Monday, January 07, 2008

Shaking Off Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow WilsonFor those of us who are attempting to unlearn the decades-long indoctrination that is now known as “political correctness”, an essential part of the process is dethroning the icons of modern liberalism. From an American viewpoint this has meant looking at JFK and FDR with a jaundiced eye, but we also need to go even further back, all the way to Thomas Woodrow Wilson.

Woodrow Wilson is the only scion of the Commonwealth of Virginia whose election to the presidency I would rather forget. Wilson did much mischief in his conduct of American foreign policy, and we have yet to shake off his legacy. From Versailles to the UN to the idealism of George W. Bush: we set out to make the world safe for democracy, and ended up making it unsafe for just about everyone.

What is rarely recognized is how much Wilson had in common with Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, and all the other murderous socialist dictators of the 20th century. Like them, he believed that humankind could be reshaped by the idealistic vision of the privileged few who governed them. Like them, he was loath to allow the reality of human nature to stand in the way of his vision.

Shaking off Wilsonianism is a worthwhile goal. In the comments to last night’s post, Conservative Swede had some interesting things to say on this topic in response to a comment by Zenster. In consultation with me, he presents this revised version:

The forms of government we had in Europe before the drastic change into a Wilsonian world order — and American style modern democracy — were mixed systems. The systems mixed monarchic, oligarchic and democratic elements, and during the 19th century the democratic element carried substantial weight within them. All wise political thinkers before WWI spoke in favour of a mixed constitution, such as Burke, Machiavelli or Aristotle (with his Politeia). Also the Founding Fathers of America — who explicitly stated that they wanted to avoid democracy in their constitution — referred in their constitution to a republic.

Spogbolt wrote an interesting post about Burke’s view of a mixed constitution and the democratic component of it.

But, for simplicity, let’s just speak of Monarchy vs. Democracy, for the sake of the argument. LN just sent me an email with this good quote by our Homophobic Horse:

Socialists are also opposed to the nation state because it suggests that people have a territory to be ruled as they see fit. In a socialist society no one is permitted territory, it allows people to create and examine their own thoughts, which is something that cannot be controlled.

The guardsWhen things are privately owned they are taken care of and they thrive. When ownership is unclear, undefined, or public, things fall apart.

Monarchy means that there is an owner of the country. In democracy there are only caretakers, who will be gone after a while and won’t have to face the consequences of their actions. I recommend reading Hans-Herman Hoppe who presents this argument very well. Here’s the introduction to his book Democracy: The God That Failed. Using the core argument in favour of capitalism — that private ownership is the best solution — he argues that monarchy is superior to democracy. However, Hoppe is a paleo-libertarian, and later on degenerates into advocating an anarcho-capitalist system. But his argument regarding Monarchy vs. Democracy is nevertheless well presented.

The reason we have mass democracy today is that America is ruling our civilization. The change from mixed constitutions to pure democracy happened virtually overnight in Europe by the end of WWI (read about it in the Hoppe link above). To Americans, democracy appears to be self-evident. They got their political system for free from the Brits (who built their institutions in so many places around the world).

The election law of 1430 was applied in America just as in Britain, with the same land-ownership requirement. However, compare the tiny island of Britain with the vast landscapes of America. In practice every grown man in America could get enough land to earn the right to vote, so therefore universal suffrage came to be seen as the natural and self-evident thing among Americans.

There was never any reflection about why the institutions they inherited from the Brits worked in the first place. Instead there was a fundamental animus against Old Europe, the oppression the Quakers and the Puritans had escaped from. Add to it the colonial oppression of the Brits, and later on a condescending view of Europe as a result of WWI and WWII. This didn’t provide a context for Americans to ask themselves why the institutions they inherited from the Brits worked. Instead pride was taken in how things were done differently, and how America was more egalitarian.
- - - - - - - - -
Since then this concept of American democracy has been spread around the world. Now our civilization is falling apart, because there are only “caretakers”, but nobody really taking care of things, nobody really caring. No one responsible. Democracy is socialism applied to the highest level: the form of government.

Apart from the egalitarian and revolutionary identity, America has the identity of former colony in its backbone. And this is the main reason why America has never been able to operate properly as an empire. It has an underdog mentality, in which other countries can never be invaded and taken over (as the Brits did); it’s only allowed to “liberate” people — this is the model of thinking.

Niall Ferguson pointed this out regarding the Mexican problem. If the Americans had been the British Empire, they would have invaded and taken over a long time ago. But Americans just can’t do that. It’s a mental blockage as strong as the one the main character in Clockwork Orange got via his therapy by the end of the movie, which rendered him incapable even of the necessary action for self-defense. It’s like a chip in the brain saying: “Error! Illegal operation!” “Invading and taking over other country impossible. We former colony. Must only liberate.”

The model is as simple as it is clear: “Invading and taking over”, i.e. colonizing, is wrong. Colonial rule is what the Brits did versus the Americans = wrong. Liberation is what the Americans did versus the Brits = right. This limits the range of actions quite substantially for a country that has put itself in the imperial position with respect to a civilization.

In the 19th century we talked about Pax Britannica. In the 20th century we talked about Pax Americana. It’s the same world order, actually. It was created by the Brits and then maintained by the Americans. Take a look at piracy along the coast of Somalia, and you’ll get an idea of what the whole world will look like when this Pax is gone.

America is maintaining it, but could never have created it in the first place. The actions needed to create such an order would trigger the chip in the brain of Americans and generate “Error! Illegal operation!” And this is where the fundamental problem is, because you won’t be able to maintain it in the long run, without the ability to re-create it.

So I’m kind of torn here. On one hand I support America in its maintenance of this order, and fully see how it’s ultimately defended by military means. And that peaceful trading, etc., is far from self-evident. But on the other hand, I regret that it’s America in this position, since it’s not in its nature to be able to uphold it in the long run.

Our best hope is that the revolutionary spirit, which is fundamental among Americans, can be turned against Wilsonian America itself (and some good old settlers’ mentality on top of that). A deep understanding and acceptance of the historical differences between Europe and America, from both sides, will be necessary, if we are going to solve this. Americans, as well as Europeans, will need to reach far back in history (before WWI and further) to find the proper inspiration to face up to this threat. And the further we go back in history, the more we find a common identity.

31 comments:

rickl said...

Good post. I especially like this line:

Democracy is socialism applied to the highest level: the form of government.

From my limited knowledge, it does seem to have been Wilson who first referred to the American system of government as a "democracy". Previous political leaders, including Lincoln, all called it a "republic".

America's Founding Fathers abhorred democracy, and knew that it would lead inevitably to socialism. True, the s-word didn't yet exist in their time, but they clearly understood the principle. Today it sets my teeth on edge whenever I hear a "Republican" politician prattle on about the wonders of "democracy".

I think that the point at which the United States changed from a republic to a democracy occurred in 1913, with the passage of the 16th and 17th amendments. The 16th is well-known since it gave us the federal income tax, but the 17th was at least as important. It provided for the direct popular election of Senators. Prior to that, Representatives in the House were elected by popular vote, but Senators in the Senate were selected by state legislatures (which were also elected by popular vote). The Senate was originally intended to represent the states' interests in Washington. This was an important check on the power of the federal government. That went out the window with the ratification of the 17th amendment, and paved the way for the runaway growth in the power of the federal government in the past century.

I have come to hate the 17th amendment even more than the 16th.

Bilgeman said...

Baron:

You're pretty hard on the lad from Staunton.

"Like them, he believed that humankind could be reshaped by the idealistic vision of the privileged few who governed them."

Yeah...but he was right. They can be. We all are living examples, to one degree or another, of the truth of this belief.

"Like them, he was loath to allow the reality of human nature to stand in the way of his vision."

And in this, he was different from the vast majority of politicians and heads of state,(not to mention teachers and parents), exactly how?

"From Versailles to the UN to the idealism of George W. Bush: we set out to make the world safe for democracy, and ended up making it unsafe for just about everyone."

And what major war has broken out in North America or Europe since the triumph of Democracy in 1945?
They use to run about one big one every 25-30 years prior to 1945.

If Wilson is to blame for Viet Nam, Iraq and Iran, then he should at least also receive credit for the Velvet Revolutions that swept away the Eastern Bloc and the (more or less), peaceful dissolution of the Soviet behemoth.

@ConSwede:

"There was never any reflection about why the institutions they inherited from the Brits worked in the first place."

Uhh, there was plenty of reflection. The fact is that the British institutions weren't working in England.

Oliver Cromwell authored the English Revolution without much input from the Colonies,(save a few New England musketeers), and the beheading of Charles 1st wasn't some Yankee Notion of Equality,(and certainly neither was the Restoration of Charles II).

In fact,"institutional rainwrecks" spilled over over here...there's a reason that the University of Virginia's sports teams are named the Cavaliers, y'know.

The British institution had outlived its own relevancy to the point where it was no longer buoyant...the Wilkes affair and the other scandals of the "Rotten Boroughs" come to mind, as well as the first tricklings into the urban areas of the gin-besotted parents and grandparents of the orphans and unfortunates who would people Dickens' novels, (and set Dr. Karl Marx to looking for a solution).

"Instead pride was taken in how things were done differently, and how America was more egalitarian."

Well, it was, wasn't it? How many Swedes emigrated over, bought some land, and after 7 years of sod-bustin' became full citizens and voted just like evryone else,(more or less)?

Have you ever been to our Great Lakes states? You'd feel pretty at home up there...

After WW1, when for reasons no one could quite believe, the Euro heavyweights had bled themselves white, it was the common men and women who decided to try things our way,(with their own regional "flavors").

It took an even greater bloodletting 20 years later for the experiment to "stick", at least in the Western half of the continent, and the threat of mutual nuclear Amageddon for the Eastern half to come around to the idea that a vote might be a more reasonable alternative to having a kilogram of plutonium fuse in their immediate vicinity.

Pardon, my saying so, but y'all do strike as a somewhat thick-headed and hidebound crew sometimes.

it took Woodrow's generation but ONE good ass-whuppin' to get their minds right with the idea that those black folks were "people"...not "property".
And look how well they learned it.
Wilson's father owned slaves, and Wilson became President of the USA and the clear winner of World War 1.

turn said...

Dagnabbit, that's a fine piece.

My grandpappy served in the Great War and we have the medal to prove it.

But before that he was ordered (by Wilson) to chase that maraudin' Mexican, Pancho Villa, back to where he come from. Where they speak Mexican.

Grandpaw actually got hisself suckered inta buyin' a Mexican Hairless dog-which is a shaved Chihuahua. He felt danged foolish when the hair grew back.

/redneck
* * * * * * * * * *
A multi-volume tome could well be written regarding the world leaders in place at certain historic periods leading up to the formative conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries.

That Wilson didn't throw in until 1917 is somewhat understandable since our there-to-fore overseas adventures included subduing the Barbary pirates more than a century previous and a scuffle with Spain in the neighbor's yard (Cuba) and in a far off place that Spain had no easy way to resupply (The Philippines). We had a little dustup with the Chinese, as well, but there was never an incursion by the US of another overseas land by the Army.

I agree wholeheartedly with the assessment that Wilsonian ideology was responsible for terrible events. For what it's worth, America has never since put an academic in charge (with the exception of Condi Rice).

I disagree vehemently with any assessment that there is some kind of inherent post-colonial angst in the American psyche. Sure, many of us have adopted the victim mentality; that's because a whole political party has found the tactic so useful.

We (and Canada) had the fortune by Providence to settle a land sparsely populated by a paleolithic people (puhlease don't give me any grief about this; a culture that has not yet achieved metal tool-making is stone age)--it doesn't mean that they were any less human--just easier to defeat than, say, the French found the Prussians).

Leaving history aside for a moment, we face two implacable and well-established enemies--Islam and international socialism. Both have made enormous inroads virtually worldwide in the last three decades.

It's clear that most commentors here recognize this and recognize that this will come to either bloody blows or bloody submission. The problem, of course, is the ticking clock, for with every tick Islam is growing in power (not necessarily numbers) and the power of the individual to resist it is being weakened by the MCs (hey! if after a few short years of recognition we can abbreviate to PC, I don't see a reason to spell out multi-culturalists).

Apologies to Dympha re the length of this comment. Yeah, I have my own blog. Would you really have preferred me to post there and link it? Let me know and I will do.

Baron Bodissey said...

Bilgeman --

And what major war has broken out in North America or Europe since the triumph of Democracy in 1945?
They use to run about one big one every 25-30 years prior to 1945.


Actually, I'm referring to the 1939-1945 war. WW had a big part in setting that one up.

Add the French desire for revenge to Wilson's idealism, and you have the witch's brew that helped bring Hitler into being.

There were more prudent courses that could have been taken, but they would have had to compromise on "democracy".

And, no, human nature can't be reshaped. Unless maybe the genetic modification enthusiasts have their way...

xlbrl said...

There are so many things to be said that I must limit myself to one.
The nation-state is indeed vital to civilization. True diversity, not the manufactured kind, is hated by socialist masters for a reason. The cauldron that was the European states for centuries, formed a level of civilization that all other civilizaton had been blocked from. It was often not pretty, but it evolved because nations competed and absorbed the better traits of others.
Alfred North Whitehead--'There is a degree of instability which is inconsistant with civilization. But, on the whole, the great ages have been unstable.'
The socialist cannot stand uncertainty. The European Union is an attempt to eliminate differences, the life of civilization. They think by this they will end war, but they will only end civilization.
No, America does not understand all the things it has unleashed, because it's very existence has changed civilization so tremendously, and the greater the responsibilities she has taken on, the more irresponsible others have become.
It would not shock me to see much of this change over the coming years. People like those at this site will be the first to see it coming over the hill, and some of them will be players.

Baron Bodissey said...

Turn --

We (and Canada) had the fortune by Providence to settle a land sparsely populated by a paleolithic people...

Actually, much of North America was in the Neolithic in 1492 (and 1607). Right here in Virginia the Indians cultivated tobacco, maize, tomatoes, etc.

And, no, your comment isn't too long.

:)

Bilgeman said...

Baron:

"And, no, human nature can't be reshaped. Unless maybe the genetic modification enthusiasts have their way..."

So you're not toilet-trained?

"Actually, I'm referring to the 1939-1945 war. WW had a big part in setting that one up."

I've seen that train of thought. If WW hadn't have intervened, the beligerents would have come to an Armistice.

Is that what you are referring to?

It's an intriguing "what-if",(I'm a Virginian also, so we play this game pretty regularly, in other contexts), but I think that that hypothetical peace would have been very short-lived, and we would have been facing a Communist Europe in, say. 1930, rather than a Europe divided against itself along Free, Brown and Red lines in 1941.

They were THAT riddled with Reds by 1917...even Wilson had AG Palmer round up and expel the Commies and Socialists and Wobblies, in 1920, (IIRC).

If you can ever get your hands on "Out Of The Night" by Jan Valtin, it's a priceless eyewitness testimony of the High Seas Fleet Mutiny in Hamburg that kicked off the collapse of the Kaiser's government.
It's also a cracking good read. Valtin was German Communist sailor, agitator and professiojnal mutineer along the waterfront. Also a right royal bastard who abandoned his wife and child to the Nazis to bolt to America and safety.

His defection to the US and this book, was an influence on Whittaker Chambers to see the light.

If you can get your mitts on it, buy it.
Alliance Publishers Press 1941.

Homophobic Horse said...

"Socialists are also opposed to the nation state because it suggests that people have a territory to be ruled as they see fit. In a socialist society no one is permitted territory, it allows people to create and examine their own thoughts, which is something that cannot be controlled."

A badly written paragraph from me but oh well so long as people 'get it'.

If you want more ideas like that (and better) I suggest reading a genius called Celia Green and her books.

Among her brilliant and furious condemnation of the modern education system you will find such tidbits of wisdom like:

"Centralisation is a state of psychology involving a sense of self-determination and identification with one's life."

This is important. I once wrote that the underlying impulse behind multiculturalism was a psychological state of being in which a subject aligns him/herself into a state of minimal psychic tension with other people. Dymphna described this as "perfect" and has since quoted it herself.

Celia Green on Royalty: Ordinary human psychology accepts no responsibility; makes no decisions, has no sense of importance, and believes itself justified in its attitudes by some consensus of social agreement.

Now, why is it important to identify with ones life? Because most people never do it. Ever.

Contrary to the Buddha, desire is not the cause of suffering, most people have no desires at all. Incidently Buddhism is a case in point, ideas such as "desire causes suffering" is used as an excuse to behave in a typicaly human manner; accepting no responsibility and making no decisions as usual.

But to go back to multiculturalism, it seems the deriliction of responsibility and decline humanity obsession has been made into a kind of game with the Sweden elites. It is a good game because it pointless and destructive and therefore prevents the occurence of thoughts about reality (for example: why does anything exist at all?)

Gaeidhil said...

Perhaps you would like to give credit where credit is due...

The prime moving force for the American Revolution had it's roots in the stock of Scots-Irish originating in Ulster.

If you had a sense of the history of those people you would understand that their view was neither to rule nor to be ruled.

Leaders and or rulers derived their privilege from the people and that was the foundation of the American Republic.

The roots of that concept surely predated the British Empire.

With such a surfeit of stillborns Britain should get its' head out of it's ass and stop laying claims to political midwifery.

When I meet British people fleeing their homeland because of immigrants I have to wonder where the stock of fierce Britons that once populated Britain have hidden their spines.

Britain is in a sorry state of affairs and should get their own house in order before wagging their fingers at the rest of the world.

It is with good reason that they call it Londonstan.

turn said...

Bilgeman-

I could argue that we in the US are less free than a century ago.

I could also argue that the people of Western Europe are less free than 50 years ago.

Did we trade this freedom for some kind of progress that would not have happened otherwise? Don't bother--it's a rhetorical question.

Here's what I believe:
Most humans muddle along attending to their daily needs. Sometimes leaders come amongst us to inspire our better natures to progress--to improve ourselves.

Other 'leaders' arrive on the scene to tell us how to progress--sometimes even legislate us into being better citizens of the corpus.

I have yet to observe a positive development from such--hmm...what is the word I'm looking for?--interference in my life.

I can do just fine without their help, and so can any other viable human.

Mother Theresa never needed to say, "Do as I say".

You're going to find an eyeful here. Something to ponder about those that know better and how they have become the arbiters of our childrens' lives.

turn said...

Baron-

As a native of your closest northern neighbor I'm well aware that cultivation of crops for use and trade was present in Virginia and Maryland. My sole point was simply that opportunistic use of wood, bone and stone without any use of metals is the very definition of paleolithic development.

gaeidhil-

You are quite obviously a passionate Celtiphile and I'll never fault you for that.

Absent the Greco/Roman and Judeo/Christian and, yes, Deist influence of our founders you will never come to a full understanding of what the US was intended to be.

My love to all here. It's 10:55 and lights out was a little while ago.

Taps.

Bilgeman said...

Baron:

Hey.."turn"'s a Merliner!
Who let HIM in?

Cover him while I search his stuff for state-funded mass transit initiatives and crab cakes.

Maryland's Unofficial State Motto:

"If YOU Can Dream It, WE Can Tax It".

G'night turn, don't forget to pay your snoring tax!

Baron Bodissey said...

Bilgeman —

So you’re not toilet-trained?

That’s a spurious comparison, to equate toilet training with the attempt (for example) to eliminate the profit motive from human affairs.

A cornucopia of such daft ideas formed the basis for most of the pernicious ideologies of the 19th and 20th centuries, the ones that eventually resulted in the deaths of hundreds of millions of people.

I didn’t say that human beings can’t be trained. I said that human nature can’t be re-shaped. Much of the deadly ideology that flourished in the 20th century was based on exactly that falllacy: the idea that the essence of human beings can be refashioned to suit the prophecies of a secular millenarian cult.

Woodrow Wilson subscribed to a milder version of the same belief system.

no2liberals said...

Jonah Goldberg has a new book out, Liberal Fascism.
It's receiving some excellent reviews, and he does discuss Woodrow Wilson, among others, as helping advance Marxist ideology in the U.S.
"Indeed, America, as Mr. Goldberg writes, certainly had a "Fascist moment." It was not, however, during the current presidency, but one that extended from progressivism through the New Deal. Mr. Goldberg traces the American roots of liberal fascism to the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, who saw increased state power as an organic and natural development. His administration's War Industries Board laid the basis for future government-industry regulatory agencies that tied business to the new corporate state."
I've got my book ordered.

Alexis said...

I would argue that Woodrow Wilson’s worst long-term legacy was the Europeanization of America’s foreign policy. Wilsonian politics puts undue emphasis on whatever happens in Europe at the expense of ignoring other parts of the world. He was a racist, even by the standards of the time; I have often wondered if his ideas of “self-determination” and the League of Nations were actually means to create an international atmosphere conducive to promoting the secession of a future Southern Confederacy.

There is one other legacy of Woodrow Wilson we must remember – Islamophobia, as in a phobia against angering Muslims. During the early years of World War I, American public opinion was against entering the war against German Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. However, American public opinion was staunchly in favor of declaring war on the Ottoman Empire to avenge atrocities against the Armenian people. Yet, when the time for war came, Woodrow Wilson was scared about angering Turkey because American missionaries in danger of facing the same fate as Armenians.

This led to a private rebuke from former president Theodore Roosevelt.

“The Armenian massacre was the greatest crime of the war, and failure to act against Turkey is to condone it; because the failure to deal radically with the Turkish horror means that all talk of guaranteeing the future peace of the world is mischievous nonsense; and because when we now refuse to war with Turkey we show that our announcement that we meant ‘to make the world safe for democracy’ was insincere claptrap.”

From Theodore Roosevelt to Cleveland Dodge, May 11, 1918. Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, vol. 8, 1316-18. Found in p. 308, The Burning Tigris, by Peter Balakian.


My essential disagreement with Wilsonian democracy is not that it is too democratic, but that the Wilsonian revolution promoted the power of university-educated technocrats, promoted racial hatred against black citizens, promoted anti-German hatred, refused to protect Armenians abroad, and suppressed liberty at home. Although Wilson claimed to promote democracy abroad, he turned the federal government into more of a European-style statist institution.

Alexis said...

From my point of view, no state, whether a monarchy or a republic, can long survive unless there is a de facto aristocracy. Even Jeffersonian ideals promote the concept of a natural aristocracy, as opposed to a hereditary aristocracy. Aristocracy is important because any state, even a democracy, must have a small group of people who are deeply concerned about defending the common order and promoting the common good. These aristocrats may (and usually do) disagree on the proper course of action, but they must be thoroughly loyal to the common order.

The Glorious Revolution in England was not merely a Dutch invasion, but an aristocratic uprising against a King who was prepared to change England’s official religion to Catholicism. Likewise, if the King of Sweden had converted to Islam even one century ago, he would have been deposed and replaced with a Lutheran king. Popular consent does matter, even for a monarchy.

A true democracy is where each citizen is a member of the aristocracy. That means each citizen is a guardian of the state and each citizen is prepared to fight. Transnational loyalty has no place whatsoever within a true democracy.

The occasional representative democracy functions as a Sybaritic Democracy. A Sybaritic Democracy is dedicated to the personal pleasure and ecstasy of the electorate, with the leaders given the mandate to do whatever is necessary to ensure festival, spectacle, and delight at every opportunity. Sybaritic Democracy is not merely about Bread and Circuses, but it is about the celebration of fashion. If national identity must be sacrificed at the altar of absolute pleasure, so be it, for nothing must get in the way of the electorate’s search for happiness.

The problem comes when the ruling class becomes an echo chamber. This is particularly a problem in Sweden, although it is also endemic throughout Europe and also American college campuses. If earlier European monarchies had been too influenced by titled and landed nobility, later “democracies” had power devolved to a university-educated elite that selected itself due to intellectual uniformity. All too often, an iron triangle develops among academe, the media, and the elected officials to reinforce a particular ideological order. Then, when this iron triangle opposes the national identity of the state itself, the result is often popular discontent against the academic elite that finds any outlet it can.

Seen in this light, most of the civil wars in Latin America during the twentieth century can now be seen as struggles for supremacy between two different alma maters – the leftist university and the military academy. This also happened because national identity was not as strong as loyalties to transnational socialism or transnational fascism. Likewise, the present civil war in the Middle East is also a contest among rival schools, or leadership factories, in a context of low identification with the state.

I think Woodrow Wilson’s problem is that he overemphasized the power of academe to solve America’s problems and overemphasized the prestige of a college degree in establishing one’s credentials to rule. He was far from alone among progressives in promoting the power of technocracy, but he was perhaps one of the most obnoxious.

turn said...

Hmm...

Sybaritic democracy.

Pop culture.

Reeeeely deep thinking.

Everybody has a PoV.

Kafir_Kelbeh said...

rickl said: "I think that the point at which the United States changed from a republic to a democracy occurred in 1913, with the passage of the 16th and 17th amendments. The 16th is well-known since it gave us the federal income tax, but the 17th was at least as important. It provided for the direct popular election of Senators. Prior to that, Representatives in the House were elected by popular vote, but Senators in the Senate were selected by state legislatures (which were also elected by popular vote). The Senate was originally intended to represent the states' interests in Washington."

Yes, I thoroughly agree, both with Baron's post and your comments. 1913 was a bad year. This is also the same year the NEA had its start as well...

What was in the water that year?

Bilgeman said...

Baron:

"I didn’t say that human beings can’t be trained. I said that human nature can’t be re-shaped."

IMO, a distinction without much difference.

The end result of re-shaping AND training is the modification of human behavior.

So, okay, you might not really LOVE Big Brother, but if you act like you DO, what's the difference?

We'll have to budget for more surveillance to ensure that you keep acting, and corrective measures to punish you if you don't.

Yes...that viewpoint is inherently fascist, but the very enterprise of government,(and business, for that matter), is fascistic to some extent.

"Much of the deadly ideology that flourished in the 20th century was based on exactly that falllacy: the idea that the essence of human beings can be refashioned to suit the prophecies of a secular millenarian cult."

This has been the case througout time, from all governments. Whatever their ideology may have been was largely immaterial since they all use the same mechanisms to enforce their will.

Why pick on Wilson? He at least didn't shove democracy down anyone's throat at gunpoint. He offered it up, and Europe took a helping.
Yes, admittedly he dragged the US into a much greater role in Foreign Affairs, but do remember that he was a kid in the Shenandoah Valley and Georgia during the War For Southern Independence.
He obviously absorbed the lesson that you lose a war when it's fought on your soil.

In that, at the least, he was absolutely and unequivocally correct.

"That’s a spurious comparison, to equate toilet training with the attempt (for example) to eliminate the profit motive from human affairs."

The profit motive is undeniably still there, but it has been tamed, if you will, by the idea of the marketplace.

If I thumped you over the head with a club and took your apples, I have clearly realized a profit.

Civilization occurs when, instead of thumping you over the head, we barter or negotiate for your apples.

Sadly, we seem to be on a course where we lend a fellow our club for his apple, then he thumps US in the head...

...and takes our apple back, too.

Bilgeman said...

Oh...you "1913 guys":

Don't forget the establishment of the Federal Reserve.

Bilgeman said...

Baron:

One other thing we can credit(or blame) Wilson for.

With the increased engagement of the United States on the world stage came a greater penetration of foreign markets for our goods and services, and a great deal of our exports has been our culture.

The Jihad has been the response of reactionary traditionalist Muslims to our "cultural imperialism",(so-called).

The Muslim Brotherhood's foundation in 1928 was a direct response to British Imperialism, and from that rootstock, the Jihad has evolved.

The ruling powers of Muslim lands, notable for their antipathy to democracy, see the Wisonian belief in expanisionist democracy as their greatest threat.
It's a lead-pipe cinch that the oligarchies and kleptocracies finance the Jihad to occupy those who might otherwise stir up domestic trouble at home.

And there's two of the pillars underpinning the Jihad.

Authoritarian ruling classes and Cultural/Religious reactionaries.

Your blog seems to focus on the Counter-Jihad almost exclusively as "playing defense".

With the Euro contingent here, that is no surprise. Their nations imported Muslim cheap labor, and thereby let the enemy's recruiting pool inside "Vienna's Gates", that's an immediate threat that they must deal with...or not.

Wilsonianism, though gives us a very powerful weapon, along with our cultural exports, with which to attack the Jihad at it's source.

It's not a tool to be lightly discarded.

The more certain rulers finance and promote Jihad, the louder and more strident should our voices be heard about the government-sanctioned and imposed inequalities of their rule.

Reportedly, this approach is getting a lot of traction among common Iranians.

Just as an example, what does Sharia Law really have to offer a woman?

To have every choice of her life made FOR her on pain of death?

(Oh, THAT'S a great "sales pitch", huh?)

I once had a discussion with a White Separatist, who was also a Viet Nam veteran. He outlined THAT crew's plan to reserve the Pacific Northwest as a "White Homeland".
Among many reasons I had to criticize and disagree with their aims was the fact that he and his ilk were ready to cede the 3/4ths of the nation that I happen to live in.

You'd have thought the fellow would have learned a strategic lesson from Viet Nam.

You give your opponent NO "safe harbor".
If you only "play defense"... you're going to lose.

Jefferson Davis did, and Wilson learned the lesson.

Zeke said...

Excellent article. Very interesting concept. Despite the provocative claim that "Democracy is Socialism applied at the higest level", and my dislike of Socialism, I have trouble seeing a return to royalty and monarchy as a real alternative.

rickl said: "I think that the point at which the United States changed from a republic to a democracy occurred in 1913, with the passage of the 16th and 17th amendments."

I think the Civil War which definatively changed the original design of 'a republic of republics'. Once the states lost the right to secede the direct election of senators was only icing on the cake.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, prior to the Civil War citizens referred to the the "these United States" not "the United States".

1913 was a bad year though. Besides the income tax and direct election of senators we also gave control of our money over to a semi-private cartel, The Federal Reserve Bank.

Zeke said...

This claim is made in the article: There was never any reflection about why the institutions they inherited from the Brits worked in the first place.

This is clearly incorrect. The American Constitution is not a clone of any British document. True it formed a common intellectual heritage for most of those who worked on our Constitution, but clearly they were familiar with many other models as well, going back to antiquity. They looked at all the alternatives and came up with something new and different.

To this day Britan has no real Bill of Rights and America has no King, ceremonial or otherwise. England has not Supreme Court. The differences are larger than the commonality.

So I think the claim 1) that the US political institions were largely inhereted from England is wrong and 2) that there was no examination of why they worked (at least in the case of the founders) is also wrong.

M. Simon said...

I couldn't figure out where to leave this so here it is. The religion of the new American idealist. Worse than Wilson. By far. He will not just agree with our enemies. He will sell us out to them:

Here is a bit on Obama's Church:

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan received the "Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright,Jr. Lifetime Achievement Trumpeteer" Award at the 2007 Trumpet Gala at the the United Church of Christ.

More at:

Trinity United Church of Christ

Kafir_Kelbeh said...

zeke said: "To this day Britan has no real Bill of Rights and America has no King, ceremonial or otherwise. England has not Supreme Court. The differences are larger than the commonality."

This is absolutely true. I forgot to point this out in my initial post. If the Federalists, like Hamilton, had their way, our system would mirror the English almost identically.

Thanks to Anti-Federalists, like Mason, who could out-argue folks like Hamilton in discussions surrounding the creation of our Constitution, we have our Bill of Rights.

Mason & men like him deeply understood how important it was that those individual rights be explicitly stated, rather than just implied like our European counterparts.

El Jefe Maximo said...

Lots in here, as in all your posts, but in general I agree. I will read the post and comments in detail later, and will possibly have more to say, but I think that the great crash of 1917-18; which brought down the whole edifice of European civilization (specifically, monarchial European civilization) -- to which Wilson contributed his mite -- was the pivotal catastrophe of modern times.

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

Woodrow Wilson was arguably the most disastrous U.S. president of the entire lot. Lincolns policies resulted in upwards of 620,000 casualties. This number pales when compared to the more than 70 million casualties of WW II for which Wilson is the chief culprit. His role at the "Peace Conference" of Versailles assured that round II of the great war would be inevitable. Couple these acts with the Federal Reserve, Income tax, and the Harrison (drug prohibition) act of 1914 and NONE of the rest can hold a candle to the damage over which he presided. Reading the writings of Wilson reveals an elitist ego which even surpasses that of Hillary.

Bilgeman's states in defense of Wilson: "He obviously absorbed the lesson that you lose a war when it's fought on your soil. In that, at the least, he was absolutely and unequivocally correct."
I must beg to differ as history is replete with examples to the contrary including the Russo Napoleonic and the more recent Vietnam war.

"The profit motive is undeniably still there, but it has been tamed, if you will, by the idea of the marketplace. If I thumped you over the head with a club and took your apples, I have clearly realized a profit."
This statement is utter nonsense unless one interchanges the definitions of war and peaceful trade. Without the marketplace there can be no profit.

Conservative Swede said...

Thanks for all the interesting comments. Very inspiring. I will have reason to come back to all this.

Bilgeman said...

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ:

"This statement is utter nonsense unless one interchanges the definitions of war and peaceful trade. Without the marketplace there can be no profit."

More distinctions without much difference.

Call them "booty", "profits", "spoils", or "stolen goods", they're all material gains of one form or another.

"I must beg to differ as history is replete with examples to the contrary including the Russo Napoleonic and the more recent Vietnam war."

I'm sure that the residents of Leningrad during the WW2 siege were quite convinced that they were going to win the war...as long as they weren't eaten by their fellow citizens.

Your cite of the Viet Nam war is mystifying, though, since it proves my point.

Air and naval bombardment aside, what ground war actions were fought on North Vietnamese soil?

They won.

What enemy military campaigns occurred on US soil?

We withdrew.

Almost all the fighting occurred on South Vietnamese soil.

And that land, according to the latest maps,and like the Confederate States of America, no longer exists.

They lost.

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

The War of 1812 was fought on US soil and at sea with the final battle at New Orleans. We won.
The war of secession was fought on American soil. Americans won.
Vietnam was one country arbitrarily divided after Dien Bien Phu. The entire war except for spillovers in Laos and Cambodia was fought on Vietnamese soil. They won. etc etc etc

Mogensen said...

A note on monarchies and democracy; the constitutional monarchies of northwestern Europe was generally the most stable democracies i 20th century Europe. Perhaps with the exception of Switzerland, which republic however, has its roots in the archaic medieval "peasant republic" system.