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Another brilliant article by Justin Raimondo at Antiwar.com providing great insights into the American political class's imperialism, crony-capitalism, big government plundering, collectivism, hypocrisy, and economic delusion.

According to Raimondo's review of history, two of the key factors affecting America's prevalent ideology started in the 1830s, the first being: "In order to provoke the second coming of Christ, the pietists believed, sin had to be stamped out – and government, as the instrument of God, was the means to do it. This was the soil in which a militaristic messianism took root." The second: "the role of the intellectuals as the mobilizers of public opinion in wartime."

A taste:

No, in style and in spirit the British and American empires could not be more different: the former was founded on the divine right of kings, while the latter imagines itself the guardian and spirit of Democracy. The Brits were simply out to plunder and exploit their colonies, but the Americans are a different lot altogether: they have to convince themselves that they’re doing it for the good of Humanity. That has as much to do with the history of our old republic, which was founded in struggle against an imperialist power, as it has to do with the hypocrisy embedded in the American character – which sees itself as so exceptional that the ordinary rules of morality and common sense do not apply. While the Brits were motivated by their gonads, and their greed, the Americans like to think they are motivated by ideology – an ideology based around their own alleged uniqueness as the "exceptional nation."

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.

...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.

Each major war we have fought has resulted in a great leap forward in government power – wartime "emergency" regulations, put in place in the heat of battle, invariably stay in place, and so by a process of sheer accumulation the citizens are increasing hemmed in by new restrictions and the power of government is exponentially increased.

...The seeds of war had been planted long ago – by theologians who argued that the State is the hand of God, by intellectuals who found it easier to serve the State than question it, and by some very rich men who view governments the way an expert chess player see his pieces: as objects to be moved about on the board to one’s maximum advantage.

...American policymaking changed from the pursuit of American interests to the pursuit of "justice," "world peace," and other undefined concepts, which the liberal intellectuals wished to impose upon an indifferent world.

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He published the second part today. It's not as good as the first, but it's still good:

A Murderous 'Modernity' - Progressivism and the rise of the welfare-warfare state

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In science it often happens that scientists say, "You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken," and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. - Carl Sagan

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