Fascism in America: Woodrow Wilson and “War Socialism”

by David Crocker on October 1, 2015, 4:44 pm

in History,Politics

During the crisis of World War I, Woodrow Wilson imposed fascism on America. He called it ‘War Socialism’. And what’s happened before can happen again.

In previous installments here, here and here, we examined Woodrow Wilson’s distaste for natural law and the Declaration of Independence, his rejection of limited government and the separation of powers, his infatuation with German historicism and his desire to place government in the hands of pristine experts. For Wilson, people were not individuals but moving parts of the organic state – and Wilson most assuredly worshipped the state.

In common with much of the Progressive intelligentsia, Wilson openly admired European fascism. After all, this was a man who wrote in Chapter 3 of Constitutional Government, ‘Government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not to Newton.’

In other words, for Wilson there were no immutable principles of government, only the needs of the moment as understood by elites who were ready to analyze, regulate and impose their will on the masses. This is the essence of fascism: elites imposing order, using crisis as pretext and cult of personality as the vehicle.

For Wilson and the elites, World War I was the crisis needed to impose a despotic order on America never seen before or since. One of the very best descriptions is found in The Great Influenza, John Barry’s account of the 1918-19 Spanish Flu pandemic. As recounted by Barry, the Wilson administration suppressed vital information that would have reduced the country’s vulnerability to the plague – all ostensibly done in the interest of prosecuting the war.

And Wilson would prosecute the war with messianic passion. In Barry’s words, Wilson believed that ‘his will and spirit were informed by the spirit and hope of a people and even of God. . . . He is probably the only American president to have held to this belief with quite such conviction, with no sign of self-doubt. It is a trait more associated with crusaders than politicians.’

To Wilson, the war was a crusade. He wanted the American people ‘to forget there ever was such a thing as tolerance.’ And he intended to wage it without mercy or quarter, stating that ‘the spirit of ruthless brutality will enter into the very fiber of our national life, infecting Congress, the courts, the policeman on the beat, the man in the street.’

The hard line was designed to intimidate those reluctant to support the war into doing so, and to crush or eliminate those who would not. Even before entering the war, Wilson had warned Congress, “There are citizens of the United States, I blush to admit, . . . who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life. . . . Such creatures of passion, disloyalty, and anarchy must be crushed out.”

He intended to do so.

His fire informed virtually everything that happened in the country, including fashion: to save cloth, a war material—everything was a war material—designers narrowed lapels and eliminated or shrank pockets. And his fury particularly informed every act of the United States government. During the Civil War Lincoln had suspended the writ of habeas corpus, imprisoning hundreds of people. But those imprisoned presented a real threat of armed rebellion. He left unchecked extraordinarily harsh criticism. Wilson believed he had not gone far enough and told his cousin, “Thank God for Abraham Lincoln. I won’t make the mistakes that he made.”

The government compelled conformity, controlled speech in ways, frightening ways, not known in America before or since. Soon after the declaration of war, Wilson pushed the Espionage Act through a cooperative Congress, which balked only at legalizing outright press censorship—despite Wilson’s calling it “an imperative necessity.”

Wilson and his minions nevertheless censored the mail, monitored book withdrawals from the Library of Congress, asked for and got from Congress a Sedition Act more onerous than John Adams’s – and enforced it. [click to continue…]

Jonathan Gruber’s Lucrative Lies

by David Crocker on November 11, 2014, 10:17 am

in Economics,Health Care,Politics

It seems our old buddy Jonathan Gruber is back in the news. He’s the Obamacare “principal architect” recently outed by Phil Kerpen, publicly advocating lying to the American people.

Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass. It’s a second-best argument. Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.

It bears repeating that Dr. Gruber has made a very good living as a liar. Consider once again his own personal payoff:

• “One of the key voices for Congressional health care legislation, MIT economist Jon Gruber, is taking fire … over the fact that he is on contract with the Department of Health and Human Services. He’s been paid $297,600, according to federal documents, to produce ‘a technical memorandum on the estimated changes in health insurance coverage and associated costs and impacts to the government under alternative specifications of health system reform.’ The contract, which was awarded June 19, wasn’t widely known or regularly disclosed.” (Ben Smith, “Gruber responds: ‘Completely consistent,’” Politico, 01/08/09)

• “Jon Gruber, the MIT economist, defended himself this morning after criticism that he’d spoken publicly in favor of the administration’s health care plan without disclosing a nearly $300,000 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to model the plan’s costs and effects.” (Ben Smith, “Gruber’s disclosure,” Politico, 01/08/09)

Yes, the country’s in the best of hands.

Has the United States government ever repudiated its lawful debts? You bet – in 1933. And would Uncle Sam do it again? I think he would.

The story goes like this. To finance the First World War, the U.S. government issued bonds. Because the bondholders were worried that the government could, through currency manipulation, devalue any repayment in paper money, the bonds contained a clear and unambiguous promise to repay the debt in gold at the bondholder’s option.

Fast forward to 1933, with the Great Depression at its absolute nadir. Currency devaluation was very much on the mind of the Roosevelt Administration, which saw inflation as a way to stimulate the economy and permit debtors to dig out from under their debts in a period of steep deflation. But there was that pesky gold clause, which pinned the government down to gold payments at a fixed value.

Enter the Congress. In its “Joint Resolution to Assure Uniform Value to the Coins and Currencies of the United States” both houses of Congress explicitly agreed to repudiate all “gold provisions” in any any public debt. There were two key provisions in the resolution:

(1) “Provisions of obligations which purport to give the obligee a right to require payment in gold obstruct the power of the Congress” and

(2) “Every provision contained in or made with respect to any obligation which purports to give the obligee a right to require payment in gold is declared to be against public policy.”

Boiled down to essentials, here it is: legal obligations mean nothing when that obligation is deemed to “obstruct the power of Congress”. Any promise made by the U.S. government can – by the magic of the joint resolution – be re-written into a “purported” promise. And upholding a lawful – and unambiguous – contract can be declared “against public policy”.


Naturally, the bondholders sued the government and the three consolidated “gold clause cases” were eventually decided by the Supreme Court, which held in favor of the government on a 5-4 vote. Neither the majority nor the minority was happy with the government’s action. Even the majority castigated the government for being a dishonorable deadbeat and recognized that this was an exercise of raw power with scant reference to principle. Five of the nine justices labeled the government’s actions a “repudiation”.

It’s called arbitrary government, boys and girls. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Military Monday: China, Japan and the “Panay Incident”

by David Crocker on December 2, 2013, 10:32 am

in History,Military

Because I read history, watching China’s aggression against Japan and Korea in the East China Sea gives me the willies. Clearly, there’s never been any love lost between China and Japan. Japan was the aggressor in the two Sino-Japanese wars (1894-95 and 1937-45) and now the shoe is on the other foot. China is reverting to historical form: when its fortunes rose over the centuries, it automatically bullied its neighbors. So, taking the long view, honors are fairly even.

After Japan invaded China in 1937, they moved on the city of Nanking (leading to the infamous “Rape of Nanking”). The Japanese military was very arrogant and while assaulting Nanking, they bombed and sank the USS Panay, a navy gunboat anchored in the Yangtze River. The Panay was part of the US Navy’s “Yangtze Patrol”, safeguarding US lives and commercial interests in the Chinese interior (see The Sand Pebbles in all its imperialistic glory).

Although the Japanese apologized and paid an indemnity, this incident hardened US public opinion against Japan and is generally considered part of the run-up to Pearl Harbor. The point being, when countries start pushing and shoving in a small space, bad – and unintended – things happen.

I watch the current contretemps in the East China Sea and wonder who’s going to make a mistake. Because when it happens, no one can predict the outcome.

But here’s what’s giving me the willies: will China instigate its own Panay Incident? And then what happens?

Here’s a newsreel from 1937:

Are We Degenerates?

by David Crocker on December 1, 2013, 3:07 pm

in Culture,History,Philosophy

Karl MarxAt the end of his life, Karl Marx was forced to reevaluate his Promethean notions of inexorable historical movement and progress. In fact, under the influence of Oxford evolutionary biologist Edwin Ray Lankester, he began to view matters quite differently: he questioned whether man’s ‘evolution’ was, in fact, degeneration – thereby making all of us ‘degenerates’. Lankester’s essay “Degeneration” questioned the “tacit assumption of universal progress – an unreasoning optimism.” Lankester reminded both self-styled revolutionaries and smug English society “that we are subject to the general law of evolution, and are as likely to degenerate as to progress.” He challenged the ideology shared by thinkers of the day from Herbert Spencer to Karl Marx alike that evolution meant inevitable progress – which is not supported by biological data.

As compared with the immediate forefathers of our civilisation – the ancient Greeks—we do not appear to have improved so far as our bodily structure is concerned, nor assuredly so far as some of our mental capacities are concerned. Our powers of perceiving and expressing beauty of form have certainly not increased since the days of the Parthenon and Aphrodite of Melos. In matters of the reason, in the development of intellect, we may seriously inquire how the case stands. Does the reason of the average man of civilised Europe stand out clearly as an evidence of progress when compared with that of men of bygone ages? Are all the inventions and figments of human superstition and folly, the self-inflicting torturing of mind, the reiterated substitution of wrong for right, and of falsehood for truth, which disfigure our modern civilisation – are these evidences of progress? In such respects we have at least reason to fear that we may be degenerate.

The point here is that we smugly assume that ‘modernity’ means we’re somehow smarter and more enlightened that those who went before. Worse, we ignore history and collective human experience because we somehow think we have nothing to learn from our forebears simply because we are so different – and therefore better – than them. A truly idiotic assumption.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing in the record to support any of our notions of superiority and quite a lot to indicate a continuing degeneracy.

Liberating Us From Our Liberties: The People’s Rights Amendment

by David Crocker November 23, 2013

In response to the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, several leftist groups have been hard at work seeking support for a constitutional amendment that would severely restrict the rights of people who choose to work through incorporated entities. In Citizens United, the Court overturned on First Amendment free speech […]

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The Gettysburg Address 150 Years On

by David Crocker November 19, 2013

Old fogyish as it may sound, in my day school children were required to memorize the Gettysburg Address because it’s a brief catechism in the American religion of liberty. But the two-minute speech definitely got mixed reviews in the press of the day. You see, Lincoln was invited to the dedication of the new National […]

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Military Monday: DDG 1000 Launches

by David Crocker November 18, 2013

Back in 2009, I wrote a lengthy piece criticizing this program (see “Why is the Navy Building DDG 1000?”) that was picked up by the Navy Times. I still have the same reservations four years on. However, for better or worse, DDG 1000 hit the water recently, launching from BIW’s floating dry dock. Although I […]

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Is Leftism Inherently Narcissistic?

by David Crocker November 17, 2013

I think so. Let’s define our terms. By “leftism” I mean the operationalizing – in political or ideological programs – of superbia, the outsized human pride that drives man to worship himself instead of God. While the term “leftism” as applied to politics has been around only since the 18th century (see Hertz and others), […]

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The Second Amendment and the Battle of Athens

by David Crocker January 9, 2013

When it comes to the Second Amendment, we’re used to hearing a lot of blather about how it’s a vestigial relic of a bygone era when we were all supposedly more savage than the domesticated people of today. After all, this is the modern United States where government is benevolent and all-embracing. Why would anyone […]

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Dealing With The Islamic World – In 1805

by Crocker September 14, 2012

The first war we fought as a new nation was against Islamic pirates along the North African coast in Tunis, Algiers and Tripoli. At the time these were Islamic city-states loosely under Ottoman control. The pirates were a scourge and once we were no longer under British and then French protection, it was open season […]

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Report: State Department Had Intelligence About the Benghazi Attacks 48 Hours in Advance and Did Nothing

by Crocker September 13, 2012

And we have to find out about this from the foreign press. From the UK Independent: The US administration is now facing a crisis in Libya. Sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the “safe house” in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under […]

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Why Are We Still Shipping M1A1 Tanks to Egypt?

by Crocker September 12, 2012

According to Defense Industry Daily, Egypt continues to order M1A1 tanks from us and we continue to kit these tanks for assembly in Egypt, giving the Egyptian military the ability to build and maintain their current fleet, which is scheduled to grow to 1,200 units. According to DID, we’ve continuously upgraded the models the Egyptians […]

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9/11, Egypt, Libya and Murder: Obama Channels Jimmy Carter

by Crocker September 12, 2012

By now we know of our ambassador’s murder in Libya. The pictures of the mob dragging his corpse in the streets of Benghazi are already circulating on the web. I cannot in decency post or link to the pictures. Let’s compare and contrast: Look familiar? Tehran 1979 vs. Cairo 2012. And what was our fearless […]

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9/11 – Eleven Years After

by Crocker September 11, 2012

Was it really eleven years ago? Everyone has their story and remembrance of that day. I was working in my office at home and heard a radio announcement about the first Tower. No word on the type of plane or the circumstances. Strange, I thought. A tragic accident. But very odd, given the unlimited visibility […]

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The 2012 Democrat Convention: Cardinal Dolan’s Prayer

by Crocker September 7, 2012

And now for something more serious. By now we know the story of how Timothy Cardinal Dolan was initially rebuffed and then invited to deliver the closing prayer at the Democrat Convention. Come to think of it, Dolan’s treatment seems to synch perfectly with the platform committee’s efforts to disinvite God. Well, now that he […]

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Barack Obama’s Definition of Sin

by Crocker September 3, 2012

From a 2004 interview with Catherine Falsani of the Chicago Sun-Tribune: Falsani: Do you believe in sin? Obama: Yes. Falsani: What is sin? Obama: Being out of alignment with my values. The perfect narcissist. When I look at Barack Obama and his leftist crew, I see a void from which not even light escapes. Hat […]

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Karl Rove and American Crossroads PAC: Is He His Own Favorite Cause?

by Crocker September 1, 2012

I don’t much like Karl Rove. Judging from his behavior at the Republican Convention, he apparently fancies himself The Most Important Person There Is. His exclusive breakfast with billionaire donors to his American Crossroads PAC was well reported. According to the same press report, he made a harmless little joke about Todd Akin: He also […]

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RNC Rules, Delegates, Ron Paul and the Maine Convention: A Few Thoughts

by Crocker August 31, 2012

Now that that the Republican Convention is history, a few thoughts. I write as one who’s never involved himself in Republican Party politics in Maine, whether at the state, county or local level. I do know many of the players involved, however, and I hope I can show some objectivity. Let’s start with a few […]

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Barack Obama: ‘If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.’

by Crocker July 17, 2012

Shades of Elizabeth Warren, Barack the Destroyer showed his true colors this weekend at an event in Roanoke, Virginia – as if we were in any doubt. Clearly, we belong to the omnipotent State. All Hail. “That government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

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Military Monday: Test Firing Live Torpedoes in Bar Harbor, Maine

by Crocker July 9, 2012

Hard to imagine this happening today, even if the US were in a full-fledged, no-holds-barred global war. The enviro-weenies would complain about the fish. But in World War II, the military used Bald Porcupine Island in Bar Harbor, Maine, as a live-fire site for gunnery practice and, on at least one occasion, for live-firing torpedoes. […]

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Obama’s America – And Don’t Forget the Odor Sample for the Dogs

by Crocker July 8, 2012

Don’t be an enemy of socialism. It would be very bad. And don’t forget the IRS, either. Not exactly the Stasi – yet. But you could be looking at a great career. Think of the opportunities to intimidate your fellow citizens in Obama’s America. You’d be one of favored ones, blessed by the One himself.

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Has the Irrepressible Conflict Begun?

by Crocker July 7, 2012

Are We the People in an irreconcilable struggle? The kind where the political and cultural tectonics are stuck and there’s no room for compromise between those who want to live peacefully in liberty and the aggressive ones who are determined to enslave. Where the issue – duly clarified – comes down to a fight between […]

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Lincoln, July Fourth and the Declaration of Independence

by Crocker July 4, 2012

Our ‘progressive’ masters have worked overtime to eradicate the Declaration of Independence and its natural law foundations from our national consciousness. The law professors tell us that the Declaration has no bearing on constitutional interpretation and, indeed, it shouldn’t even figure into our constitutional discussions. This, in spite of the 9th Amendment that recognizes other, […]

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TSA Agent Spills Granddad’s Ashes, Agent Laughs

by Crocker June 27, 2012

Just another reason to abolish the TSA. From Breitbart: Get the name of the agent . . .

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