Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A US Weimar Rep? Red Flags (I): Introduction

From the desk of Dr Sam C. Holliday, director of the Armiger Cromwell Center


The recent election has again raised a question about the American Constitution. Is it a living document that must keep up with changes of the moment, or should we attempt to follow the original intent of our Founders? But the worldwide fixation on our election shows that our Constitution is much more than just an expression of the social contract of our indivisible nation. Around the world it is the gold standard for what government should be. It is remarkable that we conducted our election in accordance with our Constitution as we simultaneously faced an economic crisis and a threat to our security from the Third Jihad, that sees us as the Great Satan.

All American patriots hope that the Obama presidency unites all of us in the pursuit of the general good, and advances our national interests. However, this primarily depends on American citizens possessing civic virtue and how they cope with the future. Therefore, it is only prudent to consider what might be in the stars. We cannot remain in the present or go back to the past. We must anticipate the future; we should hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. In this regard it is worthwhile to reflect on history. Then we can consider how we can improve on what those before us have done.

Does History Provide Parallels?
In 1957 Amaury de Riencourt published ‘The Coming Caesars’ and in 1982 Leonard Peikoff published ‘The Ominous Parallels’. Both forecast the future based on parallels describing America in terms of the past. Both argue that long-term trends are pushing the USA toward authoritarian government. This essay is an analysis of the validity of the parallels noted and how the arguments presented might relate to current constitutional debates.

Europe is not ancient Greece, nor is America ancient Rome, but Amaury de Riencourt does present some significant parallels. He claims that the concentration of political power in the central government is no accident. It is “the lethal product of centuries of historical evolution, each succeeding generation having unconsciously added its stone to the towering pedestal on which they are going to stand.” (Riencourt, p. 8)

- Caption: Farrarino, View of the Capitol in Rome, c. 1860 -

He states that the primary association “is neither political nor strategic—it is essentially psychological.” (Riencourt, p. 7) It is the growing “father complex.” The larger the masses the more the people surrender to emotionalism rather than depending on knowledge and the rational judgment of free men. “Aristotle had already observed … that Caesarism is a slow, organic growth within a society tending toward” social equality and the centralization of political power. (Riencourt, p. 328)

De Riencourt illustrates how America is an extension of Europe just as Rome is an extension of Greece. Then he identifies America today as the parallel of Rome’s era of Caesars. He likens Roosevelt to Julius Caesar and Eisenhower to Caesar Augustus. Although some of what de Riencourt states is dated and some is questionable, he makes a convincing argument that authoritarian regimes are in our future. The only practical way for Americans to reduce the likelihood of authoritarian regimes is a return to the values and attitudes that existed prior to postmodern thought.

America today is not Germany in the 1930s. Yet there are enough parallels to raise red flags. I initially thought ‘The Ominous Parallels’ by Leonard Peikoff was an alarmist fantasy. I considered it absurd to compare the Weimar Republic, before Hitler gained power, with the USA. National socialism was a unique phenomenon based on a unique time and a unique individual seeking power in order to first change Germany and then to set the world right. I could not imagine our great republic moving, by default, towards the establishment of a totalitarian dictatorship. Perhaps I was wrong.

- Caption: Philip Scheidemann proclaims the Weimar Republic at the Reichstag Building -

Perhaps we should not be so certain that we are superior to others. Our pride might hide dangers. We should notice the red flags. The past might reveal parallels, which will help us anticipate the future.

Continued in Part II, "Our Republic" ... "Today there is the gulf between the self-reliant, practical, hard working, self-disciplined, freedom loving ‘traditional Americans’ and two other groups: (1) intellectuals and youth with extreme postmodern values and attitudes, and (2) entitlement factions which expect government to give them what they want ..."

Copyright © 2008 Armiger Cromwell Center, Atlanta, GA 30319-1322. 404-201-7374. Permission is granted to forward this article by e-mail to friends or colleagues on a fair use basis. For reprint permission, contact Armiger Cromwell Center at

A printable version of the integral text of the essay "Red Flags", a parallel between Weimar Germany and Postmodern USA

- More by Dr Sam Holliday filed in "The Armiger Cromwell Center" -

- Filed on Articles in "The Armiger Cromwell Center" and "Americana" -


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