Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The decline of Anglo-America: the role of the FCC

OK, back to Eric Kaufmann's book The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America. I've just read the sixth chapter, which is about the role of the Protestant elite. It's a very interesting account.

Up to the early 1900s, the Protestant elite followed the older ideas about dominant Anglo-Saxon ethnicity. For instance, Kaufmann relates that although Josiah Strong in 1885 thought that,
no race should literally displace the other, he also spoke eloquently of the providential destiny of the Anglo-Saxon race to Christianize and Anglo-Saxonize the world.

According to Lyman Abbott,
it is the function of the Anglo-Saxon race to confer these gifts of civilization, through law, commerce and education...

Whatever we think of such beliefs, it is clearly the case that the idea was for people to assimilate to a dominant Anglo-Saxonism.

This changed between 1905 and 1913. The Protestant churches became more ecumenical in their outlook, based on an ethical universalism. In 1908, this ecumenical movement led to the creation of the Federal Council of Churches (FCC), an organisation involving 32 Protestant denominations. The period was to see the emergence of an interfaith movement, a Goodwill movement, support for internationalism, and for a pluralist concept of the nation in which no single group was dominant. Those who took this new line agitated for open borders.

There was also a spirit of "humanitarianism," based not so much on a rejection of God but on the idea that we should serve humanity rather than particular nations. Summarising the views of Everett Clinchy (1934), Kaufmann writes,
...America could call upon a liberal tradition. Drawing on this tradition, its proper mission should be to lead the world toward a higher stage of liberal evolution, culminating in a cosmopolitan world view.

Another ecumenical commentator wrote in 1936:
There can be no fully civilized world until the arrogant independence of political sovereignty can be subordinated to the welfare of human life as a whole. We are far from that now, but everywhere the most civilized minds are thinking in the new patterns of world relationships.

It's a humanitarianism that overrides and endangers particular identities and attachments.

It is important to note, though, that the FCC represented most of all a Protestant bureaucratic, establishment elite view, rather than a rank and file outlook. Its point of view was not generally accepted by rural clergymen, nor by the laity in general. Furthermore, prior to World War II its efforts to bring about open borders were successfully opposed by patriotic groups. For instance, here is Kaufmann on the passage of immigration restriction laws in 1924:
The Protestant establishment also vehemently opposed the National Origins Quota immigration act of 1924, which was subsequently passed. The opposition of the Protestant establishment to the new law was so extensive, and pervaded all of the denominations so completely, that Robert Moats Miller exclaimed: "A list of the men who publicly opposed the exclusion measure would read like an honor roll of American Protestantism. Much the same could be said of the religious press."

In 1942, an FCC conference,
advocated an American foreign policy that would end "the sovereign power of the nation state" and lay the basis for a world political order.

In the early 1950s the FCC (now the NCC) once again lobbied for non-discriminatory mass immigration.

So, the basic conclusion is that one of the roots of the movement toward open borders and multiculturalism was the Protestant establishment from about 1905 onwards. This means that it cannot just be cultural Marxism which is to blame for the current direction of American society. It was not just foreign intellectuals from the 1920s onwards, but changes within the Protestant elite from the very early 1900s, which helped to establish the current template.


  1. I guess the Protestant elites (e.g., Henry Cabot Lodge) who got the 1924 law passed were not all that religious.

    1. Kaufmann is not saying that people who were Protestant and part of the political elite were open border humanitarians. He is saying that within the FCC, an organisation representing most Protestant denominations, there was a class of professional educators, researchers and managers, and it was amongst this class in particular that the open borders internationalist view asserted itself in an organised way. Kaufmann devotes several pages to outlining how this "Protestant establishment" (meaning FCC establishment) did not yet have the political power to win its way.

  2. The preachers weren't taken very seriously in this case:

    "As always when threatened from abroad, the four Anglo-Saxon cultures joined together in the 1920s to restrict the flow of the new immigration. Every region voted as one on this question—so much so that the immigration restriction bill of 1921 passed the Senate by a margin of 78 to 1. The House of Representatives approved it in a few hours without even bothering to take a roll call.17"

    1. "The preachers weren't taken very seriously in this case."

      Exactly. At this time, according to Kaufmann, there was such a gulf between the Protestant church establishment and most of the rank-and-file (including some rural ministers) that it limited the power of the church establishment. Furthermore, there began to emerge a split between liberal and conservative wings of Protestantism.

  3. Also notice that this mostly precedes the cosmopolitan influence of Jews, and is independent of Jewish influence. "Jewish origin of cosmopolitanism" theories must ignore influences inherent among Anglo-Saxons. The motive of Anglo-Saxon elites is of course power and money, the hope that Western elites could rule the earth, if they and their people would be more cosmopolitan and accepting towards the world. Selfishness of Anglo-Saxon elites is necessary and sufficient explanation of cosmopolitan liberalism in the Western world.

    1. I agree that the problem was 80% derived from within the Anglo-Saxon elites (there had been something of a Jewish contribution with the Ethical Reform Association of Felix Adler in the later 1800s). I don't know, though, if selfishness and materialism explains why the Anglo elites acted as they did. Kaufmann doesn't give a definitive answer as to "why" - he is mostly interested in tracing the development of political ideas. Certainly, there were Anglo businessmen who wanted open borders in order to control the supply of labour in their favour (just like today). Part of it though, it seems, was that the older identity of the Anglo-American elite fused the ethnic identity with a political liberalism, so that pride in one meant a commitment to the other - an unworkable fusion in the long run as political liberalism made it difficult to uphold the ethnic existence. I wonder too if the excessive emphasis on Anglo-Saxon destiny (i.e. that all other groups were destined to assimilate to the civilising mission of the Anglo-Saxon peoples and values) encouraged a radically pluralist response (i.e. that no group was to be dominant, all were to be valued, all would contribute equally to the mix etc.). In other words, there was a polarisation between the two views.

  4. Mark --

    What you see now, in terms of the divide between the conservative protestants and the liberal ones, started around this time. It was big news when it got going. Over time, more rank and file drifted away from the mainline churches, making them more liberal, while new "evangelical
    " non-denominational churches grew up, filled with almost all very conservative, in many cases fundamentalist (regrettably, but this is to be expected in sola scriptura protestantism as a fallback position when under attack), Christians. The process has continued, also resulting in splits within the mainline. There are "ex-mainline" versions of many of the Mainline Protestant denominations in the US -- the Missouri Synod for the Lutherans, the PCA for the Presbyterians, the various Anglican split-offs for the Episcopalians, etc. Each time people have left individually or collectively, the remaining mainline church has been left even more liberal than it was previously.

    This is also in the nature of protestantism -- its essence is fissiparous, and has been since its very beginning. But the abandonment of the elites of American mainline Protestantism of any of the older ideas in favor of w new morality has driven this wedge.

    I would disagree somewhat with you in that this is fundamentally a political phenomenon. I think it is a spiritual phenomenon that has a political manifestation, really. It's fundamentally an alternate spiritual worldview -- one which is decreasingly theistic, and increasingly materialistic, over time, yet clothed in the language and memetics of religion. So, for example, these folks viewed what they were doing as being fundamentally moral, quite apart from any politics, and viewed the older school believers are being less moral (today, to the point of thinking of them as being evil and outright immoral). It's a moral, quasi-religious movement -- and I think it is this even for the secular participants, even though for the latter even the figleaf of a titular theism is discarded.

    In short, Anglo-ism was defined in this view as being morally superior precisely because it possessed the moral vision to transcend itself and its own particularity, and become all things to all people. Hopelessly utopian and not particularly tied to any kind of Christianity, but there it is. And it is how they think today, as well.

  5. People blame anybody but the Jews for the success of causes that organized Jewry supports, because of fear. This fear is very much justified by what can happen, professionally and socially, to people powerful Jews choose to attack as antisemitic.

    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

    Nobody fears to blame Protestant leaders, and in the battle over mass immigration in America, nobody feared to ignore them all.

    I am and will remain entirely skeptical that the safe scapegoats that everybody can attack because it's safe to do so (and that it was safe to ignore en masse even a century ago) have driven everything, or even 80% of everything.

    I wouldn't argue beyond that, because I haven't read the book.

    1. Titus, I disagree with you on this one. I accept that Jews have been overrepresented amongst the open borders, radical left, but even so when it mattered the majority group were radical Anglo-Saxons. In fact, Anglo identity has been, unfortunately, bound up with liberalism for a very long period of time, which has made it unduly difficult to uphold an Anglo ethnicity in a straightforward way. Here in Australia, 90% of both the left and right liberals have been of Anglo background. If I really thought that Jews were the main force, I wouldn't fear to say so, but that's not what I've observed in my own lifetime.

  6. "This means that it cannot just be cultural Marxism which is to blame for the current direction of American society."

    It goes back more than a century before that, to the rise of the Romantic Movement. That's when people started to worship trees instead of God, and to admire that distinctive blend of self-pity, self-hatred and self-righteousness we associate with modern leftists. Byron and Shelley being obvious examples.

    The early 19th century is also the period when public policy starts to be driven by emotion rather than common sense.

    The rise of democracy also meant that western civilisation was headed for inevitable eventual disaster.

  7. Since the Enlightenment secular politics has determined religious views, not the other way round. Hence people change churches because a new church comes along that is more in line with their secular political views.

    There is a clear class pattern to this with working class whites turning to more fundamentalist churches and upper class whites turning to more liberal churches.

    Also the idea that the decline of religious faith has lead to an increase in leftist thinking (as opposed to the other way around) is highly questionable. There are plenty of right wing ethnocentric whites who are post Christian. Certainly some ethnocentric whites atheists have a questionable moral compass (such as many of the Nazis) but that doesn't make them leftists.