Where is American Going?
Resisting a New American Century
In the days following the Bush presidency’s winning a second term, the regime’s chief political strategist, Karl Rove, boasted that his side’s victory would confirm and entrench the far-ranging shift to the hard right that began in earnest with the presidency of Ronald Reagan. The coming transformation will prove as significant and long lasting, Rove prophesied, as the liberal consensus which emerged for half a century following the federal entrenchment in 1934 of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.
The Final Undoing of Roosevelt’s New Deal
In the course of the campaign, the Republicans presented themselves as proponents of “the ownership society.” This term points like a so-called smart bomb at the eventual privatization of the primary surviving bastion and symbol of the New Deal, the federal system of Social Security. The privatization of Social Security would complete the transformation of the welfare state into the shareholder state. It would fulfill at the core of the world’s most influential country the course charted intellectually by the likes of F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman and Tom Flanagan, or politically by the likes of Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Stephen Harper.
While the domestic consequences of the recent U.S. election are enormous, so too are there vast implications for the huge number of us on the planet who live within the informal outlines of the American empire, but outside citizenship in the United States. The Bush regime’s electoral victory has given it increased domestic backing to continue to press forward the imperial agenda called for by the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). This strategically located brain trust in the military-industrial complex began lobbying the U.S. government to invade and occupy Iraq months prior to the events of 9/11. The PNAC essentially brought forward an updated version of the same principles initially articulated by U.S. publishing baron, Henry Luce. In 1941, several months before the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbour finally drew a reluctant United States into the anti-fascist side of the Second World War, Luce used Life magazine to launch his proposal for a new kind of U.S.-centred world empire. He characterized this project as the natural mandate of “The American Century.”
In its global interventions the Bush regime will no doubt continue to attempt to project onto the twenty-first century an extension of Luce’s vision of the American Century. Like many of his peers in the U.S. ruling class, Luce was initially drawn towards the fascist experiments in Italy and Germany as a better response than the New Deal to the collapse in the 1930s of the capitalist world order. While Luce would eventually change course to oppose the axis of fascism, his widely reproduced editorial did call upon his fellow citizens to embrace the destiny of the United States as an empire builder in the tradition of, for instance, imperial Rome, the Roman Catholic Church, Genghis Khan, the Ottoman Turks and the British Empire. He implored his readers “to accept wholeheartedly our duty and our opportunity as the most powerful and vital nation in the world and in consequence to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit.”
Luce’s vision of the American Century was quickly countered by that of a leading representative of Franklin Roosevelt’s White House. In 1941 the U.S. vice-president, Henry Wallace, extended the idea of the New Deal to the global community with a speech entitled “The Century of the Common Man.” Wallace proposed that the United States should exercise its power in the world not through empire building, but by broadening the liberating frontiers of revolutionary opposition to all forms of arbitrary rule. “No nation will have the God given right to exploit other nations,” Wallace proposed. Taking aim at Luce’s conviction that the U.S. could impose on the world its own priorities according to whatever methods it wanted, Wallace cautioned, “We ourselves in the United States are no more a master race than the Nazis.”
The Nazi Connection
At this moment in history, as the Bush regime prepares to use its popular mandate to attack the institutional remnants of FDR’s liberal legacy, we need to keep clearly in view the pro-fascist orientation of much of the original hostility among many American elites to the New Deal. There has never been any real reckoning with the massive involvement of the caste of U.S. financiers and industrialists who played such integral roles in the rise and operation of the military-industrial complex of Nazi Germany. We need to know more, for instance, about the complex relationship between the Rockefeller family’s Standard Oil Company and Germany’s I.G. Farben petro-chemical company, an enterprise that exploited Jewish slave labour and which held the patent to the poison gas used to eliminate millions of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, homosexuals and communists in the Holocaust. This German-American partnership gave rise to a host of inventions and methodologies of governance that are still integral to the transnational operations of the global energy business.
IBM, DuPont, General Motors, Ford, General Electric, Kodak and Coca-Cola are only a few of the other prominent U.S. enterprises who did business with the Nazis. This history, whose more recent centre of gravity has tended to revolve around the political economy of Middle East oil, needs to be brought more fully to bear on the assessment of the deeper genesis of the U.S. government’s decision to invade and occupy Iraq. The corporate financiers and industrialists behind this invasion–the whole class of operatives that Halliburton’s Dick Cheney so tellingly personifies–have worked through the Project for a New American Century. Its backers and operatives have projected the politics of the original opposition to the New Deal and the Century of the Common Man into the politics of the U.S. attempt to achieve full spectrum dominance in global governance through superpower unilateralism. In particular, this cabal has helped to project the Nazi legacy of corporate governance as national governance into the politics of the Bush White House and its attending structures of media manipulation and thought control.
The Bush family dynasty was established upon the foundation of close collaboration between U.S. business interests and the rise of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. This dynasty was initiated when George Herbert Walker brought his new son-in-law, Prescott Bush, into the complex of New York bankers, brokers and lawyers engaged in channeling U.S. investment capital into the build-up of Nazi Germany’s military-industrial complex. Among the key U.S. agencies that helped funnel financing for the Nazi opposition to the spread of European communism were the New York law firm of Cromwell and Sullivan, the Union Banking Company, Brown Brothers Harriman and the Harriman Fifteen Corporation. Because of the way the Trading With The Enemy Act was enforced in the United States beginning in 1942, the integral role of Prescott Bush and his father-in-law in this complex of enterprises is elaborately documented. This network of pro-fascist, anti-New Deal agitators included Allen Dulles, who helped lead the way in employing many former Nazis as CIA spies in the Cold War. George Bush Sr. followed in Allen Dulles’ footsteps as director of the CIA, an agency filled with agents who apparently are now considered too liberal to adhere to the agenda of the imperial Right as promoted so zealously during the opening days of the second term of President George Bush Jr.
In The American Empire and the Fourth World, volume one of The Bowl With One Spoon, I begin to lay out a history and a strategy of resistance to the conquistadorial forces of U.S. expansionism as now so menacingly personified by the U.S. president. I attempt to build on the insights of the Shuswap sage, George Manuel, the founder in 1974 of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. I find in the resistance of First Nations to the genre of colonialism that began in 1492 very important roots and antecedents in the ongoing struggle to oppose the most overtly imperialist forms of globalization. Following the lead of Manuel and the Mexican Zapatistas, I seek to elaborate a vision of the Fourth World that is inclusive, a vision that embraces pluralism, self-determination, international law, and universal human rights as the natural inheritance of all people and peoples.
In the light of these Fourth World ideals I propose the following actions as a way of responding to the U.S. electorate’s decision to give a second term to the most internationally reviled president ever to hold office in the United States:
- Create a foundation to direct missionaries of secular humanism into the heartland of the United States, one of the more intellectually and educationally impoverished zones of human settlement on earth.
- Develop, elaborate and implement in the global community a people’s regime of sanctions aimed at the U.S. economy.
- Begin the process of developing some sort of referendum to canvass the opinion of all adult global citizens who are not U.S. citizens. The U.S. electorate has had its own process to determine how the global community beyond its own boundaries should be treated and governed. Now it is our turn to register our opinion about how the vast majority of planetary citizens who are not U.S. citizens should respond to the international lawlessness and militaristic aggressions of the country that recently gave George W. Bush a second term of control over the world’s most powerful office.
Anthony J. Hall is the Founding Coordinator of Globalization Studies at the University of Lethbridge.