[see update at end]
A 1934 cartoon relevant again today and re-posted as a reminder:
By the time this cartoon was drawn in 1934, liberal fascism had had its debut in America with the policies of Woodrow Wilson, elected in 1912 and the first Ph.D. to hold the office of the Presidency. Wilson had specialized in political science, developing a viewpoint that societies could and should be molded by an ‘all knowing’, highly educated elite. The molding of societies could be achieved by applying ‘scientific’ principles of management to the institutions of government.
Wilson was also the first President to openly speak disparagingly of the Constitution, calling it an ‘out-dated’ document that needed to evolve with the times, much as a ‘biological organism’–equated with society– evolved. Wilson saw many of the provisions in the Constitution as too limiting for the kind of power he felt the government should have and which he himself personally craved.
An Overview: It DID Happen Here!
The questions raised in my own mind as I reviewed Wilson led to an examination of the role of science in shaping the progressive movement–the precursor to, or should I say real identity of , the democrats, and their origin in communism.
Surprisingly for this scientist of 30+ years, the ‘undoing’ 0f the Constitution can actually be traced to scientist Charles Darwin, who built on the work of his father in publishing The Origin of the Species in 1859. Science attempted to replace the Creator by having an ‘explanation’ for everything, and to become ‘all knowing’ and ‘ever present’.
Evidence for this view of science and the constitution was found in McNaughton’s painting, “One Nation Under God”. Sure enough, the only person equating himself with God in the painting is a scientist, shown clutching “The Origin of the Species” and standing on the same level as Christ.
At the same time as Darwin was developing the theory of evolution, the intellectual Karl Marx was developing his theory of communism and the evolution of societies to that destination…societies would evolve out of capitalism to communism, and the movement would be molded by the conflict between elements of society (proletariat and bourgeoisie) and led by a ‘vanguard’. All the leading American intellectuals of the time had studied or originated in Germany and were greatly influenced by the ideas of Darwin, Nietze, and Marx.
Having grown up in the midst of this discussion, the intellectual environment directly contributed to Wilson’s viewpoint that the Constitution itself was a ‘living organism”, that would ‘evolve’ and survive only if it adjusted itself for the times. The ‘survival of the fittest’ was translated into a strong, central federal government. While Article V of the Constitution provides for a lawful and orderly way to adjust the Constitution, Wilson thought that the interpretation and adjustment of the Constitution should be made by a very few, highly educated government elite operating on a model of scientific efficiency. That is, the intellectuals.
In taking this viewpoint, a fundamental transformation occurred. The government became more powerful than the people, an ‘entity’ unto itself.
Mechanisms for Transformation
Indeed, the mechanisms were put into place to achieve this fundamental change in the balance of power between the States and the federal government, and to solidify a base from which government power could expand. These two mechanisms were the passage of the Federal Reserve Act and falsely-declared ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment in 1913. Both were unconstitutional but for different reasons. A third mechanism, war, made it possible to use these mechanisms to exert social control (evolution) using the efficient, ‘scientific’ discipline of war. For at the beginning of the 20th century, across the intellectual landscape, militarism was ‘progressive’.
In addition to the new powers of the government drawn from a ready supply of printed cash, and the mechanism to ‘pay it back’ via unconstitutional taxes on the people, Wilson was instrumental in using these funds and the concept of militarism as a model for organizing and mobilizing society.
Jonah Goldberg writes that the idea that war was a source of morals had been pioneered in Germany, and progressives adopted that creed when America entered the first world war in 1917. Citing the ‘social possibilities of war’, John Dewey ridiculed anyone who didn’t recognize:
..the immense impetus to reorganization afforded by this war…
We should not forget how the demands of war fed the arguments for socialism. Dewey was giddy that the war might force Americans ‘to give up much of our economic feedom…We shall have to lay by our good-natured individualism and march in step.” If the war went well, it would cosntrain ‘the individualistic tradition” and convince Americans of ‘the supremacy of public need 0ver private possessions.” Another liberal put it more succinctly: “Laissez-faire is dead. Long live social control”
Emboldened by this intellectual environment, his training in political science, and his great belief in centralized power, Wilson became the ‘great organizer of men’ and
…moved overnight to empower these would-be social engineers, organizing a vast array of war time boards, commissions and committees…
This viewpoint allowed him to by-pass Congress when he had to, to make excessive appointments exceeding his Article II appointment authority, and to ‘evolve’ the Constitution as he and his cabinet of intellectuals saw fit.
Artists and Hollywood were enlisted, with the total being what Goldberg calls “the first “Orwellian propaganda in Western history.” The nationalization of the people for the war effort went hand-in-hand with socializing industry. Many progressives, liberals, and leftists lent their talent to the propaganda effort, centralized in the Committee on Public Information (CPI). This committee used fear as a vital tool to assist with mobilization of the people through “thoughts of self preservation“.
Many of Wilson’s appointees felt contempt for the people, describing the population as “mentally children, or barbarians”. All held the belief that ‘individual liberty, while nice, needed to be subordinated to, above all, order‘ (emphasis added). Wilson appointee Arthur Bullard (p. 111) stated that “any citizen who did not put the needs of the State ahead of his own was dead weight.”
So the un-Godly (literally) alliance between the scientists, beginning with Darwin, the intellectuals analyzing societies (Marx), the progressives-leftists-liberals, and the political scientists combined decisively to inflict a serious blow to the Constitution’s founding principles. Individual liberty was ridiculed and the public good elevated above individual rights and liberties, including free speech. The strength and role of Divine Providence, and the role of the Creator in our lives and in the founding documents, was simply dismissed.
We are seeing these same arguments and approaches today, although there is much to discuss between Wilson and Obama: FDR; the 1960’s, and the major assaults on the Constitution by the left in every decade since then. This time it feels like the culmination of decades of work by the left, but also their last ditch effort. And I believe it to be extremely dangerous.
While it is not pleasant to face this again, we have their road map, slogans, and use of propaganda fully identified. And we know the disastrous results of this behavior and power mongering, masquerading as ‘liberal causes’, to call it out. Right. Now.
[Update: Logistics Monster has a summary video of 100 years of the progressive movement, well worth the read and view.]
Rise, America, Rise.