A conspiracy of infamy so black that, which it is finally exposed, its principals shall be forever deserving of the maledictions of all honest men. What can be made of this unbroken series of decisions and acts contributing to the strategy of defeat?
Why we hate us :American discontent in the new millennium /Dick Meyer. – National Library
They cannot be attributed to incompetence. The laws of probability would dictate that part of. Now turn back fifty years to a manifesto signed in by a number of leaders of the Populist party:. As early as —66 a conspiracy was entered into between the gold gamblers of Europe and America. For nearly thirty years these conspirators have kept the people quarreling over less important matters while they have pursued with unrelenting zeal their one central purpose.
Every device of treachery, every resource of statecraft, and every artifice known to the secret cabals of the international gold ring are being used to deal a blow to the prosperity of the people and the financial and commercial independence of the country. It is a notorious fact that the Monarchs of Europe and the Pope of Rome are at this very moment plotting our destruction and threatening the extinction of our political, civil, and religious institutions.
We have the best reasons for believing that corruption has found its way into our Executive Chamber, and that our Executive head is tainted with the infectious venom of Catholicism. The Pope has recently sent his ambassador of state to this country on a secret commission, the effect of which is an extraordinary boldness of the Catholic church throughout the United States.
These minions of the Pope are boldly insulting our Senators; reprimanding our Statesmen; propagating the adulterous union of Church and State; abusing with foul calumny all governments but Catholic, and spewing out the bitterest execrations on all Protestantism. Add to this the vast revenues collected here. These quotations give the keynote of the style. I do not propose to try to trace the variations of the paranoid style that can be found in all these movements, but will confine myself to a few leading episodes in our past history in which the style emerged in full and archetypal splendor.
I begin with a particularly revealing episode—the panic that broke out in some quarters at the end of the eighteenth century over the allegedly subversive activities of the Bavarian Illuminati. This panic was a part of the general reaction to the French Revolution. In the United States it was heightened by the response of certain men, mostly in New England and among the established clergy, to the rise of Jeffersonian democracy.
Illuminism had been started in by Adam Weishaupt, a professor of law at the University of Ingolstadt.
The Paranoid Style in American Politics
Its teachings today seem to be no more than another version of Enlightenment rationalism, spiced with the anticlerical atmosphere of eighteenth-century Bavaria. Its humanitarian rationalism appears to have acquired a fairly wide influence in Masonic lodges. Its author was a well-known Scottish scientist, John Robison, who had himself been a somewhat casual adherent of Masonry in Britain, but whose imagination had been inflamed by what he considered to be the far less innocent Masonic movement on the Continent.
Robison seems to have made his work as factual as he could, but when he came to estimating the moral character and the political influence of Illuminism, he made the characteristic paranoid leap into fantasy. He saw it as a libertine, anti-Christian movement, given to the corruption of women, the cultivation of sensual pleasures, and the violation of property rights.
These notions were quick to make themselves felt in America. In May , a minister of the Massachusetts Congregational establishment in Boston, Jedidiah Morse, delivered a timely sermon to the young country, which was then sharply divided between Jeffersonians and Federalists, Francophiles and Anglomen. Having read Robison, Morse was convinced of a Jacobinical plot touched off by Illuminism, and that the country should be rallied to defend itself. His warnings were heeded throughout New England wherever Federalists brooded about the rising tide of religious infidelity or Jeffersonian democracy.
Soon the pulpits of New England were ringing with denunciations of the Illuminati, as though the country were swarming with them. The anti-Masonic movement of the late s and the s took up and extended the obsession with conspiracy. At first, this movement may seem to be no more than an extension or repetition of the anti-Masonic theme sounded in the outcry against the Bavarian Illuminati.
But whereas the panic of the s was confined mainly to New England and linked to an ultraconservative point of view, the later anti-Masonic movement affected many parts of the northern United States, and was intimately linked with popular democracy and rural egalitarianism. Although anti-Masonry happened to be anti-Jacksonian Jackson was a Mason , it manifested the same animus against the closure of opportunity for the common man and against aristocratic institutions that one finds in the Jacksonian crusade against the Bank of the United States. The anti-Masonic movement was a product not merely of natural enthusiasm but also of the vicissitudes of party politics.
It was joined and used by a great many men who did not fully share its original anti-Masonic feelings. It attracted the support of several reputable statemen who had only mild sympathy with its fundamental bias, but who as politicians could not afford to ignore it. Still, it was a folk movement of considerable power, and the rural enthusiasts who provided its real impetus believed in it wholeheartedly. The John Birch Society is attempting to suppress a television series about the United Nations by means of a mass letter-writing campaign to the sponsor,.
The Xerox Corporation. The corporation, however, intends to go ahead with the programs. As a secret society, Masonry was considered to be a standing conspiracy against republican government. Masonry was accused of constituting a separate system of loyalty, a separate imperium within the framework of federal and state governments, which was inconsistent with loyalty to them. Quite plausibly it was argued that the Masons had set up a jurisdiction of their own, with their own obligations and punishments, liable to enforcement even by the penalty of death.
So basic was the conflict felt to be between secrecy and democracy that other, more innocent societies such as Phi Beta Kappa came under attack. Masonic constables, sheriffs, juries, and judges must all be in league with Masonic criminals and fugitives.
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At a moment when almost every alleged citadel of privilege in America was under democratic assault, Masonry was attacked as a fraternity of the privileged, closing business opportunities and nearly monopolizing political offices. Certain elements of truth and reality there may have been in these views of Masonry. What must be emphasized here, however, is the apocalyptic and absolutistic framework in which this hostility was commonly expressed. Anti-Masons were not content simply to say that secret societies were rather a bad idea.
Fear of a Masonic plot had hardly been quieted when the rumors arose of a Catholic plot against American values. One meets here again the same frame of mind, but a different villain. The anti-Catholic movement converged with a growing nativism, and while they were not identical, together they cut such a wide swath in American life that they were bound to embrace many moderates to whom the paranoid style, in its full glory, did not appeal.
Moreover, we need not dismiss out of hand as totally parochial or mean-spirited the desire of Yankee Americans to maintain an ethnically and religiously homogeneous society nor the particular Protestant commitments to individualism and freedom that were brought into play. But the movement had a large paranoid infusion, and the most influential anti-Catholic militants certainly had a strong affinity for the paranoid style.
Two books which appeared in described the new danger to the American way of life and may be taken as expressions of the anti-Catholic mentality. One, Foreign Conspiracies against the Liberties of the United States , was from the hand of the celebrated painter and inventor of the telegraph, S.
She has devised a grand scheme. She has organized a great plan for doing something here. She has her Jesuit missionaries traveling through the land; she has supplied them with money, and has furnished a fountain for a regular supply. A minister of the Gospel from Ohio has informed us that he discovered one carrying on his devices in his congregation; and he says that the western country swarms with them under the name of puppet show men, dancing masters, music teachers, peddlers of images and ornaments, barrel organ players, and similar practitioners.
Lyman Beecher, the elder of a famous family and the father of Harriet Beecher Stowe, wrote in the same year his Plea for the West , in which he considered the possibility that the Christian millennium might come in the American states.
Dick Meyer. Americans are as safe, well fed, securely sheltered, long-lived, free, and healthy as any human beings who have ever lived on the planet. But we are down on America. So why do we hate us? For that I would nominate the nineteenth-century abolitionists, the anti-slavery agitators. The second extreme is subjectivism. Pragmatism is not subjectivism according to Meyer, because Pragmatism is grounded in the necessity of action rather than mere contemplation. Finch is an epitome of reasonableness and non-reactivity, who heroically defends a black man against a false charge of raping a white woman in s Alabama.
Meyer approvingly quotes Atticus telling his young daughter that to know a man you have to walk around in his skin for awhile. This seems to capture the down-to-earth humaneness of Pragmatism, although it seems equally compatible with Atticus being a Christian gentleman, or just a thoughtful person. However, Atticus also displays one of the weaknesses of Pragmatism: he cannot deal with evil. We need not confine ourselves to fiction for examples of the foolish weakness of Pragmatism.
A real-life example is provided by the way the s German center-left parties dealt with the National Socialists. Furthermore, the more moderate parties in the Weimar Republic shared many principles with the Nazi Party: sacrifice to society, obedience to authority, and other ideas. The Nazis merely took these ideas to their logical conclusion. The response Germany needed was not some sort of humanistic moderation, on the model of Isaiah Berlin, but a radical, extreme, rooted defense of reason and liberty a la John Locke and Thomas Jefferson. Most of the great presidents of the twentieth century — both Roosevelts, Kennedy, Johnson — were Pragmatists.
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