(Unpublished Letter to the Times of 1991)
Joshua Muravchik’s “At Last, Pax Americana” (Thursday, January 24th, 1991) gave honest, open evidence of something which critics of the United States have recognized since this country’s foundation: the fact that it is not a “nation”, but an evangelical religion.
True, the original Puritan roots of the National Faith have long been covered over by the passage of time and lack of interest in historical (dare I say all) realities. Nevertheless, they remain alive in disguised forms, cultivated by liberal and conservative missionaries throughout the land. Both these groups, superficially hostile to one another though they may seem, still view America as the New Jerusalem, the City on a Hill, calling lovingly to the infidel to submit to a secularized version of an already distorted form of Christianity.
Oh, it isn’t the individualistic approach to God and hatred of an authoritative Church that concerns them much any longer. Rather, it is the individual’s autonomy with respect to speech or economics, and the emasculation of any and all authorities that stand in its way. No, the congregation’s control over religious affairs may not grip their interest, but the democratic presuppositions underlying that notion form the infallible, unalterable, unquestionable doctrinal basis for their other projects. Calvinist arguments regarding man’s total depravity may have been consigned to the rubbish heap of history, but they continue to thrive unconsciously wherever people claim that virtue cannot really be discerned and encouraged, and vice suppressed. Every time a liberal insists that Shakespeare will disappear inside the school’s walls if pornography is prohibited outside its doors, he is shouting out his belief in a degraded, ruleless universe. Whenever an economic conservative reduces life to a set of individualistic, self-interested, commercial actions, he does the same. Obviously, the believing Christian preacher is no longer looked to as the interpreter of the congregation’s true will. Yet, everywhere and always, in season and out of season, seventy times seven times, the expert, the consciousness raiser, the trend setter, the developer, or the professional is hoisted to the level of charismatic teacher, instructing the community on what it really democratically thinks. And what it really democratically thinks inevitably ends up as being the desire to crown Allen Ginsberg as Poet Laureate in some hideous shopping mass on a ten-lane highway to nowhere.
One crucial difference separates the missionaries of Americanism, liberal or conservative, from those of other religions. A Christian, to take but one example, explained to the infidel that he had to reject his erroneous beliefs in accepting the Good News. Not so the Americanist! While tearing down everything traditional, authoritative, and shaped by a conviction that society can be built upon knowledge of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful, he tells people that they have never been more free to profess their own specific doctrines and cultures. Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Blacks, Whites, Marxists, and Martians. Everyone and everything is free, free-er, free-est! So long, of course, as each of them rejects petty little age-old concerns and devotes his energy to truly creative things. Like Moslem jeans. Bolivian Big Macs. And Zoroastrian Heavy Metal, slightly altered for an American mass market and made suitable for multi-valued courses at New World Order University. After all, what more could a free man want? Surely not a continued commitment to ideas that were non-pluralist! Only a madman could be so foolish. And a madman does not need to be answered by rational argument. A madman needs the help of prayer. The prayer of the psychiatrist.
American missionaries preached in a relatively restricted area until 1917, the date of our entry into World War One. They did yeoman service in this narrow field, however, so integrating potentially troublesome groups like Roman Catholics that most of them would never dream of refusing to toss incense before the Statue of Liberty ever again. Since 1917, and especially since 1945, mission work has been done on a world wide basis, aided by that admittedly depraved part of human nature that presumes that strength and riches are always right. Our New World Order does indeed owe an enormous debt to the successes of this mammoth missionary effort.
Perhaps the most effective slogan of the freedom-loving, pluralist American Religion is its claim to end the intolerance and bloody struggles of past world views. Perhaps this slogan is true. The question, however, is whether the sacrifice was worth it or not. “You made a desert”, Jugurtha complained to the builders of the Roman World Order; “you made a desert, and you called it peace”. His comment comes back to mind every time I realize that the New World Order means, in practice, that another bit of the Castilian Plain will become a Wendy’s, and that volumes of Shakespeare will be removed from library shelves to make room for those dedicated to the study of Transcendental Pornography. “Pox Americana” is a better description for the reigning spirit of this ravenous beast.
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