Magazine article The American Conservative

Old and Right

Magazine article The American Conservative

Old and Right

Article excerpt

It is becoming the dangerous privilege of the United States to display more of the crusading temper than any other country in both its domestic and its foreign policies. Yet if one may properly question the religious crusading of which the French were once so fond (Gesta Dei per Francos), how much more properly may one question the activities of our "uplifters" (Gesta humanitatis per Americanos). We are being deprived gradually of our liberties on the ground that the sacrifice is necessary to the good of society. If we attend carefully to the psychology of the persons who manifest such an eagerness to serve us, we shall find that they are even more eager to control us. What one discovers, for example, under the altruistic professions of leaders of a typical organization for humanitarian crusading, like the Anti-Saloon League, is a growing will to power and even an incipient terrorism.

Let one consider again Mr. Woodrow Wilson, who, more than any other recent American, sought to extend our idealism beyond our national frontiers. In the pursuit of his scheme for world service, he was led to make light of constitutional checks on his authority and to reach out almost automatically for unlimited power. If we refused to take his humanitarian crusading seriously we were warned that we should "break the heart of the world." If the tough old world had ever had a heart in the Wilsonian sense, it would have been broken long ago.

The truth is that this language, at once abstract and sentimental, reveals a temper at the opposite pole from that of the genuine statesman. …

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