Imagine there’s no countries/It isn’t hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion too. – from the song “Imagine” by John Lennon.
In the spring of 1990, I was a college freshman taking a class in American history. The textbook, which I read again years later, had a strong liberal tilt. Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson were the heroes of the story. Calvin Coolidge, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan were all elderly dunces and Richard Nixon was . . . well, they got him right, I guess.
At that time, compact discs were new technology. Suddenly you could hear songs in crystal clear sound without having to fast forward or rewind a tape. It made all music new again. To me, those classic Beatles and Led Zeppelin albums seemed almost like magic in such hi fidelity. John Lennon had been dead for a decade, but he became my hero. His ideas fit with the narrative I was being fed in that history class. It all made such perfect adolescent sense – if we could only forget our differences in the world and join together, all problems would be solved.
To the shock of progressives everywhere, Lennon’s country, Great Britain, left the European Union this week. It was the biggest event in European history since the fall of the Berlin Wall which, coincidentally, happened when I was a freshman in college as well. The secession of the British hopefully marked the beginning of the end for the globalist vision of the world.
I hope for this because I kept reading after the indoctrination I received in that college history class and came across other versions of the story. What is certainly true is that Woodrow Wilson, father of global progressivism, was our president from 1913-1921. In 1914, when the European powers went to their trenches for no good reason, Germany and Great Britain were similar countries. They fought with the same codes of honor and similar tactics and weaponry. From the American perspective, there was no reason to support one side over the other and we stayed neutral for a few years.
But eastern merchants had extensive trade ties with Britain and they wanted to continue that in spite of the war, including selling arms to kill Germans. Germany took exception and sank a few of our ships. Wilson couldn’t keep thing under control and the next thing we knew, we were in a war – the first but not last America had ever fought with nothing to be gained. Our presence shifted the balance and the Allies won a lopsided victory.
A top-hatted Wilson arrived in Paris to help settle the peace as well as all national differences for all time with his Fourteen Points. The other allied leaders paid him lip-service and ignored the parts of Wilson’s plan that didn’t suit them, all the while convincing him to agree to the most punitive financial conditions ever imposed on a vanquished country, intended to cripple Germany for generations to come. The League of Nations, the first ever attempt at globalization, was born in the midst of all this.
The crippling of Germany led to the rise of the Nazis and the much more destructive World War to follow. Now let me shift from facts back to opinion: Woodrow Wilson, first father of global progressivism, caused much of this by being duped into a war by business interests and then duped into a punitive peace by his allies. The thesis of my college textbook was a lie. It said that Wilson’s efforts had helped the world along to its next, higher level. Wilson the Great, not Wilson the Foolish, author of nearly infinite human misery.
One hundred years ago so what does it matter, right? Not so. Progressive globalism and its local proxy, socialism, is still continually trumpeted as the path to a more perfect world. Wherever it is tried, it fails, yet it continues to be tried. Bernie Sanders almost became the Democratic nominee for president. John Kerry could be heard recently giving a speech about the utopia that would be a world without borders, the ultimate goal of progressives.
The polar opposite of globalism is the Americanism as envisioned by our founding document which allowed thirteen distinct colonies to be thirteen distinct colonies. The genius of our Constitution was in allowing people their people-ish-ness – pride, greed, love of country and family, hate. All the good and the bad was allowed its most productive use and therein, kept in check. The premise was revolutionary and genius and over time Americans bought into the idea that they were different from the rest of the world. And they were.
Despite what our President has preached for over seven years, America is exceptional. Not that our people are any smarter or inherently more industrious than the people of Zimbabwe. Ture, we were lucky, as he says. We were lucky to be born in a country that itself was lucky to have been born in a time in history when the American experiment could happen.
But because all of this, we are distinct from the rest of the world, and the ways we are distinct has provided untold wealth and comfort. What plagues our poorest people? Obesity.
Great Britain is different too, in its own way. It once owned an empire on which the sun never set – its people enjoying the highest standard of living of that time as we do now. Shocking to progressives and our President, its people remembered all of that this week and decided they still wanted their country to be Great Britain instead of a conglomerate of whatever free immigration and financially dependent European socialist states was making it.
‘Like his country, John Lennon had became disillusioned with the progressive movement as time passed and, according to a biographer with him in his final months, was a supporter of Ronald Reagan. The world can only live as one, as Lennon had hoped in that song, if everyone were equally miserable. Here’s to hoping Americans follow the British lead this fall.