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Posts Tagged ‘Woodrow Wilson’

Joe Biden reinvents racism, by Thierry Meyssan

Posted by M. C. on May 12, 2021

https://www.voltairenet.org/article213027.html

by Thierry Meyssan

Contrary to a widespread idea, President Biden does not intend to guarantee “equality in Law” of all Americans without distinction of race. On the contrary, he intends to be the champion of “racial equity”, that is to say a form of equality between, not individuals, but what he considers as distinct racial groups. In this article, Thierry Meyssan will use the term “racism” in its literal sense and not in the common sense of “discriminatory behavior”. He will show that by announcing their intention to extend “racial equity” to the whole world, President Biden and the Democratic Party are threatening world peace.

In a federal state, somewhere in the world, the Department of Education decided to teach in primary and secondary schools that humanity is divided into distinct races.

Although these races are distinct, it is possible to mate them and give birth to children. However, these children will be sterile, like the mules of a donkey and a mare. This is why federal government statistics include whites, blacks, etc., but no mixed-race children.

Since there is an implicit hierarchy between these distinct races and, unfortunately, half-breeds are not sterile, they are automatically counted as belonging to the inferior race. The superior race must be preserved from all defilement.

This federal state was the Nazi Reich, but it is also the United States of Joe Biden and his Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona.

We are witnessing the return of the “scientific racism” that caused the Second World War and its 70 million deaths. No one seems to be aware of the danger, however, and many people think that the U.S. Democrats are examples of openness to others.

Let us remember that the racism of the 1930s had all the trappings of science. It was researched in many scientific institutes and taught in universities in both the United States and Western Europe. To preserve the master race, many “modern” states had banned interracial marriages before World War I.JPEG - 37.6 kbCommemorative medal designed by Karl Goetz (then ranked on the left). On the obverse, a caricature of a black French soldier with the motto “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité”, on the reverse, a German woman bound and raped under a French helmet. This openly racist piece was distributed by a few right-wing organizations and by almost all Western left-wing organizations.

Racism is neither of the right nor of the left

In the collective imagination, racism would only develop in right-wing nationalist circles. This is absolutely false.

For example, at the end of the First World War, France occupied the Ruhr coal region militarily. Among the troops were Africans from Senegal and Madagascar for two years. Soon a protest movement developed in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada to denounce the ignominy of the French who placed 20,000 blacks to dominate the German whites and rape their women. This racist movement was led by the main anti-racist figure of the beginning of the century, E. D. Morel [1], and gathered all the international feminist organizations in large demonstrations [2].

In France itself, socialists joined this racist movement, including Karl Marx’s grandson, Jean Longuet, a journalist at L’Humanité and future leader of the SFIO (Socialist Party).

It must be admitted that, in troubled times like the interwar period or the one we are living today, people follow their impulses whatever their ideas. They are often in complete contradiction with themselves and do not realize it.JPEG - 24.6 kbDemocratic President Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) was the designer of the League of Nations, the predecessor of the United Nations. He favored the Klu Klux Klan within his party and established racial segregation.

The slavery and racist past of the American Democrats

In the United States, slavery and racism were mostly defended by the Democrats against the Republicans.

- The Democratic Party platforms of 1840, 1844, 1848, 1852 and 1856 asserted that abolitionism diminished the happiness of the people and endangered the stability and permanence of the Union.
- The 1856 program declared that the member states of the Union may or may not practice domestic slavery and write it into their constitutions.
- The 1860 program describes the efforts of abolitionist states that refused to arrest runaway slaves as subversive and revolutionary.
- The 14th Amendment granting full citizenship to freed slaves was passed in 1868 by 94% of Republican Party legislators and 0% of Democratic Party
- The 15th Amendment, which granted the right to vote to freed slaves, was adopted in 1870 by 100% of the members of the Republican Party and 0% of the members of the Democratic Party
- In 1902, the Democratic Party passed a law in Virginia removing the right to vote from over 90% of African Americans.
- President Woodrow Wilson instituted racial segregation of federal employees and mandated a photo on every job application.
- The 1924 Democratic National Convention at Madison Square Garden in New York City was called the “Klan-Bake” because of the influence of the Ku Klux Klan in the party.

Things did not really change until 1964, when, just after the Kennedys’ efforts, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. This was a painful turnaround, as Democratic lawmakers managed to block the legislation for 75 days.JPEG - 44 kbThe “1619 Project” is an operation of the New York Times Magazine. It aims to rewrite American history.

The “1619 Project”

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Thierry Meyssan

Political consultant, President-founder of the Réseau Voltaire (Voltaire Network). Latest work in English – Before Our Very Eyes, Fake Wars and Big Lies: From 9/11 to Donald Trump, Progressive Press, 2019. Joe Biden reinvents racism Language inversion Open letter from retired military : a plot against the Republic ? France The Middle East is reorganizing Will the allies have to die for Kiev? The coup that didn’t happen in Jordan This author’s articles To send a message

Article licensed under Creative Commons

The articles on Voltaire Network may be freely reproduced provided the source is cited, their integrity is respected and they are not used for commercial purposes (license CC BY-NC-ND).

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Murray Rothbard on War and “Isolationism” | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on March 4, 2021

Well, the Progressive period begins around 1900 with Teddy Roosevelt and so forth. Woodrow Wilson cements it with his so-called reforms, which totally subject the banking system to federal power, and with the Federal Trade Commission, which did for business what the Interstate Commerce Commission did for the railroads. In other words, he imposed a system of monopoly capitalism, or corporate state monopoly, which we now call the partnership of the government and of big business and industry, which means essentially a corporate state, or we can call it economic fascism. It culminated in World War I economic planning, for the war consisted of a totally collectivized economy headed by the sainted and revered Bernard Mannes Baruch, head of the War Industries Board.

https://mises.org/wire/murray-rothbard-war-and-isolationism

Murray N. Rothbard

[These edited extracts, from an interview in the February 1973 issue of Reason magazine, first ran in the June 1999 issue ofthe Rothbard-Rockwell Report.]

Q: Why, in your view, is isolationism an essential tenet of libertarian foreign policy?

A: The libertarian position, generally, is to minimize state power as much as possible, down to zero, and isolationism is the full expression in foreign affairs of the domestic objective of whittling down state power. In other words, interventionism is the opposite of isolationism, and of course it goes on up to war, as the aggrandizement of state power crosses national boundaries into other states, pushing other people around etc. So this is the foreign counterpart of the domestic aggression against the internal population. I see the two as united.

The responsibility of trying to limit or abolish foreign intervention is avoided by many conservative libertarians in that they are very, very concerned with things like price control—of course I agree with them. They are very, very concerned about eliminating taxes, licensing, and so forth—with which I agree—but somehow when it comes to foreign policy there’s a black out. The libertarian position against the state, the hostility toward expanding government intervention and so forth, goes by the board—all of a sudden you hear those same people who are worried about government intervention in the steel industry cheering every American act of mass murder in Vietnam or bombing or pushing around people all over the world.

This shows, for one thing, that the powers of the state apparatus to bamboozle the public work better in foreign affairs than in domestic. In foreign affairs you still have this mystique that the nation-state is protecting you from a bogeyman on the other side of the mountain. There are “bad” guys out there trying to conquer the world and “our” guys are in there trying to protect us. So not only is isolationism the logical corollary of libertarianism, which many libertarians don’t put into practice; in addition, as Randolph Bourne says, “war is the health of the state.”

The state thrives on war—unless, of course, it is defeated and crushed—expands on it, glories in it. For one thing, when one state attacks another state, it is able through this intellectual bamboozlement of the public to convince them that they must rush to the defense of the state because they think the state is defending them.

In other words, if, let’s say, Paraguay and Brazil are going to get into a war, each state—the Paraguayan government and the Brazilian government—is able to convince their own subjects that the other government is out to get them and loot them and murder them in their beds and so forth, so they are able to induce their own hapless subjects to fight against the other state, whereas in actual practice, of course, it is the states that have the quarrel, not the people. The people are outside the quarrels of the state and yet the state is able to generate this patriotic mass war hysteria and to call everybody up to the colors physically and spiritually and economically and therefore, of course, aggrandize state power permanently.

Most conservatives and libertarians are very familiar with—and deplore—the increase in state power in the American government in the last 50 or 70 years, but what they don’t seem to realize is that most of these increases took place in giant leaps during wartime. It was wartime that provided the crisis situation—the spark—which enabled the states to put on so-called emergency measures, which of course never got lifted, or rarely got lifted.

Even the War of 1812—seemingly a harmless little escapade—was evil, and also in the domestic sense, in that it ruined the Jeffersonian Party for a long time to come, it established federalism, which means monopoly state-capitalism in essence, it imposed a central bank, it imposed high tariffs, it imposed domestic federal taxation, which never existed before, internal taxation, and it took a long time to get rid of it, and we never really did get back to the pre–War of 1812 level of minimal state power.

Then, of course, the Mexican War [Mexican-American War, 1846–48] had consequences of slave expansion and so forth. But the Civil War was, of course, much worse—the Civil War was really the great turning point, one of the great turning points in the increase of state power, because with the Civil War you now have the total introduction of things like railroad land grants, subsidies of big business, permanent high tariffs, which the Jacksonians had been able to whittle away before the Civil War, and a total revolution in the monetary system so that the old pure gold standard was replaced first by greenback paper, and then by the National Banking Act—a controlled banking system. And for the first time we had the imposition in the United states of an income tax and federal conscription. The income tax was reluctantly eliminated after the Civil War as was conscription: all the other things—such as high excise taxes—continued on as a permanent accretion of state power over the American public.

The third huge increase of power came out of World War I. World War I set both the foreign and the domestic policies for the twentieth century. Woodrow Wilson set the entire pattern for foreign policy from 1917 to the present. There is a total continuity between Wilson, Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Johnson, and Nixon—the same thing all the way down the line.

Q: You’d include Kennedy in that?

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Author:

Murray N. Rothbard

Murray N. Rothbard made major contributions to economics, history, political philosophy, and legal theory. He combined Austrian economics with a fervent commitment to individual liberty.

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Who Owns Your Face? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on February 25, 2021

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/02/andrew-p-napolitano/who-owns-your-face/

By Andrew P. Napolitano

After listening to Dr. Anthony Fauci suggest last weekend that we should expect to be wearing two masks on our faces everywhere we go until the end of 2022, I began thinking again about first principles.

Fauci is entitled to express his opinions. Yet, because he is the president’s chief adviser on COVID-related medical matters, I cringed when I heard what he said. Was this a trial balloon or did he mean it literally? Are these suggestions or will they become commands with the purported force of law?

Because the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, it governs the government wherever it goes and whatever it does. The original purpose of the Constitution was twofold: to establish the federal government and to limit its regulatory and taxing powers to the 17 discrete powers articulated in Article I.

The former took place in 1789 when the Constitution was ratified. The latter has been a dismal failure.

The federal government recognizes next to no limits to its powers, no matter which political party controls Congress and the White House. The feds believe that they can right any wrong, tax any event and regulate any behavior — subject only to the express prohibitions in the Constitution. Even when there is a prohibition, such as, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech,” Congress has found ways around it. To the federal government, “no law” does not mean “no law.” Just ask the folks who have been prosecuted for their speech.

This is known as the Wilsonian model, named after President Woodrow Wilson, who advanced it shamelessly. All of his presidential successors have done the same.

Before Wilson, for the most part, and except for the Civil War years, the federal government recognized the limitations imposed upon it by the Constitution and, for the most part, stayed within their confines. This is known as the Madisonian model, named after President James Madison who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The first eight amendments in the Bill of Rights articulate negative rights. That is, the amendments don’t grant rights; they restrain the government from interfering with rights that already existed when the amendments were ratified. The Fifth and the 14th Amendments expressly require that the government prove fault and harm at a jury trial before it can interfere with property rights.

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Andrew P. Napolitano [send him mail], a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written nine books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is Suicide Pact: The Radical Expansion of Presidential Powers and the Lethal Threat to American Liberty. To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit creators.com.

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The Coming of Corporate Collectivism – Doug Casey’s International Man

Posted by M. C. on October 28, 2020

Benito Mussolini stated that “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.”

https://internationalman.com/articles/the-coming-of-corporate-collectivism/

by Jeff Thomas

Benito Mussolini stated that “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.”

Quite so.

Interestingly, many, and perhaps most people today, lack an understanding as to the system under which they are ruled.

In the US in particular, most people who vote Republican take pride in believing that the US is a capitalist state.

Democrats, too, regard the US as a capitalist state, and take the view that that’s what’s wrong with America today. Increasingly, they seek a move in the socialist (or collectivist) direction to save them from the perceived evils of capitalism.

Interestingly, though, the evils to which they refer are the socio-economic inequalities that exist and the fact that those on the lower levels of society have decreasing opportunity to improve their lot in life. And, of course, since they believe they live under a capitalist system, they assume that capitalism must be the problem.

But this is not the case.

It can be said that the first major introduction of corporatist collectivism occurred in 1913, with the introduction of the Revenue Act and the Federal Reserve Act.

These were enacted under President Woodrow Wilson and were peddled to the American public as being anti-corporatist. The Revenue Act, which introduced income tax, was touted as creating a tax primarily for the rich, which would even out income disparities. The Federal Reserve was claimed to be a government agency that would ride herd over the greedy banking interests on Wall Street.

However, those few who actually read the bill learned that the Federal Reserve was neither federal nor a reserve. It was to be owned by the larger banks and would give them the power to control the currency of the US.

By promising collectivist changes, the goals of corporatism were advanced.

And so it is today. Virtually all the ills of American society, as described by liberals, have been caused by the introduction of collectivist concepts, capitalized upon by the plutocracy of the US.

The US is not a capitalist state. If we were to define it accurately, the economic system is corporatist and the social system is collectivist. It is, however, true that there exist the remnants of a free market, or capitalism.

Yet, to most – either liberal or conservative – this would seem impossible. We’ve been taught to regard Wall Street as a denizen for greedy capitalists. Surely, they would never support collectivism – the saviour of the masses.

Well, yes and no. Wall Street has dominated the American economy for over one hundred years. And in all of that time, they’ve sought a greater level of collectivism. They understand that collectivism (under any of its guises of socialism, fascism or communism) is a highly effective means by which to rule over others.

Collectivism does not raise up the masses, as Karl Marx suggested. Instead, it evens out the classes by lowering the great majority of people to an equal level of poverty.

The premise is a simple one: Promise largesse from the government, with the stipulation that basic freedoms must be relinquished in order to receive the largesse. Then, once all have been subjugated under collectivism, the largesse is steadily diminished. Corporate leaders convince the people to give up their rights, but then fail to deliver on their end of the bargain: to bestow riches upon the now-subjugated populace.

And again, this is nothing new. In 1917, one Leon Trotsky was hosted in New York by the most prominent banking and industrial firms. He was provided with funding, along with a US passport, courtesy of President Wilson. A contingent then went with Mister Trotsky to Russia with the funds necessary to wrest control of the new Soviet Union – to replace the Mensheviks with the Lenin/Trotsky-led Bolsheviks. The bargain was that the Soviet Union would be collectivist and that the goods needed by Russians would be supplied from New York, in perpetuity, unseen by the public in either Russia or the US.

Within a decade, the same firms began funding an up-and-coming Adolf Hitler. They funded his rise to power in 1933 and spent the remainder of the decade taking control of much of German industry, in addition to installing American-owned plants in Germany.

Prior to Hitler’s rise, Germany was flat broke and heavily in debt, but the massive monetary shot in the arm from Wall Street firms ensured that Germany would rise quickly and come to dominate Europe. Indeed, without US funding, the creation of the German war machine would have been impossible.

The term “Nazi” is an abbreviation for Nationalsozialistische – the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. Like the Russian people, the German people had been sold the collectivist promise, believing that their lives would somehow be better if they agreed to give up their liberties and accept totalitarian rule.

What they received was the totalitarian rule without the promised largesse.

The effort to create the same situation in the US has long been in the works. In the 1930s, great strides were made toward collectivism under the New Deal. However, post-war prosperity made Americans unwilling to give up liberties for largesse.

But today, increased governmental regulation has diminished the free market, diminishing opportunities for the average American. This has created a condition in which roughly half of Americans now buy into the empty promise of collectivism.

America no longer has true “liberal” and “conservative” parties. They now have “liberal” and “liberal-light” parties. Regardless of who is president, the US is on course to go full-bore in 2021 into dramatic social and legislative changes that will complete the transformation into Corporate Collectivism. All that’s needed is a trigger, as occurred in Germany in February of 1933.

Just two weeks prior to the 1933 German national elections, Adolf Hitler hosted a secret fundraising meeting for German and American industrialists, which netted him millions in donations, upon which he could finance a totalitarian corporate collectivist government.

He then surreptitiously created the Reichstag fire, blaming it on dissidents and political opponents, ensuring that he would be elected.

In his address at that fundraiser, he stated,

“There are only two possibilities, either to crowd back the opponent on constitutional grounds, and for this purpose once more we have this [upcoming] election, or a struggle will be conducted with other weapons, which may demand greater sacrifices… I hope the German people thus recognize the greatness of this hour.”

Germany was about to receive a totalitarian corporate collectivist rule, either through election or through the creation of civil unrest.

Similarly, the US today is about to undergo dramatic change. The remaining question is whether that will take place through election or its historic alternative.

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The Progressivism of the Future Is Really Just the Socialism of the Past | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on October 20, 2020

Beyond that, other demands and programs put forth and realized by the progressive movement have included eugenics, population and birth control, family planning, prohibition, antitrust legislation, public education, central banking, and an income tax.

https://mises.org/wire/progressivism-future-really-just-socialism-past?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=6eca8feaf2-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-6eca8feaf2-228343965

Antony P. Mueller

The world is currently in the midst of a newly aggressive drive to bring about a new socialist order through a powerful and “efficient” technocratic state. This new order has been labeled as “progressive,” but it is merely the latest version of the socialist impulse which we have seen before in the form of socialism and communism. 

A War on Private Property

Summed up in a single sentence, the plans of the communists aim at the abolition of private property. From there, the other major demands follow, such as abolishing the family, nation, and countries, and finally, as Marx noted, “communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality.” In as much as the program of liberalism “if condensed into a single word….is private ownership of the means of production” (as described by Ludwig von Mises), the program of the communists is the abolition of private property.

A Promise of Efficiency and Expertise

Yet Marxian socialism—i.e., communism—has not found many followers in the United States. The communist appeal to justice and equality found more resonance in the old world. To have an appeal to the Americans, socialism had to be packaged differently. In the United States, the gospel of socialism appeared under the name of “progressivism” and was preached as bringing society to the highest degree of efficiency.

Under President Woodrow Wilson, progressivism attained its first peak as the dominant philosophy of the state. Society was to these socialists a single organization. The bureaucrats as public administrators found a vivid expression in the political novel Philip Dru: Administrator: A Story of Tomorrow by Edward Mandell House, who was a very close friend of Wilson and who served as the president’s most important political and diplomatic advisor.

This vision of progressivism requires:

  • Government and labor representation on the board of every corporation
  • Sharing the profits of public service companies
  • Government ownership of the means of communication
  • Government ownership of the means of transportation
  • A comprehensive system of old age pension
  • Government ownership of all healthcare
  • Full labor protection and governmental arbitration of industrial disputes

Beyond that, other demands and programs put forth and realized by the progressive movement have included eugenics, population and birth control, family planning, prohibition, antitrust legislation, public education, central banking, and an income tax.

These echo of the planks of the Communist Manifesto, which included demands to

  • Centralize the means of communications and to put the means of transport in the hand of the state
  • Extend the control of the state across the factories and over all land
  • Implement a heavy progressive income tax and abolish the rights of inheritance
  • Centralize credit in the hands of the state and establish a central bank of an exclusive monetary monopoly

Unlike the Communist Manifesto, the progressives did not preach a proletarian revolution but spoke out in the name of efficiency and demanded the bureaucratic rule of expert public administrators. In a specific way, the progressive movement presents an even worse program than Marxism. As Murray Rothbard summarized it, the progressive movement brought about a profound transformation of the American society:

from a roughly free and laissez-faire society of the 19th century, when the economy was free, taxes were low, persons were free in their daily lives, and the government was noninterventionist at home and abroad, the new coalition managed in a short time to transform America into a welfare-warfare imperial State, where people’s daily lives were controlled and regulated to a massive degree.

Socialism in Disguise

Guiding mankind to heaven on earth by transforming society is the quintessential message of socialism, beginning with the “utopian socialism” of the nineteenth century and leading up to our time with the demand for a “concrete utopia.” Yet different from the Marxist mythology that socialism would be the unstoppable successor of capitalism, history shows that the “socialist phenomenon” has appeared time and again throughout history. Instead of being the model of the future, socialism is, de facto, a failed idea of the past.

Socialism is the attempt to create a new social order at will. Yet one cannot construct “order” to one’s wishes. The volitional realization of a socioeconomic system results in establishing society as a single state-dominated organization and as such, it is necessarily hierarchical and must be based on command and obedience instead of the free association of the people as it happens in a spontaneous order.

President Wilson failed in his plan to bring the United States into the League of Nations and establish an organization to promote a new world order in tune with the visions of the progressives. For some time, the Americans resumed the tradition of individualism and isolationism. Yet with the Great Depression and World War II the chance of transforming the society and putting bureaucratic experts at the top came back with a vengeance under the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. With the end of the world war returned the chance to establish a network of international organizations with the mission of organizing society and the economy under the auspices of bureaucratic experts. This happened with the founding of the United Nations and its several subgroups and sister organizations to become active in finance, education, development, and health.

The International Push

With the launch of the United Nations, progressivism as a program of what James Ostrowski calls “destroying America” has attained a global platform. The main seat of this philosophy has moved into the headquarters of the United Nations Organizations. From its start, the United Nations has been the light bearer of global progressivism.

The protection of the environment and “global health” proved to be the ideal pretexts to move forward the agenda of progressivism. In June 1994, the UN Agenda 2021 was initiated by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro and called for the imposition of “sustainable development” on a global scale. While Agenda 2021 was still relatively modest in its demands and nonbinding as to its full execution, the later Agenda 2030 let the cat out of the bag. The new agenda was adopted when the heads of state and government and high representatives met at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in September 2015. At this meeting, they approved the adoption of “Global Sustainable Development Goals” about comprehensive and far-reaching universal and transformative goals and targets.

The new agenda describes a program of comprehensive government takeover of almost all aspects of personal life. With no nods to human freedom and market coordination, the document lists seventeen goals that should be met through a bureaucratic takeover of society on a worldwide scale. Behind popular promises such as the end of poverty and hunger, healthy lives, equitable education, and gender equality lurks the agenda to impose global socialism. Demands such as the reduction of income inequality within and among countries, sustainable consumption and production patterns, and building inclusive societies for sustainable development, are parts of an overriding plan to do away with the market economy and to impose comprehensive state planning.

Claiming the “perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill-health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being” (chapter 1, preamble), the conference calls of a “global partnership for sustainable development.”

Under the heading of “program areas” the agenda stresses “the links between demographic trends and factors and sustainable development.” The growth of the world population combined with “unsustainable consumption patterns” endangers the planet, as they “affect the use of land, water, air, energy and other resources.” Under point 5.17 of its objective, the conference demands: “Full integration of population concerns into national planning, policy and decision-making processes.” Protecting the environment requires the comprehensive regulation of the world population which in turn makes it necessary to control personal behavior.

In short, the adoption of this “new world order” would mean the abolition of private property, or what Mises regarded as the liberal program—a world based on private property. If enacted, this project will fail in the end, but it will bring immense suffering in the meantime. Author:

Antony P. Mueller

Dr. Antony P. Mueller is a German professor of economics who currently teaches in Brazil. Write an email. See his website and blog.

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Is Kamala Harris a 21st-Century Woodrow Wilson? | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on September 6, 2020

To pander to the socialists, Harris supports the profligate Green New Deal and a universal basic income, funded by new taxes that will “only” be levied on the wealthy. Harris exerts enormous influence over the extremely malleable (and increasingly senile) Biden, jubilantly telling Trevor Noah on The Daily Show that “as soon as we get him in the White House, and even before with these task forces that we had, we were able to significantly push Joe Biden to do things that he hadn’t signed on to before.”

Clearly, Harris plans to run the show.

https://mises.org/wire/kamala-harris-21st-century-woodrow-wilson?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=078d03d63e-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_09_04_06_24&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-078d03d63e-228343965

Although the draconian lockdowns punished the economy, a partial recovery occurred after governments allowed businesses to reopen. However, continued economic growth depends on the outcome of the presidential election. The crisis opened the door for a surge in regulations, subsidies, and other special interest privileges under the guise of promoting the “public health.”

This progressivism—a code word for cronyism—presents a serious threat to America.

As Murray Rothbard explains, the original Progressive Era witnessed corporate and safety regulations, environmental laws, welfare and labor compensation, and new taxes that benefited favored corporations, bureaucrats, academics, and labor activists at the expense of the taxpayer. If trends continue, modern politicians will pass similar policies to benefit themselves and favored supporters, crippling economic activity. To properly understand this progressivist threat, one must recognize the motives, background, and ideological orientation of the original progressives. They were mostly Yankees, the descendants of the Puritans who stayed in New England or emigrated to New York and the Midwest. They grew up in evangelical households that urged a remaking of society by coercively stamping out sin, particularly alcohol consumption. After earning PhDs in Germany, progressives preached their interventionism under the secularized guise of science and the public welfare. Furthermore, these social engineers supported eugenics, the science of controlling the labor supply to improve its overall quality. Lastly, progressives strove to revolutionize the world through foreign policy adventures.

In their struggle for economic privileges, progressives split into two groups. The corporatists championed protecting trusts and cartels from the vicissitudes of the free market. These big business advocates wanted to create trade commissions and other regulatory agencies to cripple competition and impose onerous compliance costs on small businesses. On the other hand, the socialists desired an overhaul of the capitalist system, blaring the trumpets for stringent antitrust regulation, radical labor laws, and redistributive taxes. President Woodrow Wilson embodied both strands, working with the two groups to enact the income tax, the Federal Reserve System, and the Federal Trade Commission.

In many ways, modern progressives are carbon copies. They congregate in New England and live in coastal New York City, Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. While eschewing traditional religion, modern progressives are zealots for egalitarianism and social justice. They attended the Ivy League and other elite American universities, empowering them with government-funded research. Although modern progressives disregard eugenics, they still advocate social engineering, championing egalitarianism for everybody except themselves while dictating what is morally acceptable. Finally, they are thoroughgoing foreign interventionists. Neoconservatism is actually a variant of progressivism, for as Angelo Codevilla explains, George W. Bush’s wars were “but an extrapolation of the sentiments of America’s progressive class, first articulated by people such as Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson.”

The progressive movement still splits along corporatist and socialist lines. The former support a cozy relationship with Wall Street and “Big Tech,” welcoming various internet and safety regulations that would hurt smaller businesses without the appropriate ecommerce infrastructure. The latter advocate radically anticapitalist measures, particularly the dismantling of Big Tech, the Green New Deal, a universal basic income, and wealth taxes. With the exception of hostile antitrust lawsuits, big business corporatists are not against these measures per se, provided they can acquire environmental subsidies and offload the cost of new entitlements and taxes onto the less wealthy (accomplished with the progressivist income tax and Social Security).

If Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden embody the corporatist mindset and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren the socialist mentality, then surely Kamala Harris is the modern Wilsonian.

Big Tech has funded Harris in various California elections in exchange for favorable regulatory oversight. Many former personnel now work for the large companies: a senior counsel left in 2018 to lobby on behalf of Amazon, Harris’s first campaign manager works for Google, and her brother-in-law is the chief legal officer for Uber.

To pander to the socialists, Harris supports the profligate Green New Deal and a universal basic income, funded by new taxes that will “only” be levied on the wealthy. Harris exerts enormous influence over the extremely malleable (and increasingly senile) Biden, jubilantly telling Trevor Noah on The Daily Show that “as soon as we get him in the White House, and even before with these task forces that we had, we were able to significantly push Joe Biden to do things that he hadn’t signed on to before.”

Clearly, Harris plans to run the show.

Similar to the legislation of one hundred years ago, the new progressive juggernaut presents an incredible threat to the United States. Its policies will impoverish the public to enrich elite businesses, politicians, intellectuals, and unions. This future looks bleak, and it must be stopped.

[Adapted from “America 2021: The Threat of Progressivism,” a talk delivered on August 29 in Orlando, FL.]

Author:

Contact Patrick Newman

Patrick is Assistant Professor of Economics at Florida Southern College. He completed his PhD in the Department of Economics at George Mason University. He is a 2018 Mises Institute Research Fellow.

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[Essay] The Old Normal, by Andrew J. Bacevich | Harper’s Magazine

Posted by M. C. on July 8, 2020

For the United States today, the problem turns out to be similar to the one that beset the nation during the period leading up to World War II: not isolationism but overstretch, compounded by indolence. The present-day disparities between our aspirations, commitments, and capacities to act are enormous.

The core questions, submerged today as they were on the eve of U.S. entry into World War II, are these: What does freedom require? How much will it cost? And who will pay?

https://harpers.org/archive/2020/03/the-old-normal-united-states-addiction-to-war-andrew-bacevich/

Why we can’t beat our addiction to war

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Addressing the graduating cadets at West Point in May 1942, General George C. Marshall, then the Army chief of staff, reduced the nation’s purpose in the global war it had recently joined to a single emphatic sentence. “We are determined,” he remarked, “that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other.”

At the time Marshall spoke, mere months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. forces had sustained a string of painful setbacks and had yet to win a major battle. Eventual victory over Japan and Germany seemed anything but assured. Yet Marshall was already looking beyond the immediate challenges to define what that victory, when ultimately— and, in his view, inevitably—achieved, was going to signify.

This second world war of the twentieth century, Marshall understood, was going to be immense and immensely destructive. But if vast in scope, it would be limited in duration. The sun would set; the war would end. Today no such expectation exists. Marshall’s successors have come to view armed conflict as an open-ended proposition. The alarming turn in U.S.–Iranian relations is another reminder that war has become normal for the United States.

The address at West Point was not some frothy stump speech by a hack politician. Marshall was a deliberate man who chose his words carefully. His intent was to make a specific point: the United States was fighting not to restore peace—a word notably absent from his remarks—nor merely to eliminate an isolated threat. The overarching American aim was preeminence, both ideological and military: as a consequence of the ongoing war, America was henceforth to represent freedom and power—not in any particular region or hemisphere but throughout the world. Here, conveyed with crisp military candor, was an authoritative reframing of the nation’s strategic ambitions.1

Marshall’s statement captured the essence of what was to remain America’s purpose for decades to come, until the presidential election of 2016 signaled its rejection. That year an eminently qualified candidate who embodied a notably bellicose variant of the Marshall tradition lost to an opponent who openly mocked that tradition while possessing no qualifications for high office whatsoever.

Determined to treat Donald Trump as an unfortunate but correctable aberration, the foreign-policy establishment remains intent on salvaging the tradition that Marshall inaugurated back in 1942. The effort is misguided and will likely prove futile. For anyone concerned about American statecraft in recent years, the more pressing questions are these: first, whether an establishment deeply imbued with Marshall’s maxim can even acknowledge the magnitude of the repudiation it sustained at the hands of Trump and those who voted him into office (a repudiation that is not lessened by Trump’s failure to meet his promises to those voters); and second, whether this establishment can muster the imagination to devise an alternative tradition better suited to existing conditions while commanding the support of the American people. On neither score does the outlook appear promising.

General George C. Marshall at the headquarters of the War Department, 1943 © Bettmann/Getty Images

General Marshall delivered his remarks at West Point in a singular context. Marshall gingerly referred to a “nationwide debate” that was complicating his efforts to raise what he called “a great citizen-army.” The debate was the controversy over whether the United States should intervene in the ongoing European war. To proponents of intervention, the issue at hand during the period of 1939 to 1941 was the need to confront the evil of Nazism. Opponents of intervention argued in the terms of a quite different question: whether or not to resume an expansionist project dating from the founding of the Republic. This dispute and its apparent resolution, misunderstood and misconstrued at the time, have been sources of confusion ever since.

Even today, most Americans are only dimly aware of the scope—one might even say the grandeur—of our expansionist project, which stands alongside racial oppression as an abiding theme of the American story. As far back as the 1780s, the Northwest Ordinances, which created the mechanism to incorporate the present-day Midwest into the Union, had made it clear that the United States had no intention of confining its reach to the territory encompassed within the boundaries of the original thirteen states. And while nineteenth-century presidents did not adhere to a consistent grand plan, they did pursue a de facto strategy of opportunistic expansion. Although the United States encountered resistance during the course of this remarkable ascent, virtually all of it was defeated. With the notable exception of the failed attempt to annex Canada during the War of 1812, expansionist efforts succeeded spectacularly and at a remarkably modest cost to the nation. By midcentury, the United States stretched from sea to shining sea.

Generations of Americans chose to enshrine this story of westward expansion as a heroic tale of advancing liberty, democracy, and civilization. Although that story certainly did include heroism, it also featured brute force, crafty maneuvering, and a knack for striking a bargain when the occasion presented itself.

In the popular imagination, the narrative of “how the West was won” to which I was introduced as a youngster has today lost much of its moral luster. Yet the country’s belated pangs of conscience have not induced any inclination to reapportion the spoils. While the idea of offering reparations to the offspring of former slaves may receive polite attention, no one proposes returning Florida to Spain, Tennessee and Georgia to the Cherokees, or California to Mexico. Properties seized, finagled, extorted, or paid for with cold, hard cash remain American in perpetuity.

Battlefield memorial for a dead U.S. soldier, Normandy, France, 1944 (detail)

Back in 1899, the naturalist, historian, politician, sometime soldier, and future president Theodore Roosevelt neatly summarized the events of the century then drawing to a close: “Of course our whole national history has been one of expansion.” When T.R. uttered this truth, a fresh round of expansionism was under way, this time reaching beyond the fastness of North America into the surrounding seas and oceans. The United States was joining with Europeans in a profit-motivated intercontinental imperialism.

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The Disastrous Legacy of Woodrow Wilson | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 3, 2020

The reason for discouragement is not that the university where Wilson served as president before becoming president of the United States has “canceled” him for his racism—something that no one ever sought to hide when discussing Wilson’s legacy—but rather the stubborn insistence that despite his racial policies Wilson’s record of pushing progressive legislation as well as his role in bringing the United States into World War I should be considered as pluses for his presidency.

It is hard to know where to begin here. First, and most important, “industrial titans” were not “crushing” small businesses. They made their fortunes through mass production of iron, steel, petroleum, railroad locomotives, and farm implements, along with making automobiles affordable for those people they allegedly were “crushing.”

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Princeton University has made it official: Woodrow Wilson’s name no longer will have any place on campus. The former president, or at least his memory, now is part of cancel culture, which is sweeping the nation. The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs will replace the former president’s name with “Princeton,” and Wilson College now will be called First College.

This hardly is surprising but in many ways discouraging, but not for reasons that many people might assume. Wilson did, after all, leave a sorry legacy of Jim Crow racial segregation and actively sought to damage if not destroy race relations in the United States, so the drive to remove his name is not a surprise given the wave of renaming and destruction of statues and monuments that has dominated the headlines ever since Minneapolis police killed George Floyd.

The reason for discouragement is not that the university where Wilson served as president before becoming president of the United States has “canceled” him for his racism—something that no one ever sought to hide when discussing Wilson’s legacy—but rather the stubborn insistence that despite his racial policies Wilson’s record of pushing progressive legislation as well as his role in bringing the United States into World War I should be considered as pluses for his presidency. Declares Princeton president Christopher L. Eisgruber:

Wilson remade Princeton, converting it from a sleepy college into a great research university. Many of the virtues that distinguish Princeton today—including its research excellence and its preceptorial system—were in significant part the result of Wilson’s leadership. He went on to the American presidency and received a Nobel Prize. People will differ about how to weigh Wilson’s achievements and failures. Part of our responsibility as a University is to preserve Wilson’s record in all of its considerable complexity.

Translation: Wilson’s record is complex, as he did many positive things both for Princeton and for the USA when he was in the White House. In fact, the “complex” review of Wilson is quite common with historians and journalists, many of whom seem to believe that if it were not for his fealty to Jim Crow and institutionalized racism Woodrow Wilson would have been a great president. That is the legacy that we need to reexamine, and as we do, we find that Wilson’s presidency was a complete disaster, one that reverberates to the present time and still inflicts great harm to our body politic. There is nothing complex at all when examining the cataclysmic aftermath of those eight years Wilson spent in office.

Dick Lehr of The Atlantic seems to be typical of journalists, as he condemns Wilson’s racism but portrays him positively when it comes to his imposition of a progressive legislative and social agenda:

Wilson might have bumbled, and worse, on civil rights, but he was overseeing implementation of a “New Freedom” in the nation’s economy—his campaign promise to restore competition and fair labor practices, and to enable small businesses crushed by industrial titans to thrive once again. In September 1914, for example, he had created the Federal Trade Commission to protect consumers against price-fixing and other anticompetitive business practices, and shortly after signed into law the Clayton Antitrust Act. He continued monitoring the so-called European War, resisting pressure to enter but moving to strengthen the nation’s armed forces.

It is hard to know where to begin here. First, and most important, “industrial titans” were not “crushing” small businesses. They made their fortunes through mass production of iron, steel, petroleum, railroad locomotives, and farm implements, along with making automobiles affordable for those people they allegedly were “crushing.” These industries required large-scale capital, not backyard furnaces, and this was a time when the American standard of living was rising rapidly. It is one thing to write about how “price fixing” allegedly was cheating American consumers but quite another to provide credible examples.

Most historians and journalists writing about this period take it on faith that antitrust laws and other so-called reforms brought on by progressives actually improved the lot of most people in this country. Finding proof that these “reforms” did what supporters claim can be a bit more quixotic.

Let us look at some of the actions that Wilson and his progressive Democratic Congress accomplished during his presidency. For example, most historians and journalists see the Sixteenth Amendment, which provided the legal base for a national income tax, as a “reform” that made the lives of most Americans better. How a tax that takes a significant share of individuals’ earnings has been spent such that those paying are better off having the government spend those monies than they would be by directing their own resources requires creative thinking. Given that most federal employees receive better pay and benefits than the people who work to create the wealth those federal workers consume, one is hard-pressed to explain why the taxpayers are getting a better deal than if they hadn’t paid those taxes at all.

Then there was the creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1914. It is the rare journalist, historian, and even economist who does not lavish praise upon the Fed even though one can effectively argue that it is often responsible for the very conditions that breed financial crises in the first place. Most people would not praise an arsonist who throws fuel on a fire he started, but somehow Federal Reserve governors who provide “liquidity” for financial institutions that acted irresponsibly—often with government and Fed encouragement—are seen as economic saviors.

There is much more. During Wilson’s first term, Democrats pushed through law after law that bolstered the Jim Crow system of racial segregation in the federal government system, which up until then had not followed the lead of many states that were instituting an apartheid system for whites and African Americans. While the federal government was not directly involved in medical care, nonetheless progressives such as Wilson were also firmly behind the guiding principles of the Flexner Report of 1910, which according to Murray N. Rothbard created and maintained the medical cartel that even now deprives Americans of many healthcare options. (Note that very few, if any, journalists and historians have any problem with the cartelization of medical care despite their supposed love affair with competition and their uncritical endorsement of antitrust laws.) Furthermore, the Flexner Report and its aftermath doomed medical education for black Americans and women and left the country woefully short of physicians.

Yet the “crowning achievement” of Wilson’s presidency is American involvement in World War I and its role in the disastrous “peace process” that followed Germany’s surrender. Not surprisingly, journalists and historians see Wilson’s manipulation of this country into the war as being something both inevitable and necessary, a move that launched the USA as a “great power” in world affairs.

Germany posed no danger to the United States, the infamous Zimmerman Telegram notwithstanding. Its armies could not have invaded our shores, and had the Americans not turned the tide in favor of Great Britain and France, almost certainly the belligerents would have entered into a negotiated settlement that would not have laid the conditions for the rise of Adolph Hitler and what turned out to be an even more cataclysmic World War II and its warring aftermath.

Wilson’s contempt for black Americans extended into military service. Like other Americans, they were conscripted into the armed forces and forced into subservient roles, as the prejudices of the day held that blacks were cowards in battle despite their fighting records in previous American wars. Those who did carry a rifle mostly did so under French leadership, where they excelled on the battlefield but also were slaughtered like so many others in the hellish trenches that came to define that war.

On the home front, Wilson’s Congress pushed through laws that turned the USA into a virtual police state, such as the Espionage Act of 1917 (used to prosecute people who dissented against US involvement in the war) and the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 (which Franklin Roosevelt used as the “basis of authority” for his executive order to seize gold from Americans). The legacy of both laws continues to this day, as the Obama administration used the Espionage Act to prosecute Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.

If one defines “greatness” as dragging a country into a disastrous war, promoting legislation that hamstrung the economy, vastly increasing taxation, and leaving a racial legacy that wreaks havoc to this very day, then Woodrow Wilson was a “great president.” However, if one sees “greatness” in the Oval Office as someone, according to Robert Higgs, “who acts in accordance with his oath of office to ‘preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,’” then Wilson is neither great nor “near great” (the ranking bestowed on him by progressive historians).

Woodrow Wilson does not have a “mixed” legacy. The America that existed before Wilson took office was a very different and less free country after his second term ended in 1921. The dictator-like military organization of the economy that was used to direct war production would form part of the basis for FDR’s attempts to further cartelize the US economy during the New Deal. Wilson pushed through laws to eviscerate the First Amendment and to imprison dissenters, and his racial policies speak for themselves. He did not “lead” the nation during crises; he drove the country into crisis, and this nation never has recovered.

Author:

Contact William L. Anderson

William L. Anderson is a professor of economics at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland.

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Now It’s Woodrow Wilson’s Turn – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on June 30, 2020

Four years ago, Eisgruber rebuffed student demands to wipe Wilson’s name off the public policy institute, because, as he wrote last week, Wilson “transformed” Princeton “from a sleepy college to a world-class university.”

Talk of ingratitude! Woodrow Wilson is being dishonored today by the house that Woodrow Wilson built.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/06/patrick-j-buchanan/now-its-woodrow-wilsons-turn/

By

Now that statues of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Grant and Theodore Roosevelt have been desecrated, vandalized, toppled and smashed, it appears Woodrow Wilson’s time has come.

The cultural revolution has come to the Ivy League.

Though Wilson attended Princeton as an undergraduate, taught there and served from 1902 to 1910 as president, his name is to be removed from Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs.

And why is this icon of American liberals to be so dishonored?

Because Thomas Woodrow Wilson disbelieved in racial equality.

Says Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber: “Wilson’s racist opinions and policies make him an inappropriate namesake.” Moreover, Wilson’s “racism was significant and consequential even by the standards of his own time.”

And what exactly were Wilson’s sins?

“Wilson was… a racist,” writes Eisgruber, who “discouraged black applicants from applying to Princeton. While president of the United States he segregated the previously integrated civil service.”

Another of Wilson’s crimes was overlooked by Eisgruber.

In February 1915, following a White House screening of “Birth of a Nation,” which depicted the Ku Klux Klan as heroic defenders of white womanhood in the South after the Civil War, a stunned Wilson said:

“It’s like writing history with lightning. My only regret is that it is all so terribly true.”

Princeton’s board of trustees has endorsed Eisgruber’s capitulation, declaring that Woodrow Wilson’s “racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school or college whose scholars, students, and alumni must stand firmly against racism in all its form.”

Yet, as Wilson left the U.S. presidency a century ago and has been dead for 96 years, one wonders: Was Princeton unaware that Wilson had resegregated the civil service? When did Princeton discover this?

Wilson’s support of segregation was a matter of record in his own time and is a subject about which every biographer and historian of that period has been aware. When did Princeton discover that this Southern-born president, the most famous son in the school’s history, like so many of his presidential predecessors, did not believe in integration?

Four years ago, Eisgruber rebuffed student demands to wipe Wilson’s name off the public policy institute, because, as he wrote last week, Wilson “transformed” Princeton “from a sleepy college to a world-class university.”

Talk of ingratitude! Woodrow Wilson is being dishonored today by the house that Woodrow Wilson built.

Wilson was also a history-making liberal Democrat, a two-term president who took us into the Great War, advanced his “14 Points” as a basis for peace, became an architect of the Versailles Treaty, championed a League of Nations and won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

True, it did not all work out well.

Sold as “the war to end war” and “to make the world safe for democracy” Wilson took us in in April 1917 as an associate power of four empires. And rather than make the world safe for democracy, the war made the world that emerged accessible to Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler.

Yet, if Wilson’s disbelief in equality is sufficient to get the most famous son Princeton produced from having his name on a public institute, this is likely just the beginning.

The Wilson Center, chartered by Congress in 1968, a nonpartisan policy forum led today by ex-Congresswoman Jane Harman, is the official memorial to President Wilson in Washington, D.C.

It, too, is likely to be headed for the chopping block.

One of the largest and most integrated public high schools in D.C. is Woodrow Wilson High, which has stood since before World War II in the northwest corner of the city. Is that name to be changed as well?

What of the D.C. Beltway’s Wilson Bridge, south of the city, which has brought traffic into, out of and around the capital for decades?

Will we need a name change there as well?

Theodore Roosevelt is under fire for his negative views of Native Americans. Yet, he, too, has a bridge over the Potomac named after him — and a D.C. high school as well.

The Key Bridge connects Georgetown to Virginia’s Lee Highway, which was named for General Robert E. Lee in 1919. The bridge is named after Francis Scott Key, author of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and whose statue was lately toppled in Golden Gate Park.

If support for segregation is a disqualification for honor in the new America, is it likely that the oldest of three Senate office buildings on Capitol Hill can remain named for Sen. Richard B. Russell of Georgia?

A confidant and ally of President Lyndon Johnson, Russell was a co-signer of the Southern Manifesto of 1956, which called for “massive resistance” to integrating public schools. Russell also voted against every major civil rights bill in his 40 years in the Senate.

If D.C. ever becomes a state surrounding the Capitol, Mall, White House and major monuments, look for the sweeping destruction of statues and monuments and a changing of the names of streets, parks and circles.

Where does the madness end?

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1918: A Study in How Disease Can Shape Public Policy | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on June 20, 2020

Most historians attribute Wilson’s health to a small stroke, but it’s more likely that he contracted the influenza. The result of Wilson’s failing health—harshness toward Germany—”helped create the economic hardship, nationalistic reaction, and political chaos that fostered the rise of Adolf Hitler,” Barry writes.

But that was a hundred years ago. Surely the medical community has figured pandemics out by now?

Don’t bet on it.

 

https://mises.org/wire/1918-study-how-disease-can-shape-public-policy?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=e399d0cb6e-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-e399d0cb6e-228343965

I suppose the first I read of the Great Influenza was in the first few pages of the Charles Portis masterpiece True Grit. The book’s heroine, Mattie Ross, tells readers about Yarnell Poindexter, whom Mattie’s papa left at the farm to look after her mama and the family while he went to Fort Smith. Mattie and Yarnell “exchanged letters every Christmas until he passed away in the flu epidemic of 1918.”

Most people hadn’t heard a thing about the 1918 pandemic until 2020’s version of, if not the same thing, something similar.

But two new books in recent years offer some much-needed context. One is Laura Spinney’s 2018 book Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World. The other is John Barry’s 2005 book The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Plague in History.

One thing that quickly becomes apparent from reading these books is that the numbers from the 1918 flu are startling.

Spinney writes, “The Spanish flu infected one in three people on earth, or 500 million human beings.” That’s an astounding number; however, as we are finding out, precise pandemic information is hard to come by.

The 1918–20 pandemic killed between 35 million and 100 million people worldwide and 675,000 in the United States. The current version has claimed over four hundred thousand souls worldwide. “Most of the death” in 1918, writes Ms. Spinney, “occurred in the thirteen weeks between mid-September and mid-December.” By the way, that thirteen-week period was the second wave.

The misnamed “war to end all wars,” World War I, was ending with 22 million deaths as its direct result. In Spinney’s view, the pandemic “influenced the course of the First World War,” and “ushered in universal healthcare.” Is it possible that the 2019–20 pandemic will push America to adopt the same?

Some of Today’s Reactions Recall 1918

If so, this wouldn’t be the only effect of the current pandemic that mirrors events past.

If you thought that President Trump’s touting of hydroxychloroquine was unusual (the drug is primarily prescribed for malaria), for example, Spanish flu sufferers in 1918 were overdosing on quinine, which although effective against malaria, displayed “no evidence that it worked for flu,” Spinney writes, “yet was prescribed in large doses.”

Many accounts have the influenza beginning in southwest Kansas, but the idea of the disease as the fault of foreigners nonetheless gained traction. Spain, for instance, had nothing to do with germinating the pandemic, but with the country not involved in World War I, the Spanish press freely reported on the outbreak, hence the name.

Indeed, American locals did plenty to spread the disease. In October 1918, the death rate in New York City was just short of four times the normal. Despite cases peaking in that month, President Woodrow Wilson led a Columbus Day parade down Fifth Avenue. Italians bore the brunt of the xenophobia, blamed not just for spreading the flu and polio, but “blamed for crime, alcoholism, communism and host of other social ills,” Spinney writes. Meanwhile, “TB became known as the ‘Jewish disease’ or the ‘tailors disease.’” The real problem was the overcrowding of tenements.

In his book The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Plague in History, historian John Barry tells of the Philadelphia Liberty Loan parade, which one observer said catapulted that city’s civilian population into an outbreak “assuming the type found in naval stations and cantonments.” Three days after the parade, the pandemic killed 117 people in a single day, Barry writes. “That number would double, triple, quadruple, quintuple, sextuple.” Barry provides the grisly facts. “Soon the daily death toll from influenza alone would exceed the city’s average weekly death toll from all cases—all illnesses, all accidents, all criminal acts combined.”

Philadelphia became the hottest of the hot spots, with a death rate of 7.92 times the normal in October 1918.

From a worldwide perspective, the 1918 influenza “killed more people in a year than the Black Death of the Middle Ages killed in a century; it killed more people in twenty-four weeks than AIDS has killed in twenty-four years,” Barry writes.

Barry’s pandemic story highlights the career and power struggles between William Henry Welch (Skull and Cross Bones fraternity member), William Osler, William Crawford Gorgas, the Flexner brothers (Simon and Abraham), Victor Vaughn, the Rockefeller Institute, and the Carnegie Foundation.

The Flu, Woodrow Wilson, and the Treaty of Versailles

During the post–World War I peace talks in Paris, unlike his counterparts, Woodrow Wilson negotiated by himself, without aid of any kind. Everyone in his circle back home was ill, and the president suddenly fell ill at the conference. So suddenly that there was speculation that he had been poisoned.

Prior to his illness, Wilson had been prepared to walk out of the talks. Although he remained in Paris, for days he was too ill to participate. Finally he insisted that the talks continue in his bedroom. Others in Paris, including Herbert Hoover, Colonel Starling, and Chief Usher Irwin Hoover commented on the decline of Wilson’s mental acuity. Most bizarre was the president’s idea that his house was filled with French spies. By the afternoon Wilson couldn’t remember what had happened in the morning. Lloyd George commented at the time of Wilson’s “nervous and spiritual breakdown in the middle of the conference.”

Ultimately Wilson, who had initially insisted on a “peace without victory,” capitulated to the French, Brits, and Italians. The treaty was harsh, and Wilson said, “If I were a German, I think I should never sign it.”

Most historians attribute Wilson’s health to a small stroke, but it’s more likely that he contracted the influenza. The result of Wilson’s failing health—harshness toward Germany—”helped create the economic hardship, nationalistic reaction, and political chaos that fostered the rise of Adolf Hitler,” Barry writes.

If pandemic histories provide any instruction, it’s likely contained in Welch’s frustrating prediction, made in 1920: “I think that this epidemic is likely to pass away and we are no more familiar with the control of the disease than we were in the epidemic of 1889. It is humiliating, but true.” Vaughn echoed Welch’s view, saying, “Never again allow me to say that medical science is on the verge of conquering disease.”

But that was a hundred years ago. Surely the medical community has figured pandemics out by now?

Don’t bet on it.

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