The entire 20th Century was a mistake

And the Universe doesn't have a reset button. (David Stockman, via
My humble thesis tonight is that the entire 20th Century was a giant mistake.

And that you can put the blame for this monumental error squarely on Thomas Woodrow Wilson——-a megalomaniacal madman who was the very worst President in American history……..well, except for the last two.

His unforgiveable error was to put the United States into the Great War for utterly no good reason of national interest. The European war posed not an iota of threat to the safety and security of the citizens of Lincoln NE, or Worcester MA or Sacramento CA. In that respect, Wilson’s putative defense of “freedom of the seas” and the rights of neutrals was an empty shibboleth; his call to make the world safe for democracy, a preposterous pipe dream.

Actually, his thinly veiled reason for plunging the US into the cauldron of the Great War was to obtain a seat at the peace conference table——so that he could remake the world in response to god’s calling.

But this was a world about which he was blatantly ignorant; a task for which he was temperamentally unsuited; and an utter chimera based on 14 points that were so abstractly devoid of substance as to constitute mental play dough.

Or, as his alter-ego and sycophant, Colonel House, put it: Intervention positioned Wilson to play “The noblest part that has ever come to the son of man”. America thus plunged into Europe’s carnage, and forevermore shed its century-long Republican tradition of anti-militarism and non-intervention in the quarrels of the Old World.

Needless to say, there was absolutely nothing noble that came of Wilson’s intervention. It led to a peace of vengeful victors, triumphant nationalists and avaricious imperialists—-when the war would have otherwise ended in a bedraggled peace of mutually exhausted bankrupts and discredited war parties on both sides.

By so altering the course of history, Wilson’s war bankrupted Europe and midwifed 20th century totalitarianism in Russia and Germany.

These developments, in turn, eventually led to the Great Depression, the Welfare State and Keynesian economics, World War II, the holocaust, the Cold War, the permanent Warfare State and its military-industrial complex.

They also spawned Nixon’s 1971 destruction of sound money, Reagan’s failure to tame Big Government and Greenspan’s destructive cult of monetary central planning.

So, too, flowed the Bush’s wars of intervention and occupation, their fatal blow to the failed states in the lands of Islam foolishly created by the imperialist map-makers at Versailles and the resulting endless waves of blowback and terrorism now afflicting the world.

And not the least of the ills begotten in Wilson’s war is the modern rogue regime of central bank money printing, and the Bernanke-Yellen plague of bubble economics which never stops showering the 1% with the monumental windfalls from central bank enabled speculation...

Why should we never forget World War I? To remind ourselves not to get sucked into overseas wars between ancient protagonists, only to find afterwards we've made a bad situation worse, and changed ourselves and the objects of our martial policy in unpredictable and awful ways.

This is bedrock conservative thinking: actions have consequences; these consequences often lie beyond our ability to predict or control; human nature is temporal and egocentric; and humans are not malleable Play-Doh. Hence, drastic policy changes and top-down social engineering should be viewed with suspicion. If there is no historical or social precedent for something, there's probably a good reason for it.

Conservatism is humility. Twentieth century Progressivism, which is all the movement-conservatives are conserving at this point, is hubris. But from now on we must apparently be continuously making these great leaps forward.


Anonymous said…
The few color photos from around WWI are amazing- another world, totally different, but turning gradually and almost imperceptibly into our own world.

Whenever the jingoistic war fever comes out from DC, I think of my great-grandfather promising to bring back the whiskers of Kaiser Wilhelm's mustache and hang them from his family's garage. Then I think of his vivid description to my grandfather of the foul and repellent smell of corpses in a mass grave after a battle. That's the 20th century- we march off to be heroes, and wind up undertakers.
lannes said…
Brilliant essay except for the closing paragraph, which, like this comment, is rather weak.
You want erudition, go to Kakistocracy. Trenchant analysis, there's Sailer's. Or The Z Blog, which I need to add.

But what do you take issue with?
Anonymous said…
He lost me at "holocaust".

Anonymous said…

I'm less inclined to share the Stockman interpretation of Wilson's motives. It is the highly-flawed man who invariably gains high office and is kept in line by his skeleton-cupboard. Didn't Bill complain to Monica about the taps?