“Force! Force to the utmost! Force without stint or limit! The righteous and triumphant Force which shall make Right the law of the world, and cast every selfish dominion down in the dust”-Woodrow Wilson (Goldberg, Liberal Fascism 220).
Woodrow Wilson, a democrat, was the President of the United States from 1913 to 1921. He was the first and only president to have a Ph.D. and according to Jonah Goldberg in his 2007 book “Liberal Fascism”, Woodrow Wilson was the first President to bad-mouth the constitution. Wilson was also blatantly and publicly anti-individual rights, and advocated abolishing limits on the government established by the constitution. Mr. Goldberg details Woodrow Wilson’s transformation of the Democratic party towards a progressive model often using Wilson’s own words as evidence of his intentions, as certain ideas like dictatorships, socialism, and fascism were not yet taboo. Though he had long advocated social engineering and championed order over individualism, it was in true progressive fashion that Woodrow Wilson did not let WWI go to waste.
The First World War saw the creation of the War Industries Board which centralized and nationalized the industries needed by the government to assert its military might overseas. This was probably the roots of what some refer to today as the Military Industrial Complex: industries intertwined with government that many believe are responsible for the structure and implementation of U.S. foreign policy. Jonah Goldberg goes on to explain how Woodrow Wilson created a government sponsored propaganda machine called the Committee on Public Information (CPI), long before Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels incited the German people against Jews. Wilson put a man in charge of this new committee named Creel—who as police commissioner of Denver had forbid his cops from carrying weapons. Creel was the original fear monger, “determined to inflame the American public into `one white-hot mass’ under the banner of `100 percent Americanism’… Fear was a vital tool, [Creel] argued, `an important element to be bred into the civilian population’” (Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism 109). The CPI even went as far as employing 100,000 people who in 1917 and 1918 delivered almost 8 million seemingly spontaneous 4-minute speeches to their communities in various settings, exalting Woodrow Wilson as an almost flawless leader, and stoking hatred towards Germans. Anyone who questioned the war or many other radical Wilsonian installations was labeled an anti-American traitor effectively shutting off discussion on the matters.
The Sedition Act and Espionage Act both signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson actually went so far as to ban individuals and the press from speaking out against the government, the war, or the draft in any form. People were arrested and convicted for violating these acts; one man who criticized the Red cross got over 2 years in jail, and a producer received 10 years for a film about the Revolutionary War which portrayed atrocities committed by British soldiers. How all this was not seen as a violation of the constitution is absurd, yet the postmaster general was given the power to refuse delivery of any publication, magazine or newspaper he saw as unfit. Speaking out against such traitorous publications, then postmaster general Albert Sidney Burleson is quoted in Goldberg’s book as touting “They cannot say that this Government is the tool of Wall Street or the munitions-makers” (Goldberg, Liberal Fascism 112-3). It appears it is not just contemporary politicians wishing to separate themselves from Wall Street, and with today’s comparatively miniscule power of the post office, it should be no wonder why politicians currently seek to regulate internet. Note that the term munitions-makers would today read defense contractors.
Wilson gave rise to the precursor to wire-tapping. He started a national police force in which neighbors spied on their communities, read mail, and listened to phone calls. This American Protective League cracked down on public criticism of the federal government, and arrested “slackers” including an indecent where 2/3 of about 50,000 New Yorkers arrested were found to be guilty of nothing. In true Hitler youth style public schools praised Wilson, demonized his opponents, and encouraged youth to spy and report on un-American behavior. I suggest reading Goldberg’s book to anyone whose interest this has sparked. He includes more information and a wider picture as well as more examples of Wilson complete contempt for the constitution and freedom of individual Americans. For our intents and purposes however, this is a good introduction to what made Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini applaud Wilson, and emulate him. Approximately “175,000 Americans were arrested for failing to demonstrate their patriotism in one way or another. All were punished, many went to jail” (Goldberg , Liberal Fascism 117).
Unfortunately while we are quick to decry the labels associated with Wilson’s ideas, the ideas themselves are at the forefront of many if not most modern political agendas. Look for politicians trying to use fear to drum up support for a cause, and dig deeper to see if their words hold water. They could be using fear of terrorists to violate fourth amendment rights protecting us from unreasonable search and seizure, or fear of violence to restrict second amendment rights to bear arms. Although some threats are real, Republicans and Democrats both use this tactic to demonize the other, but anyone engaging in unjust fear mongering does not deserve your vote. Beware of any claim that the discussion is closed, or that an issue is decided; this should raise red flags to all of us, as legitimate arguments have no need to suppress dissenters. Would this website be one of the first to go down if the government gained such arbitrary power over the internet as they have gained over distribution of information in the past? Extreme scrutiny of all internet related bills is a must, and I cannot currently fathom what good could come from any government interference with the internet.
The point here is that not only is it possible for a dictator to rise in America, it has happened in America, and it was from the seemingly unlikely place of the left/ progressives/ liberals/ democrats that American fascism was born. The only reason this trend did not continue unrestrained was because after WWI citizens were less inclined to blindly follow the government, since the fear tactic was not available. Today democrats certainly do not hold a monopoly on the use of fascism, as it would be hard to imagine Wilson being against the current wars in the Middle East. Certainly Wilson would support an individual mandate to buy health insurance, as he would also support the Patriot Act, and the welfare state. Progressivism has splintered and embedded itself into both major political parties today. The original dissenters of fascism and opponents of Wilson were the true conservatives and constitutionalists who realized that growing government in any regard is dangerous. Yet today conservatives are shunned or attacked by the Republican establishment if they do not support nation-building wars overseas. Democrats are likewise quick to cry “Racism!” over any suggestion that the poor look after themselves. Fascism must be teased from both parties, and the individuals are the ones to do it. Just as the establishment rejects individualism and seeks a top down ruling structure, it is from the individualist bottom up movement that America will be pried from the iron grip of fascism. But it is of utmost importance to use the constitution as the framework for the grassroots re-birth of liberty.