Unbecoming American: The Puritan Nation

The Puritan Nation

It has often been said of the United States of America that, in contrast to the countries and states from which its immigrant inhabitants came, is based on a civic religion. This should be no surprise when one considers that the men who formed the earliest colonial government were radical Protestants. They were dissidents who left Great Britain in the wake of the end of the Commonwealth and the restoration of the monarchy. Although the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, was an Enlightenment intellectual and plantation owner in Virginia, the core of the country’s political elite grew in the theocratic Massachusetts Bay colony. While Massachusetts was a cauldron of republicanism, its founders believed firmly that they were creating a new Eden in North America. America was not only divinely endowed. Its republicanism was firmly rooted in the tenets of the Protestantism that drove the English Civil War. Their concepts of liberty were inseparable from their religious convictions. For the outside world, the 1775 war of independence was liberation from the political order of the Old World. However for the New England elite, the sons of Harvard and Yale, relied on divine will. Unlike the 1789 revolution in France there was no attempt to create a secular state.

The Constitution that anchored separation of Church and State by prohibiting the establishment of religion was only intended to protect the ecclesiastical forms that the Puritans had brought with them from encroachment by a central government that could assume quasi-monarchical proportions and thus threaten to return them to the regime they had fled where the British monarch had been endowed with almost papal powers. In the course of the 19th century subsequent immigrants struggled to gain acceptance of their own religious institutions. When the revolutionary wave of 1848 drove political dissidents to North America in exile, many found the United States hostile to the anti-clericalism they had brought with them.

The civil religion that evolved in the United States also developed its own missionary doctrine. Settlement had started on the Atlantic seaboard. However the expansion of plantation agriculture in the South and mercantile interests in the North propelled the English-speaking settler colonies ever further west. Expanding Eden meant inevitably continued conflict and war with the indigenous peoples. Since divine providence had brought the founders of the new country to occupy and settle land that was already inhabited it was only right and just that God would deliver them the victories needed to be fruitful and multiply throughout the continent. This divine mission became known as Manifest Destiny. After the federal government had negotiated the purchase of France’s Louisiana territory, the paths were paved to claim America “from sea to shining sea”.

Immigration had to be promoted by any means, including the increase in the amount of bonded labor to occupy, work, and defend the acquisitions. Immigration provided the fodder by which the armed forces of the republic drove the natives from their land and the successors to the Spanish Empire in northern Mexico from theirs. Schools have taught generations of immigrants that the United States had become what it is by the hard work and entrepreneurial abilities of its mainly European settlers. Those virtues expressed the divine will and grace by which the settlers were entitled to their bounty.

However this divine will also had to be construed as license to conquer. The wars waged to establish the United States as a continental power were essentially “holy wars” against heathen, if not infidels. These crusades were not blessed by the Latin pontiff, but by the settler clergy and lay orders. Like the Crusades in the Middle Ages, these wars were fought by the poorest for the benefit of the most wealthy. Like the strongly held residual belief that there are biblical lands that must be defended, the hundred years of crusading from the Atlantic to the Pacific also imbued the crusaders and those who survived and succeeded them with the conviction that the lands they had won were the gift of Providence, inalienable except by the will of God.

Crusading from Sea to Sea

Until the end of the 19th century, the demographic composition of the country’s population fostered an antagonism toward Europe. For the nation’s ruling class European empires were still strong competitors. The federal government had eliminated France as a threat by purchasing Louisiana and absorbing the debt imposed on the revolutionary republic of Haiti. With the acquisition of Florida and the conquest of northern Mexico (New Spain), Britain remained the only serious threat to US hemispheric autonomy. Although the British had already shown that they could not seize or hold the republic’s territory, the power of the Royal Navy was undisputed. As long as the US had an insufficient industrial base, it had to fear that Britain would obstruct its maritime commerce. In fact with the loss of the thirteen North American colonies (Britain retained Canada despite US efforts to conquer it. It also retained control over its colonies in the Caribbean basin.) Her Britannic Majesty’s government had shifted the bulk of its energy to exploitation of India and South Africa. Had Britain been able to force the dissolution of the union during the American Civil War things might have turned out differently.

This comparative isolation permitted the crusaders to consolidate continental power. By 1901, the US regime was in a position to seize even more territory. By provoking war with Spain and usurping the independence movements in Cuba and the Philippines, the United States became not only a continental power but also a transoceanic empire. From this position the old New England merchants would soon be able to transcend the China trade that had enriched them for over a century. Manifest Destiny retained the imperative of the Monroe Doctrine and added the blessings of the Open Door.

In 1854, Commodore Matthew C. Perry used explosive naval shells to break open the door to Japan. In 1905, Theodore Roosevelt would broker Japan’s colonial conquest of Korea to extend the republic’s reach beyond the Bering Strait and the South China Sea. By 1914, the United States and the United Kingdom divided the oceans between them, suffering the lesser powers like France and the Netherlands. Britain, France, Belgium and Germany had already carved Africa, excluding the US except for its quasi-colony, Liberia.

Catholicism: The Latin Legacy

In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge told a meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors,

“After all, the chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world.” In the vernacular these words have been reduced the principle that “the business of America is business”. By 1925, the United States economy had undergone a massive consolidation. The establishment of the Federal Reserve System in 1913 had delivered fiscal policy and the issuance of money to the banking oligopoly. The Morgan bank had successfully and profitably negotiated a network of trusts and corporations that dominated heavy industry and the emerging consumer sector. The Standard Oil (Rockefeller) and DuPont chemical trusts combined to form General Motors establishing not only a leading position in the manufacture of automotive transportation but the capacity to make national transportation policy. The enormous industrial capacity that had been subsidized by the US government to make war materiel was converted to the mass production of consumer goods.

The propaganda machinery that had sold the war in Europe to ignorant Americans and helped to criminalize those opposed to it—for whatever reasons—was transformed into the consciousness industry. Wall Street moved money while Madison Avenue moved emotions and minds. Between them the high-powered “white shoe” law firms developed into the pinstriped mercenaries who managed corporate and national diplomacy, both overt and covert.

An empire that built by divine providence had ripened its own national ecclesiastical institutions. God’s will had given the theocratic founders a continent. Their Calvinist commercial virtue had delivered them wealth. Woodrow Wilson had gone to Paris as a new pontiff bridging the Atlantic with the catholic faith of the corporate class. Thanks to the security that ocean had afforded and (despite German submarine warfare) Britannia’s continued rule of the waves, American banking and heavy industry was uniquely positioned to flood war-ravaged countries. If America did not come to Versailles to conquer, its missionaries were certainly there to convert. Future POTUS Herbert Hoover ran the secretive Commission for Relief in Belgium and later the American Relief Administration. Billed as a humanitarian, Hoover and his staff anticipated the practices of the Marshall Plan by covertly trading relief for commercial and political advantage. At the same time not unlike Alcuin, Hoover scoured the public records of destitute countries during his missions. Thus any accounting trail was erased as well as untold other archival sources (today still under lock and key at the Hoover Institution). Conversion to the American religion of Business required political and cultural interventions. Turning the history of 20th century into the story of American liberation began long before D-Day in 1944.

Creating what Henry Luce dubbed the “American Century” was no act of benevolence any more than was the consolidation of the papacy under Innocent III. When there was no war then economic crisis could suffice. Although the Great War had ended with an armistice, it was the collusion of British and American finance capital that prolonged the war. An exhausted Germany was removed from its previous position as the leading industrial society on the continent. With US help, Britain had reduced Germany from strong competitor to dependent nation.

When popular unrest and militant political movements threatened to align Germany with the new socialist republic in Russia, the Anglo-American usurers, pressuring their French junior partners, renegotiated the extractive cash flow and covertly funded the corporate aligned military to break relations with the Soviet Union and crush working-class organization in the Weimar republic. The failure of combined expeditionary forces to defeat the Red Army in the Soviet Union and establish a military dictatorship did not end hostilities toward the new government in Moscow.

The world economic crisis that had been triggered by power shifts within the financial oligarchy also affected North America. Although radical purges since the Great War had imprisoned, deported or otherwise neutralized radical leadership, popular resistance to the poverty imposed upon the working and middle classes in the US grew. The faith so carefully cultivated and shielded by the American corporate ecclesia faced the threat of religious war. At least the clerical caste perceived it as such. Nationalists, populists and socialists alike demanded changes in the system. Unholy alliances had to be prevented. Even the isolated American in the prairie could hear about the successes in the Soviet Union. Those whose horizon was limited to the shores of North America were just as convinced that God did not will them to be unemployed, homeless, hungry and poor. Christian socialism was just as repulsive to the financial oligarchy as the soviet kind. European solutions were borrowed. Mussolini’s merger of corporations with the State, followed by a similar absorption of key sectors in the German economy required the active support of worker cadres. These could no longer be left to their own devices. The new POTUS, Franklin Roosevelt, established what all other economies needed after four years of total war. The corporation had to be reintegrated into a State capable of mobilizing and managing the masses. The horror of unions had to be overcome if labor was to be kept under control and the system stabilized. During the First World War and the consumer boom the tools had been developed for national socialism. Only the old guard, like the barons of Delaware, were absolutely opposed to popular mobilization at a national level. Certainly the DuPonts and their allies held such deeply aristocratic hatred for the masses in any form that they could imagine no good out of Roosevelt’s palliative approach. Roosevelt appeared to have won over the more reactionary members of his class. More likely his faction were simply more astute and able to maintain divisions in all denominations until he was saved by war again.

Once it was possible for the military-industrial complex to grow again and with it the outrageous profits that war generates, there was especially no need for DuPont—which had enjoyed astronomical profits during the last war—to complain. The federal government was able to deliver employment and labor discipline, using war powers where needed to suppress strikes. The crusading nation could be herded again behind the blood red banner, with its blue field and white stripes and stars.

The Second World War did not end as intended. Although the Anglo-American establishment anticipated the reorganization of the British Empire, the war failed to destroy the Soviet Union. American designs on Japan could be satisfied but China remained out of reach. By 1949, the East Asian door had been closed to the United States leaving only the imperial archipelago and half of Korea under US control. British and Japanese troops helped the French regain control over Indochina to prevent it from regaining independence like China. American and British naval power was deployed to protect the oil, rubber, nickel and other natural resources from post-war nationalism. In order to preserve and protect the missionary endeavour and overtake the competition, the pontifical propaganda had remodelled the League of Nations with Rockefeller assistance to preach a post-war order in which national independence would replace colonialism. There were leaders among the retreating imperialists as well as the nationalists who detected the cynicism. However, they were no match for the “Great Wurlitzer”, Madison Avenue. Together with the political promises, the United States had attained the esteemed position of single greatest industrial manufacturer. It was producing everything for the world. With so much of domestic capacity either disrupted or destroyed by years of war, even the most basic daily needs were being packaged and shipped courtesy of the American people. Comfort came to mean supplied with whatever Americans had. Being free of colonial domination meant abandoning the style and taste of the departing masters—who had been such poor suppliers—and embracing the new look from the US.

Corporate America had mastered the tools for shaping consciousness and consumption habits at home. Now it was ready to convert the world. CocaCola and Levis were missionaries without competitors. Hollywood was cinema. There was no other country capable of producing and distributing so much cultural product to the whole world—a world that had been starved or at least rationed for more than four years.

Only the Soviet Union and China were beyond the reach of the corporate battalions armed with everything from toothpaste and toilet paper to milk powder and movies. The world had become America’s backyard and it felt free to do whatever it wanted anywhere. Yet that was no enough.

Hitler’s legions had not defeated the Soviet Union and Japan had not defeated Mao’s communist nationalists. Neither the new super weapon tested to obliterate two Japanese cities nor the incineration of Dresden had persuaded the Soviet Union to submit to US dominance. With no other military or economic competitors, the ruling class faction that had tolerated a nominal alliance with the Soviet Union in return for enormous profits and the hope that Hitler would somehow succeed where their expeditionary forces had failed now reasserted its demand for drastic measures to rollback the Russian revolution and prevent the Chinese communists from consolidating theirs. Taking advantage of unilateral control over Japan, the US invaded Korea and returned it to de facto Japanese administration. The blind determination to march into China while it was still exhausted from death and destruction comparable to that suffered by the Soviet Union led the US to underestimate the capacity for sheer numbers and patriotism to overwhelm an invader supplied entirely by sea and air with limited manpower. Again the crusading spirit of the American nation was unleashed. What was lacking in soldiers was compensated by the most ruthless aerial bombardment in history at the time. US Army general George Patton was quoted as saying “the object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.” The US fought a war of attrition with the aim to kill enough people to impose terms. Korea became the model for the US way of war in the 20th century. Since 1951, America has applied its most ferocious weaponry to slaughter without being exposed to retaliation. The US doctrine of limited war means limiting the number of Americans killed. Kill them all and let God sort them out. A ceasefire and armistice in Korea have interrupted combat but not ended the state of war. It is worse than irony that many people expect the United Nations organization to prevent or mitigate war when it has been a belligerent in Korea since the organization’s very inception.

Counter-culture and counter-insurgency

The success of any propaganda campaign lies in the triumph over consciousness. The intended messages are naturalized in the speech and behaviour of the targets. “Propaganda” is always the messages of the opposition. Propaganda is the means of propagation, a term that incites less controversy. The term designated one of the papal congregations, or ministries in the Latin curia, devoted to advertising and promoting the Latin version of Christianity, the Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide (now called pro Gentium Evangelizatione) mainly through mission. Together with the Suprema Congregatio Sanctae Romanae et Universalis Inquisitionis, the Roman and Universal Inquisition, Latin papal absolutism was expanded and defended.

Modern scholarship and popular science have focussed on these ecclesiastical activities as means of persuading barbarians and heathens to accept the “good news” of the Gospel, i.e. the doctrines and dogma allegedly derived from the teaching of one Jesus of Nazareth and rendered in text form by his personal acolytes. The veracity of these claims has been repeatedly challenged and in terms of historical research long-since discredited. Nonetheless the mere belief that these teachings are of some divine or supremely virtuous quality has proved very resistant throughout the centuries of Latin power. The Reformation divided the population of western Christendom but did not destroy the power of the beliefs to control whole nations. Quite the contrary the national churches that emerged from the Reformation and the Thirty-Years War, divided territories but retained the essentially imperial attributes of the Latin autocracy, with the exception of a very few sects that managed to survive the Roman and universal violence.

Not only did the doctrine, dogma, structures and techniques of the Latin ecclesiastical empire survive, they flourished. The Latin Church was above all the first transnational corporation. As such it laid the one foundation for contemporary Catholicism: the transnational business corporation. There are in fact no modern corporate activities which cannot be found in the medieval Latin Church. For example sacerdotal celibacy, criticised by the Protestant denominations and mocked by those who have abandoned membership is the precursor to the joint stock corporation with its separation of ownership and control. Contrary to popular belief the institution of celibacy was not based on teachings of spiritual purity or asceticism. It was imposed on the expanding ranks of the Church’s armies as a means of protecting the empire’s material goods and property. Those who joined the Church were required to surrender their assets to the vicar of Christ and his high officials. The property of the Church could not be alienated by inheritance or marriage. Naturally there was no end to fornication and procreation among the clergy. Celibacy only meant that the clergy was bound to the Church for enjoyment of the property and privileges it accumulated. The Holy Inquisition devoted its energy primarily to expanding and protecting the wealth of the Church in all conceivable forms, land, schools, hospitals, and commercial enterprises. To be accused by the Inquisition meant forfeiture of all one’s personal and real property. In serious cases (where there was a lot to seize) it also entailed forfeiture of one’s rights to devise and inherit property and ultimately one’s life. There was no right to life outside the communion of the Church.

Such an all-encompassing power created both material and psychological conditions of servitude. While the Reformation fragmented the hierarchy and established power centres independent of the papacy, the essential principles along with the structures for propagating and enforcing them were retained. Calvinism and Lutheranism changed the corporate structures by creating local and subsequently national organizations. Until the French Revolution these were still dynastic. Election was endowed with divine attributes making it just as absolute as papal power only more diffuse. The abolition of the sacramental system or its reduction to baptism led to new forms of economic concentration. The religious wars that culminated in the Thirty-Years War exterminated alternatives to the political-economic system in the West. Divine right was eventually de-personalized, too. This was the principal contribution of the Protestant ascendency in the North, focussed initially in Britain and the Netherlands. While the residues of Latin empire in Spain, Portugal and France conquered the world for Christ, in the name of the Papacy and its surrogates, the mercantile-pirate churches based their empires on the derived grace of commercial aggression.

Latin syncretism was a process of absorbing the symbolic economies of the converted while seizing land and enserfing peoples. The warriors and missionaries of Protestant nationalism suppressed the symbolic economy and imposed commerce with its imputed salvific value on the survivors of conquest. The modern business corporation began conquest with annihilation and settlement of the North American continent where the technological advantages of the invaders overwhelmed a numerous but geographically dispersed population. Chattel slavery compensated for the population disparity as well. The antagonism between Protestant mercantile mission and Latin syncretic feudalism led to contradictions throughout the Western Hemisphere where Latin ecclesiastical forces were often able to exploit local culture to mobilize resistance to Protestant invasions. This antagonism persisted into the 20th century.

Once the North American continent had been subdued and filled with dependent settlers, many of whom were no longer imbued with commercial religion, a captive population could be slowly but surely converted to the faith of the Protestant elect. The United States was transformed into a universal church on the scale of the Latin papal empire. This nascent American “Catholicism” only matured after World War I. It was the business corporation that drove this conversion. Therein lies the core of what would become the American Way of Life.

Having pursued a deliberate policy of cultural annihilation, first with the extermination of the indigenous and the creation of a race of bonded laborers with no material-cultural heritage to claim, Business began to redesign the Faith. From 1901 until 1945, the American ecclesiastical-commercial hierarchy created a symbolic economy out of whole cloth. Mass immigration and violent suppression of the accompanying cultural legacies was accompanied by a concerted effort to manufacture an American identity based entirely on economic symbolism. It was a reverse of the conversion model applied in Latin Christendom. The Latin Church has absorbed symbolic economies and translated them into Christian doctrine. The American Church, having largely eliminated legacy cultures, turned its industrial capacity to produce a distinctly American culture then elevated it to national doctrine. The captains of industry were augmented by captains of consciousness. Instead of adopting local deities as Christian saints, the American Church created religious paraphernalia from industrial products. The “brand” was begotten not made.

The immediate symbolic-economic result of the October Revolution was the resuscitation of dormant social and cultural legacies among those immigrants who still had memories of violent struggle, mainly in the Mediterranean basin. Thus the regiments of consciousness had to be deployed to suffocate them before they could undermine the nascent pontificate. It was not enough to oppose communism or socialism. A new symbolic economy had to be propagated which would supplant the habits of even the most renitent Italian anarchist. Since the so-called Palmer Raids and the establishment of the Bureau of Investigation in the Department of Justice, later the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the American Church had its universal inquisition. So-called “red squads” extended the battle against heresy and apostasy at the state and local level. Immigration was regulated to prevent any influx of people who could disrupt the process of consolidation. Unable to deny the objective economic and social conditions in the country which elsewhere had sparked revolutions, the Church had to mass produce the relics and rituals of a full scale religious movement. The template had been laid in the wars of continental conquest and the war against Spain. Columbia’s divinity had been elevated to that of Christ. Thus intervention in the Great War was a crusade for democracy followed by the speculative boom that flooded the country with goods sold like the papal indulgences. This flood of relics and certificates of grace within such a short period of time implicated the entire nation in the commercial faith. Who had ever experienced life with such a wealth of things in the old country?

When this speculative market collapsed on or about 1929, the faithful had to be pacified. Protesters were caught between the need to find any means of subsistence and the imperative to challenge the conditions of their misery. Finally, not unlike in the Middle Ages, the solution seemed to come in a peculiarly American version of the mendicant orders. Religious sects and government services competed in their efforts to soothe the unrest caused by the enormous financial fraud that had been perpetrated. Distraction was needed, too. Hence misery also led to an expansion of the entertainment industry, radio and cinema, concentrated in New York and Hollywood respectively. Finally the captains of industry and their brothers in consciousness manufacture were rewarded with the opportunities of world war again. Vast profits waited. New markets and new sources of wealth and power were on the horizon as the hierarchy schemed to crush the great heresiarch in the Soviet Union and enrich the Church on the ruins of Eurasia. Unable and unwilling to trust its own subjects in a war against the Soviet Union, many of whom had no love for the surrogates in the vanguard, the opportunity to continue westward expansion was sought and found. Exiles from European fascist regimes found little sympathy among the hierarchy and were generally discouraged from entering the Promised Land—unless they were of use to the war effort. Since the Asian population concentrated on the West Coast—and largely denied full membership in the American Church—was also deemed unreliable, they were removed to concentration camps or to places east where they could cause no trouble.

Officially this incarceration of an entire ethnic group, regardless of legal status, is now recorded as panicky overreaction to the threat of the Japanese Empire. In fact this move was a convenient implementation of economic warfare against Japan and the highly productive Japanese-American communities in California, Oregon and Washington. Removing Japanese-Americans, although not as violent as the expulsion of the Cherokee some hundred years previous, was integral to the expansion plans of the American pontificate. The provoked and anticipated attack on the US colony in Hawaii was itself too far away to demonstrate Japan’s aggression toward the US. Military action at home was needed. By demonstrably seizing Japanese-American people and property, the Anglo-American oligarchy on the West Coast could suppress serious competition and magnify the apparent threat of Japan needed to preach the Crusade. Here the consciousness brigades profited from the language and cultural barriers, which in the case of Germans and Italians were far lower if at all relevant. A fortunate by-product was the intensification of missionary activity among Asians since it excited large numbers to convert to absolute loyalty. The presence of the “enemy” on American soil was yet another argument for the Crusade against Japan, the long-anticipated war of choice in 1941.

The destruction of the Japanese Empire, whose growth had been cynically promoted by the cousin of the governing Roosevelt, gave the American pontificate yet another offshore base from which it would begin the country’s deindustrialization. Yet it would take several decades before that mission was achieved.

The ink was barely dried on the unconditional surrender in Tokyo Bay when the American Church began its forward march onto the East Asian mainland. Although there had been agreement among the Western allies meeting in Cairo to restore Korean independence at the end of the war, the US violated the spirit and the substance of those accords by installing the USMGIK, based in Seoul, and deposing the Korean nationalists who had formed a national government. With the help of Japanese troops and officials, the US “protected” the mainly agricultural south from alleged threats by the heresiarch in the north. Conversion of Japan into an offshore industrial base for US domination of East Asia (and cheap labour alternatives to overfed Americans) relied on rice exports from Korea and Indochina. Given the fact that Japan had industrialized the northern half of Korea, a unified peninsula under a nationalist Korean government would be another bad example for the American Church, which had planned to absorb Europe’s market share not surrender it to independent nations.

Hence the American Church satisfied its need for perpetual mission and crusading wars by blocking the unification of Korea and later Vietnam. Continued war would assure that the hierarchy would suffer no drop in the rate of profit like at the end of World War I. It would also—it was hoped—prevent the emergence of another heresiarch in China. The crusade against Korea was fuelled by the insatiable need for profits by the great cartels that now constituted the Church’s hierarchy and the electors of its secular papacy. Just as the medieval crusades were accompanied by intensified missionary and inquisitorial activity, the crusades preached by the American Church mobilized the faithful to kill the infidel abroad and punish the heretic at home. The once reviled inquisition, conducted by the Un-American Activities Committees in the US Congress, was necessary and universally recognised as such by all the faithful. Those who dissented either protested their loyalty or objected to the auto da fé. They rarely questioned the Church or the Faith itself. Those who refused to participate were either punished or driven into exile. The condition created can be best appreciated in the common oath “I love my country…” which is almost mandatory in North America as a requirement for uttering any criticism of the Church whatsoever.

Although there was serious dissent at all times during the crusades that constituted the 20th century American Church, the power of economic symbolism and the instruments perfected by the regiments of consciousness have been robust at home. Since entry into the Church is geographically as well as ideologically enforced, the very decision to enter the United States implies submission to the one true church and its universal religion. The natural isolation of the vast American cathedral leaves most of those who are born beneath its arches and spires unable to imagine another symbolic economy than the all-pervasive sacramental consumption invented at the beginning of the last century.

The war of the worlds waged between 1914 and 1953 (and continuing to this day) destroyed so much of the symbolic economy in the West and its dependent territories that warfare was not the only source of profit and power for the American Church. As the sole industrialized nation in 1945 with an intact industrial base and infrastructure unscathed by war, the US and its captains both of industry and consciousness enjoyed a historically unique opportunity to missionize the entire world. Behind the Stars and Stripes and the blue United Nations banners, the American Church launched its sustained global crusade to remake the entire world in its image. With greater capacity than the British or French Empires and synthetic ecumenicalism, American prelates accompanied by overt and covert legionnaires swarmed like locusts absorbing the economic resources of country after country while recruiting future clergy whom they sent generously to the enormous indoctrination apparatus at home. No country in the world could turn out so many graduate clergy to proselytize the newly liberated colonies. Britain and France protected what niches they could. However they had never had mass indoctrination machines of the size the US had built. Moreover it was America’s relics that proliferated at a rate incomparable to anything the old colonial powers had been able to deploy. The continental cathedral could absorb the potential elite of the entire world. Compared to the US, Britain and France had mere village chapels, exclusive but low volume.

Casual commentary compared the United States with Rome, usually in flattering if cautious terms. It was openly acknowledged that Britannia faced the twilight. Columbia was approaching the zenith. Carroll Quigley had not yet described the process by which a merger toasted at Balliol and All Souls was consummated in the North Atlantic Treaty of 4 April 1949. Winston Churchill had begun the historical fiction already in 1937, A History of English-speaking Peoples, whose publication between 1956-58 articulated the rewriting of imperial history begun in the Round Table and Milner groups. This converted piratical Britain and its penal colonies and settler-colonial dominions into one great people whose destiny would be fulfilled as British civil and military servants were expelled from India and Africa. The US Congress remedied his birth defect (only his mother was American) by declaring him an honorary US citizen. His public confession was delivered in Fulton, Missouri, prosaically at Westminster College on 5 March 1946.

Churchill, the only surviving head of government to have attended the Yalta Conference, committed the very kind of “terminological inexactitude” for which he had once belittled a fellow MP by claiming that Stalin had lowered an “Iron Curtain” between eastern and western Europe when he knew well that Soviet control of the countries on its border from which Operation Barbarossa had been launched was a cynical concession made in lieu of reparation demands from a defeated Germany. Of course he was equally aware that the long-sought destruction of the Soviet Union had failed despite every opportunity his government had given the NSDAP regime. Churchill was a crusader and a mercenary who owed his career as much to finance capital as to unlimited political opportunism. The Nobel Committee was used to reward him just as it had been to laud Theodore Roosevelt—for the work performed to expand the emerging Anglo-American Empire. As a youthful war correspondent, the scion of the ducal Marlborough dynasty had mastered the black arts of propaganda and cultural warfare, which have been the tradition auxiliaries of British and American statecraft. He had become a high priest, a kind of cardinal-prince of the new American Catholicism and for that he received the highest honours in the gift of the global pontificate.

Britain had given refuge to all manner of dissidents from the continent while sending its own into exile or destitution. It is tempting to suggest that George Orwell was thinking of Churchill when he created Big Brother in 1984. Corporate propaganda successfully implied that Engsoc was the putative future of the West under Stalin. Until the year 1984 had in fact passed and five years later the Soviet Union expired, this interpretation of the Orwell (Eric Blair) classic prevailed.

Just as Orthodox Christianity had been successfully labelled as heretical by the Latin papacy, the new papacy in Washington, DC labelled the orthodox nationalists who believed that the teaching of the American Declaration of Independence was the true post-war faith as heretics. The demands of Ghana or Indonesia or Vietnam for American liberties and national development were attacked as the worst kind of apostasy. In 1204 the armies of the Latin papacy in the Fourth Crusade sacked Constantinople. Innocent III, who proclaimed in Unam Sanctum that there was no salvation outside the one church, over which he claimed absolute power, had been succeeded by the puny pope from Missouri, with a doctrine that sanctioned the destruction of Greece and Korea. American Catholicism prevailed as the religion of compulsive consumption and carpet-bombing.

Malignant narcissism

Latin Catholicism had elevated war to the highest possible sacrament for the salvation of the faithful who killed for God and the obliteration of the heretic. It had also raised consumption to the level of grace—albeit for profit and power. The North American republic, shielded from attack by two oceans—afforded the masses of the faithful what came to be called a “middle class” way of life. That lifestyle could only be supported by the subjugation of every nation beyond its borders. Were it not for the resistance of nationalist and liberation movements—the orthodox democratic movements—the inhabitants of the new Rome could have imagined that they were in fact the Chosen, that the Puritan prophesy of a New Eden had been fulfilled.

Neither the Koreans nor the Vietnamese were easily subdued. Orthodox democracy had its own defenders in the Soviet Union and New China. Hence the captains of industry had to produce not only the explosives to destroy whatever orthodox nationalists attempted to build they also had to feed faithful into a state of physical and psychological obesity. Armaments destroyed the heretic and consumer goods sated America’s inhabitants turning the impoverished and exploited countries beyond the seas or south of the border into hungry and hopefully envious peoples. Americans would be bought by the surplus of products and entertainments. The expansion of corporate control of mass media—a phenomenon later attacked in the 1980 MacBride Report (Many Voices, One World)—was amplified by the covert operations of the Washington curia, e.g. the Central Intelligence Agency. It had absorbed Frank Wisner’s “Mighty Wurlitzer” and like the operations of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, penetrated the communications and cultural media, both private and state, throughout the world. The virtual monopoly of the film industry in the US was aimed at every emerging nation. Saturation bombing was accompanied by saturation entertainment. The message was simple and persuasive. No matter how decadent and excessive the American Way of Life was it was infinitely preferable to the orthodox democratic society that the Soviet Union and New China could offer. If one was able to make it there, one could make it anywhere. The one true faith, the only true democracy was a society constantly “on the make”. Relics and indulgences – consumption and entertainment were immediate and accessible to all willing to accept baptism by submersion into that never-before-reached standard of living between the St. Lawrence and the Rio Bravo, the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Who in his right mind would seek the damnation of post-war rationing and reconstruction imposed on the peoples living under Communism? How could salvation be obtained if one insisted on a different road than the one ordained by the Washington papacy?

And if one had any doubt about the truth of this faith one only had to look to the blockade of Cuba or the serial assassinations and coups d’état in any country where leaders and movements even doubted the one true faith.

Americans too were subjected to this reign of terror. Not only were African, Asian and Latin American movements and governments decapitated. The American holy office, the FBI, waged a constant crusade against dissidents that included incarceration and assassination. Clearly individual or organized opposition would not be tolerated. It was bought, impoverished, intimidated or neutralized. In the original style and statute of the Roman and Universal Inquisition denunciation and accusation were sufficient. Rehabilitation was rare and often only posthumous. Individualism, the conflation of permanent youth, consumption and liberty, was in fact the maturation of the Puritan doctrine of the elect. Prosperity was a sign of grace. Hence the market for the relics, sacraments and indulgences that certified prosperity were also evidence of salvation on Earth.

The counter-culture that ostensibly challenged American doctrine and religious practice began by condemning the rampant consumption and careerism of the post-war era. Although some were tempted by orthodox democracy and enraged at the vicious crusades being preached and conducted abroad, the power of the consciousness battalions soon understood that even opposition could be turned into ritual. There was no contradiction between youthful opposition to the consumption and occupational rituals of parents and the expansion of the market for salvation. With organized opposition either penetrated or decapitated, temptations to heresy could be exploited with new relics. Cults of opposition could be nurtured based on the same principles of Puritan discipline and conformity. The absence of an indigenous symbolic economy meant that genuine opposition was due to languish in the jungle of self-actualization. Counter-culture pre-empted domestic counter-insurgency. The language of opposition was just another raw material input for the consciousness industry and it was mined and refined intensively.

Conduct unbecoming an American

The quandary with which the world has been faced since 1945, nascent in the spirit of the Puritan colonizers, was created by the doctrine of salvation itself. The Latin Church bequeathed to its rebellious subjects the organizational tools to manufacture and manage salvific regimes. A centralized papacy was no longer necessary. When Innocent III fortified the Latin Church and falsified the history of its origin by proclaiming the actual sources of Christian faith to be schismatic and heretical, he also destroyed any legitimacy of any claims to original Christian teaching. With Frankish power he bore the mantel of St. Augustine who had first proclaimed Rome the capital of Christendom. Augustine of Hippo was a prelate in the pay of North African latifundists whose merciless exploitation of their Christian subjects had induced the revolt of Islam that converted Egypt and the Magreb from the largest Christian population of the day into followers of Mohammed and his successors. The Fourth Crusade built the Stone Curtain behind which Orthodoxy and Islam were to be isolated from the West.

The Second World War was the Anglo-American equivalent of the Fourth Crusade. It expelled orthodox democracy, declaring it to be schismatic and heretical. At the same time everyone sealed within the walls of American democracy was proselytized and persecuted for deviation from the one true faith. In that faith, American Catholicism or American Democracy, salvation has precedence over nutrition. Democracy itself was defined as the absence of anything found beyond the Iron Curtain. The American Way of Life was by definition Democracy even though no serious student of democracy could find sufficient cases where it was practiced.

In 1989 the Iron Curtain that was neither iron nor hung by drapers in Moscow was torn from its fittings. Almost universal jubilation prevailed. I was there I watched it in Berlin. The mythical barrier between American Democracy and Orthodox Democracy had been removed and the American crusaders mounted their attack on the previously schismatic half of the world against which they had waged covert war. Orthodox Democracy collapsed not only in the Soviet Union but also throughout the world. The American Church, led by the Washington papacy and corporate curia, was finally free to subdue heretic and infidel alike.

However as the crusaders marched into the Russian Federation and missionaries flocked to the People’s Republic of China, their progress was retarded. The Vatican on the Potomac was now entirely dependent on the ability to recruit barbarian hordes. The North American cathedral had been neglected so long that the enormous continental edifice could no longer support the weight of the gravestones with which it had been constructed. Moreover the Orthodoxy Innocent III and Harry S. Truman had believed defeated was merely dormant, like the plants in the arid Sahara or the Siberian tundra, the season for blooming had begun and there was nothing more to prevent nature from taking its course. The flowering and the rush of rivers thawing after an seemingly interminable winter stimulated the societies and symbolic economies that had suffered a century of unceasing assault.

The American Church was now faced with the possibility that its nihilism, its possessive individualism, its obsession with salvific commerce and consumption would no longer define human the human spirit. Having defined its faith and its peoples by the negation of the very values it ostensibly preached, the corporate hierarchy and its pontifical instruments have launched what may be a final crusade. In order to prove that Orthodoxy is evil, whether orthodox democracy or orthodox Christianity, the great continental church of negation must preach the negation of humanity itself. It is in the midst of this crusade, not to win hearts and minds to destroy them utterly, that we find ourselves. For more than a century the missionaries and inquisition of the North American republic have preached that salvation is to be attained by becoming American. If humanity is to survive, what we need is conduct unbecoming of an American.

_____________________

Books:

In Solar Terms

Fruit of the Vine: Volume 1: An Intelligent Family,

Author’s book interview:

Dr. T.P. Wilkinson, aka Wei Santang discusses his two new books, “In Solar Terms” and “Fruit of the Vine”. China Rising Radio Sinoland 231215

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3 Responses to “Unbecoming American: The Puritan Nation

  • Joan Roelofs
    2 months ago

    Perhaps not central to your argument but a matter of curiosity. There were many communitarian settlements in the US in the 19th Century, although unremarked by Howard Zinn. Forty-five of them Fourierist ones. The settlers were mostly atheists, or followers of “left wing” Protestant religions or new religions. Many professed pacifism. How was this reconciled with the occupation of native territory? How did they attempt to justify this? I don’t recall any claiming terra nullius.

    • Thanks for reading, Joan. I’ve let Thomas know you commented, so hopefully he will respond.

    • drwilkinson
      2 months ago

      One of the discussions that might be interesting in your topic is the recognition of native religion among such settlers。Laurent Guyénot discusses the „translation“ of deities as a fundamental principle in foreign relations that was rejected by the monotheism in the definition of God of Talmudic Judaism- and to the extent that definition of monotheism was adopted in Latin Christianity. The difference between universal religion and religious universalism is substantial and relevant. For example insisting on submission to one god is different from recognizing the mutuality of the divine.
      So if we leave the legalistic issue of land title aside perhaps the question is: was a communitarian spirituality capable of translation into the indigenous divine universe in a way to create harmony „among the gods“ which could have legitimated their occupation and usufruct?

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