Every society has a segment of its population that obsesses over totalitarian control of others. They are called “politicians” or “political activists.” (There are one or two exceptions, every now and then, such as former Congressman Ron Paul). These are people who just cannot stand the fact that many others prefer to live their own lives, abiding by the basic laws protecting life, liberty and property, and the moral codes that help to enforce such behavior. They just cannot stand the fact that so many others prefer to plan their own lives instead of having the political authorities plan their lives for them. They are often more than willing to use the coercive forces of government – including deadly force, including war – to get their way. They think of themselves as Our Superiors, God’s chosen people, or just plain smarter and more moral than everyone else. Or they are con-men and con-women out to plunder their fellow citizens to enrich themselves under the phony guise of “public service,” “democracy,” and myriad other grandiose-sounding scams.
In a lecture on institutionalized lying by government delivered at the Mises Institute, Judge Andrew Napolitano introduced his audience to the Latin phrase “libido dominande” that describes such attitudes. In Latin, it means “lust to dominate.” Now along comes Clyde Wilson with his new book, The Yankee Problem: An American Dilemma, that describes in great detail the peculiar American version of “libido dominande” that has plagued America (and the world) ever since the Pilgrims landed.
Wilson describes “Yankees” as “that peculiar ethnic group descended from New Englanders, who can be easily recognized by their arrogance, hypocrisy, greed, lack of congeniality, and penchant for ordering other people around” (emphasis added). This, of course, does not include all New Englanders and their descendants, but a rather small but dominant (and domineering) subset. “Hillary Rodham Clinton, raised a Northern Methodist in Chicago, is a museum-quality specimen of the Yankee – self-righteous, ruthless, and self-aggrandizing,” writes Wilson.
Before American history was completely rewritten from a New England perspective and taught to generations of schoolchildren, this fact was widely known. The novelists Washington Irving, James Finemore Cooper, James Kirke Paulding, and Herman Melville, among others, wrote novels that ridiculed the “Yankee” mentality that they all abhorred. (In Irving’s story of “The Headless Horseman” Ichabod Crane was a Yankee who had come from Connecticut to New York and “made himself a nuisance” so a young New Yorker played a trick on him to send him packing back to “Yankeeland”). Thomas Jefferson himself once complained that “It is true that we are completely under the saddle of Massachusetts and Connecticut, and that they ride us very hard, insulting our feelings, as well as exhausting our strength and substance.” This was long before anyone began debating the issue of slavery. The Yankees said Jefferson, “were marked with such a perversity of character” that America was bound to be forever divided between Yankees and non-Yankees.
Wilson describes how New England writers have falsified the history of America by emphasizing the Mayflower Pilgrims while ignoring or downplaying the earlier, Jamestown Pilgrims; by pretending that New Englanders alone won the American Revolution and ignoring the efforts of Francis Marion and other Southern revolutionary heroes; by ludicrously portraying the Virginia planter George Washington as a New England “prig” in their books and movies; and of course reserving their biggest lies in their discussions of the causes and consequences of the “Civil War.” As if to prove Jefferson’s point, Daniel Webster wrote in his diary: “O New England! How superior are thy inhabitants in morals, literature, civility, and industry!”
The Yankees’ “quest for power grew into a frenzy” as soon as George Washington left the scene, writes Wilson, by passing the Sedition Act during the Adams administration, which made it a crime to criticize Adams and the government. Their rewriting of history began very early and has never stopped. Although the settlement of the American West was “predominantly the work of Southerners and not of New Englanders at all,” silly books like The Oregon Trail, “written by a Boston tourist” became popular, as did “the phony cavortings of the Eastern sissy Teddy Roosevelt in the cattle country opened by Southerners.” “The great America outdoors” are now symbolized by “Henry David Thoreau and a little frog pond . . . in the sight of the Boston smokestacks.”
Thanks to the Yankee rewriting of history few Americans know that John Hancock, John Adams, and the majority of the Northern delegates to the constitutional convention were slave owners; that at the time, ten percent of the New York City population consisted of slaves; that New England shippers were major players in the international slave trade well into the 1860s; that numerous wealthy New Englanders, such as the founder of Brown University, invested in the international slave trade business; that many New Englanders continued to own slave plantations in Cuba even after slavery was ended in the U.S.; and that in 1860 there were more free black people in the South than in the North.
There is a 300-year history of Yankees demonizing anyone who stands in their way of political domination, and of course, no one has been more demonized than Southerners – the only group of Americans to ever seriously challenge their dominance. Moreover, the identification of God with America and the United States with infallible righteousness is Yankee stuff through and trough,” writes Wilson. Here he is describing “American exceptionalism,”the excuse for myriad imperialistic wars over the past 150 years, always glorified by our Yankee rulers as “righteous crusades.” Just listen to the words of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” which refers to the death of as many as 850,000 Americans as “the glory of the coming of the Lord.” Not to mention the slaughter of 200,000 Filipinos and senseless American entry into World War I, which were also “glorified” in song and words.
The “Yankee way of war,” commenced during the “Civil War” and perfected during the subsequent twenty-five year war of genocide against the Plains Indians (1865 – 1890), the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, and World War I, involves “marshaling overwhelming material to crush a weak opponent, heedless of the cost in life and taxes, and rewards commanders appropriately.” This does sound an awful lot like contemporary wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc.
The statist indoctrination academies known as “the public schools” was also a Yankee invention, as Wilson shows, and originated as “a program of ideological and ethnic cleansing.” It was the post “Civil War” presidents Grant and Hayes who imposed the Yankee government school monopoly on the South, modeled after “the statist, militarized models of Europe.” Higher education was first politicized by the Lincoln administration’s Morrill Act that funded “land grant universities,” and by the creation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which quickly politicized agricultural education by sending “extension agents” into the public schools.
Wilson wastes no time on the self-serving Yankee fairy tale about how righteous and super-ethical Yankees supposedly marched South in the 1860s to heroically die by the hundreds of thousands for the benefit of black strangers – the basic history of the “Civil War” that Yours Truly was taught in Pennsylvania public schools. Reminding his readers that secession is not the same thing as war, and that the causes of secession were different from the cause of the war, Wilson lucidly states that “the war was caused by the determination of Lincoln and his party to conquer the Southern states and destroy their legal governments” and put themselves in charge – forever. “The war, after all, consisted of the invasion and conquest of the South by the U.S. government. A very simple fact that most Americans, it would seem are unable to process, along with the plain fact that the Northern soldiers did not make war for the purpose of freeing black people.”
In 1860 antislavery arguments were hardly sufficient to win an election, let alone to inaugurate a war of conquest, says Wilson. Other more realistic causes of the war were “an impulse toward national greatness”; “the rise of an aggressive class of industrial and banking moguls” in the North; the “arrival in the Midwest of radical, power-worshipping Germans fleeing the failed revolutions of 1848” in Europe; and “Lincoln’s clever manipulation of a phony but powerful issue: the ‘extension of slavery.’”
Crony capitalism run amok has been the end game of the Yankee way of government ever since 1865. This involves not only the millions of secret (and not-so-secret) corrupt political deals that enrich the politically-connected at the expense of everyone else (i.e., protectionist tariffs, bailouts of billionaire investment bankers, etc.) but also aggressive, imperialistic wars that have the exact same purpose and effect. This all began with the Lincoln administration’s introduction of corporate welfare for railroad corporations, and is of course many orders of magnitude larger today with bankster bailouts, the never-ending explosion of spending on the military/industrial complex, and myriad other examples of government of the crony capitalists, by the crony capitalists, for the crony capitalists. There is no better example of this today than that “museum-quality” specimen of a Yankee, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and her pay-to-play Clinton Foundation. Read Clyde Wilson’s new book if you wish to learn the real problem with government in America today.