TAC: The Republic’s Glue Loses Its Stickiness

Darel E. Paul has published a very triggering article on foreign policy and American national identity at The American Conservative.

TAC:

“A more elevated answer is rooted in America’s national mythology, according to which unity is necessary for the very cause of liberty, equality, individual rights, and self-government. This belief famously animates Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, a speech historian Gary Wills insisted “remade America” (for which Wills won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award). To Lincoln and those who follow him, republicanism itself may “perish from the earth” without a united United States. Nor may America itself continue without republican values. In words Lincoln spoke in his 1862 State of the Union address and repeated often by American politicians since, American unity is “the last best hope of earth.” What more elevated, more lofty, more grandiose claim could exist? …”

I can’t even …

No one in American history did more to destroy America’s experiment in republican values than Abraham Lincoln. It was Lincoln who transformed what had been a White Republic and a voluntary union of sovereign states with an agrarian economy and a small federal government into a centralized and consolidated despotism. This was the first major fork in the historical road.

The term “union” itself fell out of fashion because it was no longer meaningful after the War Between the States. As a result of that conflict, the federal government became the master of the states and the slippery slope of liberalism was unleashed. The triumphant North set out to emulate the British Empire which was its idol. Previously, the only type of “equality” that existed in our system was the equality of states in the Senate. “The lest best hope of the earth” was hundreds of thousands of people who were maimed or dead in the South, the insoluble race issue which has bedeviled the country ever since, bankruptcy, colonial exploitation and crushing poverty which lasted until the Great Depression.

“Here we come to the real glue of America. From the founding of the country in the fires of war, the United States has been an expansionary republican empire ever incorporating new lands, new peoples, new goods, new resources, new ideas. This “empire of liberty,” as Thomas Jefferson called it, knew no limits. Even after the closing of the frontier at the end of the 19th century, Americans continued onwards to claim Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, and a chunk of Panama. They absorbed island chains in the Caribbean and the Pacific. They went to Europe in World War I and established permanent military bases across both Europe and East Asia after World War II. Eventually Americans gathered half the globe under their indirect rule. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, they proceeded to gather the other half. …”

The second major fork in the road came in the 1890s when the United States embraced imperialism, militarism and plutocracy which was the path that led us into the World Wars. This wasn’t some inevitable development either. There was also a major national debate about this at the time as there had been previously over the same issue over whether to annex all of Mexico or when Ulysses S. Grant tried to annex the Dominican Republic. The plutocratic and imperialist side prevailed.

“It is this promise of greatness, this glory of the expanding republican empire that knows only the boundary of the earth itself, that has been the glue of America. Because the United States is not a nation in the European or even Asian sense, common descent, common religion, and common culture bind only parts. That common glory of imperial expansion, combined with a republican form of government through which all citizens secure it and share in it, binds the whole. …

Since the 1960s, the glory of the American empire of liberty has tarnished. Since the mid-2010s it has fallen under sustained internal attack. The failures of national purpose in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan are amplified by the failure of globalization to generate common wealth for the commonwealth. If Americans are not united for expansionary republican greatness, what then are all these fissiparous races, creeds, and cultures bound together for? While belief that self-government may perish from the earth without American unity may have been plausible in 1863 or 1941, it is a hard sell in 2021. It becomes even harder when would-be centrists urge Americans to unite around drag queen story hour today so we can all fight the Chinese together tomorrow. …”

The third major fork in the road came in the 1940s. The choice then was to remain a “great power” and a regional hegemon in the Western hemisphere and Pacific and stay out of World War II or to get into the war and get sucked even further down the road of emulating the British Empire.

Such is the glory of the American Empire in our own times:

They were sent to Afghanistan by these people …

… to end like this and be replaced by these people.

About Hunter Wallace 11876 Articles
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19 Comments

  1. @ my how they adulate over and pay homage too saint.abraham, these men of the north, along with their hyphenate sycophants, with the treacherous scalawags, walking five steps behind them, like the good comfort girls that they are.

  2. Anytime you hear a conservative refer to the American leviathan as “the republic” or “our republic,” you know you’re in for a load of BS.

  3. Lincoln was tyrant who suspended Habeas Corpus and put his political enemies in prison if they went against his war on the South.

      • Confederate leadership should have studied Machiavelli and pre-empted the Yankee invasion by freeing the slaves and this preventing the the US of A from devolving from a federation of sovereign states to a unitary, federal republic harvesting the blood and treasure of (almost) an entire continent.

        Our freed African guests should have been given their own Bantustan counties within the greater South.

        Hendrik Verwoerd, one of the engineers of apartheid, was right in asserting that segregation within a smaller unit such as a town (along the lines of Southern Jim Crowe) a immoral, un-Christian and demeaning, but segregation at a larger, autonomous “canton” level (read Bantustan) was needed for the health of all communities involved. Southern Jim Crowe isn’t what South African apartheid was designed to be. We could have had a something similar if Back to Africa did not work.

  4. There are certainly persons here, at Occidental Dissent, who know far more American history than I know; but if I had to identify America’s first imperialist action, it would be the Texas Revolution, not the Spanish-American War. The whole thing was counterfeit, an attempt by the South to establish a beachhead that would allow it, the South, to strike down into Latin America and thus avoid the northern limit the Missouri Compromise had placed on the expansion of slavery. A decade later, the good Southerner Polk, whose slaveholdings at his Mississippi plantation increased even while he was president, pretended to play the mediator by signing Oregon in as a slavery-free territory to balance, supposedly, the admission of slaveholding Texas as a state, when he could hardly have been unaware that Texas wasn’t a mere area but a gateway, southward.

    The events had the effect, I’m going to guess, of convincing Southerners they were world-beating warriors, and we rather know how that worked out.

    • Nothing like hindsight to know what should happen.

      Just cannot believe you’d even damn the South on this one.
      If the US had increased its borders southward, perhaps from the tip of the Baja across to the tip of Texas, then Florida’s, we would have had more control on those parasitic countries south of us.

      • If you’re approving the South’s imperialism, Pilot, then, as I say to Terry Smith in my reply, below, to him, your argument is with Mr. Wallace, our host, not me.

    • John Bonaccorsi,

      You should find this article interesting.

      Occidental Dissenters need not fret. I completely recognize the Southwest as belonging to the USA and I believe in stronger borders between Mexico and the United States than many Americans do. When the dust clears after a war and treaties are signed then land does change hands regardless of the rights and wrongs of any particular war.

      https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2017/01/24/when-americans-were-illegal-immigrants/96205502/

    • @ John bonaccorsi, it didn’t quite work out as bad for us, as it did for saint abraham and that’s too bad, if the armies of the north, had stayed home , I am sure, we would have kept, our southern border secure, from what I read, the confederacy valued founding stock america and thought our preservation was a good idea, so unlike the empire of today, built with such foresight, by the men of the north.

      • From a medical standpoint, I’ll grant, it worked out badly for Lincoln. Putting bullets into the backs of presidents’ heads has turned out to be a Southern specialty, unlike, say, architecture, physics, chemistry, electronics, astronomy, graphic design, sculpture—Is there a single Confederate monument that wasn’t created by a Northerner or European?—and, well, the list goes on (all the way to the creation of the internet, via which Mr. Wallace, our host, habitually laments the passing of America’s “agrarian economy,” which was on its way out by the time James Monroe was buried in his buckled shoes).

        Interestingly, Lincoln, as a congressman from Illinois, raised some questions about the Mexican-American War, by which Polk completed the Texas swindle. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spot_Resolutions ) From that point on, I suspect, he, Lincoln, was a marked man—Southern-marked, that is.

        Anyway, Mr. S., you seem to be arguing that the South’s imperialism was a good thing; and that, I’m afraid, you’ll have to take up with Mr. Wallace, not me.

        • @ John bonaccorsi, thank you for your reply, I always enjoy your post and the obvious effort you put into to them, I have zero knowledge about the origin of the he statues and monuments, so I will take your word on it, I won’t post the list of exceptional southern people and their exceptional contributions to civilization, but I will give you a hr nam s.of two, time being an issue, at the moment, Cyrus McCormick and Ted Turner, as always with much respect sir

          • Well, yes, we do have to acknowledge McCormick and Turner; and my snideness-in-context aside, I’m sure there are many more. (Eli Janney, who revolutionized the train coupler, is one of the greatest Americans of the Nineteenth Century, in my view—and that was a pretty impressive century.) H. A. Lukeman, who replaced Gutzon Borglum (of Mt. Rushmore fame) to do the Stone Mountain Memorial was Virginia-born but New York City raised.

            Anyway—thanks for your words, and I’m glad you and I manage, if sometimes just barely, to keep things civil between us

  5. “From the founding of the country in the fires of war, the United States has been an expansionary republican empire ever incorporating new lands, new peoples, new goods, new resources, new ideas. This “empire of liberty,” as Thomas Jefferson called it, knew no limits.”

    Historians declare that the American empire began with the Spanish-American war in 1898. It really began decades earlier when the US Navy formed the East India Squadron in 1835 that grew into of the Asiatic Squadron in 1868. American warships deployed to Asia to intimidate and attack whoever interfered with American business interests. This force also established American colonies in China, Hawaii, and Samoa before the Spanish-American war.

  6. True. Even before 1776 there was extensive trade between ports in New England and China. To this day there is a place in Boston Harbor still known as India Wharf dating from the East Indies and China trade starting about 1710.

    The merchants trading with Asia in tea, porcelain, silks and opium made vast fortunes rapidly and were able to influence the U.S. Government to adopt policies favoring this lucrative trade. It’s not surprising that the U.S. Navy followed the trading ships to Asia, the flag follows the dollar, the public interest be damned.

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