“Every man who loves peace, every man who loves his country, every man who loves liberty ought to have it ever before his eyes that he may cherish in his heart a due attachment to the Union of America and be able to set a due value on the means of preserving it.” — James Madison, Federalist No. 41.
Not many people today are familiar with the man who stood behind Woodrow Wilson and whispered progressive and internationalist ideology in the ears of our 28th President. You might think from reading my many blogs on progressivism and how Woodrow Wilson brought forth the administrative state and the masterminds who went along with it.
Edward Mandell House (July 26, 1858 – March 28, 1938) was an American diplomat, politician, and presidential advisor. Commonly known by the title of Colonel House, although he had no military experience, he had enormous personal influence with U.S. President Woodrow Wilson as his foreign policy advisor until Wilson removed him in 1919 due to the animosity Wilson’s second wife, Edith, had towards him.
Until his dismissal House held a very powerful, almost a hypnotic influence over Wilson, even more than the cabinet secretaries. He was able to counter Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan’s opposition to the United States’ entry into the First World War.
It is a noted fact that Wilson was a poor listener and did not take advice from many people — he believed he was above most mortals. But he did listen to Col. House and even had a room in the White House for him to live and work in. After House was dismissed the only other person Wilson listened to was his wife, who became the shadow government after he suffered a stroke on October 2, 1919.
House spent much of 1915 and 1916 in Europe, trying to negotiate peace through diplomacy. He was enthusiastic but lacked deep insight into European affairs and was misled by British diplomats. After the sinking of the Lusitania on May 7, 1915, tension escalated with Germany and U.S. neutrality was precarious. House decided the war was an epic battle between democracy and autocracy; he argued the United States ought to help Britain and France win a limited Allied victory. However, Wilson still insisted on neutrality.
House played a major role in shaping wartime diplomacy. Wilson had House assemble "The Inquiry"—a team of academic experts and masterminds to devise efficient postwar solutions to all the world's problems. In September 1918, Wilson gave House the responsibility for preparing a constitution for a League of Nations. In October 1918, when Germany petitioned for peace based on the Fourteen Points, Wilson charged House with working out details of an armistice with the Allies.
House helped Wilson outline his Fourteen Points, and worked with the president on the drafting of the Treaty of Versailles and the Covenant of the League of Nations. House served on the League of Nations Commission on Mandates with Lord Milner and Lord Robert Cecil of Great Britain, M. Simon of France, Viscount Chinda of Japan, Guglielmo Marconi for Italy, and George Louis Beer as adviser. On May 30, 1919 House participated in a meeting in Paris, which laid the groundwork for establishment of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Throughout 1919, House urged Wilson to work with Senator Henry Cabot Lodge to achieve ratification of the Versailles Treaty.
In 1912 House wrote Philip Dru: Administrator. (Click here to read it online.) House was an avowed progressive, and, by his own lights, a master political manipulator and strategist. His novel's hero is a neo-Marxist revolutionary who insinuates himself into the machinations of politics in a speculative 1920 in order to prod America into a civil war, in which he himself is generalissimo of the great American progressive forces against the greedy capitalist conspirators who have been ruling the country through subterfuge.
The storytelling is boilerplate stuff as is typical where a doctrinaire agenda, rather than an imaginative investigation of human experience is the novelist's motive. But to dismiss this book as irrelevant on literary grounds would be akin to dismissing Mein Kampf as disingenuous, or The Communist Manifesto as poorly reasoned. Such books are only incidentally to be judged as literature; they are eminently significant as revelations of the minds that composed them, particularly in light of the historical significance those minds turned out to have.
There have been a few attempts in recent years to draw attention to House's book, all of them brushed off mockingly by the media "elite," when not ignored entirely. And perhaps some observers have been too quick to draw direct, ominous connections between House's seemingly prescient ideas and today's progressive subversions as carried out by the likes of Obama, Soros, Ayers, and Cass Sunstein. That House was instrumental in pushing through the Federal Reserve Act and the 16th Amendment in 1913, and a major impetus behind the League of Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Treaty of Versailles, are matters of historical record.
Here's an excerpt from The Shadows of Power by James Perloff that provides a glimpse of just how important a role Colonel House had in the creation of the Council on Foreign Relations:
“Well before the Senate's vote on ratification, news of its resistance to the League of Nations reached Colonel House, members of the Inquiry, and other U.S. internationalists gathered in Paris. It was clear that America would not join the realm of world government unless something was done to shift its climate of opinion. Under House's direction, these men, along with some members of the British delegation to the Conference, held a series of meetings. On May 30, 1919, at a dinner at the Majestic Hotel, it was resolved that an "Institute of International Affairs" would be formed. It would have two branches —one in the United States, one in England.
The American branch became incorporated in New York as the Council on Foreign Relations on July 29, 1921.”
One may interpret those facts as one wishes.
Philip Dru typifies the deranged mental state — the delusional megalomania and self-hypnosis — of the most forward-leaning American progressives of the past hundred years, from Wilson and the FDR administration through the Frankfurt School transplants in America, to Saul Alinsky, to the Weather Underground authors of Prairie Fire, to Obama, Hillary Clinton and John F. Kerry. It is not so much that Philip Dru is a conspiratorial "blueprint" for the Obama presidency, as that Dru is Obama — as Obama would see himself, rather than as a sane observer sees him. Dru is a passionate progressive who believes that only under the leadership of a powerful administrator can we reach a collective utopia.
Philip Dru is a man with an agenda that is larger than life, and larger than his country. The internationalist element of his plans is always present, as is his hatred for limited constitutional government and its separation of powers (as was Wilson). Never far from his lips is yet another variation on the historic injustice theme, whether regarding "labor," women, "capital," minorities, or the rest of the timeless progressive slogan list.
Aside from the remarkably lifelike details of House's agenda, another feature bludgeons the reader throughout his book: the hero's (and author's) complete lack of ordinary conscience or scruples in pursuing ends that he regards as just. Having deliberately led the country into a civil war in which 40,000 defenders of the status quo are killed, 210,000 wounded, and 375,000 imprisoned — killed, wounded, or imprisoned because they dared to defend the United States as founded against neo-Marxist revolutionaries. Dru's feelings run no deeper (and last no longer) than a few perfunctory "What a waste" comments. Then it is on to tearing down the old structures of society, and instituting the new, progressive America.
House depicts Dru as musing, before the war, about how "he would have to reckon with the habits and traditions of centuries" (p. 140). In other words, like Dewey, Marx, and all radical leftists, his political agenda was grounded in a fundamental hatred of the entire history of Western man — rationalism, individualism, Judeo-Christian ethics. In typical progressive fashion, House/Dru complains of political corruption and the oligarchic misdeeds of specific leaders, but this is only a thin veil to obscure his real complaint, which is that Western civilization itself is corrupt at its core. That, of course, is why merely removing the offending individuals from power is never enough — "fundamental transformation" is required. This is a familiar phase issued by progressives today with Barack Obama leading the choir.
This leads us to the details. The proof that "Colonel" House — the author's nickname, and it is interesting that during his fictional civil war, his hero becomes "General Dru" — intended this book to be seen as both inspirational and practically programmatic is demonstrated by the specificity with which he lays out, step by step, his alter ego's reforms, including precise declarations to his supporters, and to the vanquished. Some striking examples are:
The dedication of the book reads; “This book is dedicated to the unhappy many who have lived and died lacking opportunity, because, in the starting, the world-wide social structure was wrongly begun.”
[The nation] recognized that Dru had dominated the situation and that a mastermind had at last arisen in the Republic. (148)
He announced that no one, neither the highest nor the lowest, would be arrested, arrested, tried, or in any way disturbed provided they accepted the result of the battle as final, and as determining a change in the policy of government in accordance with the views held by those whom he represented. Failure to acquiesce in this, or any attempt to foster the policies of the late government, would be considered seditious, and would be punished by death. He was determined upon immediate peace and quietude, and any individual, newspaper or corporation violating this order would be summarily dealt with. (150)
[Dru] announced his purpose of assuming the powers of a dictator, distasteful as it was to him, and, as he felt it might also be, to the people. He explained that such a radical step was necessary, in order to quickly purge the government of those abuses that had arisen, and to give it the form and purpose for which they had fought. (152)
Dru's instruction to the commission was to limit the power of the courts to the extent that they could no longer pass judgment upon the constitutionality of laws, their function being merely to decide. what the law was, as was the practice in all other civilized nations. (168)
It was not the Administrator's purpose to rewrite at that time the Federal and State Constitutions, but to do so at a later date when the laws had been rewritten and decided upon; he wished to first satisfy himself as to them and their adaptability to the existing conditions, and then make a constitution conforming with them. (174)
Therefore, after the Revolution, Dru saw that the time had come for the National Government to take upon itself some of the functions heretofore exclusively within the jurisdiction of the States. (182)
He also proposed making corporations share with the Government a certain part of their net earnings (182)
"While the problem is complicated," he continued, "its solution lies in the new financial system, together with the new system of control of public utilities." (188)
“I wish rather to cull that which is best from the other nations of the earth, and let you have the benefit of their thought and experience. One of the most enlightened foreign students of our Government has rightly said that ’America is the most undemocratic of democratic countries.’ We have been living under a Government of negation, a Government with an executive with more power than any monarch, a Government having a Supreme Court, clothed with greater authority than any similar body on earth; therefore, we have lagged behind other nations in democracy. Our Government is, perhaps, less responsive to the will of the people than that of almost any of the civilized nations. Our Constitution and our laws served us well for the first hundred years of our existence, but under the conditions of to-day they are not only obsolete, but even grotesque. It is nearly impossible for the desires of our people to find expression into law. In the latter part of the last century many will remember that an income tax was wanted. After many vicissitudes, a measure embodying that idea was passed by both Houses of Congress and was signed by the Executive. But that did not give to us an income tax. The Supreme Court found the law unconstitutional, and we have been vainly struggling since to obtain relief." (222). This statement echoes what Wilson wrote in his “What is Progress” essay as part of his “The New Freedom” manifesto.
"And if no work is to be had, I shall arrange that every indigent person that is honest and industrious shall be given employment by the Federal, State, County or Municipal Government as the case may be." (228)
"Labor is no longer to be classed as an inert commodity to be bought and sold by the law of supply and demand, but the human equation shall hereafter be the commanding force in all agreements between man and capital." (229-30)
Other things House wrote into Dru’s program were: a graduated income tax (180); the deliberate manipulation of the women's suffrage movement (270); government control of healthcare and medical colleges (231); the annexation of Canada (274-5) and the invasion and occupation of Mexico (282); and the forcible rearrangement of Europe and Asia, assigning jurisdictions as though Dru were dictator of the world (274-6)
House's book is "utopian" in the sense that he is fantasizing about being given the authority to achieve, in one fell swoop, the agenda wished and fought for by the progressives of his time, as of ours. It deserves attention, first of all, because of the obvious consistency of purpose between House's fiction and his own real, practical political maneuverings, along with those of the American progressive movement in general, in which he is a seminal figure.
More importantly, however, Philip Dru: Administrator, with its spirited revelation of the true mind of progressivism, unwittingly demonstrates a fact which is too easily obscured when one is faced with the obfuscating public statements of today's progressives: Progressivism is the political philosophy of sociopaths. It is not a reasonable, though misguided, quest for equality and justice. It is power-lust masquerading as a social theory, and merciless hatred for mankind dressed up as a new moral code. If House's novel is, viewed objectively it’s the progressives' answer to Mein Kampf.
It has been my contention that if you want to understand progressivism, you must examine the writings and public statements of its proponents from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The reason is that at that time their agenda was not so carefully concealed, for progressives still believed, with some justification, that they might persuade the masses of the truth of their cause, and instigate an outright revolution, like the one dreamt of in House's novel.
There was, in 1912, the Progressive Party of Theodore Roosevelt, which espoused a tame version of Philip Dru's radical platform, and which garnered 27% of the popular vote, in the same presidential election in which Wilson won 42% and the Socialist Party 6%. Thus, the year Philip Dru was published, declared progressive platforms won 75% of America's popular vote. The most radical progressives, therefore, naturally felt free to speak more openly of their goals, and of their criticisms of Western civilization.
Having eventually realized, however, that their moment for complete revolution was slipping away, the clever ones fell back on a long-term plan to undermine the West's traditions and structures by stealth, relying on euphemisms and half-truths to plant seeds of moral and intellectual corruption which could later be exploited to advance their agenda piecemeal. Thus, more recent spokesmen for the great cause of Marx, Lenin, Dewey, House, Wilson et al, generally became more circumspect in their rhetoric.
House anticipates this development himself, in the most insightful passage from his telling book. Dru's socialist uprising is made possible by mass public outrage resulting from an unmasked conspiracy within the current administration. House, who knows he is writing fantasy, presents his hero's reflections on this lucky happenstance:
"If our late masters [i.e., the capitalist conspirators] had been more moderate in their greed we would have been content to struggle for yet another period, hoping that in time we might again have justice and equality before the law. But even so we would [still] have had a defective Government, defective in machinery and defective in its constitution and laws. To have righted it, a century of public education would have been necessary." (155-6)
To paraphrase: barring the kind of scandalous trigger of upheaval that occurs only in fiction, the fundamental transformation of the American constitutional republic will require a century of gradual indoctrination. Edward Mandell House wrote those words almost exactly one hundred years ago.
Thank you, Colonel House. Whatever one thinks of progressivism's passive supporters, mouthpieces, and dupes, it would be folly to dismiss the movement's leaders, the true progressives, as merely misguided, incompetent, or ignorant — sociopathic, yes; stupid, no.
Note: For the exposure of Philip Dru: Administrator and House’s influence on Wilson we can thank Glenn Beck.