This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

The ideological paintbrush

The extent to which America is a primarily ideological culture is shown by the fact that from the beginning every enemy is construed as an ideological enemy. America never fights an enemy simply because both America and the enemy are after some material resource or advantageous island or seaport. No, never—even though this is almost always what the conflicts are about. No—American must paint each and every antagonist as an enemy of its very ideological principles: the enemy isn’t just after the same land that we are after, for the same worldly reasons that we are after it. No—they are after our freedom. They are against equality and human dignity. They are against God, and so on, and they therefore pose a threat, not just to our economic advantage, but to our very way of life!

From the Founding Fathers through Lincoln’s framing of the Civil War as an attack on a nation ‘conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal’, America makes every conflict ideological, even when the enemy doesn’t care the least bit about America’s ideology. This habit reached its culmination during the two World Wars.

It is partly instinctive and is an outgrowth of the psychology we’ve been describing. But it is also practical and is a necessity for any popular government. Democracy needs the enthusiasm of the people behind its military experiments or else it would have no soldiers. The entire nation will always run to the defense of liberty and justice and equality. Men with families and much to lose would be less likely to leave home to fight and die when the heart of the conflict is admitted to be nothing more than a trade dispute about corporate drilling rights in the Middle East.

One of the unintended but inevitable consequences of this overuse of the ideological paintbrush has been that any foreign power that, for any reason, happens to ally itself with the United States becomes automatically a ‘pro-freedom’ power. Sometimes this makes very little sense, and it approached absurdity during the World Wars, since it embraced allies like Bolshevik Russia, but it is no less astounding today when it encompasses ‘allies’ like Israel and Saudi Arabia.

As one would expect, there are times when these ‘freedom allies’ do not care to be claimed by America as ideological bedfellows, but we are incorrigible.

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