Victory is Power
I am listening to the book Empire of Liberty, to the period between the Thomas Jefferson’s election in 1800 as an idealistic Republican much taken with the French ideals of Liberty, and the beginning of the War of 1812 – perhaps the stupidest war America ever fought. Jefferson was directly responsible for this – although James Madison was President at the time.
Victory is Power was part of America’s highly defective thinking during this period – where everybody seemed to be fighting everyone else – between the Federalists and the Republicans – and several factions within the Republicans. The solution was to go to war with Great Britain, which would unite the country. As it turned out, the war solved nothing – and only set us up for the Civil War.
Much, much later, much the same thing happened in WWII. The country had been devastated by the Depression, and was having a hard time recovering from it. WWII was the perfect solution – but this time we won the war, which went completely to our heads. We has tasted Power (much like Great Britain did with its British Empire) and we had become addicted to it.
I remember well what the Cold War felt like. I was a young engineer at the time, attracted by all the big money there. America was fighting Communism, we thought. But we were really making everything subordinate to our pursuit of power. People and human values were no longer important. Business, and every other kind of organization, was all about power – getting it and keeping it.
This was depressing, and mental illness became one of our biggest problems – and remains so.