traction among the intellectuals, and – behind the scenes, and yet playing a key role in all this – certain financial interests, namely the Morgan interests, who directly profited from the Great War, and bet on an Allied victory.
For the Morgan interests, which had been tied up in railroads, were suffering greatly until they acquired exclusive rights to market the war bonds of the British and French governments. The House of Morgan also had big investments in war materials supplied to the Allies. The future of the Morgan financial empire depended on an Allied victory and their extensive network of pet intellectuals were the spearhead of the War Party as the US entered World War I.
World War I dealt a devastating blow to our old republic: it not only marked the beginning of America’s entry onto the world stage but also the real beginning of our march down the road to a mixed economy. The two great instruments of centralized State power – the Federal Reserve system and the income tax – were imposed at this juncture, and US could not have entered or fought the war without them. For the first time in its modern history, the federal government could create funds out of thin air – and from that moment on the dogs of war were unleashed. No wonder the 20th century would turn out to be the bloodiest century in human history.‘