Principles and Program of National-Jacksonism,
With Matching Party Hat and Armband
títhendi eru at segja frá um ragnarøkr? Thess
hefi ek eigi fyrr heyrt getit."
Gangleri to Óthin, n.d.
the Gylfaginning, Gylfi, a Swedish king who dabbles in magic,
travels to the Æsirs’ hall. Disguised as Gangleri ("Wayworn"),
he gains entry and interrogates the High One (Óthin) about
things-to-come. In the modern Teutonic idiom, he asks, "What’s
the deal with Ragnarök? I never got to hear about that before."
then spins a tiresome tale of coming frost and snow, three winters
with no summer, cows dying, a pub with no beer, social decay, wrack,
and ruin, thereby justifying the Norse reputation for dwelling on
doom and downfall. Professor Hugh Nibley once wrote that the antique
Greek and Arabic writers are interesting because they always expect
surprises; whereas the Norse writers are fatalists, a bunch of gloomy
Gustavs, so to speak.
Dimmer Godling for the Masses
could have saved some fretting, if he’d been in touch with Walter
Russell Mead. Reading last-named’s essay "Braced
for Jacksonian Ruthlessness" in the next most important
flagship of late American liberalism, The Washington Post,
Wayworn would see that the man and the hour have met, even if the
man Jackson has been dead long-awhile-oh and the nature
of the hour is rather dim and murky. Preparing us for whatever the
US establishment may unleash on the world, Mead bedecks the juggernaut
with the legacy of Andrew Jackson.
a few quotations are in order, if only as evidence to be submitted
to some future War Crimes Tribunal (Stockholm, 2004). Alluding to
America’s first religious war, Mead quotes from the "Battle
Hymn of the Republic," a song which, I must confess, some of
us never sing. Mead rightly states that whoever committed the monstrous
crimes of last Tuesday has deeply provoked the American people.
He adds that Americans, "when their blood is up," make
"the fiercest warriors on earth." Perhaps so, but no policy
follows from justified wrath by itself.
observes that "American bombs are estimated to have killed
900,000 Japanese civilians in the last five months of World War
II." While "twice the total of all combat deaths sustained
by all U.S. forces in all our foreign wars since 1776," such
mass slaughter of noncombatants is, apparently, merely in the nature
of things and requires no further comment. (I sure hope Mead isn’t
angling for appointment as US Ambassador to Japan.) And here Andrew
Jackson is adduced as justification and precedent. Jackson constantly
violated any law international or domestic which stood in the
way of doing whatever needed doing. He had a bit of a leader
complex, it seems.
got me to thinking about Andrew Jackson. The results are in: Jackson
is very hard to like. His contributions to a democratic and populist
integral nationalism made his movement, potentially, a long-run
danger to federalism and freedom alike. Hot-tempered and homicidal,
Jackson thought the main point of duelling was to kill your opponent
and not so much the code of rules that went along with the custom.
Perhaps the only thing about which the neo-mercantilist Whig Party
was ever right was their critique of Jackson’s authoritarian conception
of the Presidency. It is not altogether odd that certain National
Socialist writers of the 1930s saw in Jackson a kindred spirit.
the end, all you get with Jackson is commodity-based money and destruction
of the central bank. While these are good things, they are not by
themselves reason enough to get enthused about Jackson. Somehow
I think this is not the side of Jackson most admired by any current
adherents of National-Jacksonism. There is also Jackson’s treatment
of Indians, but this is a short essay....
some reason, a lot of Southerners have taken an unrealistically
favorable view of the fellow. They should look a little deeper.
By far the worst thing Jackson did, in my view, was to cobble together
a superficially plausible nationalist theory of the union which
Lincoln could then wield as his casus belli in 1861. In the nullification
crisis, Jackson raved about hanging John C. Calhoun and reducing
South Carolina by military force. In a way it is too bad he didn’t
get to try. Then, at least, with Andrew Jackson slaveholder, slave
trader, slavery expansionist in charge, no one would be lecturing
us that the war was "about" slavery rather than the nature
of the union. Also, we could have had Sherman’s March thirty one
years early ("successful" or not), without Sherman, and
thus also a head start on developing the characteristically American
theory of total war.
war, mass slaughter of enemy civilians by the townful, and Jackson’s
fierce visage smiling down on it all. It makes one wonder why the
Scandinavians, Germans, Celts, English, etc., ever bothered taking
up Christianity, or why they should have dabbled in any of the higher
religions. Better to consult Óthin, Zeus, or Indra, I should
think. One wonders how much a pagan notion of just warfare differs
from what Mead has on offer.
Mead extracts a set of eternal American attitudes from Jackson’s
National Jacobinism. On the other hand, from the Olympian heights
of the Council on Foreign Relations nudge, nudge, say no more Mead creates a few metric slivers of distance between himself
and the apparently soon-to-be-rampant-again Jacksonian ruthlessness.
It’s not for him directly to endorse this stuff. Oh no. You’d
think with all those interlocking directorates and overlapping bureaucracies building better burghers as they go the elites would have the
ability to restrain the ruthless, if they cared to. You’d think
the leaders could lead, if they cared to.
they seem to be mere shadows of their waspish predecessors. And
what’s an upper class to do? Only this: pursue a policy almost foredoomed
to be excessive and unfocused and be ready then to blame the emotion-driven
masses for the "excesses," if any of the slightly more
civilized nations complain. This is perfect, even Wilsonian.
here we are, at the beginning of the Third Millennium, learning
once again that there is class warfare in the greatest nation ever.
It is too bad that no one seems to know how it works. Yes, the masses
let off steam and propose on talk radio to "obliterate"
this or that hostile people. The chaps who coldly reason out the
exterminationist logic and commit it to print are of the
elite. Come on along, come on and hear, MacNamara’s Ragtime Band....
for now we may leave reflections on the twilight of the godlings
and other idols to the Establishment’s ever grimmer dithering in
their increasingly dimmer gatherings.
Joseph R. Stromberg [send him
mail] is the JoAnn B. Rothbard Historian in Residence at the
Ludwig von Mises Institute and
a columnist for Antiwar.com.
© 2001 LewRockwell.com